Saturday, February 11, 2012

Locomotives & Trains in Amish Country (#2)

Continuing on our 2011 late summer/early fall road trip through New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia…

This is where I left off at the end of Part 1 during our visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania…

This is the Steinman Railway Station, located inside the main hall of the Museum.  It’s a replica 1915-era train station where visitors can watch the orientation video.  Just sitting in the station for a few moments can conjure up what it might have been like to travel back in the early 20th century…

Sorry for the dark photo… This is the Lotos Club Restaurant and Sleeper car.  It was built by the Pullman Company in 1913…originally just as a sleeper car.  When the economy went south in the mid-30’s, pure sleeping cars couldn’t always turn a profit so this unit was rebuilt and the dining section was added.  This car as modified, still had berths for 16 passengers.  It was named the Lotos Club after an exclusive New York City men’s club. 

Pullman leased their cars to various railroads…and they were staffed with African-American Porters.  Pullman Porters were famous for the quality of service that they provided.  This was the best position that an African-American could possibly have with a railroad during this time.  In 1926, Porters were paid $67.50 per month but they were also expected to work up to 400 hours a month.

This photo is through the window of the Lotos Club car. ..not a bad way to travel!  In addition to the Pennsylvania Railroad, this car was assigned to the New York Central, the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie and the Canadian National Railroads.  She was retired from regular service by Canadian National in the 1960’s.

The final run for the Lotos Club car was from Chicago to South Bend for a Notre Dame game on 10/14/67.  She’d been leased for the event by Elmer Layton, one of the Notre Dame’s famous “Four Horsemen”.  It’s notable that this is the last surviving Pullman car of this type in existence.
Fact: In the 1920’s the Pullman Company was the world’s largest ‘hotel’ operator with over 100,000 guests per night occupying almost 10,000 sleeper cars.

This is the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Coach #8177.  The railroad built this coach in 1896 and it was retired in 1939.  Due to safety concerns by lawmakers, this and other passenger rail cars built after 1893 were equipped with specific safety equipment such as air brakes, automatic couplers and semi enclosed vestibules between cars.

This coach has been restored to its former glory…with golden oak paneling, plush upholstered seats, brass chandeliers and small luggage racks.  A smoking lounge is located in one end of this coach.  It was exclusively intended for gentlemen, their conversations and for card games.

Throughout the museum, there is a supporting ‘cast’ of hundreds of other pieces of railroad equipment and related ephemera.  Most old railroad depots around the country have at least one of these basic baggage/freight carts on display.

We really liked this US Mail wagon.  This kind of cart was used by postal employees to deliver mail in rural areas.  To view a mail wagon in action ‘back in the day’, just click on

In 1895, Congress began a test of Rural Free Delivery.  Farmer’s rarely came to town more than once a week for supplies and to pick up their mail.  Local merchants opposed RFD because it would allow their customers to buy product via mail order.  RFD also meant the elimination of many small rural post offices.  By 1902, Rural Free Delivery had been established throughout the USA…so the word “Free” was dropped from RFD.
One year after RFD was started, Sears, Roebuck & Company boasted that via its catalog, it was selling 4 suits and a watch every minute, a revolver every 2 minutes and a buggy every 10 minutes.  Revenues tripled for the company in just 5 years!
In the 1860's, home delivery of the mail was legislated for cities of more than 10,000 residents.  Suddenly, there were new requirements.  Street addresses were required, sidewalks and crosswalks were installed and streets were named and adequately signed and lit.  Mail delivery had a positive impact on the growth and improvement of an area…

I’m not sure how this milk wagon interacted with the railroads but we liked its look in any case… Horse drawn milk wagons operated in the USA through WWII and then started to decline as truck production shifted from military to civilian vehicles.  Nevertheless, horse drawn milk wagons persisted in some cities well into the 1950’s.  For an interesting piece on the milk wagon, just click on the following:

This is Baggage Car #6, built in 1882 by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Altoona shops.  This is the railroad’s version of the baggage compartment on an airplane.  For a top notch view of this baggage car, just click on the following:

This is Pennsylvania Railroad D16sb 4-4-0 American Locomotive #1223.  It was one of the 429 D16’s built in PRR’s Juniata Shops, with #1223 being completed in 1905.  This type of locomotive was discontinued in 1910, although after a rebuilding program in 1914, some of these engines operated in the 1940’s. 

This is the only D16 that has been preserved.  It was saved by the railroad to use as an exhibit at railroad fairs in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Old number 1223 was also used in the movie, “Hello Dolly”.   The Strasburg Railroad Company, (see my blog from 2/7/12), used this locomotive for tourist excursions throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.  At that point, new boiler safety requirements forced her into retirement and she was moved to the museum.

This is the type of locomotive or engine that was in use in my youth… The EMD E-7/PRR EP-20 was built by General Motors Electro Motive Division in 1945 and she was retired in 1973.  The 2 20 cylinder diesel engines developing 2,000 h.p. were just part of this 157.5 ton locomotive.  For more power, these engines were usually used in tandem.  PRR had 60 of these units…out of a total of 510 that were built.

Old #5901 was scheduled to be scrapped after retirement.  However, railroad employees hid it in an abandoned Altoona engine house until the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Association could raise the $20,000 scrap value necessary to purchase the unit.  It was restored to its 1955 appearance.  It should be noted that #5901 is the last surviving E-7…

The PRR’s Juniata Shops built 90 of these G-5 10-wheelers in a 4-6-0 configuration.  This 118.5 ton locomotive was built specifically for use with commuter trains.  This type of engine needed to be fast, powerful and able to handle lots of stops and starts in its daily routine. 

Locomotive #5741 was built in 1924 and then it was finally retired in 1955.  It was chosen for preservation, making its last trip in 1969 to Strasburg where it was put on permanent display.  It was added to the museum in 1979.

Pardon the blue construction tarp... This strange looking locomotive was built in 1939 by the Heisler Locomotive Works in Erie Pennsylvania.  It’s like a thermos bottle on wheels…yet another fireless steam engine.  Originally this unit was built by Heisler for display at the 1940 World’s Fair in New York City.  This is the largest, (95 tons), and fanciest fireless locomotive ever built.  It’s also the only one of this type ever built.

Following the World’s Fair, this unit was delivered to the Hammermill Paper Company in Erie Pennsylvania.  Its weight was too much for Hammermill’s tracks and by 1941 it had been sold to Pennsylvania Power & Light.  These engines did a lot of switching for PP&L.  Like many industries it was more cost efficient to operate their own equipment than it would have been to use one of the railroads for this purpose.  PP&L locomotive “D” shuttled coal to the power plants and in return, the power plants provided steam for the engine.  PP&L’s “D” unit was retired in 1969.
Laurie and I did enjoy the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  It would have been nice if we’d visited the displays at a time when roof leaks and remodeling weren't underway…but such is life.  This is a great venue where you can see and photograph locomotives, rolling stock and related equipment.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is located on PA Rte. 741, (300 Gap Road), in Ronks Pennsylvania.  The museum is about 1 mile east of downtown Strasburg.  Phone: 717-687-8628.  Website:
Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them.
Many thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

1 comment:

  1. Wow they have some great stuff and I'll visit if in the area. I've never known what RFD meant.