Sunday, June 16, 2019

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Ronks, Pennsylvania

We visited The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania after our lunch train ride on Father's Day aboard the Strasburg Railroad. The railroad museum was created to provide a historical account of railroading in Pennsylvania by preserving rolling stock, artifacts, and archives of railroad companies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The museum has branched out over the years, acquiring some pieces that are not directly related to Pennsylvania, but are important to the history of railroading. In addition to full-size rolling stock pieces, the museum offers a number of other commodities, which include several model railroad layouts, a hands on educational center, a library and archives, and a smaller exhibit gallery on the second floor. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to view the exhibit on the second floor.

The museum's collection has more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars that chronicle American railroad history. You can climb aboard some of the locomotives and cars, inspect a 62-ton locomotive from underneath, view restoration activities via closed-circuit television, enjoy interactive educational programs, and more.

D-16 Class, An American Star

The durable 4-4-0 wheel arrangement had nationwide appeal for more than a century, earning it the name "American." The Pennsylvania Railroad perfected its design, creating the D-16 class, the largest and most modern locomotives ever built. It pulled passenger trains for 45 years. It was retired in 1950 and later leased to the Strasburg Rail Road pulling daily tourist trains and special excursions until 1989.

The Express Car
Mail and express shipments made up some of the railroads most lucrative business. The express car was developed to handle high-value shipments, adding heavier doors and locks and fewer and smaller barred windows. It was built in 1899 and retired in 1939. It was used by FedEx and UPS.

A Pioneer Hopper
This is the oldest remaining freight car from a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary. The Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Ashtabula Railroad connected the steel mills of Pittsburgh with the shores of Lake Erie, primarily transporting coal. The wood hopper cars were used first and then switched to steel hopper cars. The car was built in 1895 and retired in 1939.

Steam Locomotive
The 1187 is the oldest surviving Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive. It was also the first to use the Belpaire firebox. The firebox increased the heating surface, improving heat transfer and steam production. 

This car is the oldest surviving eight-wheel passenger car in North America. It is representative of the earliest American-type coaches, first built in the 1830s. The 48-passenger car has a single compartment with seats on each side of the center aisle and doors at each end. The body is mounted on two 4-wheel wood-beam trucks and each wheel set is individually sprung. The windows are stationary, ventilation obtained by opening shutters located above the windows. These features pioneered the basic design and function of the passenger car in the United States.

John Bull
The original John Bull was purchased by the Camden and Amboy Railroad from a British locomotive builder. It was shipped in pieces without any instructions and a young engineer, Isaac Dripps, assembled the locomotive in 10 days. The Pennsylvania Railroad acquired the original John Bull and restored it for the Centennial Exposition in 1876. It was donated to the Smithsonian Institution which operated it at fairs and expositions for more than 50 years.

No. 4935 Electric Locomotive, Passenger
Built in 1943, No. 4935 was the most successful electric locomotive ever built. It was retired in 1980.

Steam locomotives needed water to run. As a result, track pans were built along the tracks filled with water so the trains could pick up the water as they ran. In this picture, the locomotive is scooping water along the track pan. Doing this allowed faster passenger and freight schedules.

Water pan

Exclusive Business Car
No. 203 was built for Western Maryland Railway President Carl R. Gray (1867-1939) and other senior officers. Accommodations included a dining room, kitchen, pantry, crew quarters, lounge, and two master bedrooms, each with a shower. The onboard staff consisted of a train secretary, steward, and chef.

Electric Switching Locomotive
Switching locomotives were used to move passenger trains around the yards. This B1 Class worked round the clock shuffling up to 15 cars at a time. The switching locomotives required overhead wires for power so were limited to areas to electrified territories. B1s earned the nickname "rats" by crews due to the way they scurried around rail yards while switching cars. This one was built in 1934 and retired in 1971.

Fairmont Motor Car & Caboose with Portholes
The Fairmont Motor Car was built in 1926 and is one of the older cars in existence. The caboose was built during WWII and used portholes because those were what was available, as most supplies went to the war effort and trains had to use what they could find. 

Section Gangs
Section Gangs: Guardians of the Right-of-Way. These men performed maintenance on the tracks. They were assigned to 10 miles of track. The earliest section gangs were comprised of recent immigrants from Ireland, Italy, China, Mexico and Eastern Europe, as well as blacks and Civil War veterans.

Section Gang Living Quarters

Trackwalkers: Eyes of the Right-of-Way. They inspected the condition of the tracks. They had to be very observant, clearing the tracks of debris, switch points and switch stands, tend to switch lamps, and clear ice and snow from the roadway. 

Roundhouse and Shop
Steam locomotives began and ended their runs at the enginehouse or roundhouse. Here routine servicing and inspections took place and minor repairs were made. For more serious repairs, locomotives entered the shops. Here blacksmiths, machinists, boilermakers and foundrymen kept the engines rolling.  Work in the roundhouse was dirty and strenuous, but highly skilled.

Hotel on Wheels

The Lotos Club, named after a fashionable literary club in New York City. It is typical of sleeping and lounge accommodations in the heyday of railroad travel. 

Olomana spent its working life in Hawaii moving four-wheeled railroad cars piled high with cut sugar cane from the fields to the refinery. Since Olomana is a tank engine, it carries its fuel and water on the locomotive itself. The fuel was originally "bagasse" (dried sugarcane and stalks and leaves); it was later converted to oil firing.

Shay Locomotive
The Shay locomotive was developed by Ephraim Shay, a Michigan lumberman, to move lumber as cheaply as possible in any type of terrain. 

Geared Locomotive
The Heisler locomotive had three prominent features that set it apart from other locomotives. The first were "V" type pistons, second was the use of connecting rods on the outside of the truck frames to power the axle; and the third was the use of a heavy duty gear case to protect the gears. 

Jim Driving the Train
Johnstown Flood Wheels
The 1889 Johnstown Flood was a catastrophic natural disaster that resulted in the deaths of 2,209 people and damages of $17 million. The flood was also costly for the railroads, which had over 300 freight cars, 18 passenger cars, 33 locomotives, 50 miles of tracks, and several structures: railroad bridges, a roundhouse, and other buildings that were damaged or destroyed. Two Pennsylvania locomotives were swept away by the flood waters of May 31, 1889.

The Bobber Caboose
The caboose served as the office of the conductor, who was in charge of the train. He kept track of the train's paperwork, including freight shipments, and ensured that each crew member was performing his duties.

Snow Plow

Quote for the day: "Sometimes, a novel is like a train: the first chapter is a comfortable seat in an attractive carriage, and the narrative speeds up. But there are other sorts of trains, and other sorts of novels. They rush by in the dark; passengers framed in the lighted windows are smiling and enjoying themselves." ~~ Jane Smiley

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