Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
|Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania|
Entrance to the museum
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."
The museum has more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars that chronicle American railroad history. An interactive display allows visitors to "take the throttle" on a simulated run in a real freight locomotive, climb aboard a caboose, 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 railroads and trolley companies of the Commonwealth.
Building and grounds
The initial display building opened in 1975, featuring 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 a bird's eye point of view. In June 1995, a trainshed-like addition opened, doubling the indoor display capacity to 100,000 square feet.
Today, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania covers 18 acres. This includes a second floor changing-exhibit gallery, which leads onto the observation bridge, an education center, a large library and archives, an administrative building, a Restoration Shop, and an outdoor 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 additional construction projects are expected in the future.
Rolling stock collection
The nucleus of the collection of more than a hundred locomotives and cars comes from the historical collection of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Following the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, the Pennsylvania Railroad placed many of their historic locomotives at a roundhouse in Northumberland, PA. In the 1960s, many of the locomotives were sent from Northumberland to Strasburg, PA.
Some of these engines had been used on the Strasburg Railroad for a number of years before making their permanent home in the Railroad Museum. 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, were both retired from the Strasburg Railroad in 1989.
Other historic locomotives are featured at the Museum. The famous "Lindbergh Engine", PRR #460, is currently undergoing restoration in the Museum's Restoration Shop, and will be placed in the new roundhouse upon completion. The oldest PRR non-subsidiary locomotive is also kept at the Museum, PRR #1187. This piece 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 1831).
The Railroad Museum also collected numerous other locomotives. This includes two PRR GG1 locomotives, the original PRR #4800 and the later PRR #4935. More recent additions include three GP series, an Amtrak E60, and a railbus. They also hold uncommon rolling stock, including two fireless steam locomotives (Bethlehem Steel #111 and Pennsylvania Power & Light #4094-D), a Shay locomotive (Leetonia Railway #1), a Heisler locomotive (Chicago Mill & Lumber Company #4), and a Climax locomotive (W. H. Mason Company #1).
In all, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania holds around one hundred pieces of rolling stock in their collection, including passenger, freight, and non-revenue pieces, in addition to their locomotives.
For the 1939 New York World's Fair, the PRR had collected various locomotives. After the fair's completion, much of those pieces of rolling stock were transferred to a roundhouse in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, as time passed, a number of those pieces were lost. Other classes of locomotives were not saved; thus, no examples of classes Q, S, and T steam locomotives were saved. A few engines there were officially cosmetically restored, while thoughtful employees took it upon themselves to clean up and paint other engines.
With the state looking to establish a railroad museum and PRR successor Penn Central Railroad looking to rid itself of the collection in the late 1960s (and also to be cleared of back taxes), the engines were moved piecemeal to the new museum in Strasburg. During the initial site selection period for the planned museum, there was much debate of various options, including Northumberland and Altoona. In 1968, the first piece of equipment was placed on the museum's current grounds—a 1928 turntable from Cressona, Pennsylvania. A large number of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Historic Collection was sent to Strasburg, Pennsylvania coupled together, forming the "Train of Trains."
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania focuses on history of the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania, however. Over the years, the Museum acquired pieces from other notable Pennsylvanian railroads, including the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Conrail, and Amtrak. The Museum also holds a number of pieces created by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, which had operated just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since the mid-1800s.
In addition to full-size rolling stock pieces, the Museum does offer a number of other commodities, which include several model railroad layouts, an educational center, a library and archives, and a smaller exhibit gallery on the second floor.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was officially opened to the public April 1, 1975. Within a few years, the Railroad Museum quickly outgrew its grounds, and, in 1995, Rolling Stock Hall was doubled in size. 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. In all, the museum holds roughly 100 pieces of rolling stock, some nearing 200 years old.
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