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One-tank roadtrip: Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania hosts special Civil War exhibit

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, located in Strasburg in east-central Lancaster County, has the largest collection of vintage Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives and rolling stock in the country. Located across the street from the historic Strasburg Railroad, which runs excursions with old steam engines.

Currently the RRMP is hosting an exhibit on the role of the railroads in the state during the Civil War. They include a series of photographs of Hanover Junction in neighboring York County, as well as other railroads in other parts of the Keystone State.

A highlight of the current exhibit is the old Civil War saddle used by General John Geary at the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, Geary was a governor of Pennsylvania and an advocate of the expansion of railroads.

Here are a few photos from the museum’s collection…

Sections of the old boardroom of the Pennsylvania Railroad and an oil painting of the 7th president, Alexander J. Cassatt, who managed the PRR at the turn of the 20th century.
A small portion of the many locomotives and cars on display both inside and outside of the museum building. The passenger train to the right sits in front of a mock 19th century street, with a photographer’s shop, hotel, and other storefronts. Some of the buildings house a creative interactive area for children where they can drive model trains, play with Lego trains or Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railroads, and explore all sorts of other displays and learning activities.
My two oldest grandsons enjoy a 20th century Conrail electric locomotive. Visitors may climb up onto a couple engines and tour the cabs.
A portion of the special Civil War exhibit, which includes a nice selection of photographs and display cards explaining the role of the railroads for the movement of troops and supplies during the war. A video monitor continuously shows the PBS show hosted by Dr. James I. Robertson about Civil War railroads.
The diorama depicts a mobile artillery car deployed by the U.S. Military Railroad during the Civil War.
A visitor to the museum stopped by the table where I was signing books after my talk and showed me these two Civil War items from the USMRR — a vintage lock and a baggage tag from Cairo, Illinois, to the army’s forward encampments at Corinth, Mississippi. These are from the gentleman’s private collection of old railroad artifacts.
One of the many 19th century locomotives on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

If you go: The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is located at 300 Gap Road (Pennsylvania Route 741) just east of historic Strasburg, Pennsylvania. It is about a half-hour to 45 minutes from York, and a little more than an hour from Philadelphia. Take U.S. 30 to PA Route 896 (Hartman Bridge Road) and head south. Turn left (east) onto Gap Road. The museum will be on the right, directly across from the Strasburg Railroad. Combination museum admission / train ride tickets are available.

For more information: Visit the RRMP’s website and/or the Wikipedia article for the museum. Hours, directions, prices, and special events are listed on the museum’s website.