Yesterday, as an early birthday gift, my daughter surprised me by driving me over to Lancaster County for a ride through Amish country farms on the steam-powered Strasburg Rail Road. Although far too short, the train ride was thoroughly enjoyable, and it passes through some of Pennsylvania’s typical rural farmland, providing a brief glimpse into what the troop and passenger trains of the 19th Century might have witnessed as they chugged along in this fertile region. The locomotive was Old 90, pictured above.
The current 4½-mile Strasburg Rail Road takes visitors on a 45-minute round-trip journey from Strasburg to Leaman Place Junction. The original railroad was incorporated by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on June 9, 1832. The earliest known timetable is dated December 1851. Abraham Lincoln visited Leamon Place Junction on February 22, 1861, and spoke to over 5,000 onlookers at the intersection. His body was carried through the region in April 1865 as the funeral train headed for Harrisburg.
The modern railroad is quite popular as a tourist trap. Melissa sprang for first class tickets in the ornate parlor car, with its carved wooden interior, stained glass, and replica plush couches. The huge chocolate chip cookie and ice cold soda were an unexpected treat as well. The trip was overall a delight, and one that I would recommend if any Charge readers are in Lancaster County for vacation or business.