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  • Topic: The Strasburg Railroad

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    • July 13, 2021 5:04 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      The Strasburg Railroad

      So during our busy Sunday, that was described in other parts of this Forum, Ken and I were extremely busy discussing the history of the Strasburg Railroad and what was its original track plan.  Ken said he had searched it on Google Earth and the tracks now just end in East Strasburg, about a half of mile past the current tourist railroad, and there is little to show if it ran much further than it does today.  It kind of just piddles out and actually looks like it could have done some street running, turned in to a trolley line, interurban or literally just ended where it does today. Does anyone have more info?  This was a very early railroad, that was built because the town was bypassed.  That story goes through out railroad history.  Just posting a question to this knowledgeable group, wondering if anyone has more information.  Thank you in advance, for information found.

    • July 13, 2021 5:44 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      I'm thinking the track that is there now, is the complete railroad.  So far, this is what I found-

      "Founded in 1832, the Strasburg Rail Road celebrated the 175th Anniversary of its railroad charter in 2007. Precisely when the railroad first turned a wheel is still a matter of patient research, but the earliest timetable found to date indicates Strasburg trains were scheduled as of December 1851. On February 22, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln made a stop at Leaman Place on his inaugural train ride, en route to Lancaster. His four-minute visit brought nearly 5,000 people out to cheer for the President and Mrs. Lincoln. To prepare for the President’s visit, Strasburg Rail Road had purchased their first passenger car, which ran on a special train to transport people to and from Leaman Place. First used for passenger and freight transportation, the railroad’s main purpose became a freight interchange with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Following World War II, improved highway transportation decreased the need for the railroad. By the mid 1950s, the Strasburg Rail Road was nearing the end of its usefulness. In 1957, destruction of the tracks caused by a series of storms placed an immediate embargo on the carload freight. The owners were unwilling to invest in the necessary repairs. While petitions for abandonment were being considered, Henry K. Long, an industrialist and railfan from nearby Lancaster, along with Donald E. L. Hallock, another enthusiastic railfan with a vision, formed a group of interested individuals to save the railroad. With perseverance and a creative idea, the Strasburg Rail Road was saved. After repairing the worst spots on the four-and-a-half mile track, the owners began acquiring an inventory of historic locomotives and passenger cars from all across North America. Using the old feed mill as a station, the ambitious band of “rail barons” opened the railroad to visitors in 1958. 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of Strasburg Rail Road as a tourist railroad. Today, as we look back at their labor of love, the Strasburg Rail Road is one of Lancaster County’s most popular tourist attractions – and recognized as one of America’s most significant examples of early 20th century railroading."

    • July 13, 2021 5:45 PM EDT
      • West Grove, Pennsylvania
         
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      Wikipedia has a short history of the line.

      History

      By the 1820s, the canal system had replaced the Conestoga wagon as the primary method of overland transportation. When the Susquehanna Canal opened, the majority of goods were directed through Baltimore, Maryland, rather than Philadelphia.[5][6] The small amount of goods that were destined for Philadelphia traveled via a wagon road through Strasburg.[6] Philadelphia attempted to reclaim its position as a major port city by constructing the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in 1831. A railroad was easier and more cost effective to build than a canal. Because the new railroad would bypass Strasburg and cause Strasburg to lose its livelihood, a group of businessmen petitioned the state government for the right to build their own railroad to connect Strasburg to the Philadelphia and Columbia.[7] A charter was issued by the Pennsylvania Legislature with the signature of Governor George Wolf on June 9, 1832 to "incorporate the Strasburg rail road [sic]".[8]
      Strasburg Rail Road ex-PRR 4-4-0 number 929 in Strasburg around 1894.

      Although the pre-1852 history of the Strasburg Rail Road is sketchy, it is believed that the line was graded in 1835 and was operational by 1837.[7][9] The railroad operated as a horse-drawn railroad until it purchased a second-hand Norris-built, 4-2-0 steam locomotive named the William Penn in 1851.[9] Controlling interest in the railroad was purchased by John F. and Cyrus N. Herr in 1863. The rails were replaced around the same time with heavier ones to accommodate the locomotive.[10] In 1866, the Herrs were granted a charter to extend the Strasburg Rail Road to Quarryville; surveys were carried out, but the extension was eventually canceled because of an economic depression in 1867.[11] Isaac Groff managed The Strasburg Rail Road for about 20 years until the fire of January 16, 1871, which destroyed the depot, grist, and merchant-mill, planing-mill and machine-shop — in all, more than $50,000 worth of property. In 1878, the Strasburg Rail Road and the shops were sold.[12] The railroad was eventually again sold in 1888 to the Edward Musselman, with the Musselmans retaining control of it until 1918 when it was purchased by State Senator John Homsher. By this time, the number of passengers had dropped off due to tracks for the Conestoga Traction Company's streetcars reaching Strasburg in 1908, which offered a more direct route between Lancaster and Strasburg.[13]

      In 1926, the Strasburg Rail Road purchased a 20-short-ton (17.9-long-ton; 18.1 t), gasoline-powered, Plymouth switcher—the only locomotive that was ever built specifically for the Strasburg Rail Road.[13] By 1958, the railroad fell on hard-times from cumulative effect of years of declining freight business and infrequent runs, damage caused by Hurricane Hazel and inspectors from the Interstate Commerce Commission's lack of approval for operation of the Plymouth locomotive.[13][14] Upon the death of Bryson Homsher, the Homsher estate filed for abandonment with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.[15] Hearing of the potential abandonment, an effort to purchase and save the railroad was organized by Henry K. Long and Donald E. L. Hallock, both railfans from Lancaster. They organized a small, non-profit group to purchase the railroad. After the better part of a year of hard work, the purchase was completed on November 1, 1958. The following week, on November 8, the first carload of revenue freight was hauled to what was then the only customer, a mill in Strasburg.

      Tourist excursion service began on January 4, 1959 and their first steam locomotive arrived the following year.

      I guess this is where the "Cafe1832" came from:

      A charter was issued by the Pennsylvania Legislature with the signature of Governor George Wolf on June 9, 1832 to "incorporate the Strasburg rail road

       

      ____________________________________

      "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --Martin Luther King Jr

    • July 13, 2021 6:22 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      Did a Google Search of the Conestoga Traction Company.  No need to copy it here, but just more stuff to get those modeling juices flowing.  Wow!

      .

      Bruce Chandler introduced me to a book on the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad.  A Railroad that is now nothing more than a "Rails to Trails" path, but it sure shows what was going on in those earliest days of railroading.  Ideas to write the history of your own railroad.  

    • July 13, 2021 7:11 PM EDT
      • South Central , PA
         
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      You should have visited Safe Harbor as I told you...... Pennsyltucky has a mountain of history and hard working men with ankle bracelets!

    • July 14, 2021 7:50 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      Did see that there was a connection to Mechanicsburg from Strasburg via Lancaster.  I'm thinking it might take awhile.

    • July 14, 2021 7:52 PM EDT
      • Southern Illinois
         
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      Could not find a physical connection between the Strasburg Railroad and the Interurban Railroad of Lancaster.  Nor a trolley connecting the two.  Still feel there may have been one.

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