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Saturday, February 21, 2015

The "Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania: Part II - The Favorites" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Adding the second of three stories about the trip my grandson Caden and I took to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA.  Not only did we have a good time, we talked about some of our favorite parts of the trip.  We each had a few that matched as well as a few that we favorited ourselves.


As for Caden, he was most impressed with the H. & B.T. 316 red caboose that we visited.  We climbed the stairs to the rear of the caboose and when we entered we saw a small stove that was used to keep the train crew warm in the winter as well used for cooking.  Next to the stove was a place to store coal which was used as fuel for the stove.  In the center of the caboose was a cupola with windows where the crew could sit in order to see both directions when the train was in motion.  The seats were padded and there were wooden shutters on the windows. 
The cupola.
Caden also enjoyed sitting at the desk where a railroad worker would sit that was responsible for sending signals to trains that were operating on the rails.  
Caden changing the signal lights.  It is set to STOP at present
with up and down meaning PROCEED and the three lights on
a diagonal meaning PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
The person sitting at the desk was responsible for sending messages by means of three lights as to whether it was safe to proceed along the line, proceed with caution or stop for approaching trains.  Pretty important job Caden realized.  He sat at the station changing the lights and probably thinking what could happen if he really were in charge of the station and had to make instant decisions as to the safety of the trains running on the rails that he was in charge of at the time.  
Entrance to underneath Engine #1187 was on the other side. 
Caden also enjoyed being able to des- cend down the stairs under one of the engines.  Engine #1187, a Pennsyl- vania Railroad engine made in Altonna, PA in 1888, had a lower deck where we could walk down the stairs and see the underbelly of the engine.  The restoration of all the engines was impressive, but being able to see under this one was even more impressive with the extra restoration that was needed to allow for a visual inspection underneath it.
The belly of #1187

The final thing that Caden told me he enjoyed was being able to board Engine #4465 and talk with a volunteer who actually was a train engineer years ago.  He explained to both of us how the electric locomotive received its power as well as how the braking system worked.  Showed us a pedal on the floor that had to be pushed in at all times or the train would come to a halt.  Necessary in case the engineer became ill and couldn't run the engine.  Facts such as that kept both of us interested in his talk.
Engineer Caden in the 1963 General Electric engine #4465.

A few of my favorite moments at the museum were viewing some of the displays that were interspersed among the engines and cars.  The following photos will show you some of the displays:

How they made repairs to the tracks.
Transporting perishables and cold goods.
This was one of two horse-drawn hearse's that were on display.
Extremely well-restored horse-drawn Dairy wagon. 
This had been restored, but left in the original condition.  The Pioneer Hopper , PY&A #1818, made by Barney and Smith, Dayton, Ohio was made in July 1895 and retired c. 1939.  It weighed 36,000 lbs. and could hold 80,000 lbs.  It was 29' 7" in length and was in remarkable shape considering what must have been hauled over the almost 45 years it was in service.  
There was one engine that stuck out among all the others for me.  It was the E7 #5901 which was built in 1944 by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in LaGrange, Illinois and is the last surviving E7 from any railroad.  The restoration was beautiful and the red color gave the appearance of what a train engine should look like, at least to me.  
The final two engines that I enjoyed were the Baldwin Locomotive Works #20 which was made in Philadelphia and the 1939 replica John Bull engine which was made for the 1940 World's Fair in New York.  The Pennsylvania Railroad constructed the John Bull in the Juniata, PA shops and it also made an appearance at the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair before finally arrived in Strasburg in 1970 for restoration.  It since then has appeared at rail gatherings from California to British Columbia.  The original John Bull is housed in the Museum of American History in Washington, DC and was last operated 35 years ago.  Both engines remind me of the glory days of railroading in the United States.  Can't you just see either one of them puffing along the tracks in the countryside?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
The Baldwin Locomotive Works #20. 
The replica of the John Bull.


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