In General
Getting Here


In General

Tucked away in the middle of Amish Country in central Pennsylvania are a few gems in the world of railfanning.

In Strasburg you have the Strasburg Railroad, one of the more successful excursion railroads in the United States, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Over in Lancaster, you have a right nice station for Amtrak, formerly a Pennsy depot.  Also in Lancaster is a small yard and engine service facility.

About 10 miles north of Lancaster is a small town called Manheim.  Manheim should be famous to most in the Delmarva area for it's car auctions, but for us, it holds a nice surprise in the form of the Manheim Museum, which is almost all railroad oriented, and is housed in an old PRR depot.

The aerial view below shows the two attractions in Strasburg.



The Strasburg RR
The RR Museum of Pennsylvania
Red Caboose Hotel
National Toy Train Museum
Railfanning: Strasburg to Philly

  The Strasburg Railroad

GPS Coordinates: 39.986030, -76.151523
300 Gap Rd, Ronks, PA 17572

The Strasburg RR was founded in 1832, but when it ran for the first time, no-one is really sure... the best guess right now is around 1851.  The railroad bought it's first passenger car in 1861 in advance of President Lincoln's visit, which took him to Leaman Place.  The railroad did pretty well until the 1950's, when the automobile and highways took business away.  In 1957, a storm came thru that wiped out a lot of the tracks, and the owners considered abandonment.  A couple of (well to do) railfans stepped in and bought the railroad.  The first thing they did was to rebuild the four and a half mile right of way, and then they started buying up old rolling stock.  They opened for business in 1958.  Steam engines 90 and 475 run out to the end of the line with the engines running backwards, then scoot around the train on a siding to come back into Strasburg facing forward, the Thomas train backs up the entire way.  For more info click here


Below is a close-up of the depot and tower.

Below is the majority of the short Live Steam track that runs adjacent to Gap Road.

      This set is from 2003

            From June 2011

Engine 475

  From 2003, not many people around on this day...


Thomas the Tank


Gas Car - Car #10 from the Lancaster, Oxford and Southern


Countryside Shots

These pictures were taken from Paradise Lane, the first grade crossing away from the railroad complex...


    These were shot from the platform of the Red Caboose Hotel Dinner car



Signals and Such at the Strasburg RR


          They've installed a few new signals since my last visit, from 03/31/2017

Other Stuff

  Fun little ride, but you feel every little bump and joint :-)

  Pennsylvania has these pretty cool railroad license plates

  The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

GPS Coordinates: 39.986030, -76.151523
300 Gap Rd, Ronks, PA 17572

The Museum is owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, an agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Additional funding and operational support is provided by a private, non-profit organization, the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  The Museum opened to the public in 1975.  The Museum has the distinction of being the first structure built specifically to house a railroad collection in the United States.  An addition to the main hall, opened in 1995 was designed to reflect the architecture of a 19th Century train shed.  Unless noted, pictures are from 2003.  For more info click here

        Inside and outside the main entrance

  Inside the gift shop - all 2011

  An all original Good Humor ice cream truck from 1967 - June 18th, 2011

The above photos are taken from the street, June 18th, 2011, got there too late to go thru...




  Red Caboose Hotel

GPS Coordinates: 39.986030, -76.151523
312 Paradise Ln, Ronks, PA 17572

When I came up here for the first time in 1970, the (then) Red Caboose Lodge was brand new.  A fellow by the name of Don Denlinger bought the first 19 cabooses for $100 from the Pennsylvania RR on a dare from a friend.  They now have 38 cabooses, 2 baggage cars, and 2 diner cars.  Interesting place to stay when you visit Strasburg, and they have a great little dining car restaurant to go along with it, which was packed the day of Thomas the Tank AND the Amtrak 40th birthday train....  Also available here are Amish buggy rides, and the one fellow who rode us around, lives a few doors down from the TCA HQ.  For more info click here.  The poor semaphore needs a lot of attention :-(


  National Toy Train Museum & Train Collectors Association (TCA) HQ

GPS Coordinates: 39.987646, -76.151934
300 Paradise Ln, Ronks, PA 17572

The national headquarters for the TCA is located on Paradise Lane, just down from the Red Caboose Hotel.  Members get to go thru the museum for free, and are the only ones who can visit TCA sponsored train swaps. Non-members can attend the swap-meets one time only as a guest of a member.


Railfanning: Strasburg to Philadelphia

The two maps below trace the Amtrak route between Lancaster and Strasburg to the NW suburbs of Philadelphia, with the top map covering the line from Strasburg to about the halfway point.  The map below it continues the trek to the NW suburbs, notably Norristown.  I took the easy way out by using screen shots of Bing maps... maybe someday I will do one of my own maps for the area....


Signals out on the Pennsy mainline between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, three shots from the Strasburg interchange, the other from an overpass.


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 or 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 6/15/2011, 04/13/2014
Last Modified 16-Nov-2018