In General

Amtrak Schedules


In General

Location / Name:
Harrisburg PA, Dauphin County

What's Here:
Harrisburg Amtrak Station
the former PRR Harris Tower
NS Harrisburg Yard
2 Wyes
Two railroad bridges across the Susquehanna River
the Pennsylvania State Capitol
the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum
the National Civil War Museum

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 717
ZIP: 17120

Access by train/transit:
Amtrak Pennsylvanian
Amtrak Keystone "commuter" service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg

The Scoop:

Harrisburg is the capitol of Pennsylvania.  Because of this, the downtown area is a hub-bub of activity during the week, and sometimes during the weekend.  Harrisburg has done a great job revitalizing a lot of the downtown area, and along the banks of the Susquehanna River - both sides.  If you are traveling up or down US 15 on the western shore of the Susquehanna, you can get great shots of the capitol building both day and night!

Harrisburg, during the PRR and Reading days was also a huge railroad center.  It still has a large railroad presence, but somehow, in the Norfolk Southern days, is it not quite as "flashy" as it was in the 60's.

This page covers the central/downtown area of Harrisburg.

Bill Phelan
Jersey Mike
Denver Todd
John Buxton

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
none yet

Getting Here

I-83 comes up from Baltimore, get off at exit 43 or 44.

I-81 comes up from western VA, WV, and Hagerstown MD (connecting with I-70 and then I-68), get off at exit 65 and come down US 15 to pass by Enola Yard, then you can cross over into downtown.

Alternatively, you can get off of I-81 at exit 70 for I-83 south (this is the northern end of I-83), and swing around on it till you get to exit 43 or 44.

If you are coming in from the north, say Binghamton NY or Scranton PA via I-81, take the I-83 exit at x70, or go another few miles to x65 and come down US 15.


The above map is available here as a PDF.


the Amtrak Station
GG1 #4859
Harris Tower
Capital Tower
the PA Capitol Building

  The Amtrak Station

A former Pennsylvania Railroad depot.  The management of the station is divided between Amtrak, and a private management company.  The private company manages the building, and the areas not used by Amtrak.  Everyone I ran into the other day was nice, in fact, the Amtrak cop didn't hassle us while taking pictures of the interior.  The right picture on the 2nd row is of the WB Pennsylvanian coming into the station, which was only 3 minutes late!


  GG1 #4859

Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 #4859 and Pennsy N6b caboose #980016 are still located down on the tracks, although they sure would like to get rid of it from down there!  The scuttlebutt is that they are talking to the Harris Tower folks to see if the thing can moved down there, although I would imagine that would entail building a siding to move it there since the tracks in front of the tower are all currently used.  Access to them is not open unless you go to the Amtrak Customer Service office and nicely ask if you can go down to the platform.  If you do go in and ask, they will require you to NOT climb on the equipment and STAY on the platform.  Failure to follow this could result in the management revoking the privilege for ALL OF US.  It might not be a bad idea after you go down and take pictures, to stop by the office one more time and thank them again, good PR goes a long way.

  Harris Tower

Just north of the Amtrak Depot.... The 3rd photo from the left shows how close the tower and depot are.  Also included are pictures of the impressive "Soldiers and Sailors" monuments at the end of the State St. bridge, which, if you are coming towards the Capitol Building, frame the building very nicely.  During the weekday, the lot adjacent to the tower is used for state employee parking, so let it be said that if you park there, you have been warned.  Also viewable from the parking lot, and up on the bridge, are the area's only searchlight signals.

Here's a link to webcam files at the Harris Tower:







            Shots from the parking lot.

  Capitol Tower

The tower is located at the wye, just south of the Amtrak Station.  It's not accessible.  Plenty of signals tho! :-)  The picture I took was taken from the Mulberry St overpass.  The bridge has a solid protection fence over the Philly line because of the 25kV below you.


  the Pennsylvania Capitol Building

The left photo shows you how close the Capitol Building is to the Harris Tower and the tracks.



A SB NS freight passing by signal 1071W, headed towards downtown Harrisburg.

photo by Bill Phelan


Harrisburg is a town of bridges being that it is situated on the Susquehanna River.  Here's a quick list, starting with the "southernmost" bridge:
-- First is the I-83 bridge, known as the John Harris Bridge, or the South Bridge, it's 3326 ft long and opened in 1960,
-- The former Reading RR bridge, still used with two tracks on it, a 3875 foot long stone arch bridge that opened in 1924,
-- Next we have the former Pennsy RR/Cumberland Valley bridge, a concrete arch structure about 4121 feet long, it opened in 1916,
-- Next up is the Market St bridge, a stone arch bridge, 1414ft, opened in 1926,
-- Then we have the ole, unused Walnut St bridge, a 2801ft steel truss type, opened in 1890, and a flood floated away a section in 1996,
-- Next north is the Harvey Taylor bridge carrying Forster St over the river, a 4219ft long steel truss type, it opened in 1952,
-- Then we have the Capitol Beltway/I-81, George N. Wade Memorial bridge, 5188ft long that opened in 1970,
-- And finally, we have the Rockville Bridge carrying Norfolk Southern over the river at Marysville, a 3819ft long stone arch bridge completed in 1902.
A couple of the other notable bridges are the State Street Bridge and the McClay St Bridge, both going over the NS yard and tracks.

the State Street Automobile Bridge

Beautiful and impressive approach to the PA Capitol Building from the east!


the Pennsy Bridge

There are two major railroad bridges in Harrisburg proper going over the Susquehanna River.   The northern of the two bridges was used by the Pennsy.  It no longer has tracks going over most of the bridge.  On the eastern, or Harrisburg end, there is a small tail track coming off the wye adjacent to the Amtrak station, used to turn trains around.  Here is the Pennsy bridge, the picture on the right is the western shore over the Port Road.


the Reading Bridge

The ex Reading bridge carries the main NS west out of Harrisburg towards.  It's got 2 tracks on it, and comes off the second wye by the station.
The bottom two aerial pictures are from a time when Bing actually cared about what their product looked like :-)

Unfinished South Pennsylvania RR Bridge Piers

The piers to the left of the Reading bridge, and below, are from another attempt to cross the Susquehanna around 1884, as noted on Wikimapia: The South Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge would have carried the South Pennsylvania Railroad rail lines across the Susquehanna River between Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Work began on the South Penn and was abruptly halted by banker J. P. Morgan in 1885 when he called a truce in the railroad wars that threatened to undermine investor confidence in the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads.  Eight piers still rise from the water at the west side of the river near the current location of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Bridge.


  SW, Lemoyne at Stella Ave

A Set of SB Signals on a Signal Bridge along with a grade crossing and over height detector.  South of here, there is a crossover, and it goes from two to three tracks.


  Herr St

This is the only signal bridge in town which sports searchlight signals, which are unique for the area.  Also here is "the end" of the electric service for the Keystone trains, and a couple of bridge abutments (use unknown, but nevertheless, interesting).  The signals are GRS.  The photo on the right was taken from the State St bridge.  I didn't get pix of the mast mounted signals across the way from the bridge, that's for another trip :-(

Now for the history lesson part, which I just learned from the guys at the Yahoo PRR Signaling Group.  These signals were installed by Conrail sometime around the 1990 timeframe, when Conrail was split it's CP-HARRIS Operation from the Amtrak HARRIS Tower.  Thanks to Jersey Mike for the info!



  at State St and Harris Tower

There are searchlight signals to the north of here, and Pennsy PL signals to the south.  Not a bad spot for photos, either from the parking lot adjacent to the tower or from the State St bridge.

  the Searchlight Signals

          NB searchlights under State St, and a couple of dwarf PL's.

      Looking down at the above signals from State St.

    Looking north towards Harrisburg Yard.

        A NB searchlight on the north side of State St.

      Excessive height detector on the north side of the bridge.

  the PL Signals

        Looking south towards the station, two on the right from the bridge.

      Mass quantities of 25kV insulators north of the station.

  In and Around the Amtrak Station

Most of the signals in the immediate area of the station are either Pennsy PL dwarfs, or color light signals.  On the left is a NB freight waiting for the signal, one of two color lights in the area.  On the right are three unique installations: a dwarf on one of the bridge abutments, one on a piece of angle iron off a telephone pole, and a couple of vertical crossing lights where a road to a private company has to cross the Philadelphia tracks.


  Interlocking Around Capitol Tower

Most of the signals around the tower are off limits, except for the one you can get from the Mulberry St overpass, and, unless you have a camera like my Canon SX20 which will do up to x80, or an SLR with a 300mm lens, you won't be able to take good shots from the bridge.  This area is unique, for there are TWO wyes right next t o each other; one was for the Pennsy, the other for the Reading.  The Pennsy track coming off the wye onto the bridge is only used to turn trains around, and does not cross the entire bridge.


  South of the Amtrak Station, Philadelphia Line

There are at least three locations south of station where a single PL signal is placed on the old catenary supports.  The one I got coming off the NB exit ramp of I83, just after crossing the river.  Just past this location, the Reading line goes over you, getting ready to cross the river.  I think we're all surprised that the Reading lasted through the Penn Central, Conrail, and now the NS era's!



Amtrak Schedules

Through Service From New York City to Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvanian, once a day in each direction.


Keystone Service Between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.




I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My 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.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

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!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


NEW 3/9/2009, 6/21/2012
Last Modified 16-Oct-2018