Steamtown National Historic Site

A trip to Steamtown National Historic Site lets visitors relive the magic of the era of steam locomotives as they walk through the museums, ride a steam operated train, or visit the locomotive repair shop. Located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Steamtown train museum and heritage railroad offers an interpretation of mainline steam railroad history in Pennsylvania from 1850 to the mid-twentieth century. Visitors can take advantage of a number of activities available at the park, including a simple outing or picnic, train excursions, and tours at Steamtown Historic Site. This is a great attraction for kids, but visitors of all ages are sure to be entertained at this fascinating attraction.

The original railroads of Scranton were in operation beginning in the mid-1800s, and when more sophisticated forms of travel were developed, the steam engines were in danger of becoming a thing of the past. However, by an act of Congress in 1986, the Steamtown National Historic Site was established and opened to the public. Centered on a turntable and roundhouse, where steam engines are turned around and serviced, the Steamtown train museum has incorporated original structures from 1902 and 1937. Many of the locomotives and cars were part of the collection at Steamtown USA, which was owned and funded by F. Nelson Blount, who wished to create a working railroad museum. Unfortunately, a plane crash ended his life before he was able to realize that dream himself; however, today his dream has been honored at the Steamtown National Historic Site.

When planning which tours to take, visitors have a number of available options for tour packages and fees. For a self-guided tour, guests can pay the low entrance fee and stroll through the Technology and History museums, in addition to the turntable, the roundhouse, and the locomotive shop. For a few extra dollars, visitors are welcomed to enjoy a short excursion on the Scranton Limited Steamtown train; these must be reserved in advance over the phone or in person. Walking tours at Steamtown Historic Site allow visitors to gain an insight of the important heritage and hard work that was coupled with working with steam trains.

Inside the locomotive shop, guests will have a 45-minute peek behind the scenes of maintaining and repairing steam operated locomotives, while the museums offer lots of fascinating information and allow visitors to have an up close look at the railroad cars from the 1800s and early 1900s. Steamtown also offers programs for children of different age groups, including 5 and under, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12. Making the most of the park resources, activities are designed for children to enjoy learning about steam engines and their history. The Children’s Discovery Center within the park offer hands-on programs on select days to allow children unique experiences to learn.

Taking advantage of the various tours at Steamtown Historic Site or simply strolling through the Steamtown train museum at leisure, the experience at this national park is an experience that will not only create memories for visitors, but it will allow the heritage of steam locomotives to actively continue through the support of park patrons. Scranton is located in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, about 75 miles from Allentown, and it offers relatively easy access to other northeastern attractions and cities, such as Newark and parts of upstate New York.

Image: NPS-Ken Ganz

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