Steamtown National Historic Site
Steaming Through History: Exploring the Railroads at Steamtown National Historic Site
We were on our way to New England to visit family, and decided to spend the night in Scranton, PA. This allowed us to not have to drive 7 additional hours and so we were able to visit the Train Museum at Steamtown. At Steamtown, we were able to explore an impressive collection of historic locomotives, railcars, and other artifacts. The site offers a comprehensive glimpse into the intricate workings of steam-powered trains, allowing enthusiasts and curious visitors alike to appreciate the engineering marvels of the past.
How to get to Steamtown: We were staying at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center on Adams avenue, so we drove to Spruce Street, left on Mifflin avenue, right onto Lackawana avenue, left onto Cliff avenue and then followed the signs to Steamtown. If you are on I-81, you would take the President Biden Expressway exit and proceed to route 11 and Bridge street.
Tips on how to explore Steamtown:
- Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour is a great way to delve into the site's rich history and learn from knowledgeable interpreters. These tours provide insights into the significance of various exhibits and locomotives.
- Train Rides: Don't miss the chance to take a ride on one of the vintage trains. The immersive experience of chugging along the tracks offers a unique perspective on the past.
- Exhibits and Museums: Explore the well-curated exhibits and museums to understand the evolution of steam-powered railroading and its impact on the nation's development.
- Live Demonstrations: Witness live steam demonstrations to see the engineering marvel of these majestic locomotives in action.
- Ranger Programs: Engage in the ranger-led programs, which often include talks, demonstrations, and interactive activities for visitors of all ages.
- Plan Ahead: Check their schedule for special events, themed days, and operating hours of the trains to ensure you make the most of your visit.
- Comfortable Attire: Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather, as you'll likely spend a considerable amount of time exploring the expansive site.
The site is run by the National Park Service and there are rangers in various areas to answer your questions or provide you with additional information.
Union Pacific 4012
The Union Pacific 4012 engine, also known as the Big Boy, is a legendary steam locomotive that holds a special place in railroad history. Built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company, it was part of the Union Pacific Railroad's fleet of massive articulated steam locomotives designed for hauling heavy freight trains over long distances. The Big Boy locomotives were the largest steam engines ever built, measuring over 132 feet long and weighing over 1.2 million pounds. With a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, they boasted immense power and pulling capacity.
One of 25 built, No. 4012 is one of eight of its type to survive the advent of the diesel era. Referred to as an "articulated" locomotive, because it has more than one set of drivers, Big Boy weighs 1,250,000 pounds (570,000 kg). This locomotive worked for 21 years hauling freight between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Ogden, Utah, logging over 1,000,000 miles (1,600,000 km) before its retirement in 1962.
In 1923, the "Big Boy" emerged from the fires of American industrial might. Designed to conquer the treacherous grades of the Rocky Mountains, this behemoth boasted unmatched power and sheer size. Its boiler housed a furnace the size of a small house, and its wheels pounded the tracks with the force of a battering ram.
For decades, the 4012 reigned supreme over the rails. It hauled heavy freight through blizzards and scorching heat, connecting communities and fueling the nation's industrial engine. Its rhythmic chug, a hypnotic song of steel and steam, became a familiar melody across the American landscape.
The 4012's story isn't just about power and speed. It's also a testament to American resilience. During World War II, these "Big Boys" became the unsung heroes of the home front, hauling vital war supplies across vast distances. They kept the wheels of industry turning and played a crucial role in securing victory.
Steamtown Round House
Image property of Stilfehler via Wikimedia Commons and the GNU Free Documentation License
The Steamtown Scranton PA Roundhouse stands as an iconic structure, a testament to the golden age of steam locomotives. Nestled in the heart of Scranton, Pennsylvania, this magnificent roundhouse has captured the imagination of railroad enthusiasts and visitors alike. With its impressive 22-stall design, the roundhouse served as a hub for locomotive maintenance and repair during its operational days.
What takes place inside a Round House?
When the Steamtown Park was under development, the National Park Service decided to use the existing portions of the Roundhouse (dating from 1902, 1917, and 1937) as a part of the Museum Complex, while adding a Visitor Center, Theater, Technology Museum, and History Museum. The Roundhouse was adaptively rehabilitated to allow Steamtown's mechanics to care for the locomotives with light-duty maintenance and repairs.
In the center area of the round house, there is a "turn table" that allowed the Railroad engineers to bring in equipment and then be able to select which round house shop the equipment would be placed into. The round house is essentially a number of large "garages" where repairs or maintenance work took place.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are Affiliate Links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, that we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. So we would appreciate any click throughs, if you are inclined.
Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.
Note: If you are interested, click here to view our European Travel Tips & Warnings. Or to take a look at our methods for planning, click here to view our Trip Planning Page..
To review any of our content, make suggestions and/or comments, please click the "Info" menu button at the top of this page. You will find our "Contact Us" link on that drop-down menu.