5 September 2010
When America Ran on Steam
Steamtown's authentic steam engines and century-old cars recall a time when railroads ruled the country.
Scranton Pennsylvania USA - While train travel is still a viable mode of transportation in certain parts of the country, for many, locomotives primarily serve as reminders of American history.
This part of Americana is preserved just outside the Poconos at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.
"It's neat that our mission is to preserve railroading for future generations," said Marc Brennan, chief of Visitors Services and Public Affairs. "It was the railroad that opened up national parks and brought visitors to see the sites."
Steamtown National Historic Site occupies nearly 40 acres of the Scranton railroad yard of the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Central to the park is a large collection of standard-gauge steam locomotives and freight and passenger cars that New England seafood processor F. Nelson Blount assembled in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1984, the Steamtown Foundation for the Preservation of Steam and Railroad Americana, Inc., brought the collection to Scranton, where it occupied the former DL&W yard.
When the Steamtown National Historic Site was created in 1986, the yard and the collection became part of the national park system.
The Steamtown collection consists of locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads.
Locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switch engine, built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company, to a huge Union Pacific Big Boy built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company.
The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by Alco in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company.