Updated September 2003
Day Trips in Southern Pennsylvania and Environs
There are a number of sights, mostly of a touristy sort, within easy driving distance of
the Balto.-DC area. A bunch of these are clustered together in Strasburg; the others
are scattered about.
Strasburg has, for some implausible reason, turned into a haven for railroad tourism, with
four sights clumped close against each other on the east end of town.
Surely the most familiar is the Strasburg
Railroad. In most respects, this is a genuine
tourist trap, run with an eye towards maximum hokeyness. The engines are
very real, though, and the trip is pleasant, short enough to throw in with visits to the
other sights in town.
Literally across the
road from the Strasburg Railroad is the
Museum of Pennsylvania, which shows the expense put into new buildings and a vastly
upgraded collection. You could easily spend an afternoon here.
Down the way
a bit is the Red Caboose Inn, where most of the rooms are indeed cabooses.
Adjacent to it is the National
Toy Train Museum, which I've never seen but have heard good things
My big reservation about all of these is that Strasburg is right in the
middle of Amish country. Approaching from US 30 takes you through some
of tackiest roadway in the US; the other approach, peeling off of US 222
and cutting over from the south, is gloriously scenic, but forces you to
dodge buggies constantly, annoying all parties involved.
The Gettysburg Railroad is running again, but without their steam engines, one of which was
heavily damaged in a (fortunately very minor) boiler explosion. Adjacent to the tracks
is the original Railroad Style station, a real rarity in these parts. I'd have to say that
this isn't worth a trip in itself, but if you are in the area to see the battlefield, for instance,
it might be worth a try.
On the way to Strasburg, more or less, is Perryville. At least, it's a minor detour. Perryville
and Havre de Grace face each other across the mouth of the Susquehanna, and in Perryville there
is a rather grand station which is still used by MARC. I have no idea why they built such
an edifice for such a small town. Again, this one poses distinct problems for photographers.
The back of the station is easy; the trackside is essentially impossible. The station sits in
the center of a wye, so there are signals at the south end of the station. This is
on the corridor, so expect high speed trains at almost any time.
This, as the name implies, is in northern Delaware. They took extremely serious damage in
Hurricane Isabel and it is not clear whether they will ever operate again. They do
have an operating steam locomotive.
I've been here, but never ridden it. They use a GE 44-tonner.
If you are interested in other spots I haven't reviewed, try
Web Union Station, which has some notation on virtually every museum and excursion service
on the continent (North America, that is).