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Steam into History offering special weekend train excursions

SIH York 17

Steam into History came into being from a vision and dream from a group of York County investors, most notably the late William H. Simpson. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, the Northern Central Railway transported tens of thousands of passengers north or south through central York County between York and Baltimore, Maryland. During the Civil War, many of these travelers were Union soldiers headed for the battlefield, for hospitals throughout the North, or finally going home. Hundreds of tons of military supplies passed over the rails each year of the war, as well as coal supplies for the Navy blockade ships.

Simpson and his partners envisioned a recreation of the Civil War-era Northern Central Railway which would take modern-day patrons on excursion rides from New Freedom up to Glen Rock or longer trips to the restored train station at Hanover Junction. That vision came to fruition in June 2013 when the newly built replica of a 4-4-0 steam locomotive, York #17 (appropriated named the “William H. Simpson”) began plying the repaired tracks between the termini. Leased cars were replaced in the late summer by two custom-built new cars, painted in the NCR’s livery.

For the fall and early winter, the folks at Steam into History have planned a series of interesting special excursions with a seasonal focus.


The northern terminus of the Steam into History passenger trains is the York County Parks’ restored Hanover Junction depot (shown on the left; the privately owned house on the right was the popular Junction Hotel back in the Civil War years).

Here are some of the special events Steam into History is planning for this fall and early winter. For more details, ticket availability, times, directions, and prices, please visit their website.

Leviathan Week

On November 10th 2013 Steam Into History will recreate the legendary “Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War” also known as Andrew’s Raid.

In 1862 a northern civilian spy named James J. Andrew stole the confederate railroad engine “The General” located in Kennesaw, Georgia.  He began a northern trek to destroy southern railroads and communications assets as he travelled.  William A. Fuller the tenacious conductor of the stolen “General” after chasin the general on foot and in a pole car eventually acquired the “Texas” and chased the General until it ran out of wood and water and could no longer run away.

Upon capture eight Union sympathizers and soldiers were hung and eventually the very first ever congressional medal-of-honor was issued to the train thieves.

On November 10th in New Freedom, PA, passengers will be able to ride on the two trains the William H. Simpson old York #17 and her sister train the Leviathan as these events are reenacted (sans the hanging of course.)  Both sides of the story Northern and Southern will be portrayed in this colorful historic event.

On the eleventh of November, Veterans Day, at 12 noon the Steam Into History Railroad in New Freedom, PA will provide special rides to returned veterans in conjunction with her sister train the Leviathan.

Steam Into History and the Leviathan salutes those who serve or have served our country in uniform and welcome them to experience the train and it’s heritage of military service. When a veteran brings a paying customer he or she will ride the train for free.

On November 12 at 12:00 noon, two great historic replica railroad engines, Steam Into History the William H. Simpson York #17 and the Kloke Locomotive, Leviathan #63 will come together to reenact the railroad joining of the east and the west.  As these two engines come together they will stage an event that simulates the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point in Utah.

This event was anticipated by Abraham Lincoln as one of his crowning accomplishments.  He never lived to see the event and General, then President Ulysses Grant oversaw the joining on May 10, 1869 between the Jupiter and the Union Pacific #119 at Promontory Summit, Utah.

Visitors on the train that day are encouraged to dress for the part of civilians and dignitaries that would have been a part of this celebration and be in a photo to replicate the event.


Places Through Time Living History, Inc. Myra Reichart (November 24, 2013)

We believed they would never come.

When the armies marched away from Gettysburg in July 1863, they left behind a community in shambles and more than 51,000 killed, wounded and missing soilders. The little town of 2,400 had been changed forever. Experience this most pivotal battle of America’s Civil War as you as you walk in the footsteps of the Gettysburg civilians. Hear their thoughts and words. Share the experience of the people whose once beautiful town became a hotly contested battlefield. Join Myra when for a pre-holiday event, when she talks about a Victorian Christmas.


Josiah Gitt Terry Bluett (Fridays in December)

Josiah Gitt was a dry goods merchant from Hanover, Pennsylvania, who owned a farm in York County. He, along with other farmers throughout the region suffered greatly in June 1863 as passing soldiers took animals and other supplies from the surrounding countryside. Gitt and others later sued the federal government for the damages done to their properties. Lawsuits (of this sort seeking c=recompense for Civil Ear property damage) were filed well into the early 20th century. In December, Terry will talk about what a Victorian Christmas was like.

Kent Courtney (October 27, November 10, December 27 and 28)

Kent Courtney is an entertainer, educators and living historian.  Mr. Courtney is a nationally recognized authority on the Civil War and railroad history.

In Smoke and Fire News, Matt Merta said of Kent Courtney “For many years he has released tapes and CDs of period music that can be ranked as some of the best and most authentic interpretations… Courtney does strive for authenticity in his work and with Garryowen, he is probably the best at it today.

As a producer and director, he has worked on “The Sabers and Roses Civil War Reality TV Show” and dozens of commercials and hundreds of live productions. Join him for an excursion to remember.

James Hayney is a veteran actor with a life-long fascination with the 16th president. Join him for a ride with Lincoln on the York #17. As a living historian he will capture the spirit of Lincoln and have you believe he is the real deal. Mr. Lincoln will be joining us November 9, 15, 16 and for a lunch and ride on the 17th.

What Halbrook did for Mark Twain and James Whitmore did for Will Rogers, James Hayney does for our greatest President. William Kiesling, former Chief of Staff for PA Governor’s office

Mr. Hayney helps us understand Lincoln’s values and attitudes, which were the foundation of his successful efforts to maintain the union of states and to free the slaves.   Al Holliday, publisher, Pennsylvania Magazine.


Susquehanna Travellers will be with us on November 3.  These very talented Civil War reenactors will perform 19th Century American and Irish music.  The gentlemen in this group are members of the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  A popular group with our visitors these gentlemen are always a sell out.  You can get a sneak peak at their music that we sell in the shop by clicking on their website at