Thursday, September 13, 2018

Steamtown National Historic Site


  Steamtown is a must visit for railroad and history buffs and little kids who are fascinated by trains. It’s located on the yards of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, one of the oldest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania, and features a working turntable, roundhouse, history museum, and technology museum. Most the more than 20 locomotives and 75 pieces of rolling stock, were collected by F. Nelson Blount, a millionaire seafood processor from New England, who founded the original Steamtown in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Blount’s death in 1967, air pollution regulations, track maintenance, and declining visitation all led to a decision to relocate the collection to Scranton, PA. The DL&W station was renovated to house an excursion business which was owned jointly by the the city and a private developer. It opened in 1986, only to face bankruptcy three years later. The National Park Service took over and after more renovations opened Steamtown as an historic site in1995.


  The museum exhibits cover the history of railroading, the people and jobs involved in running a railroad, and detailed explanations of the actual workings of steam and diesel engines. The roundhouse is used for light-duty maintenance and repair and can be viewed from an elevated walk on a self guided tour or down on the floor by guided tour. Short train rides around the yard and longer excursions are available but not everyday so check the schedule before visiting. The museums and all tours are free, however, there’s a charge for the train rides.

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   The museums and areas inside are accessible. Train cars that can be entered do not have ramps and therefore are not accessible. Visiting everything requires passing through several heavy doors. The design of the site makes navigating a bit confusing. Look for elevators and ramps so as not to miss anything. The main exterior exhibits in the turntable and parking lot areas are accessible. The entire acreage where stock is stored is open to the public but most of the ground is too rough to be accessible. It’s possible to see a lot of that area from the wooden boardwalk ramp that goes to the Mall at Steamtown but getting to the ramp involves crossing multiple train tracks. Use caution as these are active tracks and small wheels could get stuck in the spaces by the tracks. The park website states “Beginning with the 2017 season and until further notice, train rides are NOT handicapped accessible” which may mean that they will be accessible sometime in the future. 


  Long RV/bus spaces are located on the far end of the lot but if it’s not busy you can park closer to the entrance.  Steamtown  41.40889, -75.67329


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