Blog

Parkton, Maryland, U.S.A.

How many of you have heard of the town in the U.S. state of Maryland known as Parkton?  So you have never heard of this town.  The reality is that it is more likely that very few have heard of this town.  It is not a town found on tourist sites.  What is so special about this town?  If you visit the town today, you yourself will be asking what is special about this place.  The movie Guarding Tess was filmed here.  A famous man passed through here.  Who is that famous man?  That famous man is Abraham Lincoln.  At the time he passed through, he was known as President Abraham Lincoln who was on his way to a Pennsylvania town known as Gettysburg to give a famous speech at a cemetery, a speech famously known as The Gettysburg Address.

Some of you are saying, “This is nice, but what does this town have to do with the railroad?”

That is a good question.  The town was established in the 1700’s by a local farmer whose last name was Parke who divided his farm into lots to create the town.  When the York-Town Turnpike was completed (present day Maryland Route 45), local farmers were able to transport their goods to the ports of Baltimore and the Pennsylvania cities of York and Harrisburg.  Eighteen years later, the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad came to town.  The rail line was later taken over by the Northern Central Railway that Abraham Lincoln used to ride to Gettysburg.  A two story train station was built, and the town thrived with a hotel, grocery store, churches, a blacksmith shop, and department store, and many other things.  The Parkton Local, a commuter train which was also named the ‘Ruxton Rocket’, took commuters to and from Baltimore.

Some of you are saying, “This is so great, but the town is now a literal ghost town.”

Parkton was the victim of what caused many small towns to decline.  Interstate 83 now runs east of the town that took traffic away from what is now Maryland Route 45.  Many residents bought automobiles which caused the demise of the railroad and the end of the Parkton Local.  If that is not enough, in 1972, Hurricane Agnes destroyed much of the reason to include the rail line which main ran along the Gunpowder River which flooded.  The tracks in Maryland were taken up, and it was turned into a rail trail.  (The tracks in Pennsylvania were restored and is owned by York County, Pennsylvania and has excursion train run by the Northern Central Railway, formerly ‘Steam Into History’.)  The two story train station was demolished.

Today, as you drive along Maryland Route 45, you will come upon the town.  It was different from its heyday.  You can see where the train once ran and where Abraham Lincoln rode through the town.  You can walk the path where the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad and Northern Central Railway once ran.  It may be a ghost town now, but this ghost town has many stories to tell.

Chasing the 611

I am chasing the 611

Oh, how it is much fun

I chase that amazing dream

Oh, how it knows how to steam

See the train rush down the track

True excitement you will not lack

That whistle, what a sound

As you feel the thundering ground

Let us go and have some fun

Going out chasing the 611

Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania

There a very small little Pennsylvania town southwest of York known as Hanover Junction.  If you were to go there today, you would not see much but the old train station, but it is an old train station with much history.

The town got its name from being at the spot where the Hanover Branch Railroad connected to the Northern Central Railroad.  Of course, there are many places where two railroads came together, but it was here where 11,000 wounded soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg were brought to be transferred to hospitals in Baltimore, York, and Harrisburg.  It was also a place where Abraham Lincoln passed through twice: first on the trip to Gettysburg to deliver his famous Gettysburg Address and for the second time on his funeral train.  The railroad made this town a major place of industry.  When the railroad decline, so did the town.  Both rail lines were eventually abandoned.

Today, the train station is still there.  The tracks that were part of the Hanover Branch Railroad are gone with a short stretch that connects with the once Northern Central Railroad Line which is now owned by the York County Parks of York County, Pennsylvania.  The depot is currently a museum (also operated by York County Parks) and is also a rest stop for those who use the York County Rail Heritage Trail which runs along the Pennsylvania section of the former Northern Central Railroad line.  You can also see the garden that was erected in honor of Abraham Lincoln of which a bust of him rests in the middle.  You can go there by train from the New Freedom Depot in New Freedom, Pennsylvania (https://www.northerncentralrailway.com/), but if you choose to drive to the old station, you can access the station from Pennsylvania Route 616.  It is accessible from Interstate 83 by way of Pennsylvania Route 214 to Glen Rock.

So, if you ever have the time to see Hanover Junction, do not see it as a depot that is there.  Think of it as an old depot where much took place.

The Iron Horse Memorial, Paducah, Kentucky

The United States of America is a nation made of fifty states.  Many of these states have major cities with suburbs of which some may extend into other states.  Each of these states has its small towns.  Among these states is the state of Kentucky.  The first thing that comes to many minds about Kentucky is the fast food restaurant chain known as Kentucky Fried Chicken.  (Be advised that the restaurant chain was not established in this state.)  It is the home of the Kentucky Derby, a horse race that happens to be the longest continuous sporting event in the world located in Louisville.  You have the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory that makes baseball balls for the sport of baseball.  In Bowling Green, you have the Corvette Factory when the world famous Chevrolet Corvette is assembled.  Oh, how can you forget ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ in Bardstown.  As for natural wonders, you cannot ignore Mammoth Cave, the largest cave in the nation.  You cannot ignore the Bourbon Trail, a trail of bourbon factories where bourbon is made.  This state has so much to see.  In the western part of the state is the small town of Paducah.

Some of you are saying, “Great!  Here is some small town in the middle of nowhere with nothing to see except a post office and maybe a town hall and a gas station.  I see nothing special about Paducah, Kentucky.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if you think that the small town of Paducah, Kentucky is just another small town, you are very mistaken.  The town of Paducah has much to offer to include museums and galleries and parks and festivals.  Located where the Tennessee River feeds into the Ohio River, it is a shipping town, and being close to the Mississippi River, barges full of products can be taken to St. Louis, Missouri, Memphis, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, and even New Orleans, Louisiana.  Sadly, being on two major rivers, the town has its share of floods to include a flood that happened in 1937.  Today, a floodwall protects the town from many of the floods that would otherwise put the town underwater.

Some of you are saying, “This is great.  You have two great rivers flowing past this town.  It is sad about the flooding.  Being near the Mighty Mississippi River, of course, there are floods.  The sad thing is that this town has nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, this town is not on my list of places to visit.”

So Paducah, Kentucky, is not of your list of towns to visit.  It should be.

As mentioned, a floodwall was built to keep the flood waters of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers out of Paducah.  Artists have painted murals on the floodwall for many to enjoy.  As you walk along the floodwall, you come upon a special memorial.  What is this memorial?  You have arrived at the Iron Horse Memorial.

Some of you are saying, “Oh, great!  While some artist painted their works on the floodwall, some dude had to make a cast iron horse with four legs.  I wonder if this horse has a saddle of a rider.”

What is the Iron Horse Memorial?  No, it is not an iron sculpture of a horse with a rider on it back.  The term iron horse is also another name of a steam locomotive.  Why is it here?  Early towns benefited from the waterways.  As the railroad came across the nation, many cities and towns benefited.  Paducah was one of those towns.  In matter of fact, the town of Paducah was a railroad hub for the Illinois Central Railroad.  Although other railroads served the town, the Illinois Central Railway had its locomotive shops here until 1960 where the steam locomotives where replaced by the diesel locomotives.  (The shops in the town continue to service the diesel locomotives today.)

So, what is the purpose of the Iron Horse Memorial?  Consisting of Illinois Central Railway Locomotive Number 1518, a baggage car, and Caboose 8045, the memorial commemorates the workers of the Illinois Central Railway and how they were the major contributors to the town of Paducah.

So now you have a reason to visit the town of Paducah, Kentucky.  If you need another reason to visit, the Paducah Railroad Museum is blocks away.

The Iron Horse Memorial is located along the floodwall of Water Street at the intersection with Kentucky Avenue.  It is easily accessible from Interstate 24 and U.S. Routes 45, 60, and 62.  Parking is on the street.  There is no admission to visit, and you can see the memorial any time day or night.  As you see the memorial, you will be impressed, and it will be a constant reminder of a town that was built by the railroad.

Depot Town, Ypsilanti, Michigan

You may have heard of the town of Ypsilanti, Michigan.  It is a suburb of Detroit.  It is a town with many historic structures, but it is also where you will find Depot Town.

It was the 1830’s.  A railroad was built about a quarter mile from the town of Ypsilanti.  A depot was built to serve the people of the town.  Structures were built around the depot over time.  It was named Depot Town for the depot, and it became the transportation and commercial center of Ypsilanti from what was once a farming community.  It went through a fire in 1860 and the American Civil War, and it was also part of the Underground Railroad.

In the 1950’s, railroad traffic through Ypsilanti declined.  Depot Town started to decline with it.

Today, Depot Town remains.  Many of the structures now house retail stores and cafes.  The old freight house remains, and an old New York Central caboose sits nearby.  An old abandoned depot sits across the tracks.  Along with the stores and cafes, there is also a riverfront park along the Huron River.

Ypsilanti, Michigan is east of Detroit on Interstate 94 or from Michigan Route 12.  Depot Town is on the northeastern section of the town at the intersection of E Cross Street and N River Street.

The next time you are in Detroit, make you way to Ypsilanti.  Make your way to Depot Town.

The Last Train Departing

It was in the town of Old.  The town was decaying.  Everyone was at the train station waiting for the last train to depart the town.  The train arrived, and everyone boarded.  The train departed.  The people watched as the town went out of sight.

Moments later, they arrived in the town of New.  Everything looked new.  They arrived at a brand new train station.  They saw new buildings.  Everything in the town was new.

Wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

The Railroad and Christmas

The  Old  Lee  Hall  Train  Station  in  Lee  Hall,  Virginia,  U.S.A.

It is that time of the year again.  People have put up their decorations.  You visit the railroad museum and see lights and wreaths hung on the locomotives and train cars.  Model train displays are set up around the Christmas trees.  You are riding on a train with Santa Claus who asks your children what they want for Christmas.  As the day approaches, you make your way to the station to take the train ride to your destination.

There is a great fascination about the railroad and Christmastime.  The trains produce a very special magic that fills every heart.  For those who are fortunate to see it snow along your journey, you see this time more special.  No matter what has happened up to this time, the sight on the train erases all of those memories.  Then it all comes to an end, and you cannot wait until it happens again.  This is what is amazing about the railroad and Christmas.

May your travels on the train be special, and may you take the time to think of all those railroad workers who are working to make all of this possible.  May you have a great Christmas journey on the train.

The Station Inn, Cresson, Pennsylvania

There are bed and breakfasts all across the United States of America.  Some are in major cities while some are in small towns.  The town of Cresson in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is a suburb of Altoona, a city in the central part of the state that has many railroad sites.  Among those sites is the Everett Railroad Excursion Train in Hollidaysburg, the Railroad Memorial Museum in downtown Altoona, the Gallitzin tunnels in Tunnel Hill, The Allegheny Portage Railroad also in Tunnel Hill, a railroad that carried canal boats across the Eastern Continental Divide, and you have the World Famous Horseshoe Curve where you can watch trains go through the curve.  They also have a minor league baseball team called the Altoona Curve, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Altoona was dubbed as America’s Railroad Capital with the numerous railroad sites and the many railroad shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad where locomotives and rolling stock was serviced and repaired.  (Chicago, Illinois has also been given that title with the numerous railroads that serve that city.)  As a city built on the railroad industry, it is fitting to have a bed and breakfast in the suburbs that is designed for… railroad watching.

Welcome to the Station Inn in Cresson, Pennsylvania, a bed and breakfast specifically designed for rail fans and, most important, train watching.  Each room is railroad themed, and most of the rooms have a window where you can watch the trains from your bedroom window.  If that is not enough, you can enjoy a nice breakfast on the front porch and wave to the engineers as the trains roll by.

Some of you are saying, “This is nice that you have a bed and breakfast designed around watching trains, but you know that it gets boring when the trains only come once every six hours.”

Be advised that if you stay at the Station Inn, you will be disappointed as the Norfolk Southern Railway has many trains on three tracks rolling through here throughout the day.  In case you are wondering, it has been this way since 1993.

The Station Inn is located at 827 Front Street in Cresson, Pennsylvania across the street from the Norfolk Southern Railway main line.  It is just blocks from Pennsylvania Route 53 and a short drive from U.S. Route 22.  You can get more information at https://stationinnpa.com/.

So, when in Altoona, Pennsylvania visiting the great railroad sites, make sure you spend the night at a great railroad site, the Station Inn.  They will keep the trains going for you.

Delaware Agricultural Museum, Dover, Delaware

Every state in the United States of America has something to offer. The state of Delaware, despite its size, is no exception. From the cities of Dover and Wilmington to its small towns to its coastline and natural areas to it history and historic sites to the great homes to its agriculture. Yes, for those of you are wondering, this state does have farms and plenty of them.  What other reason would they have opened to Delaware Agricultural Museum in the capital city of Dover.  Yes, the city of Dover have many great places to visit, and the Delaware Agricultural Museum is one of them.  The museum honors the agricultural heritage of the state.  It is a great place to visit and to learn about agriculture in Delaware.

Some of you are saying. “Wow! This is interesting. I always thought that the state of Delaware was just this small state with small things, and I never knew that the state had farms. Being and agricultural museum, it is about agriculture. It is not about railroads. Therefore, I will not be taking any small step into this museum.”

I guess you are right. This museum is about agriculture and not about railroading. Does this mean that this museum has nothing to do with the railroad? The answer is no.

The Delaware Agricultural Museum is divided into two sections. The one section is the exhibition hall where tractors and farm equipment is displayed. The other section is an 1890’s village.

Let us begin with the exhibition hall.  It is the first place you see after paying your admission.  Yes, you see tractors and farm equipment on display just like you see at most agricultural museums.  You see old milk wagons and trucks used to transport milk from the farm to the stores.  You see displays from milking cows to the chicken pens to the horse and wagons.  As you walk around, you will see a model train display.  Yes, it is a model train display.  The railroad has played a major role in farming all across the United States of America.  Although much of the state of Delaware is on what is called the Delmarva Peninsula, a peninsula with Delaware, a section of the U.S. state of Maryland, and a small strip of the U.S. state of Virginia with the Chesapeake Bay on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay on the east side, is no exception.  With a railroad line extending south of Wilmington through the center of the peninsula, many of the products of the farms in Delaware were shipped by the railroad to other areas of the nation, and you see this in the display.  You watch the trains pass by the barns and the cows, and you see rail cars stopped at platforms where cows and bottles of milk and other farm products are being loaded.

Some of you are saying, “Well, this is nice to see a model train display depicting the importance of the railroad to the farming and agricultural industry, but to visit this museum to see a small train display may be a bit too much.”

Well, the museum also features an 1890’s village.  What is special about the village?  Commonly known as the Loockerman Landing Village, it has structures that were relocated from across the state to the museum that you can tour.  It features the Carney Farmhouse owned by the Carney family relocated to the museum from North Dover.  It has a privy (an outhouse) from Clayton, a chicken coup, a granary from Cheswold, a wagon shed from Middletown, a barn from Felton, a corn house from Millsboro, a meat house from Smyrna, the Johnson Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop from Staytonsville, the Silver Lake Mill from near Camden, the Mill Lane Schoolhouse from Middletown, the school privy from Clayton, Gourley’s Barber Shop from Magnolia, Saint Thomas Church from Shortly, the church privy from Burrsville, and the Reed General Store from Woodside.  It also features and covered bridge, a windmill, and the reason to visit Loockerman Landing.  Originally located in Woodside and brought to the museum to be a part of the museum, the Loockerman Landing Train Station.

Some of you are saying, “Did you say train station?”

We did.  Sadly, you will not see a train come by as the tracks next to the train station do not connect to any other tracks, but you can go into the train station to see the waiting area and ticket office.  It is here where you can see exhibits on the railroad history of Delaware and how it played an important role in the development of the state as well as the farming and agricultural industry.

So, you now have a reason to visit the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover Delaware.

The Delaware Agricultural Museum is located at 866 North Dupont Highway (U.S. Route 13) in Dover, Delaware north of downtown, south of Delaware State University, and across the street from Dover Downs and the Dover International Speedway.  It is open year-round Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm.  Parking is on site.  The museum is wheelchair accessible, but some of the structures in the village may not be.  There are no paved walkways in the village.  You can get information about the museum to include admission and to learn more about the museum at https://www.agriculturalmuseum.org/.

Delaware may be small, but it is rich in history.  It has a history with agriculture that has roots in the railroad.  You can see it all with a visit to the Delaware Agricultural Museum.

Koziar’s Christmas Village, Bernville, Pennsylvania

What is Koziar’s Christmas Village?

Some of you are saying, “Well, duh, it is a Christmas village.”

Yes, it is a Christmas village named after its founder, William Koziar, who designed the village.  It originated at his farmhouse in 1948.  When his displays became popular, it was turned into a village, and Koziar’s Christmas Village was born, and crowds of families and people have visited ever since.  If you can brave the crowds, you will see an amazing village lit up in lights.

Some of you are saying, “Well, this is very nice.  You have a man who created this village that is very popular.  This must be a great place to see.  There is one big problem.  Because there is no railroads, I will not be making my way to this village.”

This is Koziar’s Christmas Village.  It is centered around Christmas.  It has lights.  It has decorations.  It has elves.  Of course, what is Christmas without Santa Claus?  With all of that, there is something else that is commonly seen at Christmas, and you see plenty of them at the Koziar’s Christmas Village.  What is it?  What is a visit to a Christmas village without seeing model trains?  This village does not starve you from the trains.  From indoor displays to outdoor displays, there are plenty of trains to see in the village.  Therefore, you do not have an excuse not to visit Koziar’s Christmas Village.

As mentioned, Koziar’s Christmas Village was founded by William Koziar.  The village continues in the ownership of his family.  Please note that at certain times, you may experience heavy crowds.  This is also a walk through village which will require much walking.

Koziar’s Christmas Village is located at 782 Christmas Village Road outside of the town of Bernville, Pennsylvania.  It is open from early November to early January in the evenings.  You can go to https://koziarschristmasvillage.com/ to get more information.

Koziar’s Christmas Village is a very special place, and there are plenty of trains to keep you excited.