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.
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.
Parked and ready to spend an afternoon exploring trains!
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!
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…
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.
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.
Train suspension from a passenger coach built in 1836. Not quite the double-wishbone suspension of my Accord.
I felt like a big kid running around this place.
Some of the trains allow passenger entry. This one was closed for now, but I was able to board a caboose and an engine.
The sheer size of these trains always amazes me.
The outside yard houses even more trains, as well as a real roundtable. It’s a train enthusiasts paradise.
Forget Tesla Motors, how about this DD-1 electric train from 1911?
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.