Strasburg Rail Road
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|Locale||Strasburg and Paradise Townships, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania|
|Dates of operation||1832–present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||4.5 mi (7.2 km)|
The Strasburg Rail Road (reporting mark SRC) is a heritage railroad located near Strasburg, Pennsylvania. It operates excursion trains hauled by steam locomotives in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The Strasburg Rail Road is unique in that it is one of the only places in the U.S. where steam locomotives can be seen hauling revenue freight trains on a regular basis throughout the year.
Rail Road and facility description
The 4½-mile (7.2 km) Strasburg Rail Road takes visitors on a 45-minute round-trip journey from Strasburg to Leaman Place Junction. The train includes America's only operational wooden dining car which allows visitors to dine while riding. Attractions at the station include riding on the Pint-Sized-Pufferbelly (Cagney miniature steam train) and powering a vintage pump car. A percentage of each train ticket is contributed to the Lancaster Farmland Trust.
In the early 1800s, the primary method of long-distance transportation of goods were canals. When the Susquehanna Canal was 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 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. A charter was issued by the government on June 9, 1832 to "incorporate the Strasburg rail road [sic]".
The Strasburg Rail Road was graded in 1835 and was operational by 1837. 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. 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. 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. The Panic of 1873 caused the railroad to be sold. 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.
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. 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. The Homshers ceased all operations and filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. 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.
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.
Locomotives of the Strasburg Rail Road
Operable Steam Locomotives
|3||4-4-0||Cagney Bros.||1920||Since 2003||Miniature steam train, originally operated at an amusement park. 15" gauge.|
|9||4-4-0||Cagney Bros.||1903||Since 2012||Another 15" gauge miniature engine, similar to no. 3.|
|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).|
|31 or 7312||0-6-0||Baldwin Locomotive Works 32894||1908||Since 1960||Strasburg Railroad 31 (as officially recorded),
ex Canadian National Railway 7312,
exx Canadian National 7240,
exxx Canadian National 7157,
exxxx Grand Trunk Railway 1708,
originally Grand Trunk Railway 118.
|89||2-6-0||Canadian Locomotive Company 922||1910||Since 1972||Strasburg Railroad 89 (as officially recorded), ex-Canadian National Railway 89,
exx-Canadian National 911,
originally Grand Trunk Railway 1009
|90||2-10-0||Baldwin Locomotive Works 57812||1924||Since 1967||Strasburg Railroad 90 (as officially recorded), ex-Great Western Railway 90|
|475||4-8-0||Baldwin Locomotive Works 28343||1906||Since 1991||Strasburg Railroad 475 (as officially recorded), ex-Norfolk and Western 475|
No. 1 was formerly BEDT Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal engine #15, rebuilt as Thomas the Tank Engine by the shops at the Strasburg Rail Road. In a private letter from the railroad's Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer to S. Berliner, III, dated March 13, 2000, the V.P. reportedly stated that “Thomas is indeed made from BEDT #15. While I know this is disturbing to BEDT fans the fact remains that the locomotive is operating and well cared for. Though Thomas is not exactly in line with our mission of recreating early 20th century railroading he serves a more important purpose. He makes steam exciting for the next generation. Hopefully sacrificing the historical integrity of #15 will ensure that steam will be around well into the future.”
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 the Susquehanna River flooded over the locomotive's stack, delaying its debut at Strasburg.
Steam Locomotives to be Restored
|9||4-4-0||Cagney Bros.||1903||Since 2012||Another 15" gauge miniature engine, similar to no. 3.|
|4 or 1187||0-4-0||Baldwin Locomotive Works 21831||1903||Since 1962||ex-Reading Company 1187. Last operation 1967.|
|972||4-6-0||Montreal Locomotive Works||1912||Since 1995||ex-Canadian Pacific Railway. 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.
ex-Long Island Rail Road
No. 1187 ran as No. 4 between 1962 and 1967. It was retired as being of inadequate strength for the Strasburg'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.
No. 972 was acquired from Rail Tours Inc. of Jim Thorpe, PA after the company couldn't afford the payments for mechanical repairs that Strasburg was performing on the locomotive at the time.
Over the past several years, many groups have scheduled photo charters where 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".
Former steam locomotives
|1223||4-4-0||Juniata 1399||1905||1963–1989||Pennsylvania Railroad 1223 (retired)|
|7002||4-4-2||Juniata||1902||1983–1989||ex Pennsylvania Railroad 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 been scrapped., Pennsylvania Railroad 7002 (retired)|
|98||4-4-0||American Locomotive Company||1909||1962–1964||ex Mississippi Central Railroad (Never operated at Strasburg) Sold to Wilmington and Western Railroad in 1965.|
All three former steam locomotives were owned by outside individuals or companies.
Both 1223 and 7002 were leased for operation. 1223 was leased by the P.R.R. from 1965 to 1968, by the 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 no.1223 and no.7002 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.
Number 98 was owned by Thomas Marshall. It sat on the property from 1962 to 1964 as a static display. Originally, it was planned to be operated on the Strasburg Railroad, but Mr. Marshall moved it to Delaware to operate on his Wilmington and Western steam railroad, where it currently operates.
The railroad also had some 4-4-0 steamers similar to the 1223 in its beginning. The William Penn steamer was the railroad's first locomotive.
The Strasburg Railroad also has a collection of early internal combustion locomotives; All are in operation.
|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; Used for freight service.|
Former Diesel Locomotives
|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 Pennsylvania Railroad; Primary freight locomotive until 2008 after which saw only sporadic service; Sold to Walkersville Southern Railroad in the spring of 2013|
- List of heritage railroads in the United States
- List of Pennsylvania railroads
- Oldest railroads in North America
- Hallock, p. 132.
- Hallock, p. 133.
- Hallock, p. 134.
- Journal of the Forty-second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1. Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 1832. p. 986.
- Hallock, p. 135.
- Hallock, p. 136.
- Hallock, p. 140.
- Hallock, p. 141.
- Hollack, p. 141.
- Soloman, p. 76.
- Hollack, p. 143.
- "Fun Extras". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "Equipment Roster" (PDF). Strasburg Rail Road. June 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
- Edson & Corley (Autumn 1982) p.136
- Edson & Corley (Autumn 1982) p.132
- "S. Berliner, III's BEDT Page: BEDT #15". Retrieved January 15, 2007.
- "Class A4-b 0-4-0 Switcher, #1187". Surviving Steam Profile. Reading Company Technical and Historical Society. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- "Engine 39 Finds a Home at Strasburg Rail Road". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- 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.
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