Full steam ahead: Steamtown National Historic Site’s summer activities

After a decade-long restoration, the Baldwin Locomotive Works 26 was reintroduced to Steamtown visitors in April 2016.

The Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania is a unique experience highlighting one of the greatest and most advanced forms of transportation during the Industrial Era: the railroad. The former site of the Scranton Yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroads, Steamtown is built around replications of a working turntable and roundhouse. This summer offers up many activities at Steamtown from the recent restoration of the Baldwin Locomotive Works 26 to the National Park Service’s 100th birthday. 

Steamtown’s most exciting attraction is the opportunity to ride an operating steam engine train, like the iconic trains on Harry Potter films. For years Steamtown has tirelessly worked to obtain funding to maintain and restore older locomotives to their former glory and continue to showcase the impressive history of steam locomotives. The most recent renovation was the decade-long restoration of the Baldwin Locomotive Works 26.

With the Baldwin’s recent renovation, necessary upgrades and improvements were made, along with some cosmetic ones to prepare the historic locomotive for continued service at Steamtown. The renovations included a new green paint scheme and white lettering on the locomotive’s exterior, but the real restorations and improvements were made within the locomotive’s engine and mechanical parts.

The entire locomotive was effectively disassembled and rebuilt to repair and upgrade individual parts of the machine. The frame of the locomotive was aligned and work was done on the brake and suspension systems. The wheels were inspected and repaired for any cracks. The Baldwin Locomotive Works 26 was reintroduced to Steamtown visitors in April and is now one of Steamtown’s actively running trains.

There is also a small fleet of locomotives that provide visitors short tours of the rail yards at Steamtown during the “Scranton Limited” train rides on weekdays. Slightly longer trips are available on the “Nay Aug George Limited,” which travels out of the rail yards to the entrance of the Nay Aug Tunnel. For these trips, visitors ride on former commuter coaches dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s. The commuter coaches are in their original conditions and are not heated nor cooled.

Beyond Steamtown’s authentic steam locomotive tours, the historic site also offers fun events throughout the year for visitors to enjoy. This summer Steamtown will be offering free admission days from August 25th through the 28th to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial. Free entry will grant entrance to the museum and the park visitor center but for the train rides, visitors will need to purchase tickets on these days.

Another exciting event at the end of the summer is Railfest 2016 taking place over Labor Day weekend. Railfest is a celebration of railroading and will feature special shop demonstrations and train rides on Saturday and Sunday. There will also be a special ceremony on September 3rd at 10:00 a.m. to kick off the Railfest activities. Visitors will be able to go on caboose and hand car rides along with many other special exhibits and opportunities.

Steamtown is a natural fit for both gear heads and history buffs. The museum offers a detailed look into the history of locomotives in the United States and offers the opportunity to experience what transportation on a locomotive was like back when the railroads were the most essential form of transportation.

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