14977
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Railroads: History and Heritage
Discover Pennsylvania’s railroad heritage and ride the Strasburg Railroad as you learn how steam engines are rebuilt, visit Horseshoe Curve and explore Allegheny with a historian.
Rating (4)
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

Afternoon: CHECK IN: Please arrive at the Inn between 3:00-5:00pm. Check in at the front desk and then register with Road Scholar staff in the Main lobby. At this time you'll be given a welcome packet containing your name tag, up-to-date itinerary and other useful information. You will then have until 5:45 PM to settle into your room.

Dinner: Enjoy an Italian Family Style dinner served at Your Place Restaurant located on the property of the hotel.

Evening: ORIENTATION: After dinner we will have our Orientation. This will provide you with information about the inn, program itinerary, instructors, venues and on site staff. We will ask participants to introduce themselves to the group. This is also a good opportunity to ask questions.

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

Breakfast: A continental breakfast is served this morning at the hotel. Features selections of pastries, juices, coffee and whole fruit.

Morning: FIELD TRIP:This morning we visit the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania where we will have a guided exploration of one of the most significant collections of historic railroad artifacts in the world. Devoted to preserving and interpreting the broad impact of railroad development on society, the museum: Displays over 100 locomotives and cars from the mid-19th and 20th centuries, including the priceless Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Collection. Has restored many of these unique survivors to original appearance, and pursues a major restoration program. Conducts educational programs for all ages, provides tours and holds special events, many in cooperation with outside organizations. The innovative Railway Education Center provides a focus for exciting learning. Houses extensive exhibits of railroad artifacts, plus priceless art work, books, photographs and corporate railroad material. Recognizes that railroad history is alive and continues being made in this new millennium. The Museum uses new technologies to preserve and interpret the unfolding story. Seeks to enhance its world-class status through a process of steady improvements involving public-private partnerships. PRESENTATION: Re-group in the class room where Ivan Frantz will discuss the Pennsylvania Railroad's vital role during the Civil War.

Lunch: A picnic lunch is served at the Strasburg Railroad featuring a selection of deli sandwiches.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Enjoy an afternoon journey aboard the Strasburg Railroad. The Strasburg Rail Road, a historic operating railroad located directly across the street from the Railroad Museum, runs their train rides in vintage coaches, mostly with steam locomotives. The rides are well narrated, with great views of Amish farmlands. Taking a trip on the Strasburg Railroad is an experience not to be forgotten!

Dinner: EVENING EXCURSION: Tonight a local guide takes us to a real Amish home for a traditonal Amish Meal. Following dinner he will take us through the true Amish countryside with a quick stop at an Amish Craft Store before sunset.

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

Breakfast: A full breakfast is included this morning at Your Place Restaurant. We will have a buffet with cold and hot selections.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Travel back through time on an old-time narrow gauge steam locomotive, the Henry Clay. Built in the 1920's, The Henry Clay takes you on a scenic three-quarter mile ride around the side of Mahanoy Mountain to show you another kind of mining called strip mining. You'll visit the Mammoth Stripping, an area where an unusually thick seam of anthracite known as the Mammoth Vein outcrops to the surface of the earth. Here, in days gone by, monstrous steam shovels ripped out millions of tons of coal from the exposed vein and left a wall of solid rock 150 feet high extending westward as far as the eye can see. Much of the coal was pulled out by the narrow gauge predecessors of our own Henry Clay . . . a lot of it on the same track bed. You'll learn about the Centralia mine fire as you gaze across the valley to find smoke rising out of the ground. This perpetual underground fire has resisted all attempts to extinguish it, and has necessitated the relocation of many residents. Nearby is a relic "bootleg" coal hole. This and others in the area were dug by men who were willing to defy trespass laws and brave cave-ins to obtain a few bags of coal to sell or heat their homes. Pioneer Tunnel is a horizontal drift mine. Its level tunnel runs 1800 feet straight into the side of the Mahanoy Mountain. You make the trip riding in open mine cars pulled by a battery-operated mine motor. The mine is inspected daily by the mine's foreman and periodically by state mine inspectors. The temperature inside the mine averages 52 degrees, so a sweater or jacket is recommended. Deep inside the mine, you will alight from your car and follow your miner-guide as you are given an explanation of how coal is mined. There are storyboards inside the mine depicting the mining operation. Your guide will point out the numerous coal seams and describe various configurations of passageways, some cut from solid rock in order to reach the coal. The tour is educational as well as entertaining.

Lunch: Lunch is included today at a popular local Wilkes-Barre restaurant which was the home of an old popcorn factory. Choice of lunch preselected.

Afternoon: Following lunch we visit the Forty Fort Meeting House where we meet the local historian for an afternoon presentation. Forty Fort was named for a Revolutionary War era fort that the town's original settlers built; there were forty settlers. We continue to our local hotel where we will stay for the next two evenings.

Dinner: Dinner this evening is served at a nearby restaurant where you can enjoy dinner off a menu.

DAY
4
Steamtown Natl. Historic Site, Anthracite Heritage Mus.
Wilkes-Barre, PA
B,L,D
The Woodlands Inn & Resort

Breakfast: A full hot buffet breakfast is served at the hotel.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Enjoy guided exploration of Steamtown which concludes with a train ride. Established by an act of the United States Congress on October 30, 1986, Steamtown officially opened to the public in the summer of 1995, and celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2005. Congress established Steamtown to interpret the story of main line steam railroading between 1850 and 1950. Much of the collection of steam (and a few diesel) locomotives and freight and passenger cars was originally part of Steamtown USA. That collection was originally assembled by the late F. Nelson Blount and was located in several places in the northeast United States before moving from Bellows Falls, Vermont, to Scranton in 1984. Blount's death in an airplane accident in 1967 had cut off the main financial support for Steamtown USA, but much of his original dream to have a museum in a working railroad yard with excursions on steam trains and a functional locomotive shop has been realized at Steamtown NHS. Also at this location, enjoy self guided exploration at the Electric City Trolley Museum. The Electric City Trolley Museum Association is a volunteer non-profit group that supports the activities of the Electric City Trolley Museum in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA, at the Steamtown National Historic Site. The association is an outgrowth of predecessor preservation groups including Buckingham Valley Trolley Association and East Penn Valley Traction, which conveyed to the museum most of the trolleys and artifacts in its historic collection. Association members support the Electric City Trolley Museum with their time, talent, trolley expertise and contributions. The Electric City Trolley Museum Association is IRS recognized as a 501(c)(3)

Lunch: Delight in a lovely buffet lunch at the beautifully restored Lackawana Station Hotel.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Enjoy a guided exploration of the PA Anthracite Heritage musuem. The Anthracite Heritage Museum is located in McDade Park in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Museum tells the story of the people who came from Europe to work in the anthracite mining and textiles industries. On a tour of the facility visitors will experience the lives of proud people who endured harsh working conditions yet carved out communities filled with tradition. The diverse collection highlights life in the mines, mills and factories. Visitors are welcomed into the family’s homes and neighborhoods with a moment of reflection in the kitchen, a visit to the pub, or a seat in a local Church. The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum’s diverse regional collections represent all facets of work, life and values of the region’s ethnic communities.

Dinner: Dinner is served at the hotel where you will choose from a limited menu featuring chicken, fish and meat.

Evening: PRESENTATION: This evening we are joined by a railroad historian from Steamtown .

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

Breakfast: A full hot buffet breakfast featuring both cold and hot selections is served at the hotel

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Today we travel to Honesdale. PA for a scenic and historical journey on the Stourbridge Railroad. The Stourbridge Lion and the Birthplace of America's Commercial Railroad. Started 1827 the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company began to investigate the use of the steam engine for traction and locomotive use on its gravity railroad to haul coal from its mines to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and then by canal to New York City. The gravity railroad operated on a system of inclined planes over which the cars were moved by gravity. This system of connecting differences of elevation by means of a series of inclined planes was little known and understood in America at that time, though similar systems were in use in Europe. The Stourbridge Lion arrived in Honesdale in July 1829, about three miles of wooden track had been laid which crossed the Lackawaxen River on a trestle bridge some thirty feet in height. The rails were of wooden construction, the running surface of which was faced with wrought iron strips secured to the rails with stout wood screws. The trial run was to take place on the 8th of August 1829. When this became known, crowds of people assembled to witness the event, convinced that the iron Lion would never work. Afraid that the curious contraption would kill any who rode it, no one would take the trial run with Horatio Allen. So, amidst jeers and laughter, he mounted the hissing Lion. The jeers quickly turned to cheers as the Stourbridge Lion crossed the bridge and disappeared from sight. Many thought it would not return; but soon, with Allen at the throttle, and riding backwards, the fierce Lion screeched back into Honesdale.

Lunch: Picnic lunch will be served in Honesdale.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Visit the lovely town of Bellefonte for a presentation on the historical significance of the site before traveling to our hotel for check-in.

Dinner: Dinner is included at a local restaurant featuring Italian Specialties served family style.

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

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at the hotel and features both cold and hot selections including fruit, juice and coffee.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: This morning we board our coach with our local railroad historian and travel to Johnstown, PA. Here we board Amtrak for a scenic journey from Johnstown to Altoona. During our ride we will pass through the Gallitzin Tunnels and Horseshoe Curve. Called an "engineering marvel", it was completed in 1854 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was later used by the Penn Central, then Conrail, and is currently owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway. Amtrak's Pennsylvanian passenger train traverses the curve. The Curve is located in Kittanning Gap at the summit of the Allegheny Front, approximately 5 miles (8 km) west of Altoona. The bend is a tight arc of approximately 220 degrees. It comprises two separate curves; on the north side, the radius measures 637 ft (194 m), tightening to 609 ft (186 m) on the south side. Also, we visit the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona. This Museum is dedicated to revealing, interpreting, commemorating and celebrating the significant contributions of Railroaders and their families to American life and industry.

Lunch: A picnic lunch featuring a selection of deli sandwiches is included at the Pennsylvania Railroaders Museum.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP:This afternoon we visit the Portage Railroad Museum. The first railroad to circumvent the Allegheny Mountains, the Allegheny Portage Railroad was the finishing piece of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. "The Portage," opened in 1834, marking the first time that there was one, direct route between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. All things to all people, it served merchants, passengers, slaves in pursuit of freedom, and soldiers from the Mexican War.

Dinner: Dinner is included at a local restaurant featuring a limited menu and salad bar.

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

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at the hotel and features both cold and hot selections including fruit, juice and coffee.

Morning: Return to Lancaster for final departure. We will make stops at the Harrisburg Airport or Amtrak station as needed.