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Family railroading fun

August 04, 2003|by Chris Copley

chrisc@herald-mail.com

Try this summertime treat: Mix one part cutting-edge technology with one part kid-friendly fun, blend in American history, glamour and industrial grit. What do you have? A recipe for family railroading fun.

Railroads were once the transportation and communication backbone of the modern world. Agricultural products moved from farm to market by train. Coal, iron ore and other raw materials were taken to factories by train. Movie stars, business owners and ordinary people all traveled by rail - within cities on trolleys and between cities on passenger trains. Telegraph lines strung up alongside tracks made communication possible from the mid-1800s.

This year, the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad - the first commercial passenger rail service in the United States - museums are pumping up their exhibits to tell the story of how railroading helped build this nation from a rural backwater into the world's industrial powerhouse.

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Railroad museums and displays seem tailor-made for family fun with their big machines and colorful histories. The Tri-State area is richly blessed with local, state and national museums and displays of railroading history.

Here is a sampling, some near, some far, some permanent, some temporary.

Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum

300 S. Burhans Blvd., Hagerstown.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas

Admission: $3, adults ; 50 cents, ages 4 to 12.

301-739-4665

Locomotives and cars, inside exhibits, railroad memorabilia and model train layouts.




Locomotive No. 202

110 Key St., Hagerstown (in City Park)

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Admission: free.

301-739-8393

Locomotive used on the Western Maryland Railroad. Also eight cabooses, some railroading artifacts.




Railroading at Harpers Ferry

Lower Town Information Center

Shenandoah Street

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Admission: $5 per vehicle.

1-304-535-6748.

"B&O: 169 Years at Harpers Ferry" was developed to coincide with the 175th anniversary of the founding of the B&O Railroad. Continues through Tuesday, Sept. 30.




West Virginia Central Railroad

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad

Durbin, W.Va.

Excursions: $15 to $28, adults; $10 to $22, ages 4 to 11.

1-877-686-7245

www.mountainrail.com

On tracks of the former Western Maryland Railroad, these two short-line railroads offer excursions on several restored locomotives, including two from the Western Maryland Railroad.




Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Cass, W.Va.

1-304-456-4300

www.cassrailroad.com

Excursions: $10 to $19, adults; $7 to $12, ages 5 to 12.

A century-old lumber railroad with eight restored Shay gear-driven locomotives, a company town complete with store, and a lumber camp.




B&O Railroad Museum

(Closed; under renovation)

901 W. Pratt St.

Baltimore

1-410-752-2490

www.borail.org

The biggest railroad museum in the Western Hemisphere with a large collection of 19th- and 20th-century artifacts related to America's railroads. The huge roundhouse, built in 1884, houses 22 locomotives and train cars. Upstairs is a 12-by-40-foot scale model railroad. Heavy snow accumulation this winter collapsed the roundhouse roof.




Steamtown National Historical Site

Scranton, Pa.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Admission: $6, adults; $3, ages 6 to 12. Excursions: $14 to $25 for adults; $10 to $25 for children.

1-570-340-5200

www.nps.gov/stea

Standard-gauge steam locomotives and freight and passenger cars that New England seafood processor F. Nelson Blount assembled in the 1950s and 1960s on 40 acres of the Scranton yard of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania. Visitor center, roundhouse, museums have displays. Rides available daily on restored trains.




East Broad Top Railroad

Meadow Street

Rockhill Furnace, Pa.

Excursions: Call for fares.

1-814-447-3011

www.ebtrr.com

The last original narrow-gauge railroad east of the Rockies and the oldest surviving narrow gauge in America. Workshops contain original machines and tools, a rare example of a complete maintenance facility based on 19th-century technology. Excursion trains run at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends, June through October.




Rockhill Trolley Museum

Meadow Street

Rockhill Furnace, Pa.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and legal holidays through the end of October.

Excursions: $4.95, adults; $1.95, ages 2 to 12.

1-814-447-9576

www.rockhilltrolley.org

Static displays of a dozen trolley cars and five pieces of railroad work equipment; another 13 trolleys take passengers on excursions. Trolleys depart each half-hour.




Mauch Chunk Museum

41 W. Broadway St.

Jim Thorpe, Pa.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Admission: $4, adults; $1, ages 8 and younger.

1-570-325-9190

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