14977
Pennsylvania
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
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,399
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lancaster, PA
D
Country Inn of Lancaster

Activity note: Hotel check-in 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the main lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a family-style Italian dinner with beverages choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. We will pre-select some meals. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
PA Railroad Museum, Strasburg Rail Ride, Amish Home Meal
Lancaster, PA
B,L,D
Country Inn of Lancaster

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking through museums and rail yards and standing.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices including cereal, fruit, pastries, juices, milk, coffee, tea.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania — a Smithsonian Affiliate — in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. There, we’ll have an expert-led exploration of one of the most significant collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world. Railroading is one of Pennsylvania’s most significant industries with its own distinctive history and culture. At the museum, first in the U.S. built to house a railroad collection, we’ll learn about this fascinating world as we examine some of the more than 100 historic locomotives and rail cars, art, artifacts, and hear stories of those who built, operated, and loved the railroads. We will then gather group in a classroom near the entrance of the museum where a member of the Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society will discuss the railroad's vital role during the Civil War.

Lunch: At the Strasburg Railroad across the street from the Railroad Museum, we’ll have boxed lunches featuring a selection of deli sandwiches, chips, fruit, and water.

Afternoon: We’ll set out on a journey aboard the Strasburg Rail Road, the oldest operating railroad in America. These are authentic, historical, restored locomotives and passenger cars. During the narrated, 9-mile round-trip ride, we’ll pass through acre after acre of Lancaster County farmland. This is what it was like before automobiles and highways!

Dinner: We’ll dine early this evening as a local expert takes us to visit an Amish home where we’ll have a traditional Amish meal with the family and enjoy typical Amish favorites such as pickled beets, chicken, noodles and more plus coffee and water.

Evening: On the way back to the hotel, we’ll see the countryside and make quick stop at an Amish craft store. Our Group Leader will review procedures for check-out and transfer in the morning. Have a great evening of rest.

DAY
3
Pioneer Tunnel Railroad & Coal Mine, Wilkes-Barre Station
Wilkes-Barre, PA
B,L,D
The Woodlands Inn & Resort

Activity note: Walking through a retired coal mine. Temperature inside the mine averages 52°F; sweater/jacket recommended.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll begin our transfer to Wilkes-Barre. Much of the railroading in this area was devoted to hauling coal — then a valuable commodity — as well as people. We’ll begin the day with a field trip to the Pioneer Tunnel and Coal Mine. There, we’ll ride in open cars pulled by the Henry Clay, an old-time narrow gauge steam locomotive from the 1920s, on tracks taking us 3/4 of a mile around the side of Mahanoy Mountain to see remnants of strip mining. Mighty steam shovels once raked tons of coal from the mountain, leaving a wall of rock 150 feet high. We’ll also see the Mammoth Stripping area, where a thick vein of coal is exposed, and see smoke from an underground coal fire that has never been extinguished. We’ll then go inside Mahanoy Mountain to explore the Pioneer Tunnel, part of a horizontal drift mine that runs 1,800 feet into the mountain. We’ll ride in open mine cars with a mining expert and stop inside the mine to see coal seams and learn about mining operations including how tunnels were carved out of solid rock.

Lunch: At a popular restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, we’ll have lunches we pre-selected that include a sandwich, soft drink or coffee, and dessert. The restaurant is housed in an old popcorn factory.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit the Forty Fort Meeting House where a local historian will give us a presentation on the historian of this New England Style Meeting House built during the Revolutionary War. The Forty Fort was named for a Revolutionary War era fort that the town's original settlers built when there were 40 settlers. Moving on, we’ll reach our next hotel where we will stay for two evenings and check in with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a nearby restaurant, we will have gift cards to order from the menu.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Steamtown Nat’l Historic Site, Anthracite Heritage Museum
Wilkes-Barre, PA
B,L,D
The Woodlands Inn & Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking at field trip sites, standing during lectures.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold choices plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll continue our learning adventure into the history and heritage of Pennsylvania’s railroad culture with a field trip to Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, where we’ll explore where we’ll explore the working shop with a National Park Service Ranger. The site exists thanks to a passionate railroading enthusiast, F. Nelson Blount, a New England seafood entrepreneur who assembled a large collection of standard-gauge steam locomotives and freight and passenger cars beginning in the 1950s. Following his death, a non-profit organization, the Steamtown Foundation for the Preservation of Steam and Railroad Americana, Inc., brought the collection to Scranton where it occupies about 40 acres of the railroad yard of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania. From the National Park Service: “The Steamtown Collection consists of locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads. The locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switcher engine built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company, to a huge Union Pacific ‘Big Boy’ built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco). The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by American Locomotive Company in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company.” Next, we’ll have a self-directed exploration at the Electric City Trolley Museum on the same site.

Lunch: In the former Lackawanna Station, now a hotel, we’ll have a buffet lunch including choice of entree, side dishes, dessert, coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Our next field trip takes us to the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum that preserves and presents the story of hard coal mining, its related industries, and the immigrant culture of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a museum docent, we’ll learn about people who came to this country and endured harsh working conditions to make a living. We’ll also see exhibits representing varied facets of work, life, and values of the region’s ethnic communities as we see recreations of homes, a pub, and a church.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll order from a select menu.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a railroad historian from Steamtown who will talk with us about the history of the local railroads in the city of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Before retiring for the evening, we will review procedures for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Stourbridge Railroad, Belle Fonte Historical Society
Altoona, PA
B,L,D
Comfort Inn Duncansville

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking at field trip sites.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and travel to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It was here that the Stourbridge Lion made a 3-mile journey and back on August 8, 1829, the first commercial steam locomotive run on rails in the U.S. We will visit the Wayne County Historical Society and meet a local historian who will talk with us about the history of this historic railroad and the town of Honesdale as we take a scenic and historical journey on today’s Stourbridge Railroad.

Lunch: On the train as we return to the station, we’ll have box lunches with sandwiches we pre-selected plus a side dish, fruit, cookie, and water.

Afternoon: We’ll visit the lovely town of Bellefonte for a presentation on the historical significance of this railroad site. We will also have an opportunity to visit their Budd Diesel Car that was manufactured in Philadelphia. The car is under restoration and soon to be operational. We continue our ride and check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant we’ll enjoy a family-style Italian dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Amtrak Ride on Horseshoe Curve, Railroaders Museum
Altoona, PA
B,L,D
Comfort Inn Duncansville

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, on/off a train. Walking and standing at field trip sites, stairs, some uneven ground.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll hop aboard the motorcoach with our Group Leader and travel to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where we’ll board an Amtrak train for a scenic journey to Altoona. During our ride, we will pass through the Gallitzin Tunnels and Horseshoe Curve as the conductor provides narration. In Altoona, we’ll visit the Railroaders Memorial Museum for a self-directed exploration. The museum is dedicated to revealing, interpreting, commemorating, and celebrating significant contributions of railroaders and their families to American life and industry.

Lunch: At the Pennsylvania Railroaders Museum, we’ll have a box lunches featuring a selection of deli sandwiches plus fruit, cookie, and water. We will also meet a local historian during lunch who will spend the rest of the day with us.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will visit the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, the Gallitzin Tunnels, and Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site while receiving a detailed railroad history as we travel through the area.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll order from a select menu. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. We will also review our departure instructions for our journey back to Lancaster.

DAY
7
Travel to Lancaster, Program Concludes
Altoona, PA
B

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Expected arrival in Lancaster approximately 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and transfer back to Lancaster. We will make stops at the Harrisburg Airport or Amtrak station as needed. This concludes our program. We hope you have enjoyed your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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