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Friday, January 13, 2017

The "Strasburg, Pennsylvania - Part III: The Railroad Resurgence" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Posting my final story about one of the neatest and historical small towns in perhaps the United States.  If you have read my two previous posts about the town of Strasburg you realize how important the town was to the development of towns and cities to the west of Lancaster County as The United States moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.  The main road from East to West that traveled through Strasburg was known as the Old Conestoga Road.  Then in 1792 the new Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike was built, bypassing Strasburg four miles to the north; and four miles must have seemed an eternity at that time.  Since this was a toll road, another road was constructed starting in 1793 that followed the same route of the Old Conestoga Road and passage on this road was free.  
Engine #90 enters the station at the
Strasburg Railroad station.
Then in 1832 the Strasbrug Rail Road connected Strasburg to the nation's passenger and freight system, but major rail traffic never did make its way into Strasburg.  That original Strasburg Rail Road, the oldest continually operating public utility in Pennsylvania, is still a vibrant part of the town.  The road to Paradise, as it is called by many, has seen LDubs family making visits for not only riding on the train, but also making visits to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania as well as the nearby Choo Choo Barn which is a fantastic collection of HO miniature railroad trains and villages.  Today Strasburg is known to many as "Train Town USA" due to the many attractions in the town.  A few photographs from my recent day trip with my wife to Strasburg show one of the most interesting and beautiful structures in town.  
The Massasoit Hall in Strasburg.
The brick building which stands at 7 East Main Street is known as the Massasoit Hall and was built in 1856.  The building was used for dances, parties and graduation ceremonies and is as much a part of Strasburg's history as any other building in the town.  The Order of Odd Fellows has owned and maintained the building since 1866.  Today the front facade has several small businesses.  It is still used by the Odd Fellows organization, but membership in the organization has dwindled over time.  The original stage has been removed, but the auditorium and stage remain.  The third floor contains an assembly area suitable for large groups.  

The historical plaque on Massasoit Hall.
Today, as I stand across the street from the Massasoit Hall, I can't help but wonder what went on behind those doors for the past couple hundred years.  Just as I pulled my camera to my eye, a passing Amish buggy driver waved a greeting to me.  That's how it is in Lancaster County.  Residents who look out for each other as well as greet visitors to our county to explore its historic heritage.  Make a visit sometime to Strasburg and see for yourself!  It still lays claim to being one of the best-preserved historic towns in all of Pennsylvania.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania directly across the street from Strasburg Railroad.
Interior of the Museum.
Exterior of the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg.
Part of the HO train display at the Choo Choo Barn.
This is a medal designed and sold for collection by the Lancaster Coin Club.  It shows an engine of the Strasburg Railroad.  In the beginning, the railroad used horse drawn carriages and wagons on wooden rails.  In 1851 iron rails were installed for the new steam-powered locomotives.  Make a visit to the Strasburg Railroad and ride the steam-powered train and step back into history.

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