The Strasburg Railroad
An eastbound train passing through the corn fields of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA.
It is early September and the sky is grey blue above a gently rolling landscape divided into square fields filled with crops ready to harvest. Corn stalks higher than a man are cut by some contraption attached to a flat wagon pulled by two horses. A man wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, white shirt, suspenders, and black trousers gathers the stalks as they are cut and stacks them on a parallel wagon, also pulled by two horses. Picturesque, obviously a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. But what you don't see you can surely feel. 95 degrees Fahrenheit with the humidity chasing 100 percent. This is Dutch Pennsylvania country populated by hard-working Amish sects. You have to admire these people who put so much stock in physical labour. Cutting across these neat Amish farms at an angle is a railway track, well maintained, with light daily passenger traffic pulled by a steam engine. The temperature in the cab must be unbearable. You can see the heat waves rising above the dark coloured clerestory roofs of the coaches, Strasburg Railroad coaches.
A map of the Strasburg Railroad shows its 4 1/2 mile route through Lancaster County from East Strasburg to Leaman Place in the state of Pennsylvania, USA.
Looking at the map it appears the Strasburg Railroad may have reached as far west as Strasburg at one point in its history but today it terminates at East Strasburg, just a few miles east of that town. The line's route continues east from this point crossing several rural roads diagonally until swinging north to reach Leaman Place, the junction with Norfolk Southern, which used to be a main line on the famous, bygone, Pennsylvania Railroad.
East Strasburg Complex
This satellite photograph from Google shows the railroads structures at East Strasburg and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania complex south of Highway 741 which divides the two facilities.
A Brief Railroad History
You probably can't read it on the Strasburg Railroad logo above but the fine print says, "Since 1832".
The railroad was chartered on 9 Jun 1832 as a shortline for hauling freight and passengers from Lancaster County to the mainline of the former Pennsylvania Railroad located at Leaman Place. Local historians believe it was a horse drawn railroad until 1851 when the railroad purchased its first steam locomotive, a 4-2-0 Jervis type named William Penn.
In direct competition another company opened a tram line from Strasburg to Lancaster in 1901 killing off the railroad's regular passenger service, however, the railroad continued with a daily mixed train for several years after that.
Hard times followed World War II, with storm damage and washouts in the 1950s. As a result the owners of the railroad ceased operations in 1957 and petitioned the government for abandonment.
Local railfans created a non-profit group and raised US$18,000 to purchase the line on 1 Nov 1958. Tourist excursion service commenced on 4 Jan 1959 with a small Plymouth diesel and one coach.
About a year later the first steam locomotive, number 31, a Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-6-0 built in 1908 for the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, arrived on the property. Six other steam engines have been added to the roster since that time.
In addition two ex-Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives were leased by the Strasburg during various periods. Both are now static displays in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania across the street from East Strasburg, the western terminus of the Strasburg Railroad.
Steam Locomotive Roster
|1||0-6-0T||Porter||1917||1999||Ex-Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal 15 rebuilt as Thomas the Tank Engine.|
|4||0-4-0||Baldwin||1903||1962||Ex-Reading Company 1187.|
|31||0-6-0||Baldwin||1908||1960||Ex-GTR 118, GTR 1708, CN 7157, CN 7240, CN 7312.|
|89||2-6-0||CLC||1910||1972||Ex-GTR 1009, CN 911, CN 89.|
|90||2-10-0||Baldwin||1924||1967||Ex-Great Western Railway (Colorado) 90.|
|475||4-8-0||Baldwin||1906||1991||Ex-Norfolk and Western 475.|
|972||4-6-0||MLW||1913||1995||Ex-CP 972, inoperable.|
1 Aug 1990 - Strasburg Railroad Steam Locomotive 31 Running in Reverse
2 Jul 1999 - Steaming Through a World That Time Left Behind
14 Sep 2010 - Storm Water Could Power Steam Trains
28 Oct 2010 - Ghosts on the rails?
4 Nov 2010 - Time Travel by Train: Railroad Museum Hosts USO Event
10 Nov 2010 - Strasburg Railroad Gets $1M for Freight Yard
Moedinger, William M.
The Road to Paradise
Published by the Strasburg Railroad Shop Inc.
8 1/4 x 10 3/4 inches - 21 x 27.5 centimetres
40 pages 72 photos 0 drawings 1 map
A brief history of the line with black and white photos.
Goldhill Home Media
America's Historic Steam Railroads: Strasburg
? x ? inches - ? x ? centimetres
Runtime 30 minutes
Associated Web Sites
Strasburg Rail Road
Strasburg Valley Railroad Company
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
YouTube Tribute to Strasburg Railroad No. 31