Visitors Guide to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania


Nestled deep in the Pennsylvania Dutch country lies a mecca for train enthusiasts, The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. The museum is home to hundreds of railroad artifacts from the golden age of railroading. The displays consist of preserved locomotives and rolling stock, to numerous railroad related artifacts. Also, be sure to visit Railroader’s Hall to see the names of the individuals that are current or past railroaders.

Bob Kise photo

Background

From humble beginnings, the museum grew to what it is today. The Pennsylvania Railroad, being one of the most influential and well-known corporations of its time, enjoyed engaging with the public as often as possible. At the New York World Fair in 1939, the railroad displayed various types of historical locomotives that had served in the early days of the railroad. With the desire to keep its heritage alive, the railroad decided to store these historic locomotives in a roundhouse located in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

During the late sixties, the newly established Penn Central was looking to find a new home for the historical equipment. This, along with the state’s desire to begin construction of a railroad museum, was the birth of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Located in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is a highly sought after location for many rail enthusiasts. In association with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the museum has the ability to display Pennsylvania’s rich railroad history, and tell the tale of how it impacted the expansion of the United States.

Amtrak 915 AEM-7 Connor Fraiser photo

First opening its doors in 1975, the museum had a 45,000 square foot building built for its rolling stock hall, with a foot bridge to overlook the entire museum. Eventually, the museum grew to an astronomical 18 acres and administered many new additions to the museum including the addition of a second level, and an educational facility called Stewards Junction, which houses many different types of railroad literature and other educational artifacts.

Displays

Throughout rolling stock hall and other areas of the museum, there are well over 100 pieces of equipment on display for visitors to enjoy. Here is a list of that equipment and a brief history of each.

Conrail EMD GP30 2233

Introduced in 1961, the GP30 was a 2,250 horsepower locomotive that was focused on taking on competitor GE U25B. Many Class 1 railroads purchased this locomotive for its versatility and sustainability. GP30 2233 was originally purchased by the PRR, and eventually handed over to Penn Central in 1968, and to Conrail in 1976. Many of these locomotives were retired in the early eighties, however, a few remain in service today.

Stephen Bradley photo

Pennsylvania Railroad EMD E7 5901

Built between 1945-1949, the EMD E7 was a versatile passenger locomotive that produced 2,000 horsepower. This locomotive soon replaced many steam locomotives and was a welcome addition to the PRR’s fleet of streamliners called the “Blue Ribbon Fleet”.

5901 is the only surviving example of the type, and is currently on display in the museum in rolling stock hall. It has been cosmetically restored to its former glory and is a welcome sight to any train enthusiast.

Gary Everhart photo

EMD GP9 PRR 7006 -Built in 1955

Following the success of its predecessor, the GP7, the GP9 was perhaps one of the most versatile and reliable diesel locomotives of its time. The 1,750 horsepower diesel excelled in freight service as well as revenue passenger service, earning high praise among many railroads, and established EMD as the lead locomotive builder. The low maintenance costs proved to be popular among railroads.

7006 was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad, transferred to the Penn Central, and later Conrail. The locomotive currently resides in rolling stock hall.

PRR 4465 GE E44-Built 1963

Slated to replace the PRR’s aging P5a fleet of electric locomotives, the E44 was the new mainstay of electric freight power on the Northeast Corridor. 4465 was one of 66 E44’s purchased by the PRR between 1960-1963, and were rated for 5,000 horsepower. Due to their shape, these units became known as “bricks” to many train crews.

Later, these units were passed on to Penn Central and later Conrail, before finally being retired in the mid-eighties by NJ Transit and Amtrak. 4465 is the only example of the E44 preserved.

PRR 4935 GE GG1-Built 1943

During the 1930s, the PRR embarked on many electrification projects throughout its large system. The railroad wanted a locomotive with a high tractive effort that could haul high speed passenger trains along its electrified routes, especially the Northeast Corridor.

The locomotives unique design was a result of the engineering mastery of Raymond Loewy, who developed the original design of the GG1. The GG1 served the PRR with many years of reliability and versatility. The GG1 was retired in the early eighties, serving its final years with Conrail, Amtrak and NJ Transit.

PRR 5690 B1 Switcher- Built 1934

The Pennsylvania Railroad, running numerous passenger trains throughout the system, had to turn trains around when they reached their terminus. With this, the PRR was in the market for a versatile electric switcher that could be used in yards and at these vital terminus points. They decided to seek assistance from Westinghouse and Allis-Chalmers, who assisted the PRR in building these motors. Thus, the B1 electric was born. With 700 horsepower, this locomotive was the ideal locomotive for yard use.

Reading Company No. 800- Built 1931

Constructed by the Bethlehem Steel Company, this car served commuters in the greater Philadelphia area for many years. These cars replaced the commuter trains hauled by steam power and reduced commute times drastically. They operated efficiently, as they could be paired in multiple units, and haul more passengers. These cars operated on lines presently served by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

Bethlehem Steel Company No. 111- Built 1941

Built by the Erie City Iron Works, the 111 was a fireless steam engine. A fire less steam engine operates by an auxillary steam generator that pumps steam into the boiler. This was needed in the steel plants as if it was fired, it would of been a hazard.

Heisler Locomotive Works No. 4- Built 1918

John Simakauskas photo

Leetonia Railway Shay No.1-Built 1906

Built by the Lima Locomotive Works, and designed by Ephraim Shay. Shay needed an inexpensive way to move lumber and went to the Lima Locomotive Works to present his locomotive design. His goal was to construct a locomotive that could be capable of hauling heavy trains over any type of rail or terrain that was put in the locomotive’s path. The unique lightweight design met the criteria and many examples of the type were built.

Moore Keppel and Company Climax No.4-Built 1913

Built by the Climax Manufacturing Company, No.4 was built to haul logs and other types of lumber from various mountainsides within Pennsylvania. The Climax locomotive had to be inexpensive, lightweight, and versatile in all climates of the logging industry. The first Climax produced, the Class A, was a powerful locomotive, however, it was smaller than most and a larger locomotive was needed. This came in the form of the Class B locomotive which could be ordered from 17 to 62 ton configurations.

Pennsylvania Power and Light Company “D”-Built 1939

Built by Heisler Locomotive Works, this unique locomotive was the largest fireless 0-8-0 locomotive ever built. For many years, the locomotive served on the Hammermill Paper Company and Pennsylvania Power and Light.

John Bull Replica

Built in the United Kingdom by Robert Stephenson & Company, the original John Bull was built for the Camden & Amboy Railroad between Camden, NJ and South Amboy, NJ. Once the locomotive arrived at the Camden & Amboy, it received numerous additions such as a cow catcher and a cab. Retired in 1866 and acquired by the Smithsonian in 1884, the original locomotive is currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum.

After the Camden & Amboy ownership was transferred to the PRR, the John Bull was seen as a keen marketing strategy for the railroad with the aim to show their rich heritage. However, after a while, the new owner, the Smithsonian, ended their partnership with the PRR and did not allow them to display it at events. This prompted the railroad to build the John Bull replica at their Juniata Shops in 1949, in order to continue their marketing efforts.

James St. John photo

PRR No.94-Built 1917.

No.94,an A5s Class 0-4-0 switcher was built to transfer cars around yards and build trains. The switcher locomotive had to be powerful and compact in order to be feasible. 47 examples of this locomotive were built and proved powerful due to its weight and wheel configuration, allowing for a high tractive effort.

PRR No. 460 4-4-2 E6s Atlantic

Known as the “Lindbergh” locomotive, this particular Atlantic is remembered for its historic run to New York. Charles Lindbergh, one of the earliest aviators had just completed a transatlantic flight from Paris and was welcomed by President Coolidge in Washington, DC. Many newsreel companies were at the event, and wanted to show the film recorded from his homecoming in theaters in New York City. Many newsreel companies chartered aircraft to carry the film, however, the International News Reel Company chartered a PRR train so the film could develop en route. The train beat the aircraft by two hours, due to the film needing to develop before the planes could takeoff. The PRR used this event as a marketing tactic for years afterwards.

PRR No.1187 H3-Built 1888

The H3 locomotive became the standard for freight locomotives throughout the North American rail system. This Consolidation type 2-8-0 locomotive proved versatile and boasted improved tractive effort over previous designs. This type of locomotive introduced the “Bellpaire” firebox which allows a larger area for steam.

PRR No. 1223

A 4-4-0 American Type, the 1223 was built at the Juniata Shops. This class of locomotives, called the D16, was versatile and considered one of the most prominent locomotives of its time. It was mainly used for passenger work and mainly saw service in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For almost 20 years, the 1223 worked on the Strasburg Railroad hauling excursion trains.

PRR No. 2846- Built 1905

Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works, the H6 class of locomotives was commonly seen hauling freight along most areas of the PRR. The H6’s were versatile and unique locomotives with many additions and modifications made throughout their operating life.

PRR G5s No. 5741

The PRR G5s was developed to fill the gap for commuter locomotives that were capable of quick acceleration. These locomotives, coined the “ten wheeler” were versatile and powerful, and could be seen anywhere on the PRR system.

James St. John photo

PRR E2 Atlantic Type No. 7002- Built 1902

Considered to hold the speed record for the fastest locomotive, 7002 and its counterparts were known for their speed and efficiency. The original 7002 was scrapped, however, another E2, the 8063, was renumbered as 7002.

Reading Company No. 1251-Built 1918

Built by Reading Shops, this small and versatile locomotive was used by the Reading to move locomotives around the shops. Due to the water and coal tender attached to the locomotive, its weight increased, therefore increasing the traction power of the locomotive.

Virginia & Truckee Railroad “Tahoe”-Built 1875

Built by Burnham, Perry and Williams Company, this 2-6-0 “Mogul type locomotive was used in Nevada for mining and iron ore operations.

Waimanalo Sugar Company “Olomana”-Built 1883

The Olomana, built by The Baldwin Locomotive Works hauled sugar cane in California until 1944. Its light weight design made it versatile and easy to operate.

Baldwin Locomotive Works No.1200

The Baldwin S-12, built between 1951-1956, was a 1,200 horsepower switcher that was known for being a powerful and versatile workhorse. Number 1200 was one of the demonstrator units produced by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.

Lehigh Valley Rail Diesel Car (RDC) No.40

Built by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, the RDC was a versatile self-propelled rail car that provided its customers with reliable commuter services. The RDC was powered by two Detroit Diesel engines mounted underneath the car body. The RDC was a great choice for many railroads, as they could be run in multiple units, and have many coupled together.

Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad No. 81

Built by EMD from 1939-1949, the NW2 locomotive was a versatile 1000 horsepower switcher that utilized EMD’s 567 prime mover.

Monongahela Connecting Railroad No.71

MCRR 71, an ALCO C415, is a 1,500 horsepower switcher. 26 examples were built between 1966-1968, and were purchased by only a few railroads.

PRR DD1 No. 3936 & 3937

Built by Altoona Works, the DD1 was an electric locomotive that were “married pairs” meaning they were semi-permanently coupled. The locomotives had 1,580 horsepower (3,160 as a pair), and were mainly used on passenger services through the Hudson River Tunnels into New York Penn Station.

Public Domain

General Electric/Baldwin GG1 No.4800

Nicknamed “Old Rivets” 4800 was the prototype to the GG1 class of locomotives, and competed against the Westinghouse R1, for the next generation of Pennsy electric passenger power. Last operated by Conrail in 1980, 4800 was sold to the National Railroad Historical Society (NRHS) for preservation.

New York, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad Company “Nickel Plate Road” No.757

Built in 1944 by Lima locomotive works, the 4-8-4 Berkshire S-4 type locomotive served on the Nickel Plate Road until 1958 before being placed into storage. The Berkshire weighed 440,000 lbs and was capable of 64,135 pounds of tractive effort. These units proved to be versatile and were used on both freight and passenger trains alike.

PRR L1s No. 520

Built by the Juniata Shops in cooperation with Lima Locomotive Works, and Baldwin Locomotive Works, and was a 2-8-2 locomotive. This L1s type of locomotives were the mainstay of the PRR freight fleet for much of the steam era, and was consider to be a model to other railroads looking for the same versatility and power.

Sean Lamb photo

PRR Class B6 Switcher No.1670- Built 1916

The Class B6 switcher, built by Altoona Works in cooperation with Baldwin and Lima. This switcher locomotive featured the sloped back tender to give the engineer an unobstructed view when operated the locomotive in reverse. This locomotive was fitted with many modern amenities of this time including super heating and a reverse lever. This is the only B6sb left in existence.

PRR K4s 4-6-2 Pacific Type No.3750

The iconic K4 was the mainstay of the Pennsy’s passenger fleet for over 40 years. The design of its drivers allowed it to be used as a high speed passenger locomotive, and served with the PRR until 1957, when the class ran its last train in North Jersey.

PRR 4-8-2 Mountain Type Class M1b

PRR M1b 6755 Jim Appleman photo

The M1 class of locomotive, originally slated for passenger service, saw most of its life hauling freight trains. Built by Altoona Works in cooperation of Lima and Baldwin, the M1 type remained in revenue service until 1957, when full dieselization went into effect.

PRR Class H8 No. 7688-Built 1915

7688 a 2-8-0 “Consolidation” type locomotive was built by the Lima Locomotive Works, and served as a freight locomotive during its tenure on the Pennsy.

Other Exhibits

There are many exhibits that educate and give hands on activities to anyone curious about how the railroad operates. These activities include various education programs including Stewart Junction, which includes many pieces of literature and other types of educational material. Additionally, included are an HO & G scale model railroad.

Field trip groups and summer camps are also offered at the museum, giving young people the ability to admire the rich railroad heritage that Pennsylvania has to offer. The museum also offers exhibitions that travel to schools and other locations to educate participants about railroading.

If you are interested in visiting the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and seeing the state’s railroad history for yourself, their address, hours and admission prices are listed below:

Address: 300 Gap Road, Route 741 Strasburg, PA 17579                                                         

Hours:

November-March: Tues-Sat, 9am-5pm

April-October: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm                                           

Price:

Adults(12-64) $10

Seniors(65+)$9

Youth(3-11) $8

2 & Under Free

Groups of 10+ receive discounted rates.

 

Josef

Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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