Railroads, of course, were fundamental to 19th-century industrialization, and remain important even today. Pennsylvania was at the heart of the United States railroad development in the 19th century. Pennsylvania coal largely fueled the locomotives, and the state’s iron and steel industry furnished much of the infrastructure. In addition, the Baldwin Locomotive Works, outside Philadelphia, was the top U.S. producer of steam locomotives for decades in the latter 19th century.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania highlights this history. Locomotives, rolling stock, and lots of ancillary equipment are displayed in an enormous exhibit hall containing over two acres of climate-controlled space. More locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment, including a vintage locomotive turntable, are displayed outside.
The exhibits are also not just confined to Pennsylvania railroads. A locomotive from the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in western Nevada, which served the Comstock Lode, is on display, as well as a small locomotive that worked sugar plantations in Hawaii. Replicas of some early 19th-century experimental vehicles on rail transport are also shown.
Know Before You Go
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is right on Strasburg Road (State Route 741) on the south side just east of Strasburg. There is plenty of free parking in an attached lot. Check the website for hours and current admission prices.
Several other railroad-related attractions are in the immediate vicinity and are also worth attention. The Strasburg Rail Road, which runs steam excursion trains, is right across the street on the north. The Choo Choo Barn and the National Toy Train Museum are both not far away as well.
The area lies at the edge of the Amish country and horse-drawn vehicles will be encountered on the public roads. Take care accordingly.