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The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is a railroad museum in Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The museum is located on the east side of Strasburg along Pennsylvania Route 741. It is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with the active support of the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (FRM).
The museum's collection has more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars that chronicle American railroad history. Visitors can climb aboard various locomotives and cars, inspect a 62-ton locomotive from underneath, view restoration activities via closed-circuit television, enjoy interactive educational programs, and more.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was created to provide a historical account of railroading in Pennsylvania by preserving rolling stock, artifacts, and archives of railroad companies of the Commonwealth. However, the museum has branched out over the years, acquiring some pieces that are not directly related to Pennsylvania, but are important to the history of railroading.
In addition to full-size rolling stock pieces, the museum offers a number of other commodities, which include several model railroad layouts, a hands on educational center, a library and archives, and a smaller exhibit gallery on the second floor.Building and grounds
The initial display building opened in 1975 as the first building constructed to be a railroad museum, and featured an operating turntable from the Reading Company. The original building was roughly 45,000 square feet in size and included an observation bridge leading across Rolling Stock Hall, allowing visitors to see the trains from above. In June 1995, Rolling Stock Hall was to 100,000 square feet.
Today, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania covers 18 acres. This includes Rolling Stock Hall, a second floor changing-exhibit gallery, an observation bridge, a hands on education center called Stewards Junction, an extensive library and archives, a restoration and paint shop, and an outdoor storage and display yard. Rolling Stock Hall and the second floor are both handicapped accessible. The yard is subject to weather closure.
A newly designed entrance and gift shop were opened in June 2007. Some larger or more modern engines and cars are displayed outdoors, but a new roundhouse to store some of the larger locomotives is to be built in the near future.
The National Toy Train Museum, & Choo Choo Barn are located nearby, and the Strasburg Rail Road is across the street from the museum.History
For 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the Pennsylvania Railroad had displayed a number of historic locomotives and cars they had collected over the years. After the fair had ended, the PRR, decided to preserve the equipment that was displayed, along with various other locomotives and rolling stock. The equipment was stored away in a roundhouse in Northumberland, PA, and looked after by employees.With the state looking to establish a railroad museum and PRR successor Penn Central looking to rid itself of the collection in the late 1960s, it was decided the museum was to be built directly next to the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, PA. The engines were moved to the Strasburg Rail Road, where they were stored while the museum was under construction. A large number of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Historic Collection was sent to Strasburg coupled together, forming the "Train of Trains."
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was officially opened to the public April 1, 1975. As the museum acquired more equipment, they required more space, so in 1995, Rolling Stock Hall was expanded by 55,000 square feet. Today, the museum covers 18 acres of land, including 100,000 square feet indoors. In the next few years, the addition of a roundhouse is expected to be built to house some of the larger locomotives that are currently stored outside. In all, the museum holds roughly 100 pieces of rolling stock, some nearing 200 years old.Locomotives
The collection is made up of more than a hundred historic locomotives and cars, many of which are part of the historical collection of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Following the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the PRR placed many of their historic rolling stock aside for preservation. The collection was stored in a roundhouse in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. In 1969, the collection was relocated from Northumberland, PA to Strasburg, PA, where they were stored at the Strasburg Rail Road until the museum's completion in 1975.
Some of these engines had operated on the Strasburg Railroad for a number of years before being put back on display. PRR #1223, famous for its use in the 1969 film Hello, Dolly!, and PRR #7002 (originally #8063), a re-creation of the famous original PRR #7002, which set an unofficial land speed record in 1905 by traveling at 127.1 miles per hour. Both were leased to the Strasburg Rail Road, and retired permanently in 1989.
Other historic locomotives are featured at the Museum, including the famous "Lindbergh Engine", PRR #460, which completed a 6-year cosmetic restoration November, 2016, and the oldest PRR locomotive #1187, built in 1888. The 1187 is placed over a pit, so visitors may go underneath and see the locomotive's underside. The official steam locomotive of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania PRR #3750, famous for pulling President Warren Harding's funeral train, is on display outside of the museum. Two replicas are also included in the Pennsylvania Historic Collection, the John Bull (locomotive) (orig. built 1831) and the John Stevens (orig. built 1825).
Other locomotives in the collection include two PRR GG1 locomotives, the original prototype PRR #4800 and the PRR #4935, Amtrak E60 #603, and the Tahoe, a 2-6-0 built in 1875 for use on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. They also have two fireless steam locomotives (Bethlehem Steel #111 and Pennsylvania Power & Light #4094-D), and examples of the three most common geared locomotives. A Shay locomotive (Leetonia Railway 1), a Heisler locomotive (Chicago Mill & Lumber Company #4), and a Climax locomotive (W. H. Mason Company #1).
The museum's most recent acquisition is Amtrak AEM-7 number 915, donated by Amtrak in 2015.
The museum also has a large collection of rail cars. Many of these are examples of cars seen on the Pennsylvania Railroad, including a P70 passenger car, a B60 Baggage car, and an N5c caboose. There are also several wood bodied freight and passenger cars. Also on display is PRR 1651, one of the first all-steel passenger cars.Our visit
The entrance to the Railroad Museum of
Pennsylvania. We walked inside and told them we were from
Trainweb.com and they let us in for free. We met the Museum
Director who told us that his next thing he wants is a
roundhouse built but is waiting on funds to do so. We started
our look around.
Across the street from the Strasburg Rail Road is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The Strasburg Rail Road serves as the Museum's physical rail connection to the Amtrak Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line junction in Paradise, Pennsylvania.Description
Strasburg Rail Road is a shortline railroad whose construction in the 19th century was intended to connect the town of Strasburg with the main line. Today, the original 4.5 mile line carries passengers on a 45-minute round-trip journey from Strasburg to Leaman Place Junction through nearly 2,000 acres in south-eastern Lancaster County.
The train includes the United States' only operational wooden dining car on which visitors may dine while riding. Attractions at the station include the fully operational 15 inch gauge Pint-Sized Pufferbelly(Cagney steam-powered ridable miniature railway) a vintage pump car and several c.1930s "cranky cars" along with several gift shops and a cafe.
In addition to the excursion train rides, Strasburg Rail Road mechanical and car shops conduct contract work for a wide variety of public and private clients including fellow steam railroads, train museums, attractions, and more. Strasburg Rail Road's freight department facilitates the carrying of goods to and from the main line for a number of local and regional clients. In 2016, it was announced that they are to expand their shop an extra 12,000 square feet due to the increase of jobs from other railroads.History
By the 1820s, the canal system had replaced the Conestoga Wagon as the primary method of long-distance transportation. When the Susquehanna Canal opened, the majority of goods were directed through Baltimore, Maryland rather than Philadelphia.The small amount of goods that were destined for Philadelphia traveled via a wagon road through Strasburg. Philadelphia attempted to reclaim its position as a major port city by constructing the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in 1831. A railroad was easier and more cost effective to build than a canal. Because the new railroad would bypass Strasburg and cause Strasburg to lose its livelihood, a group of businessmen petitioned the state government for the right to build their own railroad to connect Strasburg to the Philadelphia and Columbia. A charter was issued by the Pennsylvania Legislature with the signature of Governor George Wolf on June 9, 1832 to "incorporate the Strasburg rail road.
Although the pre-1852 history of the Strasburg Rail Road is sketchy, it is believed that the line was graded in 1835 and was operational by 1837. The railroad operated as a horse-drawn railroad until it purchased a second-hand Norris-built, 4-2-0 steam locomotive named the William Penn in 1851. Controlling interest in the railroad was purchased by John F. and Cyrus N. Herr in 1863. The rails were replaced around the same time with heavier ones to accommodate the locomotive. In 1866, the Herrs were granted a charter to extend the Strasburg Rail Road to Quarryville; surveys were carried out, but the extension was eventually canceled because of an economic depression in 1867. Isaac Groff managed The Strasburg Rail Road for about 20 years until the destructive fire of January 16, 1871 which destroyed the depot, grist, and merchant-mill, planing-mill, and machine-shop. In one night over fifty thousand dollars' worth of property was destroyed. In 1878, the Strasburg Rail Road and the shops were sold. The railroad was eventually again sold in 1888 to the Edward Musselman, with the Musselmans retaining control of it until 1918, when it was purchased by State Senator John Homsher. By this time, the number of passengers had dropped off due to tracks for the Conestoga Traction Company's streetcars reaching Strasburg in 1908, which offered a more direct route between Lancaster and Strasburg.
In 1926, the Strasburg Rail Road purchased a 20-short-ton, gasoline-powered, Plymouth switcher-the only locomotive that was ever built specifically for the Strasburg Rail Road. By 1958, the railroad fell on hard-times from cumulative effect of years of declining freight business and infrequent runs, damage caused by Hurricane Hazel, and inspectors from the Interstate Commerce Commission's lack of approval for operation of the Plymouth locomotive 4. Upon the death of Bryson Homsher, the Homsher estate filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Hearing of the potential abandonment, an effort to purchase and save the railroad was organized by Henry K. Long and Donald E. L. Hallock, both railfans from Lancaster. They organized a small, non-profit group to purchase the railroad. After the better part of a year of hard work, the purchase was completed on November 1, 1958. The following week, on November 8, the first carload of revenue freight was hauled to what was then the only customer, a mill in Strasburg.Our Trip
We went to the Strasburg Railroad station and picked up our
complimentary tickets. It was Elizabeth's and my first visit
We departed on time and almost immediately, passed Lancaster, Oxford and Southern doodlebug car 10.
A Reading Railroad camel-back engine awaits restoration as we
pass the shop area.
The train has taken us all the way out to Paradise. Here the engine will cut off and run around the train so it will be properly facing Strasburg on the return trip.