Railfest 2019 at Steamtown National Historic Site

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Railfest 2019 at Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS) in downtown Scranton is a celebration of railroading’s past, present and future. Held annually on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, this year’s event takes place on August 31 and September 1, with an opening ceremony on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m., hosted by park Superintendent Cherie Shepherd.

The Railfest theme is “Transcontinental Railroad 150th Anniversary.” This special two-day event is filled with fun and unique activities. Steamtown NHS works with numerous partners to present this end-of-summer family-friendly festivity featuring live music, themed displays, special shop demonstrations, train rides, and much more!

Adults (ages 16 and above) may purchase a special $10 one-day or a $15 two-day Railfest pass at the Steamtown NHS information booth upon arrival. Please note that America the Beautiful passes are not accepted for admission to this special event. While children to age 5 can experience this event for free, youth 6-15 years of age will require a $7 one–day pass or a $10 two-day pass.

Among the many Railfest events, the special event pass affords visitors of all ages the opportunity to enjoy a short train ride through the park, to hop aboard our caboose for a quick jaunt, watch locomotive shop staff operate our giant-sized equipment used to repair locomotives and coaches, power a hand-pump maintenance car, take a ride on a maintenance motor car, and tour historic Mattes Street Tower and the Office and Stores Building. Other activities include model train layouts (including a LEGO train), magic shows (Saturday only), musical concerts, and other family-friendly events.

It’s also the 60th anniversary of the much-loved Reading Rambles, which Steamtown NHS’s own Reading 2124 T-1 steam locomotive helped power; #2124 has been repainted to match its livery when it pulled the inaugural Ramble from Philadelphia to Shamokin in late 1959. And this year is a special anniversary for the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), which went out of business 50 years ago. Our local Delaware Lackawanna Railroad still uses many of these classic diesel locomotives in daily freight operations. The Dickson Locomotive Works in Scranton was one of seven locomotive manufacturers that merged in 1901 to become ALCO; learn more about this important part of American railroad history at Railfest 2019.

Visitors can also enjoy the park’s museums and a very special photo exhibition by Dan Troy, entitled, “Transcontinental Railroad Photography,” which highlights modern trains traversing the rugged western terrain that had to be breached to connect the East to the West 150 years ago.

Visitors seeking a leisurely family-friendly train ride can enjoy round-trip excursions to Moscow PA, on either Saturday or Sunday, in vintage passenger cars pulled by historic diesel locomotives. Fares for these trips are $24 for adults ages 16 to 61, $22 for seniors aged 62 and older, and $17 for accompanied youth ages 6-15. Children ages 5 and younger accompanied by an adult require a “no-charge” ticket. Railfest information will be available at https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?id=8FBDDA2B-BB3B-0E43-485FF24B9C388F7C

(Information from Bill Fischer )

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