Strasburg Rail Road

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Strasburg Rail Road
Strasburg Rail Road logo.png
Reporting markSRC
LocaleStrasburg and Paradise Townships, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation1832 (1832)–present
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length4.5 mi (7.2 km)
HeadquartersStrasburg, Pennsylvania
Websitestrasburgrailroad.com
Strasburg Railroad
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
PA 741 (Gap Road)
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

The Strasburg Rail Road (reporting mark SRC) is the oldest continuously operating railroad in the western hemisphere and the oldest public utility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[citation needed] Chartered in 1832, the Strasburg Rail Road Company is today a heritage railroad offering excursion trains hauled by steam locomotives on 4.5 miles of track in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Its headquarters sit outside Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

Strasburg has five operating steam locomotives (Canadian National 7312, Canadian National 89, Great Western 90, N&W 475, and Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal 15 (rebuilt as Thomas the Tank Engine)) and the nation's largest operating fleet of historic wooden passenger coaches. The Strasburg Rail Road is one of the few railroads in the United States to occasionally use steam locomotives to haul revenue freight trains. It hosts 300,000 visitors per year.[1]

The nearby Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania occasionally uses Strasburg Rail Road tracks to connect to the Amtrak Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg Main Line junction in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

Description[edit]

Strasburg Rail Road is a shortline railroad built to connect the town of Strasburg with a main line. Today, the original four and a half-mile (7.2 km) line carries passengers on a 45-minute round-trip journey from Strasburg to Leaman Place Junction through nearly 2,000 acres in southeastern 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 in (381 mm) gauge Pint-Sized Pufferbelly[2] (Cagney steam-powered ridable miniature railway) a vintage pump car and several c.1930s "cranky cars" along with several gift shops and a cafe.

A percentage of each train ticket is contributed to the Lancaster Farmland Trust.[3]

The railroad's mechanical and car shops maintain and restore locomotives and rolling stock for the Strasburg Rail Road and a wide variety of public and private clients, including fellow steam railroads, train museums, attractions, and more. In 2016-17, the shops were enlarged by 12,000 square feet to accommodate demand for their services.

Its freight department carries goods to and from the main line for local and regional clients.

History[edit]

By the 1820s, the canal system had replaced the Conestoga wagon as the primary method of overland transportation. When the Susquehanna Canal opened, the majority of goods were directed through Baltimore, Maryland, rather than Philadelphia.[4][5] The small amount of goods that were destined for Philadelphia traveled via a wagon road through Strasburg.[5] 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.[6] 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 [sic]".[7]

Strasburg Rail Road ex-PRR 4-4-0 number 929 in Strasburg around 1894.

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.[6][8] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] Isaac Groff managed The Strasburg Rail Road for about 20 years until the fire of January 16, 1871, which destroyed the depot, grist, and merchant-mill, planing-mill, and machine-shop — in all, more than $50,000 worth of property. In 1878, the Strasburg Rail Road and the shops were sold.[11] 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.[12]

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 Rail Road.[12] 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.[12][13] Upon the death of Bryson Homsher, the Homsher estate filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.[14] 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.

Tourist excursion service began on January 4, 1959, and the first steam locomotive, No. 31, arrived the following year.

Locomotive roster[edit]

Operational[edit]

No. Images 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.[15]
1 (15) Thomas 22.jpg 0-6-0T H.K. Porter, Inc. 5966 1917 Since 1998 Ex-Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal No. 15.

Currently the railroad's smallest standard-gauge steam engine and their only tank engine.

Heavily altered by the Strasburg Rail Road to resemble Thomas the Tank Engine, it is used for pulling trains for the railroad's Day out with Thomas events and at other locations. It is also used for switching when performing test runs.

89 Strasburg RR.jpeg 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[16]

No. 89 is Strasburg's fastest steam locomotive.

Used for pulling excursions and occasionally freight.

90 Strasburg RR 90.jpg 2-10-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 57812 1924 Since 1967 Strasburg Rail Road 90, ex-Great Western Railway 90[17]

No. 90 is Strasburg's strongest and largest locomotive.

Used for pulling excursions and heavy freight.

475 Strasburg Rail Road -475.jpeg 4-8-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 28343 1906 Since 1991 Strasburg Rail Road 475, ex-Norfolk and Western 475[17]

Used for pulling excursions and occasionally freight. Used in the movie Thomas And The Magic Railroad along with two other coaches. Ventured off to Harrisburg for the set.

"Thomas" is Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal #15. The engine was sold to the Strasburg Rail Road by Keith Brigode from the Toledo, Lake Erie and Western Railway in March 1998 and was originally going to pull excursions on the site. However, it would not be easy to run the engine the entire line and back due to the engine's limited water capacity of the saddle tank. Unfortunately, the railroad had already purchased the engine and it was scheduled to arrive in May of that year. When Strasburg Railroad finished shooting arrangements for the film, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, a few representatives from the Britt Allcroft company were impressed and requested the railroad to host Day out with Thomas events. The railroad accepted the offer and restored No. 15 to resemble the character, Thomas the Tank Engine. The engine first ran under its own power as its "Thomas" rebuild on April 14, 1999. Thomas's face was replaced with the CGI face in April 2014.[18]

No. 89 was purchased from the Steamtown Foundation in 1972. En route to Strasburg that June, it was in Penn Central's Buttonwood, Pennsylvania, yard when Hurricane Agnes flooded the Susquehanna River. The floodwaters entered 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 (only two of which wound up being used) were relettered "Indian Valley".

No. 90 was painted in her old Great Western Railway (Colorado) colors in 2013.[19]

Undergoing restoration[edit]

No. Wheel
Arrangement
Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
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. The locomotive is currently out of service. Last operation 2009.
4 or 1187 0-4-0 Baldwin Locomotive Works 21831 1903 Since 1962 ex-Reading Company 1187.[17] Last operation 1967.[20]
972 4-6-0 Montreal Locomotive Works 1912 Since 1995 ex-Canadian Pacific Railway.[17] Not in operation.
39 4-6-0 Juniata Shops 1929 Boiler since 2008, remainder pending #39 is a PRR G5 class ten-wheeler. Potentially on lease to Strasburg Rail Road for 48 years if prerequisites of signed lease are met.[21]
ex-Long Island Rail Road.[17]
9 4-4-0 Cagney Bros. 1903 Since 2012 Another 15 in (381 mm) gauge miniature engine, similar to no. 3.

No. 1187 ran as No. 4 between 1962 and 1967. It had inadequate strength for SRR's heavy trains. As such, it ran as a switcher during the summer months from 1963 to 1967. 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 long-term future restoration. It is unknown if that restoration is simply cosmetic, or if the railroad plans for the locomotive to go back into service.[20]

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.

  • While there are many locomotives which have gone through the backshop for restoration, some have been established to be in the shop only on here-say. Only locomotives which have been publicly displayed or have been given a press release count as restorations/re-builds.

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.
98 4-4-0 American Locomotive Company 1909 1961-1964 Ex-Mississippi Central Railroad. operated during the early 1970s before moving to the Wilimington and western Railroad

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 also 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. The railroad stated they could have done the repairs but the lessor, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, wanted to preserve the "historical fabric" of each locomotive and did not renew their leases the following year. They have both remained on static display since being removed from service.

1223's last day of service for SRC was Thursday, October 26, 1989, while 7002's was earlier that year in January right after filming a Prudential Insurance commercial in Harrisburg Train Station.

98 is currently operating at the Wilmington and Western Railroad.

Pre-1958[edit]

Strasburg Rail Road's first locomotive "William Penn" after its time at Strasburg

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.

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
937 4-4-0 Juniata 1876 1906-1924 Renumbered as Strasburg's second No. 1
929 4-4-0 Juniata 1873 1892-1906 Renumbered as Strasburg's first No. 1
"Strasburg" 4-4-0T Baldwin Locomotive Works 1863 1863-1892 Strasburg's first new locomotive
"William Penn" 4-2-0 Long & Norris 1835 1851-1863 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 but No. 1235 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
1235 SW9 Electro-Motive Diesel 1953 Since 2018 Former Santa Fe Railroad; Will be used in freight service.
8618 SW8 Electro-Motive Diesel 1952 Since 2009 Former New York Central;[17] Used for freight service and on rare occasions, excursion service. Rethemed to "Mavis" in 2019

No. 1 has operated on the Strasburg Rail Road ever since it was built in 1926. The engine is notable for being used to reconstruct the track and rails for the railroad between 1958 and 1959, after the railroad was purchased to become a tourist line.

1235 was brought to the railroad in late 2018. It arrived in poor condition.[citation needed]

Retired diesels[edit]

No. Class Builder Built At
Strasburg
Notes
7 GE 28-Ton General Electric 1915 1960-1963 Former Warwick Railway, originally built for University of Michigan as an electric steeple cab.
21 Railbus Mack 1921 1969-2001 Former Lewisburg, Milton & Watsonburg; only operated a few times in the 1970s; Donated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in 2001.
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

Passenger Car Roster[edit]

SRR No. Name Builder Built Type Notes Significance of Car Name
10 Reading Harlan & Hollingsworth 1913 Business ex Reading Original name given to the car by Edward Stotesbury, former president of the Reading Railroad
20 William M. Moedinger Jackson & Sharpe 1913 Coach ex Maryland and Pennsylvania Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and fifth company president (1971-1982). Put into service at Strasburg in 1959. Number 20 is its original MA&PA number. Originally named "Willow Brook" from 1959 until 2007 when it was renamed "William M. Moedinger".[22]
58 Huber Leath Harlan & Hollingsworth 1911 Coach ex Reading Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and CMO (1962-1986). Arrived at Strasburg in 1958. Originally named "Cherry Hill" from 1958 until 2007 when it was renamed "Huber Leath".[22]
59 Grasshopper Level B&M Salem Shops 1904 Coach ex Boston and Maine A nickname for an area of Lancaster County just south of Strasburg along Route 896. Arrived at Strasburg in 1959.
60 Donald E.L. Hallock B&M Concorde Shops 1903 Combine ex Boston and Maine Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and 3rd company president (1965-1970). Arrived at Strasburg in 1960. Originally named "Eshelman Run" from 1960 until 1999 when it was renamed "Donald E.L. Hallock".[22]
62 Gobbler's Knob Pullman 1897 Coach ex Boston and Maine A nickname for an area in Lancaster County just south of Strasburg along Route 896. Put into service in 1962.
65 Walnut Hollow Harlan & Hollingsorth 1910 Coach ex Reading Unknown significance. Put into service at Strasburg in 1962.
68 Hello Dolly Pullman 1896 Open Air/Observation ex Boston and Maine, built as a coach Named for the 1969 movie for which this car was rebuilt and in which this car starred.
70 Cherry Crest Pullman 1904 Coach ex Boston and Maine Named for the ex-Cornelius Ferree farm along the Strasburg Rail Road line. Put into service at Strasburg in 1970.
71 Daffodil Spring Pullman 1904 Open Air ex Boston and Maine, built as coach No significance in the name. Put into service at Strasburg in 1971.
72 Mill Creek Pullman 1906 Coach ex Boston and Maine Named for the tributary of the Conestoga River. Put into service at Strasburg in 1972.
73 Pleasant View Pullman 1907 Open Air ex Boston and Maine, built as Coach. No significance to the name. Put into service at Strasburg in 1973.
75 Henry K. Long Laconia 1910 Lounge ex Boston and Maine, built as Coach Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and first company president (1958-1963). Put into service at Strasburg in 1975.
88 Marian Laconia 1910 Parlor ex Boston and Maine, built as Coach Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and first board secretary. She was the wife of William M. Moedinger. Put into service as the First Class Parlor car at Strasburg in 1988.
92 Susquehanna Harlan & Hollingsworth 1910 Coach ex Reading Named for the Susquehanna River, which forms the western boundary of Lancaster County. Put into service at Strasburg in 1992.
93 Lee E. Brenner Laconia 1909 Diner ex Boston and Maine, built as Coach, only wooden dining car in regular service in the US Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and second company president (1963-1964). Put into service at Strasburg as the dining car in 1993.
96 William McFarlan Pullman 1896 Coach ex Boston and Maine Named for a former Strasburg Rail Road Company VP whose estate gift funds to the company, from which the restoration of this car was made possible. Put into service at Strasburg in 1996.
99 Valley View Laconia 1909 Open Air ex Boston and Maine, built as Coach No significance with the name. Put into service at Strasburg in 1999.
105 Warren F. Benner Barney & Smith 1912 Coach ex Western Maryland Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company founder and second company treasurer (1967-1998). Put into service at Strasburg in 2005.
118 Linn W. Moedinger American Car & Foundry 1910 Lounge ex Baltimore and Ohio 4111. Cocooned from 1990-2015. Restored 2015-2018. Completed November 2018. Inaugural run November 19, 2018. Named for Strasburg Rail Road Company CMO (1988-2018), president (2000-2018), and son of William and Marian Moedinger.
3214 none Laconia 1909 Baggage ex Boston and Maine, built as Combine
TBD TDB Wagner Palace Car Co. 1899 Coach ex Rutland 704, coccooned
TBD TBD Barney & Smith 1910 Cafe/Observation ex Baltimore and Ohio, coccooned
TBD TBD Jackson & Sharpe 1899 Coach ex Bangor and Aroostook, coccooned
TBD TBD Jackson & Sharpe 1899 Coach ex Bangor and Aroostook, coccooned

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Locomotives find new life among the crash and bang of Strasburg Rail Road's mechanical shop". LancasterOnline.com. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Strasburg Rail Road - Pint-Sized Pufferbelly
  3. ^ [1]"Lancaster Farmland Trust". 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
  4. ^ Hallock, p. 132.
  5. ^ a b Hallock, p. 133.
  6. ^ a b Hallock, p. 134.
  7. ^ Journal of the Forty-second House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 1. Harrisburg: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 1832. p. 986.
  8. ^ a b Hallock, p. 135.
  9. ^ Hallock, p. 136.
  10. ^ Hallock, p. 140.
  11. ^ Ellis, Franklin (1883). History of Lancaster County Pennsylvania: With biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men. (1883). United States: Everts and Peck. p. 1067.
  12. ^ a b c Hallock, p. 141.
  13. ^ Soloman, p. 76.
  14. ^ Hallock, p. 143.
  15. ^ "Fun Extras". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  16. ^ Edson & Corley (Autumn 1982) p.132
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Equipment Roster" (PDF). Strasburg Rail Road. June 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  18. ^ "S. Berliner, III's BEDT Page: BEDT #15". Retrieved January 15, 2007.
  19. ^ Conrail6370 (2008-11-14), "A Near Miss at Cherry Hill Siding" on the Strasburg Railroad November 8,2008, retrieved 2018-11-07
  20. ^ a b "Class A4-b 0-4-0 Switcher, #1187". Surviving Steam Profile. Reading Company Technical and Historical Society. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  21. ^ "Engine 39 Finds a Home at Strasburg Rail Road". Strasburg Rail Road. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  22. ^ a b c https://www.strasburgrailroad.com/dig-deeper/equipment-roster/

Sources[edit]

  • Bell, Kurt; Plant, Jeremy (2015). Strasburg Rail Road In Color (1st ed.). Morning Sun Books. ISBN 978-1582484792.
  • Conner, Eric; Barrall, Steve (2017). Strasburg Rail Road. Images of Rail (1st ed.). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4671-2507-9.
  • 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