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Tucked away in the middle of Amish Country in central Pennsylvania are a few gems in the world of railfanning.
In Strasburg you have the Strasburg Railroad, one of the more successful excursion railroads in the United States, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
Over in Lancaster, you have a right nice station for Amtrak, formerly a Pennsy depot. Also in Lancaster is a small yard and engine service facility.
About 10 miles north of Lancaster is a small town called Manheim. Manheim should be famous to most in the Delmarva area for it's car auctions, but for us, it holds a nice surprise in the form of the Manheim Museum, which is almost all railroad oriented, and is housed in an old PRR depot.
The aerial view below shows the two attractions in Strasburg.
The Strasburg RR
The RR Museum of Pennsylvania
Red Caboose Hotel
National Toy Train Museum
Railfanning: Strasburg to Philly
1 The Strasburg Railroad
The Strasburg RR was founded in 1832, but when it ran for the first time, no-one is really sure... the best guess right now is around 1851. The railroad bought it's first passenger car in 1861 in advance of President Lincoln's visit, which took him to Leaman Place. The railroad did pretty well until the 1950's, when the automobile and highways took business away. In 1957, a storm came thru that wiped out a lot of the tracks, and the owners considered abandonment. A couple of (well to do) railfans stepped in and bought the railroad. The first thing they did was to rebuild the four and a half mile right of way, and then they started buying up old rolling stock. They opened for business in 1958. 90 and 475 run out to the end of the line with the engines running backwards, then scoot around the train on a siding to come back into Strasburg facing forward, the Thomas train backs up the entire way. For more info click here
Below is a close-up of the depot and tower.
Below is the majority of the short Live Steam track that runs adjacent to Gap Road.
This set is from 2003
From June 2011
From 2003, not many people around on this day...
Thomas the Tank
Gas Car - Car #10 from the Lancaster, Oxford and Southern
These pictures were taken from Paradise Lane, the first grade crossing away from the railroad complex...
These were shot from the platform of the Red Caboose Hotel Dinner car
Signals and Such at the Strasburg RR
Fun little ride, but you feel every little bump and joint :-)
Pennsylvania has these pretty cool railroad license plates
2 The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
The Museum is owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, an agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additional funding and operational support is provided by a private, non-profit organization, the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The Museum opened to the public in 1975. The Museum has the distinction of being the first structure built specifically to house a railroad collection in the United States. An addition to the main hall, opened in 1995 was designed to reflect the architecture of a 19th Century trainshed. Unless noted, pictures are from 2003. For more info click here
< Inside and outside the main entrance Inside the gift shop - all 2011
An all original Good Humor ice cream truck from 1967 - June 18th, 2011
The above photos are taken from the street, June 18th, 2011, got there too late to go thru...
3 Red Caboose Hotel
When I came up here for the first time in 1970, the (then) Red Caboose Lodge was brand new. A fellow by the name of Don Denlinger bought the first 19 cabooses for $100 from the Pennsylvania RR on a dare from a friend. They now have 38 cabooses, 2 baggage cars, and 2 diner cars. Interesting place to stay when you visit Strasburg, and they have a great little dining car restaurant to go along with it, which was packed the day of Thomas the Tank AND the Amtrak 40th birthday train.... Also available here are Amish buggy rides, and the one fellow who rode us around, lives a few doors down from the TCA HQ. For more info click here. The poor semaphore needs a lot of attention :-(
4 National Toy Train Museum & Train Collectors Association (TCA) HQ
The national headquarters for the TCA is located on
Paradise Lane, just down from the Red Caboose Hotel. Members get to go
thru the museum for free, and are the only ones who can visit TCA sponsored
train swaps... Non-members can attend the swap-meets one time only as a guest of
For more info, click here and here.
Railfanning: Strasburg to Philadelphia
The two maps below trace the Amtrak route between Lancaster and Strasburg to the NW suburbs of Philadelphia, with the top map covering the line from Strasburg to about the halfway point. The map below it continues the trek to the NW suburbs, notably Norristown. I took the easy way out by using "snagged" shots of Bing maps... maybe someday I will do one of my own maps for the area....
Last Modified 13-Apr-2014