Pennsylvania Railroads: A Robust History and Heritage

Discover Pennsylvania’s railroad heritage and ride the Strasburg Railroad as you learn the inner workings of steam engines and discover the beautiful countryside.
Rating (5)
Program No. 14977RJ
8 days
Starts at

At a Glance

All aboard! From Strasburg to Altoona, explore the stout-hearted history of Pennsylvania’s railroads and learn about the locomotive pioneers who built them. Steam, diesel and narrow-gauge — hop on each train and ride the rolling hills of Lancaster County and through the rugged Allegheny Mountains. Learn from railroad experts how these intricate lines were built, from the dedicated European immigrants who worked along the narrow-gauge tracks to the meticulous restorers who preserve these important pieces of history. Then experience their skillful craftsmanship firsthand by chugging through the Keystone State on these remarkable machines that reframed Americans’ perception of the transportation industry.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Getting on/off motorcoach and trains multiple times a day; walking and standing at historic sites and museums sometimes over unpaved and uneven surfaces; stairs.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Uncover the story behind over 100 unique locomotives and priceless pieces of the PA Railroad Historical Collection at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
  • Ride through the Gallitzin Tunnels and Horseshoe Curve to experience an engineering marvel built in the mid-1800s.
  • Venture behind the scenes to learn how massive steam and diesel trains are restored during an expert-led exploration at the Steamtown National Historic Site.

General Notes

Ride via motorcoach to each destination in Pennsylvania. We make every effort to allow time to explore each village and town we visit throughout the program—however, please be aware that time on the bus is crucial in getting you from place to place.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Ivan Frantz
A native of York, Pennsylvania, Ivan E. Frantz, Jr. is the descendant of two Civil War veterans, and is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable. He is a member and past president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society (PRRT&HS), and currently serves on their board of directors. Ivan has published several articles on the Pennsylvania Railroad in Keystone, the quarterly journal of the PRRT&HS.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Ivan Frantz
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
by Joseph P Schwieterman
This volume tells the story of transportation providers struggling to survive in a changing economy only to surrender to the relentless forces of the marketplace. In many communities, the withdrawal of the railroad had unexpected consequences; in others, it forever altered the rhythm of daily life. (Vol. 1, Eastern United States)
by Railorad & Locomotive Histroical Society
This book takes you into the lives and stories of railroads and railroaders throughout history
by Eric McKeever
In his tales he conveys feeling for the lives and times of the folks who survived by mining the "black diamonds" that fueled our industrial revolution. The book makes a handy companion, especially on a rainy day while visiting the sights of Carbon and Schuylkill counties
by Anne Frances Pulling
In this historical pictorial tour, Altoona's existence and success is captured throughout several centuries. Pictures capture the transformation of when Altoona was becoming one of the largest railroad yard's in the world. In it's success, two huge roundhouses and numerous population growth is captured as apart of Altoona's background history.

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