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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

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 Railroad 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 about.

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.

Gettysburg

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.

Perryville

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.

Other Excursions

The Wilmington and Western

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.

The Stewartstown Railroad

I've been here, but never ridden it. They use a GE 44-tonner.

Other Possibilities

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).

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