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Monday, February 27, 2017

The "Transportation Coming Alive In Williamsport, PA" Story

An old photo of Williamsport showing the Transportation Museum
which is marked with a star and "You are here."  It is located in
what originally was the Railway Express building along the
Pennsylvania Railroad tracks which traveled through Williamsport.
It was an ordinary day.  Had just finished lunch at the Bull Frog Restaurant in downtown Williams- port, PA and decided to stop at the Transporta- tion Museum a few blocks away.  Carol and I are visiting with our friends Jerry and Just Sue who live in State College, PA.  While in the State College area we enjoy trips to places we have never seen before that may be of interest to us and today's visit to the museum fills that requirement.  
This physician's buggy was typical in the 1880s.  It was strong
enough to withstand heavy use but light enough to enable
doctors to reach patients as quickly as possible.  Doctors
made home visits well into the 20th century during daytime
as well as nighttime.  Women delivered their babies at home
and were attended to by either a physician or a midwife.  I
can remember being visited by our family physician in the
mid to late 1940s and into the 1950s.  Click on photos to enlarge.
The Peter Herdic Transporta- tion Museum gives it's visitors a chance to explore the rich traditions of the Susque- hanna Valley from the time of the Susquehan- nock Indian Tribe to today's modern transporta- tion systems.  Every mode of transport from the birch bark canoe to a fully restored GMC 1962 bus are included in the museum.  We paid our entrance fee of a few dollars and started walking around what at one time was the freight station for the Pennsylvania Railroad.  
The Pennsylvania National Guard's 8th Regiment ambulance
at an encampment in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1896.
These ambulances were developed to transport wounded
soldiers to field hospitals.
We got to see everything from an 1880s physician's buggy to an 1896 Pennsyl- vania National Guard ambulance to the 1962 bus, but the highlight of my visit was traveling back in time to the mid-1900s when we had the chance to step on the 1949 Pullman sleeper/lounge car numbered #8416.  It is one of two remaining sleepers in the country.  Pullman completed the car named "Colonial Houses", a lightweight sleeper/lounger on June 11, 1949.  
This is the Hiawatha paddlewheel steamboat at the Sylvan
Dell Dock in 1900.  This ferry carried picnickers and bathers
from the Market Street Bridge to the Sylvan Dell Park.  This
boat was not part of the display, but was still part of the
transportation of Williamsport at one time.
In August 1955 the car was renamed "The Nicholas Firestone" and remained in service with the Pennsyl- vania Railroad until May 1964 when it was transferred to the Penn Central Railroad, reclassified a "parlor" car and renumbered 7153.  It remained with Penn Central until 1971.  This particular rail car made visits to the Williamsport area frequently when it was in service.  In 2007 a replica train depot wood deck was built next to the car and the following year the car was opened to the public.  Interesting walking through the car and trying to imagine what travel would have been like riding on this Pullman car.  
This is the Pullman Car that is on display at the Museum.
It is one of 2 still in existence today.  You enter from the
far right and can view the beautiful car that hauled patrons
that needed to have dining as well as sleeping quarters.  
Jerry, who lived a block from the train station in Lancaster and whose father worked at Railway Express next to the Lancaster Train Station, told me that middle-class to upper-class patrons would ride on the Pullman car due to the cost of the tickets.  We boarded the Pullman car and admired the restaurant area and then headed to the bedding area where we found three bedroom/lounge areas in the rear of the car.  
This is the interior of the Pullman Car.  This photograph
shows the dining area.
One had an upper berth with with lounge under it that could be opened into a double bed.  Another had bunk beds as well as a single berth while the final one had a single bed and upper berth.  All rooms had their own bathroom, but no shower area.  At the rear of the car was a very small kitchen and to the rear of that was an area that housed an area where clothing could be pressed and shoes shined.  Each room had a small compartment where you could place your shoes that was accessible to the porter of the car who could open it and remove your shoes to polish them.  Well, our tour was over and we walked back through the museum, talking with the attendant for quite some time about the museum and the Williamsport area.  Hopped in the car and headed toward our next destination, the Woolrich Factory Store located in Woolrich, naturally.  It was another extraordinary day.

One of the cabins showing a lounge with table and a berth above it.  The lounge can be opened to sleep two patrons. 
The bathroom which is a toilet, mirror, towel rack and small basin.
Outside each room is this dual-sided compartment.  The patron would put their shoes in the door to the left and the Porter would open the other door and remove them, shine them, return them to this compartment and ring the bell telling the patron that the shoes were finished.
Another room has these bunkbeds as well as a place for sitting.
They actually had an area where they shined shoes. Do people do that anymore?
The kitchen area which is extremely small.  We didn't see a stovetop or oven, but they may have been part of another cabinet.

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