The boys and I were supposed to be camping this week in the Adirondacks. However due to an unforeseen circumstance we had to cancel our trip. This past Sunday I had asked Max if there was anything he would like to do for a day trip. After a few minutes of deep thought Max responded “Steamtown”. I was totally caught off guard but thrilled just to spend time together.
We left late morning Monday timing a lunch stop at the Waffle House in Clarks Summit before we got to Steamtown. The Waffle House is my new addiction as the hash brown bowls are so good. Even better the prices are inexpensive as well.
After lunch Max and I would finish our trip arriving at Steamtown shortly after. It was a beautiful day in Scranton as we toured the grounds, took a short train ride around the facility and wondered through the roundhouse looking at several of the locomotives currently under repair. Max just like his mother has a passion for history. I myself love history but I am more of a photographic history person. One of the highlights for me was being able to walk through a RPO “Railway Post Office”. America’s mail used to move mostly by rail and I have always been fascinated by the process. Max and I sat and watched a short film about life aboard an RPO which I really enjoyed. “Before tweets, texts and emails, people communicated using written correspondence – letters, postcards and such. The U.S. Post Office Department – now the US Postal Service – employed thousands to collect, sort and deliver these letters, along with newspapers, magazines and small parcels. The Railway Mail Service was a significant mail transportation service in the U.S. during the time period from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century. The RMS, or its successor, the Postal Transportation Service (PTS), carried the vast majority of letters and packages mailed in the U.S. from the 1890s until the 1960s.”
During our adventure we learned that Steamtown and the Nation Park Service have plans to restore to operating condition the largest steam locomotive in the collection, a Union Pacific “Big Boy”. This behemoth weighs 1,200,000 pounds, is 132 feet long and produces 6,000 horsepower. Currently the Union Pacific Railroad is restoring one to full operating condition at their Cheyenne, WY facility with plans to run it in 2019. Max was all about a road trip in 2019 to see this beauty storming the rails once again.
We finished out our afternoon at the museum store, had our National Park passport stamped, picked up a few souvenirs and headed for home. Super fun afternoon spending time with my son.
Here is just a brief history of Steamtown:
Steamtown was originally founded in 1964 by millionaire Nelson F. Blount. Blount established a non-profit organization, the Steamtown Foundation, to operate Steamtown, USA a steam railroad museum and excursion business in Bellows Falls, VT. In 1984, the foundation moved Steamtown to Scranton, conceived of as urban redevelopment and funded in part by the city. But the museum failed to attract the expected 200,000 to 400,000 annual visitors, and within two years was facing bankruptcy.
In 1986, the U.S. House of Representatives, at the urging of Scranton native Representative Joseph M. McDade, approved $8 million to begin turning the museum into a National Historic Site. By 1995, the National Park Service had acquired Steamtown, USA.