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Marshall County Museum, Plymouth, Indiana

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There is a town in northern central Indiana called Plymouth.  In this small town is the Marshall County Museum.  This museum tells the history of the county.  If you really want to know the history of Marshall County, Indiana, visit the Marshall County Museum in Plymouth, Indiana.

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Some of you are saying, “Interesting.  I have never heard of the town of Plymouth, Indiana, and I have never heard of Marshall County.  It is a good thing that they have this museum.  If not, nobody would know about Marshall County.  There is one problem.  This museum is a county museum and not a railroad museum.  Therefore, you will not see me visiting this place.”

 

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It is a museum about Marshall County so why visit this museum?

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As mentioned, it is a museum that displays the story of the county from home life to school life to the local sports.  This museum is filled with artifacts.  This museum also has a very special room.  What is this room?  The Train Room.  No, this is not some small model train that goes in a small circle.  This display is a good size.  From steam to diesel, the trains go down the trains.  There are also trains on the walls plus old photos of the old train depot.  You may be spending a little time in this room.

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Although the Marshall County Museum is about the area around Plymouth, out-of-towners will appreciate this place.  It is run and operated by the Marshall County Historical Society.  It is located at 123 North Michigan Street (Indiana Route 17) in the heart of Plymouth.  It is minutes from U.S. Routes 6, 30 and 31.  The building is handicap accessible.  Parking is street parking.  You can learn more at https://mchistoricalsociety.org/.

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So, you not only have a reason to visit Plymouth, Indiana, but you also have a reason to visit the Marshall County Museum.  They would love to have you visit.

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The Erie Zoo, Erie, Pennsylvania

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The city of Erie, Pennsylvania is in the northwestern part of the state on the south shore of Lake Erie.  It is the second largest port city in the state.  (Philadelphia is number one.)  It is home to a maritime museum where the U.S.S. Niagara is docked, and it is home to a few lighthouses.  Then you have Presque Isle State Park.  Like other cities, it has a zoo.  The Erie Zoo may not compare to the big city zoos, but it is still an enjoyable place to visit.

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Some of you are saying, “This is great.  It is a small zoo compared to many zoos across the country.  It has animals like any other zoo, but there are no trains.  Therefore, I will not waste my time at this place.”

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Yes, it is a zoo.  Yes, it has animals just like any other zoo.  This zoo also has something that rail fans like.  Why is it?  A train.  It is a miniature train.  It is a small version of a C. P. Huntington which was used on the transcontinental Railroad.  This C. P. Huntington runs at the Erie Zoo.

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Some of you are saying, “I know.  It goes down the track, around a loop, and comes back.  I have been on these mini trains.  It is the same thing.”

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It does go down the track, and it crosses a bridge.  It goes through a tunnel, and then it goes across a long trestle.  Yes, it is a long bending trestle.  Then the fun begins.  It becomes a safari train.  The tracks go through an animal pen where you get up close to rams, deer, antelope and ducks.  Be advised.  This is not your average mini train ride.

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While you are walking around looking at the animals, you will find another discovery.  What is this discovery?  You will discover a model train.  It includes a huge train trestle, a farm, a covered bridge and a few structures.

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The Erie Zoo is located at 432 West 38th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.  It is minutes from downtown and from Interstates 90 and U.S. Route 20.  It is open from March to November (closed in December, January and February) from 10:00am to 5:00pm.  Admission to the zoo is $10.00 for those 13 to 62, $8.00 for those over 62 and $6.00 for those 2 to 12.  The train will cost $3.00 more.  It runs weather permitting, and it is accessible to those who are handicap and for those in wheelchairs.  You can get more information at https://www.eriezoo.org/.

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Now you have a reason to visit the Erie Zoo for something other than seeing animals.  You can take a train ride.  It is worth a visit.

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The Corner Field Model Railroad Museum and Trading Post Train Shop, Middlefield, Ohio

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You are driving across Ohio, and you come upon a baseball field.  Next to the baseball field is a railroad crossing sign next to a small building.  Curious to see what is going on, you pull into the lot.  What could be here?

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Welcome to the Corner Field Model Railroad Museum and Trading Post Train Shop.  You go inside, and you are greeted by friendly people behind the counter.  You look around the hobby shop, but you did see that there is a model railroad museum.

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Some of you are saying, “I know.  It is a model railroad museum with a hobby shop.  You see the trains in the hobby shop and then watch this train go around in a small circle, and that is their museum.  I have seen these places so many times.  They are just not worth your time.”

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Corner Field Model Railroad Museum and Trading Post Train Shop.  No, it is not a train going around in some small circle.  It is more like a very big circle.  As you enter the museum, you will be amazed.  This display is huge.  How huge?  It happens to be the largest family owned and operated O gauge train display in the United States of America.  Yes, it was built by one family and not a model railroad club, and it remains in the family to this current day.  You see trains going over bridges and past buildings some of which are at least sixty years old.  From steam to diesel, this display will amaze you.  You may think about going back to see it again.

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The Corner Field Model Railroad Museum and Trading Post Train Shop is a hidden treasure that is waiting for you to discover it.  It is located at 16720 Pioneer Road in Middlefield, Ohio (in the Huntsburg Township).  They are opened year-round from Wednesday to Sunday.  (Hours vary by day.)  Admission to the museum is $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and $5.00 for kids 4 to 12. You can get directions, hours for the day you visit, and learn more about the hobby at http://cornerfieldmodelrailroadmuseumandhobby.com/.

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‘Love on the Train’

The Train at the Depot in Thomaston Connecticut

A man and a woman arrive at the train station at the same time.  As they are waiting for the train, they glance at each other.  The glance becomes a look.  The look becomes a stare.

“Which train are you wait for,” he asks.

“The 9:00 to Charlotte.”

“I am waiting for the same train.”

“Maybe we can sit together.”

The train arrives on time.  They climb aboard.  They sit down next to each other.  The train is on its way.  They look at each other and smile.  Something begins to brew.  What is brewing?  It is Love on the Train, and it will be a long-lasting love.

May everyone have a Happy Valentine’s Day, and may you spend it with the one you love, and if you are alone on this day, may love on day find you.

 

The photo is of the excursion train at the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston, Connecticut.

The Iron ‘T’ Rail Monument, Danville, Pennsylvania

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The U.S. state of Pennsylvania is home to numerous coal mines.  Some of those mines have been decommissioned while some are still active.  Along with these mines came towns that grew around the mining communities.  Among those towns was the town of Danville.  Situated on the Susquehanna River, it was an industrial town that benefited from the iron ore that was mined in the region, and it was the site of an invention that benefited the railroad to the present day.  What was this invention?  You see it every time you visit the railroad line: the rail shaped like a ‘T’.

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For this reason, the Iron ‘T’ Monument was erected in the town of Danville, Pennsylvania.  The monument features a coal car commemorating those in the coal mining industry.  It sits on iron ‘T’ rails next to the County Courthouse at the intersection of Mills Street and Market Street.  There is no admission fee to see it, and you can visit it day or night.

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The next time you are in Danville, Pennsylvania, do not think of it as just a small town but as the place where the iron ‘T’ rail was born.

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If you are a wine lover, you may want to visit the Shade Mountain Wine Store.  It is located across the Susquehanna River.  It is easy to find because when you take Pennsylvania Route 54 across the river, you can turn right… at the railroad crossing.  It is housed in an old train depot.  You can purchase a bottle or have a glass while sitting at a table next to the tracks.  If you are fortunate enough, you may enjoy your glass and enjoy a passing train.  You can get more information at https://shademountainwinery.com/.  (Please note that Pennsylvania state laws require that you must be at least 21 years of age to enter the site or to visit the wine store.)

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Medina Railroad Museum, Medina, New York

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Do you love New York?  Back in the day, you heard the old jingle ‘I love New York’.  When you are asked what you think about the U.S. state of New York, what most people will think of is what is known as the ‘Big Apple’, New York City where most of the state’s population happens to live.  The state has many great historic sites like the Saratoga Battlefield in Saratoga Springs where the turning point of the American Revolutionary War took place.  You have natural wonders like Niagara Falls, one of the most visited and most spectacular waterfalls in the world.  The state of New York also has great small towns.  Among these towns is Medina.  Located halfway between Rochester and Buffalo, the town was constructed around the Erie Canal, and it was a stopover for boats using the canal.  As it was a major stop on the Erie Canal, it also became a stop for the New York Central Railroad.

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A small train depot, known as ‘Small Stone Station’, was built in Medina, and the town had regular passenger and freight service.  However, the town grew, and the locals complained that the depot was too small.  A much bigger freight depot was built.  It remained in use until the 1960’s when railroad service declined.  The depot was sold, and it became a furniture shop.  The owners of the furniture shop retired in 1991.  Was the depot demolished?  No.  It was purchased and became the home of the Medina Railroad Museum.

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Today, the Medina Railroad Museum is the home of the largest model train display in the state of New York and one of the largest model train displays in the United States.  The walls are also filled with memorabilia from the railroad to include signals, lanterns, small models and much more.  You pay your admission at an old ticket window, and you can see a layout of the ticket master’s office.  If that is not enough, you have two E-8 locomotives from the New York Central Railroad outside along with other rail cars.  If you are fortunate enough, you may see a passing train.

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The Medina Railroad Museum is open year-round, but the trains rides are offered seasonally.  It is located at 530 West Avenue in Medina, New York.  (It is two blocks west of New York Routes 31 and 63 and Main Street next to the tracks.)  It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm.  (It is closed on Mondays and major holidays.)  Admission is $9.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors, $7.00 for children 2 to 18 with those under two free.  The museum admission is included with the purchase of any train Excursion ticket or with any ticket to their Special Events.  You can learn more about the train excursions, their special events and information on the museum at https://www.medinarailroad.com/.  You can also read a tribute to the founder, Marty Phelps, who made this museum a reality.

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When you think about the great sites in the state of New York, you can think about the Medina Railroad Museum.  It may be a great place to stop.  The people of the Medina Railroad Museum would love for you to visit their town.  They provided a promotional video.  You can click on this link: https://www.elocallink.tv/m/v/player.php?pid=w7QwyQ54&fp=nymed19_wel_iwd.

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Shenandoah Caverns, Quicksburg, Virginia

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Along the Interstate 81 corridor in the state of Virginia, you will find a great number of caverns that you can tour.  You have the famous Luray Caverns in Luray.  You have Skyline Caverns in Front Royal.  You have the Natural Bridge Caverns in Natural Bridge, Virginia.  As you visit each cavern, you find a uniqueness to each one.  This is also what you will discover when you visit Shenandoah Caverns in the town of Quicksburg.  For those who are disabled and have mobility problems, Shenandoah Caverns is special because it was the first cavern to be handicap accessible, and it is now one of two caverns that is accessible to those who are handicapped.  (Luray Caverns recently became handicap accessible.)  Shenandoah Caverns is an amazing place to see, and you will be amazed at the numerous stalactites and stalagmites.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow!  How cool.  This must be a beautiful place to see.  There is one very big problem.  Being a ‘cavern’ means that it is natural.  Being natural means that there are no trains here.  Therefore, I will naturally not be making a visit to this place.”

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There has never been a train that has gone into this cavern.  What does the railroad have to do with Shenandoah Caverns?

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A visit to Shenandoah Caverns is a visit to see many things.  The main attraction is, of course, the caverns.  You also have the Caverns Café which is set up like an old 1950’s diner.  It is a great place to have lunch.  You then have ‘Main Street Yesteryear’, a place that takes you back in time to see the old displays from the old department stores.

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Then you have the Yellow Barn.  On the outside, it is a yellow barn, but the very first thing you will notice is the caboose.  Yes, you want to see the caboose, but you must see what is inside.  As you enter, you will see plates behind the receptionist desk.  What is special about these plates?  They have locomotives on them.  Earl C. Hargrove, a former owner of the caverns, is a railroad fan, and this is just the beginning.  There are displays inside the main room, but while you are walking through, you will want to look up.  Why?  You can see the model trains going around.  In case you are wondering, this space is available to host your event.

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As mentioned, Earl C. Hargrove is the former owner of the Shenandoah Caverns.  (It is now owned by his daughter, Kathy.)  Before Earl Hargrove was the owner of the caverns, he was a designer of parade floats.  From his designing company in suburban Washington D.C. he designed floats for many parades to include town parades, the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California and numerous Presidential Inauguration parades in Washington D.C.  Many of his parade floats are on display at ‘American Celebration on Parade’.

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As you enter ‘American Celebration on Parade’, you will see a model train display on your left.  After seeing the trains going around, you will want to enter the main hall to see all the floats.  You will be amazed at the works.  Two things you will see is a trolley that was used in a parade in Cheverly, Maryland.  As you walk around some more, you will see your favorite float.  What will be your favorite float?  It will be the steam locomotive and caboose.  It is a float that you can climb aboard.  What is special about this float?  It is the longest float on display.  It was used in the 1994 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.  It was here where the float won top honors.  It was also used in President William Clinton’s 1997 Inauguration Parade and in three of Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parades.

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Now some of you are saying, “That is nice.  Model trains.  Trains on plates.  A train float used at the Rose Parade.  I guess that is everything.”

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Not exactly.  The Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade has railroad stuff.  However, there is more.  This has to do with the discovery of Shenandoah Caverns.  How?  In the autumn of 1884, the Southern Railway was building a line through the Shenandoah Valley which would have brought service to what is Quicksburg today.  The rail line was being built next to a farm owned by a man named Abraham Neff.  The railroad needed some limestone.  Abraham allowed them to dig up his farm for the limestone.  It was on one Sunday that the two sons decided to play in the quarry while the workers were resting for the day.  While playing around, one of them felt cold air from the ground.  It was at this time when they discovered what would be Shenandoah Caverns.  In 1920, the property was sold to Hunter Chapman, a stockholder in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad who built a hotel (the current visitor center) at the caverns.  Being a railroad man, he ran excursions from Washington D.C. to Shenandoah Caverns.  Sadly, the trains no longer have passenger service to the caverns.

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Shenandoah Caverns is located at 261 Caverns Road in Quicksburg, Virginia.  It is just minutes from Interstate 81 and U.S. Route 11.  Although the caverns and ‘Main Street Yesteryear’ are open year-round, the Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade are open seasonally.  Access to the caverns is by way of an old elevator built in the 1930’s.  Although it is handicap accessible, those using a wheelchair may need assistance through the cavern.  You can get all of the information and learn more about the cavern at https://shenandoahcaverns.com/.

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The next time somebody tells you that there is nothing about the railroad at Shenandoah Caverns, tell them to pay the place a visit.  You will see a place that the railroad helped discover.

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The Town of Felton, Delaware

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Have you ever heard of the town of Felton, Delaware?  You have never heard of the town of Felton, Delaware?  The town is not a famous town.  If you had heard of this town, you are among a very few.  It is in the central part of the state.  What famous historic sites are here?  What great attractions are here?  It is not a town famous for its great attractions or history which is probably why very few people have ever heard of this town.

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What is so great about this town?

That is a great question.  In case you are wondering, this town was established in 1856.  No, it is not named after Tom Felton, the famous actor from the Harry Potter movies.

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If it is not named after Tom Felton, who is it named after?

Before we answer that question, let us talk about how this town even is in existence.  As mentioned, it was established in 1856.  How?  The town of Felton owes its existence to one thing: the railroad.  The Delaware Railroad was built, and the town was established as a whistle stop.  The lay out of the town had the rail line in the center with the town being equally divided by half a mile on each side.  The town was incorporated in 1861.  A train depot was built, and the town had normal passenger service.  It is named for Samuel Felton who was the President of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad.  (He is also famous for using the railroad to thwart Abraham Lincoln’s first assassination attempt.)   Despite the town’s size, it became a booming town which sadly was short lived when a fire destroyed the town in 1930 and a slumping economy after the 1929 stock market crash.  It still had regular passenger service until the 1950’s.  The Passenger depot remains as a reminder of the railroad heritage.  Only freight trains pass by the depot today.

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Now that you have heard of Felton, Delaware, you should drop by.  Pay the small town a visit.  Visit the depot.  See what the railroad can do.  It is just ten miles south of Dover on U.S. 13.  The town center is on Delaware Route 12 west of U.S. 13.  The old train station is just north of Delaware Route 12 from where it crosses the tracks.  (It is currently not open to the public.)

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Luray Caverns, Luray, Virginia

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If you drive 93 miles southwest of Washington D.C., and you will find yourself in the town of Luray, Virginia.  This small town located at the junction of U.S. Routes 211 and 340, it has a few attractions, but the most famous attraction is Luray Caverns, the largest cavern east of the Appalachian Mountains and the most visited caverns in the eastern United States.  The caverns, like others across the nation, is an amazing natural wonder.  If are even in the region, you will want to make your way to Luray Caverns.

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Some of you are saying, “I think that this is wonderful.  These caverns must be very amazing.  The problem is that this a cave, and there are no railroads in this cavern.  Therefore, you will not be seeing me explore this place.”

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Luray Caverns is a spectacular place to see.  Of course, there are no railroads inside the cavern.  However, there is much to these caverns that have to do with the railroad.

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When you pay your admission to Luray Caverns, you will be able to see, of course, Luray Caverns.  It also includes admission to the Car and Caravan Museum which displays classic cars.  You can enter the Luray Valley Museum where you can see how life was when this region was part of the western frontier.  Then you have Toy Town Junction.  Toy Town Junction features toys, but it also features model trains.  You will see two different model train displays plus trains displayed on shelves featuring different scenes.

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If you think that Toy Town Junction is all that Luray Caverns has to do with trains, think again.

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About one mile away from Luray Caverns is the town center of Luray.  Just south of the town center is the Luray Visitor Center.  What is special about the Luray Visitor Center?  It is housed in the old train depot.  Along with the visitor center there is also a small museum that features a model train display.  You can even take a seat in the original passenger ticket office.

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In case you are wondering, there is much more to the story.  This depot is a big part of the story.

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Before it was the Luray Visitor Center and Museum, it was the train depot.  It served as a normal small-town depot.  Passenger trains stopped here to pickup and discharge passengers.  Unlike your typical small-town depot, this depot had many visitors during the glory days of railroading.  Why did they come here?  They came to see this popular cavern that was located about one mile outside of the town.  When the passengers arrived at the caverns by train, they were given a special deal.  Those who came to Luray by train were given free overnight accommodations at a local hotel.  Sadly, the passenger trains no longer serve the town of Luray, but Norfolk Southern has freight trains that pass through the town.

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Luray Caverns is located at 101 Cave Hill Road in Luray, Virginia.  It can be seen from U.S. 211 and 340.  It is open everyday of the year, but hours vary by season.  It is also handicap accessible with no steps to the entrance although some assistance many be needed for the uneven walkways.  Your paid admission includes the caverns, the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, the Luray Valley Museum and, of course, the Toy Town Junction.  You can get all the information you need at https://luraycaverns.com/.

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As for the Visitor Center and Museum, it is located at 18 Campbell Street (U.S. Business 340) in Luray, Virginia.  Parking is on site.  The museum is free, but they gladly accept donations to keep the museum up and running.  It features the old ticket office where you can sit at the ticket desk. You can see displays of the history of the railroad through the Shenandoah Valley, and you can enjoy the model train display.  The model train display was arranged by the Page County Model Railroad Club.  If you are fortunate enough, you may see a train pass by.  The Luray Visitor Center and Museum is open everyday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

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Next time you see an advertisement about Luray Caverns, do not think of it as just a hole in the ground.  Think of it as a spot where people once rode the train to.  While in Luray, visit the visitor center.  Be warned.  You may go back in time.

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Central Railroad of New Jersey Locomotive Number 113, Minersville, Pennsylvania

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What do you know about the town of Minersville, Pennsylvania?

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Some of you are saying, “Duh!  It is the home of miners.”

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That could be true considering that it is in the eastern central part of the state surrounded by anthracite coal mines, and it was the access to the mines that helped this town grow.  For the rail fan, coal mines usually meant railroads, and a railroad was built to transport the coal through the region.  There is another great reason the visit the town of Minersville.  What is that reason?  It is the home of the Central Railroad of New Jersey Locomotive Number 113.

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What is special about the Number 113?  It is an old switcher locomotive original built for the Central Railroad of New Jersey to be used in the freight yards as switcher locomotives were normally used for.  It is a 0-6-0 locomotive that was very powerful locomotive, and it was one of the heaviest locomotives with that type of wheel-base ever built.  (0-6-0 is the wheelbase of the steam locomotive with no guiding wheels, six driving wheels and no rear wheels.)  It went through many hands until a man by the name of Robert Kimmel, Sr. bought the locomotive and had it moved to the town of Minersville where it sits next to the old Minersville depot today.

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Now some of you are saying, “That is nice that it is now in Minersville sitting and rotting and sitting and rotting just like those old locomotives.”

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It was sitting and rotting until a restoration project began.  For years they had to work to find some of the original parks to include a bell that was removed.

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Now some of you are saying, “I bet that they cannot find all the parts, and it will never run again.”

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Well, it was taken to the Schuylkill Haven Borough Day in September of 2019, and it did pull a full trains in 2019, and the volunteers hope to see more excursions, but as for now, it rests near the old Minersville depot in Minersville, Pennsylvania. (The depot is also under a restoration project.  It is owned by the Reading and Northern Railroad and is leased from them.)  You can read more into the history of the CRRNJ Number 113 and more into the restoration project at https://www.rrproject113.org/.  You can also click this link to donate to the project, to buy merchandise, to see the restoration work, to see a YouTube video of the locomotive in action and to see when possible future excursions with the 113 will take place.

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The old Minersville depot is located at 113 East Sunbury Road in Minersville, Pennsylvania just east of Pennsylvania Route 901 next to the bridge crossing the Schuylkill River.  Although you can see the CRRNJ 113 and the depot, the depot itself is not open to the public.  Parking is on the street.

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