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rob kircher

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Little Steam on a Hot Summers Day

On my way home from the family vacation a few weeks ago, I took a little excursion up to Scranton PA and visited Steamtown National Historic Site. Steamtown is an interesting story. Once called Steamtown USA with its home in Bellows Falls, Vermont, it started with one individuals, Nelson Blount,  PRIVATE collection of steam engines and rolling stock and eventually wound up a National Park Service site in Scranton PA.  It is unique in that its the only Nation Park of its type in the US; a park not devoted to preserving beautiful landscapes or mountain sides, its all about preserving a part of Americana that connected two halves of a country and slowly died the victim of advancing technologies. 

Now housed in the heart of Scranton, PA at the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad yard and round house, the park still services and restores these old iron horses.  A fine example is this 4-8-8-4 Big Boy

20110721 Steamtown-0039-001Union Pacific 4014 Big Boy

Only 25 of these 4000 class 4-8-8-4 were built by Alco for the Unions Pacific Rail Road.  The UP 4012 is one of only 8 still in existence today and is a beautiful sample of Steam’s hay day on the rails.  It’s amazing to me that this monster found its way to one mans private collection but thank god it did. 

Steam is not the only thing at Steamtown.   This EMD F3, built sometime between 1945 and 1949 by General MotorsElectro-Motive Division is one of 20 A units bought by the DL&W RR.  It has been beautifully restored and is used occasionally for excursion trips. 

20110721 Steamtown-0043DL&W EMD F3A

20110721 Steamtown-0001Although slightly out of focus this photo reminds me of the look often see in a period ads for rail travel.   


The greatest thing about a rail museum is it provides for all sort of interesting photography. 

20110721 Steamtown-0004Manual Brake Wheel

20110721 Steamtown-00422 of the 4-8-8-4’s 16 Drive Wheels

20110721 Steamtown-0017Mail bins inside a Pullman style mail car

It was a very hot day but very fun trip back to a time where Steam was king of the railways and train travel was romantic and glamorous.  If you happen to be in Northeaster part of PA I strongly suggest you stop in and take a look around.  Its an extremely educational location ; very well done by the US Park Services. 

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