Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Locomotives & Trains in Amish Country (#1)

Continuing on our late summer/early fall road trip through New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia…

As anyone knows who checks out this blog from time to time, when we travel I do seek out old or unusual railroads, locomotives, rolling stock, railroad miscellany plus any and all train depots…

This is the Switch Tower at the base of operations for the Strasburg Railroad Company.  The railroad was chartered/founded in 1832.  This 4.5 mile short line railroad was first operational…with horse drawn railcars…back in 1837.  It took delivery of its first locomotive in 1851.

The railroad has existed for 180 years as of 2012.  It’s served as a tourist railroad for 54 years as of this year…but it still hauls a little freight to the mainline, what were formerly the Pennsylvania Railroads tracks, in Parkesburg/Lancaster PA. (Amtrak now operates on that line)

This is just one of at least 10 locomotives operating for the Strasburg Railroad.  Five of them are steam locomotives and four are powered by internal combustion engines.  There is also a powered railcar from the interurban railroad days that dates back to 1885.

The steam locomotive shown above is the former Norfolk & Western #475.  It was acquired by the Strasburg Railroad in 1991 and it’s used to pull the tourist trains.  This Baldwin M Class 4-8-0 locomotive was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1906.  It is the only 4-8-0 steam locomotive out of the 125 of this type that were built that is still operational.

This is 1 of the 19 or so passenger cars or coaches in use by the Strasburg Railroad.  The ‘Mill Creek’ #72 was built by the Pullman Company in 1906 and it was delivered to the Boston & Maine Railroad.  The Strasburg Railroad also operates the only wooden dining car in service in the USA.

The Strasburg Railroad is located on Pennsylvania Route 741E, just one and a half miles east of Strasburg.  The address is 301 Gap Road in Ronks, PA.  Phone: 717-687-7522.  For more on the Strasburg Railroad, you can go to http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/ or to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasburg_Rail_Road. 

What I really came to see is directly across the road from the Strasburg Railroad’s rail yard and main terminal…

This is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and it’s operated by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. 

Given our timing for this trip, I chose this museum…located in an area that we were planning to visit anyway…versus another deviation from our route over to Steamtown in Scranton PA.  Steamtown is a National Historic Site operated by the US Park Service.  Check out that attraction at http://www.nps.gov/stea/index.htm.  
Note: Blue Tarps are visible in several interior photos in the main display hall.  Serious leaks had developed over the weeks previous to our visit resulting from the various critical rain event that happened in the northeast USA in the late summer.

I know that this photo looks like Laurie has taken a photo of a toy train.  In reality, this photo was taken from a catwalk above and stretching across the main display floor of this huge enclosed display hall full of locomotives, rolling stock and other related ephemera. 

There are at least 42 engines/locomotives in the inventory for this large and classy museum.  Old #1187 pictured above is a former Pennsylvania Railroad 2-8-0 that was built by the Altoona Works in 1883.  FYI, the Altoona Works were built by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  This industrial operation built 6,783 steam, electric and diesel locomotives from 1866 to 1946.

This is #4935, “Blackjack”, a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotive.  It was one of 139 of these units that were built by the PRR’s Juniata Shops.  This engine was built in 1943 and it was powered by 12 motors that could deliver a maximum of 8,500 H.P.  This locomotive is about 80’ long and it could cruise at 100 m.p.h. 

The last of these units was retired from service in the 1980’s.  The sleek exterior look was designed by Raymond Loewy, who also designed the Studebaker automobile. 

Here’s yours truly at the controls of, (or at least in the cab of), a 1905 Baldwin H 6sb 2-8-0 locomotive.  The Baldwin H 6 series was the locomotive most used by the Pennsylvania Railroad…operating 2,032 of them in total. 

This unusual looking locomotive is a 1941 Heisler 0-4-0F (Fireless Steam Accumulator) Number 111 was used by Bethlehem Steel to move boxcars and flatbeds around their giant production facilities. 

These fireless locomotives worked from compressed steam and they would have to be externally re-charged/re-pressurized every few hours.  They could move themselves along the tracks for about 95 miles or they could move 10 loaded boxcars about 20 miles.  They were normally utilized in areas that were restricted by the presence of flammable materials or if there was a need for cleanliness…

This is just a view of part of the Railroad Museum’s rail or restoration yard.  There is a lot of rolling stock as well as several locomotives sitting in this area.  The Museum has an inventory of at least 42 locomotives, 23 passenger coaches, 25 freight boxcars, flatbeds, tankers, etc., as well 14 miscellaneous pieces of rolling stock.

This is the working locomotive round table in the Museum’s rail and switching yard.  They are now starting to construct the building around the half-circle of tracks that will house the engines that are currently stored outdoors...basically, it will be a half-moon shaped engine shed where the locomotives can be worked on and protected from the elements.

This unmarked locomotive was sitting in the restoration or rail yard at the Museum.  From the markings I could see, it was built by the H.K. Porter Company.  That company started building light duty locomotives, mostly for industrial use, back in 1866.  They built a number of medium duty units as well.  The company produced conventional steam engines, compressed air engines and engines that operated on gasoline.  All in all, Porter built over 8,000 locomotives.  The last one built was completed in 1950 and it was shipped to Brazil.

Finally, this is an RDC (Rail Diesel Car) that was built by the Budd Company in 1951.  These self-propelled rail cars represented the last resort by the railroads as they tried to maintain passenger service on local and branch lines.  A total of 368 of these units were built and sold to 25 different North American Railroads.  They were efficient, easy to maintain and they only required a 2-person crew. 
This unit, RDC #40, served the Lehigh Valley Railroad and then it served with the Reading railroad’s commuter trains.  Finally, when the Reading declared bankruptcy, the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) used RDC #40 until 1984.
There will be more to follow regarding this museum in yet another blog…
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is located at 300 Gap Road, PA Route 741 East, in Strasburg Pennsylvania.  Phone: 717-687-8628.  Website: www.rrmuseumpa.org.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I believe I would love this place. You got some great shots.

  2. I love these old fashioned trains. Is that you on the wagon?:)