The Strasburg Rail Road has recently (well, in the past 6 years or so) started increasing its freight business. Knowing how to put on a good show, they offer tickets to ride the (usually) steam powered morning freight runs.
These tickets made a perfect present for my dad, who got me hooked on this stuff by taking us on monthly pilgrimages to Strasburg when I was growing up. These are the photos from that day.
It took a little bit of work to pull the trip off. Strasburg isn’t that far from Philly (where my parents live) or Baltimore (where I do), but the train departs pretty early, so we wanted to get a nearby hotel so we’d be well rested. This proves difficult, however, because the train doesn’t always run, and there’s short notice about when it will.
Because of this, our initial plan had to get pushed back by two weeks, but it worked out well, because we ended up with a beautiful day for it.
“Tickets” came in the form of handing the conductor your cash (it’s cash only… they joked that it’s actually the crew’s beer fund), and climbing on board.
Keeping track of the passengers isn’t hard. On our trip, I think there were six of us. This was great, because we got a chance to talk with the conductor as we were riding out to the interchange.
We also got to take turns riding in the cupola of the caboose. I want to say I was cool enough to not geek out about it, but I can’t. The view didn’t hurt either.
Eventually we arrived at Leaman Place, where the crew set the caboose out, let us out, and then picked up the cars from the NS interchange.
Even better was catching the NS local returning to Lancaster. This was probably the train that had dropped the cars off for the Strasburg earlier that day.
Once the cars have been retrieved, the Strasburg crew worked to put the train together for the trip back.
After the air test was done, we boarded and headed back to the terminal area.
We detrained and watched the crew go to work spotting the inbound car for unloading.
There was a bit more switching going on too.
After the freight business was squared away, 90 switched over to its primary job: hauling tourists.
My dad had never actively chased a train, and Strasburg being a good environment for it, I decided to give him another exciting experience: trying to chase down a steam engine and photograph it as many times as possible. I loaded up some chase music in Spotify, and got ready.
After our chase, we did the noon shop tour, which was also a great time. The people at Strasburg take great pride in their work, and it really shows.