Railfest 2015, the annual labor day weekend festival is underway at Steamtown National Historic site in Scranton. Railfest is one of the biggest events of the year at the site featuring all-day steam excursions, special exhibits and demonstrations. Railfest 2015 wraps-up Sunday in downtown Scranton.
Steamtown National Historic Site, downtown Scranton, is the place to create family memories on Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6 of Labor Day weekend, as the National Park Service joins with partners to host Railfest 2015. The annual event is a celebration of railroading past, present and future, with visiting equipment, displays, children’s programs, special tours and shop demonstrations and, of course, train rides on both days of the event.
The fun begins on Saturday with a special 8:00 a.m. park opening. Park Superintendent Deborah Conway will host a 9:00 a.m. Opening Ceremony, welcoming special event Grand Marshal James Barrett McNulty, former City of Scranton mayor. The Lackawanna Historical Society will also present the 7th annual Alan Sweeney Memorial Award to an individual who has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the heritage of the Lackawanna Valley. Amtrak, the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, Norfolk Southern, and the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society’s F3A locomotives are planning to provide equipment displays. Special guest of honor for the event weekend is the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s Nickel Plate Road (NKP) #765 steam locomotive, sister locomotive to Steamtown’s NKP #759.
Planned programs include:
– “Big Band” performances by Ron Leas’ Band (Saturday only)
– Caboose Rides
– “David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience”
– Garden Railroad rides with “live steam”
– Lehigh Valley #353 Business Car tours
– Locomotive Shops will be open for tours
– Nickel Plate Road (NKP) #765 cab tours (Sunday only)
– Railroad Music and Songs by Ray Owen
– “Scranton Limited” short train rides
– Tours of the DL&W’s Mattes Street Tower and former Office & Storage Building
– Union Pacific #4012 “Big Boy” locomotive cab tours
– Free Trolley shuttle service to and from the Scranton Iron Furnaces and La Festa Italiana
Planned exhibitors include:
– Mid Atlantic Motorcars Association
– Model train layout
– National Museum of Industrial History steam exhibit and steam calliope
– Operation Lifesaver information table (Saturday only)
Excursions are planned to Moscow, Pennsylvania on each event day, with a historic diesel locomotive. At Moscow Station, ‘‘photo run-bys” are also scheduled. The excursions will depart the Boarding Platform at 12:30 p.m. each day with a planned return to Scranton at approximately 3:00 p.m. Excursion fares are $24 for adults 17 to 61, $22 for seniors 62 and older, and $17 for children ages 6-16. Children 5 and younger require a “no-charge” ticket. For reservations, phone (570) 340-5204. Additionally, event guest of honor NKP #765 is scheduled to power a special excursion to the Delaware Water Gap on Saturday, September 5, departing at 10:30 a.m. and scheduled to return at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday, NKP #765 will be statically displayed and available for cab tours. Monday, September 7, NKP #765 is also scheduled to power a special excursion to East Stroudsburg, departing at 9:00 a.m., returning at 5:00 p.m. Tickets for these special event excursions are available online only at www.fortwaynerailroad.org.
“David Stone: The Johnny Cash Experience” and Ray Owen, performing live railroad music and songs, will entertain on both event days. The Ron Leas’ Band will also perform selections from the “Big Band-era” on Saturday.
Other event partners include the Lackawanna County Trolley Museum, which will offer an expanded schedule for trolley rides along a portion of the former Laurel Line. While two popular local food vendors will be on-site each day, remember to bring along your hunger for the great Italian food and treats available at La Festa Italiana on Courthouse Square. COLTS trolley buses will provide free shuttles on a loop to the Scranton Iron Furnaces and La Festa Italiana.
Event overflow-parking is also available at the Mall of Steamtown parking garage, with access to the park via the Mall’s connecting walkway.
Located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Steamtown NHS is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. From I-81, follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the signs to the main entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues. Steamtown excursion reservations may be made by phoning (570) 340-5204 daily, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; excursion reservations for either Nickel Plate Road #765 steam locomotive excursion are available online only at www.fortwaynerailroad.org. General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours. For updated special event info, click the Railfest 2015 link from www.nps.gov/stea.
(Information from Bill Nalevanko)