Strasburg Rail Road

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Strasburg Rail Road
Strasburg Rail Road logo.png
Reporting mark SRC
Locale Strasburg and Paradise Townships, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation 1832 (1832)–present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 4.5 mi (7.2 km)
Headquarters Strasburg, Pennsylvania
Website strasburgrailroad.com
Strasburg Railroad
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Strasburg Road (PA 741)
East Strasburg
Paradise Lane
Esbenshade Road
Groundhog Cut
Cherry Hill Pop. 17 (more or less)
Cherry Hill Road
Groff's Grove
Carpenters
Black Horse Road
Leaman Place
Amtrak ParkesburgLancaster

The Strasburg Rail Road (reporting mark SRC) is a heritage railroad located near Strasburg, Pennsylvania, operating excursion trains hauled by steam locomotives in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The Strasburg is one of the few railroads in the U.S. that utilizes steam locomotives to regularly haul revenue freight trains.

Across the street lies the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The Strasburg Rail Road (SRR) functions as the Museum's link to the Amtrak Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Description[edit]

The 4½-mile (7.2 km) line takes visitors on a 45-minute round-trip journey from Strasburg to Leaman Place Junction. The train includes the U.S.'s only operational wooden dining car which allows visitors to dine while riding. Attractions at the station include riding on the 15 in (381 mm) gauge Pint-Sized Pufferbelly[1] (Cagney steam-powered ridable miniature railway) and powering a vintage pump car. A percentage of each train ticket is contributed to the Lancaster Farmland Trust.[2]

History[edit]

In the early 1800s, the primary method of long-distance transportation of goods were canals. When the Susquehanna Canal opened, the majority of goods were directed through Baltimore, Maryland rather than Philadelphia.[3][4] The small amount of goods that were destined for Philadelphia traveled via a wagon road through Strasburg.[4] Philadelphia attempted to reclaim its position as a major port city by constructing the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in 1831. A railroad was decided upon because a canal was deemed too difficult and costly to build. Seeing that 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.[5] A charter was issued by the government on June 9, 1832 to "incorporate the Strasburg rail road [sic]".[6]

The Strasburg Rail Road was graded in 1835 and was operational by 1837.[5][7] The railroad operated as a horse-drawn railroad until it purchased a Norris-built, 4-2-0 steam locomotive named the William Penn in 1851.[7] 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 and terminus of the railroad was moved from the center of Strasburg to its current location at the borough line.[8] 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.[9] The Panic of 1873 caused the railroad to be sold.[9] The Strasburg 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 then, the number of passengers had dropped off after the tracks for the Conestoga Traction Company's streetcars reached Strasburg in 1908, which offered a more direct route between Lancaster and Strasburg.[10]

In 1926, the Strasburg Rail Road purchased a 20-short-ton (18 t), gasoline-powered, Plymouth switcher—the only locomotive that was ever built specifically for the Strasburg.[10] By 1958, the Strasburg was on hard-times from cumulative effect of years of neglect, damage caused by Hurricane Hazel, and inspectors from the Interstate Commerce Commission not approving the Plymouth for operation.[11][12] The Homshers ceased all operations and filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.[13] At that point Henry K. Long, a railfan from Lancaster, organized a non-profit group to purchase the railroad and operate it. The fundraising was successful, and the railroad was purchased for $18,000 on November 1, 1958. On November 11, the first carload of revenue freight was hauled to what was then the only customer, a mill in Strasburg.

Strasburg Railroad Station, Oct 2010
Strasburg Railroad #89
Strasburg Railroad #475
Two trains meet near Groff's Grove
Strasburg Railroad #89

Tourist excursion service began on January 4, 1959, and the first steam locomotive, No. 31, arrived the following year. Thus, the railroad has operated to this day, making it the oldest continuously operating railroad in the United States.

Locomotive roster[edit]

Operable[edit]

No. Wheel
Arrangement
Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
3 4-4-0 Cagney Bros. 1920 Since 2003 Miniature steam train, originally operated at an amusement park. 15 in (381 mm) gauge.[14]
9 4-4-0 Cagney Bros. 1903 Since 2012 Another 15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature engine, similar to no. 3.[14][15]
1 0-6-0T H. K. Porter, Inc. 5966 1917 Since 1999 ex-Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal 15 (Cosmetically altered to resemble Thomas the Tank Engine.).[15]
31 or 7312 0-6-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 32894 1908 Since 1960 Strasburg Rail Road 31,
ex Canadian National Railway 7312,
exx Canadian National 7240,
exxx Canadian National 7157,
exxxx Grand Trunk Railway 1708,
originally Grand Trunk Railway 118.[16]
89 2-6-0 Canadian Locomotive Company 922 1910 Since 1972 Strasburg Rail Road 89 , ex-Canadian National Railway 89,
exx-Canadian National 911,
originally Grand Trunk Railway 1009[17]
90 2-10-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 57812 1924 Since 1967 Strasburg Rail Road 90, ex-Great Western Railway 90[15]
475 4-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 28343 1906 Since 1991 Strasburg Rail Road 475, ex-Norfolk and Western 475[15]

No. 1 was formerly BEDT Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal engine #15, rebuilt as Thomas the Tank Engine by SRR. Thomas' face was replaced with the CGI face in June 2014.[18]

No. 89 was purchased from the Steamtown Foundation in 1972. En route to Strasburg that June, it was caught in Penn Central's Buttonwood, Pennsylvania, yard when Hurricane Agnes flooded the Susquehanna River over the locomotive's stack, delaying its debut at Strasburg.

For several years, groups have scheduled photo charters when the railroad reletters locomotives in their heritage paint scheme. For the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad, #475 and three passenger cars were relettered "Indian Valley".

No. 90 was painted in her old Great Western Railway (Colorado) colors in 2013.

Undergoing restoration[edit]

No. Wheel
Arrangement
Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
4 or 1187 0-4-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 21831 1903 Since 1962 ex-Reading Company 1187.[15] Last operation 1967.[19]
972 4-6-0 Montreal Locomotive Works 1912 Since 1995 ex-Canadian Pacific Railway.[15] Not in operation.
39 4-6-0 Juniata Shops 1929 Boiler since 2008, remainder pending Potentially on lease to Strasburg Rail Road for 48 years if prerequisites of signed lease are met.[20]
ex-Long Island Rail Road.[15]
1 0-2-0 H.K. Porter, Inc unknown 2014-TBA Shipped from Railroad Museum of Long Island.

No. 1187 ran as No. 4 between 1962 and 1967. It was retired as being of inadequate strength for SRR's heavy trains. It is a camelback type locomotive. After a loan to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, it is now back on the railroad property and is currently dismantled pending future restoration.[19]

No. 972 was acquired from Rail Tours Inc. of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania after the company could not afford the payments for mechanical repairs that Strasburg was performing on the locomotive at the time.

Retired[edit]

Pennsylvania Railroad D16 #1223 on the Strasburg Rail Road in 1989
No. Wheel
Arrangement
Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
1223 4-4-0 Juniata 1399 1905 1963–1989 Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) 1223
7002 4-4-2 Juniata 1902 1983–1989 ex-PRR 8063 until it was changed to her sister's number for a display at the World's Fair to replace the world's fastest locomotive at that time, which had already scrapped.
98 4-4-0 American Locomotive Company 1909 1961-1964 Ex-Mississippi Central Railroad. Never operated at Strasburg.

Both 1223 and 7002 were leased for operation. 1223 was leased from the PRR from 1965 to 1968, from Penn Central from 1968 to 1979 and from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1990. 7002 was leased from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. After ultra-sonic testing both engines were found to have thin spots in their fireboxes, which are a part of their boilers, thus the engines were taken out of service. Today, 1223 and 7002 are static displays in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

98 is currently operating at Wilmington and Western Railroad.

Pre-1958[edit]

Strasburg rostered at least five steam locomotives prior to 1958. Evidence suggests that Strasburg only rostered one locomotive at a time, operating it until it was no longer economically viable to run it anymore and would purchase a new locomotive to replace it [21]

No. Wheel
Arrangement
Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
PRR A3 0-4-0 Juniata 1893 1924-1926 Strasburg's last steam locomotive before acquiring the Plymouth
PRR D 4-4-0 Juniata  ? 1906-1924
PRR D 4-4-0 Juniata  ? 1892-1906
"Strasburg" 4-4-0T Baldwin Locomotive Works 1863 1863-1892 Strasburg's first new locomotive
"William Penn" 4-2-0 Unknown Unknown 1856-1863 Strasburg's first locomotive, rumored to be one of the first 50 locomotives built in the US

Non-steam locomotives[edit]

SRR also has a collection of early internal combustion locomotives; All are in operation.

No. Class Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
1 20-ton Plymouth 1926 Since 1926 Operates on occasion
2 10-ton Plymouth 1930 Since 1984 Operates on occasion
10 Railcar Sanders Machine Shop 1915 Since 1962 Former Lancaster, Oxford & Southern (LO&S) and only car at Strasburg with roller bearings
8618 SW8 Electro-Motive Diesel 1952 Since 2009 Former New York Central;[15] Used for freight service.

Retired diesels[edit]

No. Class Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
7 GE 28-Ton General Electric 1915 1960's Heritage unknown
21 Railbus Mack 1921 Mid 1970's-2004 Former Lewisburg, Milton & Watsonburg; only operated a few times in the 1970s; Donated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
9331 (33) 44-Ton GE 1948 1960s-2013 Former PRR; Primary freight locomotive until 2008 after which saw only sporadic service; Sold to Walkersville Southern Railroad in spring 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strasburg Rail Road - Pint-Sized Pufferbelly
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Hallock, p. 132.
  4. ^ a b Hallock, p. 133.
  5. ^ a b Hallock, p. 134.
  6. ^ Journal of the Forty-second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1. Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 1832. p. 986. 
  7. ^ a b Hallock, p. 135.
  8. ^ Hallock, p. 136.
  9. ^ a b Hallock, p. 140.
  10. ^ a b Hallock, p. 141.
  11. ^ Hallock, p. 141.
  12. ^ Soloman, p. 76.
  13. ^ Hallock, p. 143.
  14. ^ a b "Fun Extras". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Equipment Roster" (PDF). Strasburg Rail Road. June 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  16. ^ Edson & Corley (Autumn 1982) p.136
  17. ^ Edson & Corley (Autumn 1982) p.132
  18. ^ "S. Berliner, III's BEDT Page: BEDT #15". Retrieved January 15, 2007. 
  19. ^ a b "Class A4-b 0-4-0 Switcher, #1187". Surviving Steam Profile. Reading Company Technical and Historical Society. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Engine 39 Finds a Home at Strasburg Rail Road". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  21. ^ http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4729

Sources[edit]

  • Edson, William D.; Corley, Raymond F. (Autumn 1982). "Locomotives of the Grand Trunk Railway". Railroad History (Boston, Mass.: The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Inc.) (147). ISSN 0090-7847. 
  • Hallock, Donald E. L (1964). "A brief history of the Strasburg Rail Road". Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society (Lancaster, PA: Lancaster County Historical Society) 68 (4): 129–146. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°58′59.3″N 76°9′35.5″W / 39.983139°N 76.159861°W / 39.983139; -76.159861