The Northern Central Railway, New Freedom, Pennsylvania

The Northern Central Railway at the Depot in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

In December of 1854, the Northern Central Railway was formed by a merger of numerous rail companies.  The rail line connected the city of Baltimore in the U.S. state of Maryland with the city of Harrisburg, the capital of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and it connected numerous small towns in between.  The line was later taken over by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  During its time, many towns were formed.  There was a man named Abraham Lincoln who rode along this rail line numerous times.  He first rode this line when he was on his way to Washington D.C. to take up residence in a house known as the White House to serve the nation as the President of the United States of America.  While on his way to Washington D.C., the railroad thwarted the first assassination attempt which was supposed to take place at a station in Baltimore.  He went along this line to connect to a train at a place called Hanover Junction while on his way to a Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg.  Why was he going to Gettysburg?  Months before, a battle of the American Civil War that was the turning point of the battle, known as the ‘Battle of Gettysburg’, took place.  He went to the cemetery to honor those who lost their lives fighting for freedom with ‘The Gettysburg Address’.  His final ride was when his casket was on its way to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.  Throughout the years, the line changed ownership, but the trains kept rolling on.

The Northern Central Railway in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Until 1972.

The Northern Central Rail Trail in Freeport, Maryland

Hurricanes Agnes struck the United States of America in the early Summer of 1972 making landfall in Panama City, Florida.  The hurricane made its way to the Mid-Atlantic region causing much damage.  The tracks that were the Northern Central Railway in the U.S. state of Maryland were destroyed.  Penn Central Railroad, the last owner of the rail line, decided to abandon the line between Baltimore, Maryland and York, Pennsylvania.  The Northern Central Railway was gone forever.

Not exactly.

In Maryland, the tracks were taken up, and it is now the Northern Central Rail Trail except for a stretch of track that is part of the Light Rail Transit System for Baltimore.

The Abandoned Northern Central Rail Line and the York County Heritage Trail in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

What happened in Pennsylvania?

The Rails of the Northern Central Railway in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

The two-track line (became double-track during World War I) became a single track leaving the one track to remain with the York County Heritage Trail, the northern continuation of the Northern Central Rail Trail, running alongside the rail line.  For many years, no trains ran along this line despite that it was still an active rail line.

That changed in 2011.

‘Steam Into History’ began train excursions with a newly built steam locomotive pulling newly built old time passenger cars giving passengers a one of a kind passenger experience.  Many have come from across the United States of America and around the world to ride this train.  The Number 17 William Simpson York locomotive pulled passengers from its south terminus in the town of New Freedom, Pennsylvania through the towns of Railroad, Glen Rock, and Hanover Junction, the same place where Abraham Lincoln changed trains while on his way to Gettysburg.  (Sadly, only a short section of this track remains.)

The Number 17 York of the Northern Central Railway Ready to Depart New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Today, ‘Steam Into History’ has been rebranded at the Northern Central Railway, and it continues to take passengers along the same route pulled by Number 17 and by a diesel locomotive, and you can now ride to the town of Seven Valleys.  The Northern Central Railway is making a comeback, and they are looking to make its way to York.

Rail Fans Watching the Arrival of the train in Seitzland, Pennsylvania

The Northern Central Railway is at 2 W. Main Street in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.  You can learn more about the excursions and by tickets at https://www.northerncentralrailway.com/.

Number 17 in Seitzland, Pennsylvania

It may be not be ‘Steam Into History’ anymore, but the return on the Northern Central Railway will keep the history moving on.

The Train Returning to New Freedom, Pennsylvania

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.

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