Todd's Railfan Guide to the
Harrisburg PA

In General
Getting Here



In General

Location / Name:
     Harrisburg PA

What's Here:
     Harris Tower


     GPS Coordinates: 40.265102,-76.878955

Scanner Frequencies:


Access by train/transit:

     The Harrisburg Amtrak station is about 4 blocks away, easy walk.


The Scoop:

When you are downtown, don't forget to visit the restored Harris Tower, which opened to the public in 2008.  It is usually open on Saturdays, May thru October.  I believe the hours are 10 to 3, but make sure you get there well before the closing time, as it is run by volunteers. 

The parking lot adjacent to the tower is also a good spot for railfanning on the weekends, with freights coming by with a fair bit of regularity and the areas only searchlight signals.  During the week, the lot is used as parking for PA government staff.

On the map below, the tower is sight number 3.


Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll.

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

For more stuff to see around the tower, Click Here

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted, once in a great while maybe MapQuest.  The screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

My RSUS philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info is here

Getting Here

Harrisburg is conveniently located off of I-81, I-83, and I-76 - the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 

I-81 through Harrisburg runs NE to SW, sort of on a diagonal.  Heading south on I-81, Roanoke VA, home to the ole Norfolk and Western and an excellent railfanning city, is about 4hrs away (exit 125 in VA) and Hagerstown MD  is less then an hour away (exit 6 in MD). 

Going "north" on I81, it runs almost due east from Harrisburg till I-78 splits off (at exit 89), then heads north to Wilkes-Barre (exit 170) and Scranton, which is about two hours away to exit 185 - this exit will take you to downtown and Steamtown

I-78 is only 20 miles to the east off I-81 (off the map), and will take you to Allentown (a little over an hour away at exit 57), Bethlehem PA (exit 67), and then on to NYC.  On the way to I-78, you will pass the home of Hershey's Chocolate (exit 77) and the Hershey Amusement Park!  About halfway to Allentown you will go by the northern end of the Blue Mountain and Reading in Hamburg (exit 29).

I-76 runs east-west, and runs from Philadelphia to the Ohio border.  Pittsburgh is about 3 - 3 1/2 hours to the west, and Philadelphia is about 2 1/2 hours to the east.  It is a toll road.










            Shots from the parking lot.

      Shots from the adjacent parking garage.

      NKP 765 coming through downtown on Sunday August 19, 2012, followed by the NS NKP Heritage Engine

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NEW 09/19/2012
Last Modified 04-Apr-2014