Saturday, 20 August 2016

Railways and the Amish community around Strasburg, Pennsylvania - Part 3 of our holiday

Strasburg, a borough in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is a haven of peace and tranquility,  although less than an  hour by car away from the roaring, snarling 8 (other numbers are available!) lane concrete dual carriageway with giant spaghetti intersections forming the monster superhighway Interstate 95, which runs south from the Canadian border, all the way down the east coast to Miami in Florida!

There are lots of photos and information to follow, so, if it all becomes too much, just look at what interests you!

The Pennsylvania Railroad was set up in 1846 and a track network linked the east coast, near here, with the steel town of Pittsburgh far in the west. 
The railroad museum was set up on agricultural land in Strasburg in 1975 with the aim of preserving as much as possible of local railway history. It is owned and operated by a State commission and supported by private funding and public donations. The collection comprises over 100 locomotives and carriages, half of which are housed in an indoor exhibition hall of 9,200  m2 (100,000 sq ft). While the vast majority are no longer operable, it is still an enormous thrill to stand next to these, now silenced, giants of early mass transportation and imagine them in action!

Number 1223 above is a 4-4-0 (four leading and four driving wheels) "American" type steam locomotive, the only surviving example of the D16sb class, built in 1905 for the Pennsylvania Railroad by the railroad's own Altoona Works for passenger service. This Workshop at one time employed 16,500 people! In its later life, the locomotive pulled local excursion trains   from 1965 until 1989, when it had to be removed from service, needing firebox repairs.  Very (too) expensive no doubt!


The 1902 built Class E7s 4-4-2 (but listed as a 4-4-0 for some reason!) locomotive with this number, 7002, allegedly set a  land speed record of 127 mph (203 kph) in 1905. When the loco was required to be displayed in 1939 at the New York World's Fair, it was found to have been scrapped (!), so it was decided to rebuild 8063, another of the same class, to look like the scrapped record breaker. It is the only survivor now and, like 1223 above, was gifted to the museum. I just love the cow catcher and headlight!


This "John Bull" is a replica of an 1831 English locomotive, built in 1940 by the local Altoona workshop.

Built in 1939 by Heisler Locomotive Works  this 0-8-0 loco named "D" has no boiler or firebox! It was bought by Pennsylvania Power and Light Company for hauling coal trucks at their power generating plant, after this 95 tonne heavyweight proved too much to bear for the rails at the site of its original owner,the Hammermill Paper Co! Called a fireless steam locomotive, it could carry enough steam in the huge front cylinder  for several hours operation. As steam was a by-product of the power  generating plant, the loco could easily be refuelled with steam when required, so the concept made economic sense at the time. This unit, displayed in 1940's style livery, was retired from service in 1969. 

The G5s was a class of 4-6-0 steam locomotives built in the mid-late 1920s. It was designed to pull passenger trains, particularly on commuter lines, and became a fixture on suburban railroads (notably the Long Island Rail Road) until the mid-1950s. One of three surviving examples, 5741 above was selected in 1979  for preservation and display upon its retirement.


In a post WW2 effort to replace worn-out steam locomotives, two EP20 class passenger diesels were ordered and constructed in 1945 by the Electro-Motive division of General Motors (see, they didn't just make cars!). This surviving locomotive 5901 and her now defunct sister 5900 have the distinction of being the first pair of such locomotives delivered to the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In the late 19th century, logging companies had to solve the problem of moving logs from the forest to the mill as cheaply as possible. Ephram Shay, a timberman, designed his own locomotive, which he hoped would cope with the steep inclines and sharp turns found in forestry areas. In 1880, he took the design to Lima Locomotive Works. The off-centre boiler powered a set of vertical pistons which in turn operated a geared drive shaft to turn the wheels.  The design grew and evolved; this is "Leetonia No. 1" from 1906, but between 1880 and 1946, over 2,700 examples of this rather different, but effective, design were produced.


What I would call an "Airstream" style passenger railcar used on local tracks. No detailed commentary was provided around it in this outside siding, but I liked the retro design!

This ginormous 4-8-2, Number 6755 in the M1b class, was another type of loco produced by the aforementioned Altoona Works in 1930. It was used predominantly in freight service, though it would occasionally be used for passenger trains. In 1953, this particular locomotive went back to the Altoona Works and was rebuilt. It continued to be used for freight service, but only for 4 years, when in January 1957, it was retired. Now this grand locomotive stands rather neglected and forlorn in the outside display area. I'm amazed by all those rivets!!


A modern (1939) replica of the John Stevens Steam Wagon from 1825. Stevens built the original locomotive as a concept and ran it on on a small circle of track in Hoboken, New Jersey. He chartered the first railroad in Pennsylvania in 1823, though it was never constructed! The boiler and safety valve of the original machine are now in the Museum of American History.


Built in 1918 by Heisler for the Chicago Mill and Lumber Co, No 4 is another geared locomotive along the lines of the Leetonia above. Despite its more diminutive size, it weighed about 50 tons!  It was the first locomotive purchased in 1966  for display at the museum.


Built in 1883 by Baldwin, this sweet little Olomana is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge 0-4-2 saddle tank locomotive, used in sugar cane harvesting.  Not used since 1977, it is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. It was the third self-propelled vehicle to operate in Hawaii - well that's always good to know!


Built by Juniata in 1916, 1670 was one of the first B6sb class 0-6-0 engines built with some of the emerging new and improved design features available at that time. It toiled in freight yards until October 15, 1957, one of the last steam engines to be retired.


And now for something completely different! The Amish (or Pennsylvania Dutch) people, from European roots, have long been settled in this area, co-existing with modern society whilst quietly pursuing their own simpler, devoutly religious, family-centred and community based way of life, as it would have existed hundreds of years ago. The "old Amish order" do not allow electricity in their homes and do not drive cars. One would think this philosophy would have died out, but in fact, the Amish population has nearly TRIPLED since 1960 and while the tourist industry must provide a good source of income, they discourage too close contact with the modern world. They dislike being photographed and prefer farming to provide for their requirements. Their transportation is by means of horse-drawn carriages, buggies and carts, although sometime you may see  much more modern farm equipment pulled by horses!

Horses shaded from the hot summer sun and carriages awaiting passengers for tourist trips.

Immaculately manicured Amish farmland. Much work is done by hand!

A goat and an Alpaca in a kids' entertainment enclosure.

To finish, green, green, Amish farmland! I wonder if they use fertiliser? Probably not!

Thanks Nigel for all your research.



Also see my daily diary HERE


and My Life Before Charente (updated 09 April 2016)  I will get back to this eventually!


24 comments:

  1. Hi Diane! Looks like your trip is great! We've been to this area and thinks it's great. Bill is retired from the RR so we've visited a lot of railroad yards and museums. The Amish area is great, a simple way of life, good food and family. And since I grew up on a farm in Ohio, I love that life. And yes, my guess is they use fertilizer there, but most likely the natural way with most of the Amish farms. Have fun!!!

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    1. Thanks Pam for the kind comment, we were totally fascinated by the museum and could have spent a lot more time there than what we did. Yes we also use natural fertiliser :-) Hope all is well Diane

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  2. What a fantastic time, Diane! Your photos are beautiful! I have always wanted to see a railway museum!

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    1. It was amazing ans we really enjoyed it. Keep well Diane

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  3. This type of railway museum we visited in Sacramento, CA.. my son loves to go back there always..
    Nice photos..
    lovely blog you have.. :)

    Please visit: http://from-a-girls-mind.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks Krishna for your visit, it was an amazing museum and well worth the visit. Take care Diane

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  4. What a treat that railway museum was...the 'D' engine fascinated me!

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    1. I agree with that, I did not know there was a train that used steam only! Hope that you are both well Diane

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  5. Well detailed visit to the train museum. Bill and I would have loved that but our tour didn't stop there. We didn't stop at the Amish place either but we did see some horse drawn wagons on the road. I can't understand their philosophy. To me it is for the people that can't cope with progress.

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    1. The train museum was very special and we could have spent much longer than we did there, but we knew we had to move on.Everyone to their own, but I certainly would not be able to make life that difficult for myself when there are easy ways around work. Take care t'other Diane

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  6. Fantastic photos of all the trains. I've always been fascinated by the Amish way of life. Must have been really interesting to see it all.

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    1. Thanks Maggie, very interesting all of it. Have a good week Diane

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  7. Wow, that's a lot of locomotives. 5901 looks like what I grew up seeing pulling the commuter cars from suburbs to Chicago and back. I could deal with some of the Amish way, like natural fertilizer and good whole food. But I don't think horses could tow my home on wheels. Great tour. Hope you are both well.

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    1. I also remember all the steam trains of my childhood, loved them, but guess they are not the best for the environment! We use natural fertiliser in our garden and lots of spades and forks, only though because there is no room for anything bigger!!!! Best wishes to you and Bill and have a great week D & N

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  8. Hi Diane. What a fabulous post! You probably don't know this but, for fifteen years (until I retired), I had my own business running rail tours for railway enthusiasts. I've only one complaint (I have my tongue firmly in my cheek!) with this post and that is that, in your fourth image you give us a tantalising glimpse of GG1 electric locomotive No.4935. The GG1 was probably the most iconic of all Pensy locomotives ever! You'd have made my day even more if you'd shown a photo of this loco in all its glory.

    With my best wishes - - - Richard

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    1. Thanks so much Richard for the kind words, Hope I have rectified you small complaint via email :-)
      Have a great week Diane.

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  9. Un article très instructif. J'aime beaucoup.
    A bientôt

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  10. Hi Diane and Nigel - you've given us much to enjoy ... I loved seeing the engines - and those rivets - they are extraordinary aren't they - and it's wonderful people are preserving 'eras' ... I know nothing about railway engines - but enjoy seeing them maintained and loved.

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary, an amazing place, I don't know much about railway engines but I learnt quite a bit looking around here. :-) Have a great week Diane

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  11. I'm so glad you got to visit Lancaster County! I had no idea they have a train museum there (about 2 hours from me), since we have one in Scranton, as well, and that one is well publicized and visited. Your pictures of the locomotives are beautiful. And it is most amazing the first time you encounter a horse drawn buggy while driving down the road. It feels like a time warp! I-95 is a mess of a road, with all that traffic; I try to avoid it during the day. Thankfully, I'm far enough inland to miss it most of the time.

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    1. Well worth a visit if you should be in that direction. Love the old steam trains but sad they are not good for the environment!!! Hope all is well with you both and the family. Diane

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  12. We have been in a lot of places in PA but we hoaven't visited the railroad museum. Looks beautiful!

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    1. If you are ever that way this is a place to add to your list to see, and give it time as there is much to see in there. Thanks for the comment Diane

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