Cherry Coal Mine Disaster

About me
Cherry Mine Disaster Story
Story of Disaster by Steve Stout
The Fatal Day
Story in a Nutshell
Mine Site photos
Description of Cherry Mine
James Cherry
page two mine pics
Page Three Mine Pics
Page four Mine photos
Page Five Mine Photos
Page Six Mine Photos
Page Seven Mine Photos
Page Eight Mine Photos
Page Nine Mine Photos
Bell Signals etc.
Page Ten Mine photos
New Mine photos
Aerial Views
Cherry Mine Artifacts
Sunday Morning Crowds
Cherry Mine Model
Model Pics Set Two
Twelve Heroes Story
John Flood: Hero
Alex Norberg (Hero)
Read about Eight-Day Men
John Thomas Brown
George Eddy
Which Story Deserves Movie?
The Memorial and More
Miners Tombstones
Cherry Depot
Soldier Trains and more
Morgue Tent
Names of Victims
Names of Victims section two
Coal Mining Words
Map Diagrams
No Respect For History
The Day the Tipple Fell
Farewell letters
Sam Howard's Letter
More on the Subject
"Oneness" Press release
TRAPPED: Karen Tintori's new book
Ray Tutaj Model Projects
Last Days of The Milwaukee Road
Milwaukee Road Car
St. Paul Coal Mine Office
Remembering the disaster.
100th Anniversary/Car Show
100th Anniversary Photos
100th Anniversary photos by Candy Brown
100th Anniversary pics from Karen Tintori
We need Your Help (1909 song)
Cherry Word Puzzle
Favorite Links
About me
Tour of Mine Site
Contact Me
100th Anniversary Documentary Available and More!
Cherry Mine Disaster Historical Society
T-Shirts, Sweatshirts etc.(100th anniv.)
Train Photo CDs Available
Train Video DVD's Available
Train -e-books NEW!
Workers Compensation
Cherry MIne Enthusiasts Remembered
How You Can Help

Ray giving Tour at mine site airshaft

First, this website has been up for many years and I have worked so hard on compiling these photos and info for you.  Many thousands have visited here and I have recieved countless emaiIs expressing their appreciation.
  In 1998-99 I also built the model replica of the Cherry coal mine to give people a 3-dimensional perspective of the mine, it is on permanent display at the Cherry public library. 
  Before you get started exploring my site, I want to announce the release of my new CD entitled, "Take a Bite Out of Life."  Many describe the recording as an "easy- listening rock experience". I have been a guitarist,songwriter for over 25 yrs. With the same passion and love as i brought to the models and websites, I bring to my music.
Included are four songs with historical themes. Such as:
BUNGLED BANK ROBBERY (Leonore IL. Bank robbed in 1935, several deaths involved see photos) [press underlined text]
UTICA IS BROKEN DOWN (Utica Tornado 2004 see photos)
PAPER HAT SOLDIER (relevant to all soldiers in all wars)
MESSAGE FOR GOD (natural human response after disasters such as Cherry Coal Mine disaster, hurricanes, tragedies etc.)
A picture of the CD cover is seen here below and at the website you can find out more. You may also click on the picture. Help support your local artists!!
These CDs are now available worldwide through CD Baby !
Or if you may order direct from me.
or send for a copy by mailing to:
Acoustic Wave Studio
444 Creve Coeur St.
La Salle IL. 61301

Milwaukee Road Steam Excursion in 2000
Milwaukee road steam engine with Cherry Hills
Cherry Hills and a Milwaukee Road Engine come close again.

  When the Milwaukee Road steam engine came through Mendota in year 2000, I tried to figure out where I might want to photograph it. A few friends and I had already taken many pictures in different locations. Since I wasn't driving I had to sway them into getting to this location. As you can see I wanted the Cherry hills in the distance. I tried explaining to my friends the significance. This was the Railroad company who built the coal mine in Cherry. I thought it would be nice to have a photo of this big steam engine coming across the fields with the slag piles in the background.
      When I lived in Mendota from 72-81 I lived next to the Milwaukee Road tracks. They were still running trains up to 1981 before they abandoned the line. Since I lived this close and seen these trains daily along with the Illinois Central and Burlington trains, this railroading got into my blood.  I had a great interest in train watching and as years went on I became interested in the history of these railroads particularly the Milw Rd.  I knew that this railroad company was the one who owned the Cherry coal mine (St. Paul coal mine no.2 to be exact). So if it wasn't for my interest in this railroad i don't know if the Model of the Cherrymine would have ever happened. 


I have been interested in local history for about twelve years. It was back in 1990 I started collecting photographs of the LaSalle County and vicinity.  I guess I have always had a knack for building models after having my own HO model train layout in the 1970's. My love for trains and history has been good to me. When Model Railroading wanted to feature my work in their popular magazine Imust say I was honored.  When the Booster Club at Cherry commissioned me to build a replica model of the St. Paul Coal Mine in Cherry, they treated me right and paid me a good fair price for all the work.
  I am currently Depot Master at the Mendota Museum and I take care of the Depot there and open the waiting room area twice a day for Amtrak travelers. (Take a Train somewhere, for it really is a blast!).
    Last but not least by any means is my love for music.  I have been playing guitar since i was ten or eleven and i still have a great love for the music in which guitar can produce. I have always had students who are eager to learn how to play the guitar. I recently have finished a guitar instruction book called GUITAR JOURNEY.
  I still like to perform for people and share my music with others.  I don't have any projects on the immediate horizon. Musically speaking it will be a year or so before I record again.  Model building wise, I have just completed a replica of Illinois Central's Two-stall engine house which once stood in LaSalle IL. It consists of the stone-engine house and seven tracks which were a portion of the railyard.  I keep telling myself I need to focus on my music 100% but somehow this addiction to railroad stuff keeps prying into my life.  Perhaps I am not where I want to be musically in my life, because i have sacrificed so much time and energy building these models and being an avid railfan photographer.  So if you would like to help support a struggling musician, check out some of my music CD's I have to offer. 
   About this Website, I hope you have enjoyed it. I believe I have one of the most complete collections of photos from the mine and have much more that I will try to add later.  If you have a question or request please send me an e-mail and i will see what I can do for you.
Ray Tutaj Jr.

The Model of the Mendota Railyards and Downtown
Built by Ray from 1994-97

HO Scale Model of Mendota

I dont know how I ever found the time in my busy life,  to build an HO scale model of Mendota, and the Cherry Mine Model, but I did.  It helps by not watching TV at all.  Anyway, if you like model trains and hundred's of railroad memorbilia, come see the replica of the town of Mendota.  We also have a replica telegraph office. The Union Depot Railroad museum is located in Mendota IL. and is on the mainline of the BNSF, so you can do some train watching too!  We also have six Amtrak trains that pass through daily, four of them do stop. Mendota is a very historic railroad town and it is a great spot for picture taking. We do have the C.B&Q 4978 steam Locomotive with tender and Caboose and a Milwaukee Road Combine car which is being restored.

Open Weekends, Noon to 5:00 from Labor day to Memorial day and open wednesday's thru Sunday during the summer. (Memorial day through Labor day)   RAILROAD CROSSING DAYS IS ALWAYS ON FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND in June, so come up and ride the Gandy Dancer's express on the ole Illinois Central's Main Line of Mid America!

Check out the museum's website at   We also have a train cam set up so you can watch trains from your computer!

Items You Can Purchase. Photographs, CD's or Magazines.
1.  CHERRY MINE MODEL PICTURESEach year, up to 2009 (100th anniversary) a new set of the Model of the Cherry Coal Mine pictures will be released. These are available at the Cherry Public Library and the Mendota Railroad Museum or you can contact me if interested. Each set is $3.00
2. MODEL RAILROADING MAGAZINE featuring the Mendota HO scale layout is    now  SOLD OUT!! BUT now available  on Disc in PDF file format!
3. MODEL RAILROADING MAGAZINE(s) featuring the HO scale layout of the Cherry Coal mine can be obtained also at the locations above or through   There are two issues: the Dec00/Jan01 issue and the Jan/Feb 01 issue. (two seperate mags)
4. THE MIGHTY SOUNDS OF TRAINS featuring stereo recordings of numerous types of trains across the midwest and west coast.  This is available at the Mendota Railroad Museum or through
5. CHERRY SUNSET Music CD containing 27 tracks of guitar work and songs inspired by the famous Cherry Coal Mine Disaster.  Can be obtained through the guitar journey website above.
If you would be interested in a slideshow presentation with live guitar music by Ray Tutaj Jr. I would be glad to do this or if you need a guitar player for another gig, i could be available.  Contact me at:

The new CD by Ray Tutaj Jr., called CHERRY SUNSET
Guitar music and songs inspired by the Cherry Mine Disaster.

Trains sounds in steroeo, includes Milwaukee 261!
A popular selling item at the Railroad museum.

Thanks for visiting this site. Have you visited a Museum lately?
Go to: More on the Subject, Cherry Mine disaster or Mine photos all of which will take you to the top.