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Northlandz, Flemington, New Jersey

The Home of Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey

Flemington, New Jersey is a town that is situated about halfway between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City, New York.  It is one of the places where you can board the Black River and Western Railroad, and one of the old train stations is now a bank.  The town is not known to be a tourism town, but it is the home of a very great attraction.

The Outdoor Train at Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey.

Welcome to Northlandz, home of a large model train display.

A Rail Yard at Northlandz.

Some of you are saying, “Not again.  It is just another one of those model train displays.  The trains go around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around.  It is the same old thing.”

A Factory or Warehouse at Northlandz

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Northlandz.  As mentioned, it is the home of an exceptionally large model train display.  You pay your admission.  Then you enter to see the display.  You see a model train yard.  Train go through just like any other train display.  It is structures just like any other model train display.  It has scenery just like any other model train display.”

Small Town and Rail Yard

Some of you are saying, “Just like I said.  It is just another model train display.  The people who built this thing says that this is different from anything you have ever seen before.  The problem is that it is just like the others.  Go to a local train show.  You will see what you see at this place.”

A Roundhouse

Why come to Northlandz?  Why travel to this town in New Jersey?  It has trains just like any other model train display.  It has structures and scenery like any other train display.  Therefore, it is a waste of time to travel to this place.

Town in a Valley

If that is what you are thinking, welcome to Northlandz.

In the River Valley

As mentioned, you first see a train yard.  You see cliffs but wait.  You see train tracks.  Trains go by.  You continue to a lake.  The lake becomes a stream.  The stream flows between two high cliffs where the trains run alongside.  You look up.  You see bridges.  You see more bridges.  Then, you see tunnels and bridges.  You see towering scenery with trains and trains and bridges.  Then there is a huge valley with bridges and trains.

High Trestle Over a Town and River

Do you still think that this is one of those model train displays?

A Factory

This model train display is huge.  How huge?  The walking path that takes you to every section to see every part of this display… is about three miles long.  It is on three levels.  There is eight miles of track, four hundred tunnels, over one thousand buildings, over one hundred bridges and two hundred fifty thousand trees, and there are sixty trains running at one time.  Yes, it is that big.  Make sure that your camera is fully charged and that your card has plenty of space.  You will be taking plenty of pictures.  There are great shots at every turn.

Factory on a Cliff

Some of you are saying, “Is it really this big?”

Town on the Cliffs

So, you need evidence.  Is there any evidence?  If there is any evidence, where can you go to get it?  Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence is easy to get.  All you need is a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records.  Yes, we are talking about that Guinness Book of World Records, the book that contains, of course, world records.  This display holds the world record for the longest laid HO scale track in the world and the world’s largest miniature wonderland.

Town and Tracks in the Valley

Some of you are saying, “Wow!  That is incredible.  I know that it took hundreds of people to build this thing.”

A Baltimore and Ohio Train

When you see this thing, you may think that… but you will be wrong.  This whole display is the work of one man: Bruce William Zaccagnino.  It took five years to build working sixteen-hour days.  What began in his home was eventually moved into the current structure today.  It appears as if you are looking at a theater or maybe a hotel, but when you go inside, you will see a great show, and you will find this place a great place to stay.  Today, Bruce is less involved with the display and has put Northlandz under new management who is keeping this great attraction open for many generations to see.

Train Crossing a Lake

Along with the model trains, there is also an organ which Bruce plays in a theater, named the Great American Theater, (as mentioned, it looks like a theater on the outside) with a large chandelier to give it the grand theater look.  It is home to the Doll Museum that features his wife’s doll collection where dolls and doll houses are displayed, and art gallery, old model trains on display, a play area for the kids and a full-scale outdoor train.  Be advised that you, friends, and family are going to enjoy your visit.

The Organ at Northlandz

Northlandz is located northeast of Flemington, New Jersey on U.S. Route 202.  The address is 495 U.S. Highway 202.  Admission is required.  Parking is on site.  It is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and closed on Tuesdays.  You can get more information at www.northlandz.com, and you can also read more about Bruce Zaccagnino and how he built the display millions enjoy today.

In the Valley

Do you need to escape?  Go to Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey where you will find yourself in a whole new world… of trains.

The Big Trestle

Ohio Caverns, West Liberty, Ohio

The Entrance into Ohio Caverns outside of West Liberty, Ohio

The small town of West Liberty in the U.S. state of Ohio is a town that was once along the main road between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.  With the development of the Interstate Highway system, the town does not see as much vehicle traffic.  One of the things that does bring visitors to this town is not necessarily in the town itself, but it is a natural wonder that is east of it.

Looking Around the Ohio Caverns.

Welcome to Ohio Caverns.

Gem Mining at the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio

Some of you are saying, “Oh, great!  Another cavern.  What is up with this one?”

Ohio Caverns has a few claims.  It is the largest cavern in the state of Ohio.  It has been recognized as the most colorful cavern in America.  It has the ‘Crystal King’, the largest free hanging stalactite in the state of Ohio.  Like over caverns, it has formations that are unique.  Here, you will see many crystalized formations throughout your tour.  The great thing about these caverns is that they are open year-round.  If you are in the western part of Ohio, you will want to make your way to see Ohio Caverns.

Some of you are saying, “This must be a very wonderful place to see.  It looks like I am going to have to visit this place.  There is one thing.  This, being a railroad site, are writing about these caverns because these caverns have a connection to the railroad.”

Well, you are right.  The Ohio Caverns does have a railroad connection.  What is the connection these caverns have with the railroad?

To answer the question, we must go back in time.  As mentioned, before the Interstate Highway was built in the United States of America, people drove on roads.  The U.S. Routes were the original interstate system, and U.S. Route 68 was the way people went between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.  (U.S. Route 68 still passes through the town today.)  The early part of the twentieth century was also the heyday of passenger rail travel.  During this time, the railroad made many stops in small towns.  One of those small towns was West Liberty, Ohio.  Why did they come to West Liberty?  They wanted to see the Ohio Caverns.  The original depot, built in 1900 by the Big 4 Railroad, was partially destroyed by a fire.  A new depot was built in 1926, and when the New York Central System came to town, the region was bustling.

The train arrived at the depot in West Liberty.  The passengers be-boarded the train, and they were taken by a shuttle to the caverns.  They did the tour of the caverns.  They were taken back to the train, and they went on their way.

Unfortunately, passenger service ended in 1942, and freight service slowly came to an end as well.

Some of you are saying, “That is very nice, but I guess the railroad is gone and the depot was destroyed.”

Let us say that passenger service is no longer available to West Liberty.  The railroad still passes through on the west side of the town.  As for the train depot, let us say that things got very sweet.

Some of you are saying, “What do you mean by ‘things got very sweet’?”

The answer is simple.  It is now the home of Marie’s Candies (https://mariescandies.com/).  Moved to its present location on U.S. Route 68 north of the town center, Marie’s Candies is in the old West Liberty train depot, and the candy shop helped spare this piece of the town’s history from being destroyed.  We can all say, ‘How sweet of them’.

Ohio Caverns, as mentioned, is open year-round closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The hours do vary by season.  They offer different tours to include the Limestone Tour which is handicap accessible.  You can get all the information you need at https://ohiocaverns.com/.

An Underground Pool inside the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio

Next time you are in the western part of Ohio, visit West Liberty.  Visit Marie’s Candies.  Visit Ohio Caverns.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, North Judson, Indiana

The depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana

The U.S. state of Indiana has the nickname of being the ‘Hoosier State’.  How does the state get that name?  There is no real known answer to the question, but there is a theory being that Indiana is not one of those states that comes first to many people’s mind that the word ‘Hoosier’ comes from the phrase ‘who’s there’.  The definition is simply a resident of the state of Indiana.  Many travel experts would tell you that there is nothing to the state of Indiana.  Sadly, they are mistaken not knowing that the state is the home of one of sports hallowed grounds known by many racing fans as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which hosts the Indianapolis 500, the greatest Indy Car race in the world.  The southern part of the state in the Louisville, Kentucky metropolis, and horse racing fans are fully aware of another hallowed ground known as Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously running sporting event in the world, and it is part of what is known as ‘The Triple Crown’.  It is also a big basketball state, and South Bend is home to the University of Notre Dame, a university famous for its football team.

Bessemer and Lake Erie Caboose Number 1989 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful about the state of Indiana, but does this state have anything to offer other than sports?”

The platform at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

That is a great question.  Did you know that the city of Indianapolis has the second largest number of monuments of any city in the world?  (Washington D.C. is number one.)  The three longest routes in the United States (U.S. 6, U.S. 20, and U.S. 30) all pass through Indiana, and the longest interstate route (Interstate 90) passes through Indiana.  If that is not enough, the city of Elkhart is called the Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World.  How?  Many recreational vehicles are manufactured here, and it is the home of the RV Hall of Fame.

Between the Tracks at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

As for railroads, many the America’s major railroads passed through the state of Indiana.  The New York Central System had Elkhart as one of the railroad’s hubs (it is home to the New York Central Railroad Museum), and it is a hub for the Norfolk Southern Railroad today.  We can go on about the many great sites and accomplishments of the state of Indiana, but one of the great sites you will see is a great railroad site that bears the state’s nickname.

The signals at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Welcome to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.  Located in the northwestern region of the state, it is a short drive from the major cities of Indianapolis and Chicago, Illinois.  What will you see here?

Passenger Cars at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

You begin inside a replica of a Chesapeake and Ohio Railway depot.  Here you will see photos and photos and photos of trains that passed through North Judson.  You will see the ticket office and a bench used for passengers in the waiting room.  You will see a model train running around the top of the museum.  Of course, you will also find the gift shop where you can buy a souvenir from the museum with proceeds going to the museum itself.

The Ticket Window inside the Depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Wait a minute.  You do not want to come here to see pictures of trains.  You want to see trains.

Old Commuter Passenger Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Well then.  It is time to go outside.  You cross the tracks.  You see so many cabooses and locomotives.  Where do you begin?  How about starting with Caboose 1989 from the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad.  You can see the old commuter passenger from the Long Island Railroad.  How about Caboose Number 9914 from the Illinois Central Railroad which has a small museum inside?

A Pullman Hospital Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Be advised that you have a good-sized list of rolling stock here, but there is more to this museum.

Caboose Number 471 from the Nickel Plate Road at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

You have an old switching tower and a watchman’s shanty, and you can also visit the shops.  Here, you can see dedicated volunteers rebuilding and refurbishing locomotives and rolling stock.

An Old Yard Switch Tower at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

There is so much that you can see at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.  If this is not enough, you can also take a train ride.  Train rides happen from May through October and during special events like Easter and Christmas.

Inside the Ticket Office at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is an all-volunteer organization.  There is no paid staff.  It is at 507 Mulberry Street in North Judson, Indiana, a few blocks north of Indiana Route 10.  The museum is open every Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm year-round, but train rides only take place from May to October.  The museum is free, but they will gladly accept donations to keep the museum open and to help with the costs of refurbishing the equipment.  There is a cost to ride the train.  Parking is on site.  You can get information about the museum to include the train rides and to see more of their equipment at http://www.hoosiervalley.org/.

Number 508 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Now, what was this about there being nothing special about the state of Indiana?  There are many great places in this state.  The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is one of them.  It is an out-of-the-way museum in an out-of-the-way town worth going out of the way for.

Number 2789 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Sauder Village, Archbold, Ohio

Erie Sauder’s Workshop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What in the world is Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio?  The village was an idea by a man named Erie Sauder.  His vision was to create a village with old structures from the past so that when people visit, they are taken back in time to see life in the region of northwestern Ohio.  Visitors would see people in period attire doing crafts like woodworking, sewing, weaving, tin making and so many other crafts.  As the world around the region was changing, Erie Sauder wanted every visitor to never forget the ways and the values of life in the United States of America.  When you visit the Sauder Village, you will have that experience.  You will see 75 structures plus a museum telling the stories of yesteryear and farms where you can pet the animals.  Even though Erie Sauder has passed on, his granddaughter continues to run the Sauder Village the same way her grandfather did.  This includes the building of the brand new 1920’s Main Street Village that you can enjoy.  If you are anywhere in the northwestern region of Ohio or in southern part of Michigan or in the northeastern region of Indiana, you will want to make your way to Sauder Village.

Fraas Tin Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Some of you are saying, “This must be one great place.  It is great that this man created this village to remind people of what America was like and to remind everyone of what having good values can do for us and for generations to come.  There is one problem.  You see, you have structures and crafts people, but no trains.  Therefore, I do not see the value of visiting Sauder Village.”

The Basket Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

So, you think that it is a waste of time to visit Sauder Village because there is no railroad here.  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sauder Village.

Fur Trader’s House at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, Sauder Village is a living history village that is a reminder of America’s past.  It consists of many structures plus a frontier homestead, a Native American camp, and a few farms plus a museum.  Another great feature is the Erie Express.

The Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What is the Erie Express?  Added to the village in 2006, the Erie Express is a miniature train pulled by a replica C. P. Huntington steam locomotive.  You board the train, and you ride through swamp land and open fields.  You arrive at the Elmira Depot which is part of the new 1920’s Main Street.  You take a tour of the old depot and see the waiting room and the ticket office.  Well, you get back on the train and ride again.  Of everything you see at the Sauder Village, it may be the highlight of your visit.

Riding the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Now, what was that about there being no railroads at Sauder Village?  Now you have a reason to come here.

The Old Elmira, Ohio Train Depot at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, the Sauder Village is the creation of Erie Sauder, and the village remains in the family.  The family continues to run the village the same way Erie would want to have it run.  You will be taken back in time, and you will be disappointed when the village closes for the day because you will not want to leave.  Along with the village, museum and train ride, the Sauder Village also has a restaurant, café, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, donut shoppe and a place where you can spend the night.

The Ice Cream Parlor at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Sauder Village is located at 22611 Ohio Route 2 north of the town of Archbold.  It is four miles south of the Ohio Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90), eight miles north of U.S. Route 6 and ten miles south of U.S. Route 20.  The living history village is open from May to December while the restaurants, the retails shops and the inn are open year-round.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at https://saudervillage.org/.  You can also read more into the life of Erie Sauder and into the creation of Sauder village, and if you have the time, are worth the time to read.

1920’s Farmhouse at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Make your way to the Sauder Village in Ohio.  Come see Erie Sauder’s great creation.  Come see a place where time stands still.  Come ride the Erie Express and visit the Elmira Depot.  The Sauder family would love to have you visit.

The End of the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

The Attica and Arcade Railroad, Arcade, New York

The Arcade and Attica Railroad at the Depot in Arcade, New York

The U.S. state of New York is a state of many great treasures.  One of the most popular waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls, is on the border with Canada.  Another great treasure is south of this natural wonder.  What is it?  The locals know it as the Attica and Arcade Railroad.

A Display Train in Arcade, New York

The main depot is in the heart of the town of Arcade.  The experience begins… as you enter the parking lot.  Yes, it begins when you park your car, and a train consisting of a bright orange locomotive, a red boxcar and a red caboose is on display.  Sadly, this train does not go anywhere.  You then make the short walk to the bright orange depot.  You go inside… and you find yourself in a museum.  Artifacts from different railroads are on display here.  While walking through, you finally find yourself at the ticket office where you get your ticket for the train.

The Arcade and Attica Train Depot Across New York Route 39 in Arcade, New York

After a while, it is time to board the train in the bright orange cars pulled by a bright orange World War II era locomotive.  You get on board and sit.  The train pulls out of the station.  You wave to everyone as it pulls out of the depot across the street and over a creek.  In a short time, you are surrounded by open farmland.  You pass through a swamp and then more farmland.  Then you arrive at the Curriers Depot which is painted in bright orange.  This is the north terminus of the excursion trains.  (Their freight trains continue six miles north to the town of North Java.)  The locomotive detaches from the train, and then it begins the journey to the other end.  About halfway, it stops.  Why?  Here, you climb into the locomotive.  You sit in the engineer’s seat and get a glimpse of what it is like on a locomotive.  You climb out and see the train with the number 22 locomotive, box car and passenger car.  You want more.  You walk to the depot which houses, yes, another museum.  Well, it is time to get back on the train and head back to Arcade.  As you de-board the train, you have one regret that you wish that the ride was much longer.

The Locomotive at the Depot in Curriers, New York

The Attica and Arcade is a short line railroad with a deep history that once connected the towns of Arcade and Attica with the city of Buffalo.  After flood damage to the tracks, trains no longer went to Attica, but the name of the railroad remains.  Along with excursion passenger service, they are also a freight railroad.

Looking Down the Tracks of the Arcade and Attica Railroad.

The Attica and Arcade Railroad is in the town of Arcade, New York which is located forty miles south of Buffalo.  The depot is located at 278 Main Street (New York Route 39) just west of its junction with New York Route 98.  Parking is a short walk from the depot itself.  You can get information on the excursions, ticket prices, directions and read more into the history of the railroad at https://www.aarailroad.com/.  You can also read more about the restoration project of the Number 18 steam locomotive to operate on its 100th birthday in November of 2020.

Number 22 on Display at the Curriers Depot.

So, if you like seeing orange, and if you like seeing trains, you will enjoy a day on the Arcade and Attica Railroad.  They would love to see you ride.

Locomotive Number 113 at Curriers, New York.

The West Chester Railroad, West Chester, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad arrives at the Old Market Street Station Site in West Chester, Pennsylvania

What is special about the town of West Chester, Pennsylvania?  Most of you would say that you have never heard of this town unless, of course, you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.  It was originally named Turk’s Head after a local tavern.  It has a courthouse.  Yes, every major town has a courthouse, but this courthouse was designed by Thomas Walter.  Who is Thomas Walter?  He is the same man who designed this structure known as the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.  What other great things are here?  In the 1700’s, it was the center of clockmaking.  In the 1800’s, a wagon wheel company which later made wheels for automobiles was centered here.  In the 1900’s a cream separation company did their operations here, and Commodore computers were also assembled here.  Today, this suburb of Philadelphia is the home of West Chester University and many other historic buildings, but it is also home to one of the nation’s oldest railroad routes.

Inside a Passenger Car on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad.  Today, the railroad is an excursion railroad, but, in the beginning, it was a major passenger railroad.  Beginning in 1831, the West Chester Railroad Company took passengers to and from West Chester.  Twenty-five years later, the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad continued the service.  The Pennsylvania Railroad took over in 1858, and it became a passenger and freight railroad.  The railroad became electrified during this time.  The station on Market Street, officially named the West Chester Passenger Station, was a hustling and bustling place.  Then, the Penn Central Railroad took over, and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority began commuter train service to West Chester.  The great West Chester Passenger Station, sadly, was demolished after a fire destroyed the station… but those trains kept coming.

Looking Down Across a Bridge on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Today, the West Chester Railroad Company is owned by the Four States Railway Service Incorporated, and it is operated by the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association, an all-volunteer company who works and maintains the equipment, and makes sure that your ride is very enjoyable.  The railroad is no longer electrified, but the poles that held the electrification wires remain.

People Waiting for the Train in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Some of you are saying, “This is all wonderful.  I like that this railroad has a great history, but what good is a railroad that has a great history if you cannot take a ride on it?”

Chester Creek

You can ride this train.  This is part of the magic of this railroad.  Unfortunately, it does not take you to downtown Philadelphia, but you can ride just short of eight miles to the town of Glen Mills.  You arrive at the station which is located at the western end of the track line.  (The tracks continued west but have been taken up.)  You board the train from the original platform that many have boarded from.  When the times comes, the train leaves the station.  You pass by the railroad and see the vintage locomotives and rail equipment.  The next thing you notice is that you are surrounded by forest, and you are following Chester Creek.  You will need to be reminded that you are in suburban Philadelphia because you will be totally unaware at this point, but you are not concerned because you are riding on a train.  You come upon the Westtown Station (now an art gallery) with its upstairs.  You then come to the Cheyney Station (not open to the public), and then come to the Lockley Station where you wish you could watch the trains go by but wait.  You are on the train.  You then arrive at Glen Mills, the home of a spectacular train station.  You deboard the train and stroll around.  You go into the station which houses a small museum and has the ticket office in its original look.  You walk to the back of the train and down to a small park next to the creek with picnic tables by the creek.  After a short visit, you must return to the train and head back to West Chester.

The West Chester Railroad on a Bridge Crossing Chester Creek in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad is in West Chester, Pennsylvania at 230 East Market Street (Pennsylvania Route 3 East) just blocks from the town center.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at http://wcrailroad.com/.

The Old Train Station at Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad, a railroad that keeps its own history on track.

The West Chester Railroad at the Glen Mills Train Station in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville, Ohio

The Nelsonville Depot

The Hocking Hills in the U.S. state of Ohio is a region southeast of the state capital of Columbus that is full of forests, waterfalls, and other natural wonders.  People come here to hike and to camp and to be in nature.  With all these natural wonders, there is also a mechanical wonder in this region.

Number 3 at the Depot

All aboard the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway in Nelsonville, Ohio.  It runs on a line that originally was built to connect the city of Columbus and the town of Athens, and it was once part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.  Today, the line only runs between Nelsonville to Haydenville and does not connect to any other line.  The journey begins at the Nelsonville Depot which also houses a small museum.  You enjoy the museum, but you came here to ride the train.

The Number 3 Is at the Nelsonville Depot

You step outside, and you watch the train pulling into the station.  You feel transported back in time.  As you watch the train arrive.  You board one of the vintage passenger cars being pulled by a steam locomotive, and you take a seat.  The time comes when the train pulls out of the station.  You watch as you pull out of the town of Nelsonville.  You cross over a creek.  You pass by open land and houses and an old run-down depot.  They you see a quarry filled with water.  You then arrive in Haydenville.  Sadly, this is the end of the line, but you are not down on your luck because you watch the locomotive go by to reattach to the other end to pull the train back to Nelsonville.  As you are enjoying the ride back, you notice an old kiln.  It was here where bricks were made, and they were shipped by train to locations across the country, but you just see ruins.  The next thing you know is that you are back in Nelsonville and at the Nelsonville depot.  You get off the train, and you are back to normal life.

Steam Comes from Number 3

Along with excursion trips to Haydenville, the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is in the process of clearing old trackage south of the Nelsonville Depot to Robbins Crossing, a living history village operated by Hocking College.  A ride on the train to here will really bring your time travel experience to life.

A Homestead at Robbins Crossing

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is operated completely by volunteers.  There is no paid staff.  Their real payment is seeing the operation of vintage equipment and the joy of the passengers.

The Number 3 During a Photo Shoot

The Nelsonville Depot is located at 33 West Canal Street in Nelsonville, Ohio.  It is minutes from U.S. Route 33 and Ohio Route 278 and a short walk from the town center.  Parking is on site, and the train is handicap accessible.  You can get more information at https://www.hvsry.org/.  If you have a little time, you can take a short drive to the Robbins Crossing living history village.  Admission to the village is free.

A House at Robbins Crossing

The next time you are in southeastern Ohio, make your way to Nelsonville.  Climb aboard the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway where the history of the Hocking Hills still rolls on.

Here Come Number 3 of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

Swigart Museum, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

The Swigart Museum in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is an automobile museum.  What is special about this museum?  Their claim is that they are the oldest antique automobile museum in the United States of America.  If you are a fan of antique cars, you will want to make your way to this museum.  Among its collection is the Love Bug, the Volkswagen used in the original movie of the same name and two ‘Tucker’ cars.  It may not be as big as other automobile museums, but it does have a great collection of antique cars.

Some of you are saying, “Wow.  This is cool.  This is the oldest automobile museum in America.  There is one big problem.  This is an automobile museum, not a railroad museum.  Therefore, I will not be driving my car here.”

You have a very good point.  This is an automobile museum.  What does this automobile museum have to do with railroads?

The Swigart Museum was started by William Swigart who collected antique cars.  He also collected license plates of which you can see at the museum.  What is special about this museum when it comes to the railroad?  William Swigart was also a collector of model trains.  As you walk around the foyer area, you will see some of his train collection to include the classic Lionel Trains.  You will also see model trains in the main display hall.  One of the antique car displays has a railroad crossing sign.  Yes, this collector of antique cars was a collector of toy trains.

And you thought that it was a waste of time to visit the Swigart Museum.  Now you have a reason to drop by.  It is located at 12031 William Penn Highway (U.S. Route 22) east of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  It is open from Memorial Day Weekend to the end of October.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information about admission, their automobile collection, their adopt-a-car program, upcoming events to include their annual car show, and you can read more into the life of William Swigart to include his many accomplishments at http://www.swigartmuseum.com/.

The Salamanca Railroad Museum, Salamanca, New York

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The United States of America is a nation of big cities, and it is a nation of small towns.  While more people are flocking to the big cities, they are leaving the small towns behind.  In the early days of railroading, the railroad made stops in many of these small towns.  Today, very few small towns are served, and the ones that get service are the ones on the passenger routes between two major cities.

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In the western part of the U.S. state of New York, about six miles south of Buffalo and the world-famous Niagara Falls and thirty-five east of the city of Jamestown, the birth city of the famous comedian Lucille Ball, is the city of Salamanca.  What is so special about Salamanca?  It has the claim to fame of being the only city in the United States of America to be completely within an Indian reservation.  The town is the home of a casino and the home of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum.  The town is also home to another museum.

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In the town’s heyday, it was a major railroad town and it was in the heart of the lumber industry.  Although the railroad still passes through the town, much of the old rail yard was taken up.  The passenger depot and freight house were preserved, and it is the home to the Salamanca Railroad Museum.

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When passenger service ceased, the depot and the freight house were left to ruin.  It became a place for vandals to destroy this piece of history.  The depot was rescued, and it was completely restored to the look it once had except that it is fully of artifacts and displays from the different railroads that once served this town.  Outside the museum includes two cabooses and other rolling stock.  Even when the museum is closed, you will be amazed by the structure.

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Some of you are saying, “This is nice that they were able to restore this train depot as many old depots go into disrepair.  Sadly, the railroad will never serve this town,”

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the town of Salamanca, New York and to the Salamanca Railroad Museum.  Salamanca was selected by Home and Garden Television for a revitalization project to revitalize the main street.  The future of the Railroad Museum will include the return of passenger service of an excursion train bringing the people of Buffalo to various town in western New York to include the town of Salamanca.  You will want to make plans to visit this town.

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The Salamanca Railroad Museum is located at 170 Main Street in Salamanca, New York.  It is just minutes from Interstate 86 and U.S. Route 219.  It is open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm from April to October.  Admission is free, but they could use your donations to help keep the museum running for many years to come.  Parking is at the museum.  You can read more about the museum at https://enchantedmountains.com/place/salamanca-rail-museum and read more about the town of Salamanca at http://www.salmun.com/.

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The next time you are in western New York, make your way to Salamanca.  They will be happy to see you and pay a visit to the Salamanca Railroad Museum while you are there.

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The Stewartstown Railroad, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

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The south-central region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is a region with many farms.  Today, the farmers have access to trucks to ship their products to the warehouses and the stores.  Before the availability of automobiles, the railroad was the fastest way to get their products to the market.  Otherwise, you had to load a horse-drawn cart to the nearest town.  As the railroads were built across the country, they began to connect the small towns with the big cities.  The town of Stewartstown was not considered by and of the railroad companies.  Farmers had to load their carts and go six miles (a long way when you do not have a car or truck) to the town of Shrewsbury Junction (now Railroad, Pennsylvania) to load their products on the train.  With many farmers in the region, it would have been nice to have a railroad pass through the region as the ride to Shrewsbury Junction was half a day’s journey from Stewartstown.

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The idea of a seven-and-a-half-mile short line railroad was born that would run from Stewartstown and connect with the Northern Central Railroad in the town of New Freedom.  Will this short line railroad have any chance of success?

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The answer is yes.

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The Stewartstown Railroad was charted in 1884 and began service in 1885.  Farmers were about to bring their products to Stewartstown, load them on a train, and then have them taken to New Freedom where they would connect to the Northern Central Railway to either south to ports of Baltimore, Maryland or north to York and Harrisburg.  Factories and warehouses were built along the rail line making it more profitable to local farmers and business.  Even when service declined in the 1960’s, the railroad continued to be a great service to the region.

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Then, in 1972, Hurricane Agnes came.

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Bodies of water throughout the mid-Atlantic region of the United States of America flooded.  The good news for the people of the Stewartstown Railroad is that they saw no damage to their tracks.  They were able to continue rail service between Stewartstown and New Freedom.  The bad news was that the Northern Central Railway suffered massive damage particularly in the state of Maryland where the tracks run alongside of many creeks.  The Northern Central Railway made no attempt to recover the line and abandoned it completely.  Without the Northern Central Railway, there was no rail service to the Stewartstown Railroad.  Without rail service, the Stewartstown Railroad was finished.  They were done.  They were no more.  The Stewartstown Railroad is now a thing of the past never to be seen again.

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Well, not exactly.

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The rail line was still maintained with excursion trains running along short stretches of the line.  How?  Although the tracks were taken up on the Maryland section of the Northern Central Railway and was converted into a rail trail, the section of track in Pennsylvania remained although in disrepair.  The tracks were taken over by the York County Parks Association who took up one track to make room for a rail trail while they kept the other track.  However, no trains were using the track.  With no trains using the track, no trains were going to Stewartstown.  With no trains going to Stewartstown, the Stewartstown Railroad was forever doomed.

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Not so fast.

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While in service, the Northern Central Railway was ridden by many great dignitaries.  One of those dignitaries was a man from the state Illinois named Abraham Lincoln.  Yes, this is the same Abraham Lincoln who became the President of the United States of America.  He rode the train along the Northern Central Railway while on his way to Gettysburg to delivery his famous speech known as ‘The Gettysburg Address’.  A few years later, his funeral train also passed through here while on its way to Springfield, Illinois.  After Hurricanes Agnes in 1972, the rail line was dormant for forty-one years when ‘Steam Into History’ began.  What is ‘Steam Into History’?  It is an excursion train along the Pennsylvania section of the old Northern Central Railway that currently runs from New Freedom to Seven Valleys with plans to continue to York.  The trains were pulled (and pushed) by a newly built steam locomotive called the William Simpson Number 17.  William Simpson was the man who helped bring this excursion train to life, and the locomotive is a replica of a locomotive that would have pulled the train that Abraham Lincoln would have ridden in on the way to Gettysburg.  (‘Steam Into History has recently rebranded themselves as the Northern Central Railway and now does excursions with the Number 17 steam locomotive and with diesel locomotives.)  With the rebuilding of the tracks north of New Freedom, the Stewartstown Railroad hopes to rebuild its trackage to New Freedom in hopes that it will be able to bring back freight service to Stewartstown.

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So, what is the Stewartstown Railroad doing now?

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Today, the Stewartstown Railroad run excursion trains from the depot in Stewartstown which was built in 1914 and is on the Historic National Register to about three miles west with old passenger cars pulled by ‘Mighty Mo’, a gas powered locomotive that was built in 1943.  They also run a maintenance train on occasions from the depot all the way to New Freedom.  The future of this railroad is to have the ‘Mighty Mo’ pull trains all the way to New Freedom.  As the old Northern Central Railway tracks are restored, they hope to have freight service return to Stewartstown.  Until then, ‘Mighty Mo’ will still pull those trains, and you can still ride on tracks where you pass old loading platforms and cross over a steel truss bridge.

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The Stewartstown Railroad is, as far as it is known, the longest running railroad in the United States of America to operate under its original 1884 charter.  (There are older railroads still in operation but not under their original charters.)  There have been great efforts to keep this railroad in operation, and the railroad has survived the Great Depression, the loss of business to trucks and even a major hurricane.  This little short line railroad could possibly be the best stories among the railroads of America.

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The Stewartstown Railroad is an all-volunteer railroad company with no paid staff.  The track work, station staff and Board of Directors do not get paid.  The railroad is a complete labor of love to preserve the history of this railroad.  They run their excursions from the old Stewartstown Train Depot at 21 W. Pennsylvania Avenue (Pennsylvania Route 851) in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.  It is just four miles east of Interstate 83 just north of the Maryland Line.  Parking is a short walk to the depot. They run excursions from April to December.  Please note that neither the depot nor the trains are handicap accessible, and steps are required to enter the train depot.  You can get more information about the excursions and read more into the history and into the plans of the Stewartstown Railroad at http://www.stewartstownrailroadco.com/.  You can also take a ride on the Northern Central Railway which is seven miles west of Stewartstown on Pennsylvania Route 851 (https://www.northerncentralrailway.com/).

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Come to Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.  Come ride a hidden treasure.  Come ride the Stewartstown Railroad.

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