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Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association and Harris Tower

by Chris Guenzler

I woke up at the Comfort Inn in Bethel and after uploading the last five stories onto my web page, I walked out to my rental car to drive to Williams Grove. I got back on Interstate 78 to Interstate 81 which took me through Harrisburg. As I crossed the Susquehanna River I saw a Norfolk Southern train on their bridge and pulled off the road for a picture.

The NS Train crosses the Susquehanna River Bridge. From there I took US 17 south to Mechanicsburg where I took the road out to Williams Grove.

Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association 6/20/2010

I pulled into their parking lot finding a large crowd for a model railroad swap meet. I parked the rental car and made my way to the engine house.

A brief history.

It was the Winter of 1958-59 when a group of people met to discuss forming a steam association. The basis of this idea came from their memories of using old time farm machinery. They formed the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association with their purpose of preserving steam powered equipment and to educate the public about the history of farming. The association uses steam engines for plowing, harvesting and sawing. It also has early gas engines and tractors plus a Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Engine. In 1959 Roy Richwine, Sr., owner of the 91 acres Williams Grove Amusement Park invited the association to use his land which they then purchased.

The only operating Pennsylvania Railroad Steam Engine 0-6-0 643.

The tender of PRR 0-6-0 643.

A line of their railroad equipment.



Wooden Box Car.

A crane.

View of the engine house.

Various railroad signs on display.

A station building.

View along their railroad.

Witcomb Switcher 8.

Two open air cars.

Flat car.

Tank Car.

Track work is an ongoing project. I thanked the crew for having me here this morning and I returned to downtown Harrisburg and parked near my next stop.

Harris Tower, Harrisburg 6/20/2010

Located in downtown Harrisburg at the corner of 7th and Walnut Street just west of the Amtrak Station is Harris Tower. It was opened to the public on June 7th, 2008 as an interactive museum. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1930 to control all train movements through downtown Harrisburg. The tower once controlled the signals and switches that routed more than 100 passenger trains a day through Central Pennsylvania. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower is historically significant because it marked the western terminus of the electrification of the Pennsy's passenger lines. The tower was used by the Pennsylvania, Penn Central and Amtrak until its closing in 1991. Upon closing, the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Association purchased the building and began the process of restoration of the tower. After thousands of hours of hard work by the Chapters volunteers, the tower is open to the public. The center piece of the exhibit is the Tower's Interlocking Machine which has 113 levers and Model Board which contains more than 450 indicator lamps.

I walked up the stairs inside the tower and started taking my pictures.

This is your first view as you reach the top floor.

Display case.

The Model Board which contains more than 450 indicator lamps.

The Tower's Interlocking Machine which has 113 levers.

The Tower Operator's Desk.

Views from Harris Tower in Harrisburg.

A signal display.

Telephone boxes.

Display cases.

They have an ATS Monitor on the desk. I thanked them for having me when they weren't open and walked back to the Rental Car. I drove east out of Harrisburg on PA 283 which I took out to Middletown and my first train ride of the day.