I hear the train a comin’

I woke up today to a beautiful Saturday in early Spring, and there was no sense spending it sitting in my apartment. So I grabbed my camera and my car keys and set off to one of my favorite local destinations, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Located in Strasburg, PA, the Railroad Museum is a 70-mile drive door-to-door, and makes for a great day trip for anyone interested in trains, or in exploring a beautiful section of the Northeast.

Strasburg is in Lancaster County, which is most famous for being the home of the Amish, a group whose history traces back to Switzerland, and who are well-noted for eschewing modern conveniences such as electricity, telephones, and cars. I did pass eight traditional Amish buggies while I was driving, although not wanting to risk an accident, I avoided the temptation to take a picture while maneuvering around them. I plan to come back to the area over the summer, and I will spend more time exploring Pennsylvania Dutch country in southeastern PA.

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Farms as far as the eye can see. And also… farm smells. You know you’re in rural America when you have to press the recirculation button on your car’s A/C to spare yourself the smell of livestock and fresh fertilizer.

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Parked and ready to spend an afternoon exploring trains!

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The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s main collection hall. According to the website, the museum houses over 100 locomotives and cars from the mid-19th and 20th centuries. It is one of the largest such museums in the world, and there is a lot for children to do there as well. If you’re a train buff, or if you have little ones who would enjoy seeing all these trains, check it out!

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Having grown up in the era of jetliners and seeming universal car ownership, trains for me are something exotic… I rarely see them, and when I do, modern Amtrak and Conrail trains lack the allure of the old great engines. Also, they’re huge. Absolutely enormous. Which brings me to…

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Ever stand beneath a train? Me neither. And while I’m sure the steel support structure holding the train up is sturdy, it was a little disconcerting to be taking photos beneath 124,000 pounds of metal.

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It doesn’t look as imposing from up here… oh, wait. Yes it does.

I am fascinated by the details of trains, the small pieces that make these huge machines work.

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Train suspension from a passenger coach built in 1836. Not quite the double-wishbone suspension of my Accord.

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I felt like a big kid running around this place.

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Some of the trains allow passenger entry. This one was closed for now, but I was able to board a caboose and an engine.

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The sheer size of these trains always amazes me.

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The outside yard houses even more trains, as well as a real roundtable. It’s a train enthusiasts paradise.

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Forget Tesla Motors, how about this DD-1 electric train from 1911?

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Time to head back.

My trip over, I got back in the Accord and headed home. It was a fun day admiring these great old machines. If you find yourself in the Philadelphia area, definitely make the detour to Strasburg. It’s a great place for kids, or for your inner kid!

‘Til next time.

3 thoughts on “I hear the train a comin’

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