Pottstown Park, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the mountains in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is the town of Huntingdon.  It is a town that is not on many traveler’s maps, but it should with museums like Isett Acres Museum and the Swigart Auto Museum.  One attraction is Pottstown Park.  The park is on the Juniata River which flows south of the town.  Whenever you visit Huntingdon, it is a great place to take a nice stroll.

Some of you are saying, “What a nice park.  It is so beautiful except for one thing.  It is missing a train.  Therefore, you will not see me taking a walk in this park.”

Well, Pottstown Park is a beautiful park.  It features views of the Juniata River as well as an old train bridge.  Yes, one of the features of this park is the old-abandoned train bridge that crosses the river at this park.  The rail line once fed into the main line which is owned by Norfolk Southern Railway today.  (It was originally owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad.)  As you stroll past the bridge, you will notice artwork on the concrete.  Sadly, the trains do not run on the bridge anymore.

Pottstown Park is located on Pennsylvania Route 26 north of U.S. Route 22.  Parking is on site, and it is wheelchair accessible.  There is no admission fee to visit.

The Thanksgiving Train

A man with a business suit and briefcase arrived at the train depot.  He went to the platform and saw a young woman in her 20’s standing there.  He saw her looking at her phone with her ball cap, tan velvet coat, blue jeans with a tear in the knee, and her bare feet with a rose tattoo on the top of her right foot and a toe ring on her left middle toe.

“What are you doing here?”  He had a disgusted look on his face.

“Waiting for the train.”  She continued to look at her phone.

“You?  Riding a train looking like that?  How hideous.”  He stiffened his nose.

“You?  Riding a train looking like that?  How ignorantly stupid.”  She continued to look at her phone.

“How dare you speak to me that way.”  He shouted at her.

“How dare you speak to me that way.”  She looked up at him.

There was the sound of a train whistle.

“Well, the train is coming.  I will soon be out of your crappy life,” she said.

“What was that?  No steam train come here.” He was flabbergasted.

The train with a shiny brass steam locomotive pulled up to the station pulling shiny gold passenger cars.  The conductor stepped off the train.  “Oh Tiffany, it is so wonderful to see you again this year.  Welcome aboard.”

“Wait a minute.”  The man had a confused look.  “You are taking this whore onto your train?”

“Who are you calling a whore?”  The conductor spoke directly to the man.  “This one fine, beautiful, gorgeous, flat out amazing woman.  She is always welcomed on ‘The Thanksgiving Train’.”

“The what?” He was confused.

“He’s an idiot in a business suit,” Tiffany said.

“Well then!”  The conductor was bold.  “We need to bring him on ‘The Thanksgiving Train’ to teach this man a lesson.”

He was stunned as the conductor grabbed him, yanked him onto the train, and shoved him into a seat.  Tiffany sat across the aisle and laid her bare feet across the seat.  The train pulled away from the station.

“Get me off this train.”  He pounded on the window.

But the train kept moving.

“Time for Thanksgiving dinner in the dining car,” the conductor said.

The man was grabbed and was pulled into the dining car and put at a table.  Tiffany sat at a table across from him.  A table was brought out with a baked turkey at the center.  Men and women in black attire walked into the car and sat at the tables.  A priest stood in the middle holding up a bible.  “Let us thank God for ‘The Thanksgiving Train’.”

He bowed his head.  “Almighty God, we thank thee for this train as we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Let us be thankful to the engineer, the fireman, the conductor, the cook, the waiters and waitresses, and the many passengers who ride think train.  In the name of God Almighty, Amen!”

A man came and began carving the turkey, and the waiters and waitresses began serving everyone.

Later that day, ‘The Thanksgiving Train’ returned to the station.  Tiffany and the man stepped off the train.

“Thank you for riding ‘The Thanksgiving Train.’  See you next year.”  The conductor smiled.

Tiffany waved as the train pulled away.

“Will the train run next year?” He asked.

“It runs every Thanksgiving,” Tiffany said.

“See you then,” he said.

He turned to walk away but stopped.  He turned to Tiffany and said, “Thank you, and I am sorry about what I said to you.  You are a wonderful lady after all.”

“See you next year.”  She smiled.

They both went their way.

Wishing Everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  May you enjoy the ride on ‘The Thanksgiving Train.’

Old Rail Bed, Saltillo, Pennsylvania

What is so special about the small town of Saltillo in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.  If you visit the town today, it will appear as a town that is not much, but it was once a big town on the East Broad Top Railroad.  When the railroad came to the town in 1874, there was a small yard there with a water tower and a wye to turn trains around.  The town was home to a tannery, an iron mine, numerous quarries, and there was a passenger station here.  The rail line was discontinued in 1956.

Today, the railroad is gone with only the railroad bed and an old bridge remain.  The actual tracks remain and are being overtaken by the ground.  They parallel Railroad Street which intersects with Pennsylvania Route 655.

The town of Saltillo, Pennsylvania is accessible by Pennsylvania Route 655 which is accessible from U.S. Route 22 from the town of Mapleton in the north and U.S. Route 30 in Harrisonville in the south.  Please note the Railroad Street is not recommended for trucks and busses.

“The Ghosts of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad”

A family lives in a rowhouse in the southwest section of the city of Baltimore in the U.S. state of Maryland.  The father wakes up.  He eats breakfast with the family.  He kisses his wife.  He goes to work at the Mount Clare shops to work to build the locomotives and the rolling stock for the railroad that has come to town.  Another worker works to maintain a passenger car.

The passenger train has pulled up to the platform.  Passengers board the train.  They are on their way to a small mill town of Ellicott Mills.

People board the train.  A man reads the paper.  Another man looks out the window.  A woman takes her shoe off to rub her aching foot.

These are the stories of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  The railroad itself may no longer be running on the rails, but this spirit of the railroad goes on.

These are the Ghosts of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia

Gravestones the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia

The city of Lynchburg in the U.S. state of Virginia is a city on the James River that is rich with railroad history, and the railroad still passes through the downtown area.  A few miles from downtown is the Old City Cemetery where some of the city’s deceased are buried.  Erected in 1806, it is the oldest still in use cemetery in Virginia.

Some of you are saying, “Every cemetery has gravesites where the dead are buried.  This place is no different than every other cemetery.  Let me say that I am not ‘dying’ to visit this place.”

When it comes to the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia, there is something more.  It has graves like any other cemetery.  It has memorials like any other cemetery.  It has a chapel like many cemeteries.  It has an old train station like… wait?  An old train station?

Old Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Train Station at the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia

One of the sites in the Old City Cemetery is the old train station from Stapleton, Virginia.  Why is the train station here in a cemetery?  That is a good question… that has an answer.

The old train station was built by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1898 that was relocated to the cemetery and made into a small museum.  It is the only remaining station of it size and style.  It also commemorates the city’s railroad heritage and the former railroad workers that are buried in the cemetery.

Old Luggage Cart

The Old City Cemetery is located at the intersection of Fourth Street and Taylor Street one block from Virginia Route 163.  It is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, and there is no admission fee.  You can get more information at https://www.gravegarden.org/.

Old Scale

So, you have cemeteries, and you have the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia that pays heritage to the railroad.  It is truly unlike any other cemetery experience.

Old Chapel at the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia

The Holocaust Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland

Many people will say that one of the worst genocides in history is Adolph Hitler’s attempt to destroy the Jewish nation in Europe and throughout the world.  Millions of innocent people who had done nothing against Adolph Hitler or the Nazi’s were put to death.  Sadly, to many railroad fans, the railroad played a major role as the Jewish people were shoved and packed into wooden box cars and taken to the concentration camps to be murdered. The Nazi’s were defeated in World War II bringing an end to this atrocity.  Many memorials and museum were erected around the world to remember what happened to these people.  One of these memorials is the Holocaust Memorial in Baltimore, Maryland.

As you walk through the memorial, you will feel the impact of what happened to the Jewish people.  Imbedded in the ground are railroad tracks to remember how the railroad played a role in this atrocity.  Please note that some of the images at this memorial are very disturbing.

The Holocaust Memorial in Baltimore in the U.S. state of Maryland in located at the intersection of Lombard Street and Gay Street.  It is just a few blocks north of the Inner Harbor.  The memorial is free to visit and is open twenty-four hours a day.  Only street parking is available, and the memorial is wheelchair accessible.

Gordonsville, Virginia

Store Front in Gordonsville, Virginia

The town of Gordonsville is a small town near the center of the U.S. state of Virginia.  It is named after Nathaniel Gordon who was the town’s first postmaster and established a tavern here in 1794.  Some of the taverns famous visitors of the tavern was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America and the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, James Madison, the fourth President of the United States of America and the author of the United States Constitution, and French Major General Marquis de Lafayette.  The tavern was the center of the town until something came along in 1840.  What changed the town?  We all know it as the railroad.

Through the 1800’s, Gordonville was the junction of two railroads: The Orange and Alexandria Railroad and the Virginia Central Railroad.  It was also the western terminus of the Louisa Railroad and was once the westernmost railhead in Virginia.  The railroad not only made the town an economic center of the region, but it also played a critical role in the American Civil War for the Confederate Army supplying the troops in Richmond and Staunton.  Gordonsville was the home off the Exchange Hotel, a luxury hotel built in 1859 for passengers on the Virginia Central Railway.  In 1862, the hotel became a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers who were brought here by train.

After the Civil War, the town continued to thrive, and it became the ‘Fried Chicken Capital of the Universe’.  How did the town get that title?  The railroad played a major role.  As trains passed through the town, women approached the train and served chicken and biscuits to the passengers on the train.

In the 1870’s the railroad lines were taken over by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway who also had shops in the town.  Passenger trains continued to pass through.

In 1916, a fire destroyed the town.  A new line was built through nearby Barboursville.  Gordonsville was no longer the economic center of the region.

Today, the trains still pass through the town now owned by CSX.  The train station that served passengers is gone, and passenger trains no longer stops here for passengers, but the yard tower still remains.  (It is not open to the public and is off limits to visitors.)  The freight depot is also still standing.  (It is not open to the public but can be seen from the street.  The passenger depot was between the freight depot and the tower.)  The railroad shops no longer exist.  The Exchange Hotel remains, but you cannot spend the night there.  Why?  It is a museum that displays the hotel as a hospital, but there is an exhibit that tells the history of the railroad in Gordonsville.  You can get more information about the museum and read more into the hotel’s history at https://www.theexchangehotelmuseum.org/.  There is the Magnolia House next to the tower that served as a hotel (not open to the public).  You can read more about the town of Gordonsville at https://www.townofgordonsville.org/.

Magnolia House

Gordonsville, Virginia is at the junction of U.S. Route 15 which goes through the historic district to the town’s attractions, restaurants and shops and U.S. Route 33.  It is part of the ‘Hallowed Ground’ driving tour which runs from Charlottesville, Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The historic district is a Virginia Registered Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The town may be quiet, but it still stands as a town at the crossroads of history.

The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum, Coatesville, Pennsylvania

The Original Office Building of Lukens Steel, Home of the National Iron and Steel Heritage Center in Coatsville, Pennsylvania

The town of Coatesville in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is 40 miles west of Philadelphia and 40 miles east of Lancaster.  It is a town on the Lincoln Highway commonly known as U.S. Route 30.  (U.S. Route 30 bypasses the town.  U.S. Business 30 follows the original Lincoln Highway through the town.)  The town’s name comes from a local farmer named Moses Coates whose son-in-law created the town.  One of the main features of the town is the arching railroad bridge (aqueduct) that crosses the West Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania Route 82, and a railroad line.  The town was the home of Lukens Steel Company, a company founded by Charles Lukens. What is great about Lukens Steel?  It was the first steel company to produce steel hulls for ships.  It went on to produce steel for major projects like the Walt Whitman Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the two World Trade Center Towers in New York City, New York.  When Charles Lukens passed away, his wife, Rebecca, took over the company making her the first woman in the United States of America to be a part of the iron industry and the first woman in the United States of America to be the chief operating officer of an industrial company.  Another accomplishment is that the company is the longest commissioned steel mill in the United States of America.

The Old Steel Factory of Lukens Steel

The original site of the Lukens Steel Company became the home of the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum.  Here, you will see how the company came about how steel and iron are made and the many uses.  You can even get a tour of the different homes to include the home of Charles and Rebecca Lukens.  A visit to the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum in Coatesville, Pennsylvania is a must see for anybody who is into the steel and iron industry.

Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful.  It is amazing to see the many accomplishments of the steel and Iron industry, and they chose this town to have the factory.  There is a problem.  As you can see, there is nothing about the railroad here.  Therefore, you will not see me here either.”

You are very mistaken.  The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum has so much to do with the railroad.  The very first thing you will see when you enter the parking lot is a train with a steam locomotive pulling cars with steel items.  That is just the beginning.  This is the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum at the former shops of the Lukens Steel Company.  What are rails made of?  They are made of steel, and they made rails for many railroads through the United States of America to include the Union Pacific Railroad and the New York Central System, and the steel was used to build the diesel locomotives, for steam locomotives from the boilers to the wheels, and to build the rolling stock.  Also, in the museum, you will see displays on how the railroad was used for the transport of steel products.  If that is not enough, you have model locomotives and rolling stock on display.  Lukens Steel Company is a major contributor to the railroad industry, and the railroad still serves the company as the company serves the railroad to this very day.  While you are at the museum, you may be fortunate enough to see a train go by.

The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum was established to pay tribute to the steel industry in a town that was built around the industry that has been nicknamed the ‘Pittsburgh of the East’.  Along with the museum, there is also a monument dedicated to those who died at the World Trade Center in New York City, New York on September 11, 2001, consisting of steel from the factory that went to New York… and was brought back home.

Steel from the World Trade Center in New York City, Part of a Memorial

The National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum is in the original office building of the Lukens Steel Company at 50 South First Avenue in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.  It is just off Pennsylvania Route 82 and U.S. Business Route 30, and five miles south of U.S. Route 30.  It is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm.  Tours of the museum itself and the grounds are self-guided, but there are guided house tours that do require walking and crossing the street plus climbing stairs.  (Some of the houses are not handicap accessible.)  Parking is on site.  You can get information on admission and tours at https://steelmuseum.org/.

A Model of the Railroad at the Steel Factory

Are you up to visit the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum?  There is much history about steel, and there is much history about the railroad.

A Model of the New York Central System Number 5343

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Old Train Station, Gaithersburg, Maryland

The town of Log Town in the U.S. state of Maryland was established 1765 as a small agricultural town of farmers on the ‘Great Road West’.  The town became famous for a large oak tree on the main road, and, in 1850, was named Forest Oak.  The town was centered on the ‘Great West Road’ until 1873.  What changed?  The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had arrived.

The Old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Freight House

Area farmers were able to ship their produce to other towns.  It was named and incorporated as Gaithersburg in 1878 after Benjamin Gaither, a man who had built his home next to the oak tree.  The town grew around the railroad as a freight house and train station were built in 1884.  Gaithersburg became a summer getaway spot from Washington D.C. as the railroad was a means to escape from the big city.

As the years went by, Gaithersburg grew.  Today, it is a suburb of Washington D.C., and the farms that surrounded the town were taken over by tech companies as the region is one of the largest tech regions in the nation.  The ‘Great West Road’ is now Maryland Route 355.  As for the station and freight house, there is no freight in the freight house, and it now houses the Gaithersburg Community Museum, and the train station no longer serves passengers, well, it does.  It houses a coffee shop for commuters to downtown Washington D.C.  There is also a small park that features a steam locomotive Number 14 from the Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad, Caboose Number 904152 from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and a self-propelled passenger car from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Amtrak, unfortunately, does not stop here with the nearest stop in nearby Rockville, but you can still watch the Amtrak and CSX Trains roll by.

Number 14 of the Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad

The next time you here about Gaithersburg, Maryland, think of it as a suburb of Washington D.C. that was transformed by the railroad.

“Thank You for Your Service”

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Number 1961 at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland

The train was at the station.  The conductor was assisting passengers as they boarded the train.  A marine in uniform walked up to the conductor.  “Mr. Conductor, I thank you for your service.”

The conductor was puzzled.  “Thank you, but I should be saying that to you.”

“No, sir,” said the marine.  “Because of what you do, the baggage handlers do, the car cleaners do, the engineers do, the mechanics do, the chefs do, the servers do, the ticket agents do, the track repairers do, we are able to serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces.  Because of your work, we in the military are able to go to and from the battlefield.  Therefore, I thank you for your service.”

“Well,” said the conductor, “I am honored and happy to be at your service.  I hope you enjoy your journey.”

“Because of all of you,” said the marine, “I will.”

The marine boarded the train and went to his seat.

Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Caboose Number 90704 at the Hocking Valley Railway in Nelsonville, Ohio

I wish everyone a HAPPY LABOR DAY.

Norfolk and Western Railway Number 611 and 382 at the Strasburg Railroad in Gap, Pennsylvania