Connecting to the past

 About a month ago I posted about how I had completed working on some window sashes for the local train carts for the historical train restoration society of Steamtown, and how that I had hoped that I would be able to take a trip through the actual train yards. Well a little effort and time has paid off once again. So come on in and I hope you enjoy the my tour blog as much as I did being their hearing the history and taking the photos. For starters this solid metal door leads into an old train staging site, which is one of the first areas you will get to see if you ever decide to visit the museum.

 This Lakawana historical train cart is currently undergoing complete restoration. The Steamtown craftsmen have completely gutted the interior of this cart and have marked and labeled each item that has been removed for proper identification of their location. Often when they come across to heavily corroded or damaged hardware they try to contact the original manufacturing companies in hopes of replace the old parts with identical replicas. All the hardware that will be used on windows that I built for the carts are all manufactured by the original company.







 The next area that I was led into was a huge blasting room. Just to give you an idea of the size of this room I took a photo of the wheels on a train cart, which is around 5 feet tall in height. This room has too over head hanger doors at both ends of the room which allow the trains to be pulled into the room and undergo corrosion prevention. They are then pulled into the next room, which is where they paint the train or cart to help prevent further corrosion. The top right photo is a picture of where the old train conductors would drive the train from. What is interesting about this space as you can see there is a set of doors in the center of the photo, which are called butterfly doors because of their shape. While shoveling coal through the butterfly doors you would have to step on a pedal in order to open and close the doors in order to retain heat in the steam engine. I am sure this must take a lot of skill in order to shove the engine with coal and not the floor.


The 7 pictures above are of a privately owned cart on loan to the steamtown train restoration society to share with visitor the excitement that must have been felt almost a hundred years ago. This train was once a local company’s private train cart used to travel from Pennsylvania to New York on business much like a private jet is used today. After seeing all the beautiful wood work and brass finished I think I may prefer to go by train than by jet. I was especially impressed by the copper grates used to cover the steam heating baseboard heaters, which you can see in the top middle photo. I also throughly enjoyed seeing the dinner menu and lunch menu that was prepared onboard in the carts private kitchen. This cart also had about three bedrooms, which included showers, toilets and a powder room.








These two photos are of another train cart undergoing restoration. This was my happiest moments on this tour, because I found out this is where my window sashes will be installed in the next coming months. If you look in both of the photos of the train cart about you can see the rectangular cut outs that is where my window pieces will be installed. Many years after Northern Pennsylvania closed their train stations down they covered up these windows with big sheets of metal in order to seal off the carts. In recent year the preservation society has decided to reopen these voids and restore the carts to their original glamour.

The top photo on the left is a picture of John ( the resident expert on train restoration) in this photo he was explaining how each rivet in and out side of the steam engine compartment had to be hand riveted. He also had to build the center inside wall in the middle picture. John said he had to hand drill like 1,450 whole and their exact location in order to keep the train as close to the original construction. The third and fourth photos are of some of the turn of century machinery still being used to repair and maintain the trains in steamtown. The top photo is a lathe which in wood workers world would be used for turning bowls, but I am pretty sure that would be a little over kill on this machine. And the bottom photo is a wheel press because much like a tire train tires have to be place every so many years so they can not be welded on.
















What can I say… I’m a sucker for industrial design! I would be completely happy buying one of these buildings and converting into my home. The doors alone would sale me on them, but not only that the building have so much character and charm. One of the building on the inside has huge trusses that span probably 20 feet across and must be a foot wide by a foot high. These buildings will not be going anywhere for a while.







These last four photos are back at the beginning of the museum entrance. What was especially neat about this area was that this is an old turn table that would completely rotate allowing trains switch tracks. What is also nice about this spot is that over the last couple of years the local city of Scranton has built the Steamtowns modern museum and you can also see Scranton’s downtown and mall from this area. 

I hope you enjoyed my photo tour of Scranton’s train museum and hope that if you’re ever up this way you might stop by and see what it’s all about for yourself. One last thing I just wanted to say thanks to all the volunteers that help restore and maintain our heritage at the Steamtown museum. Thank you very much for your efforts and dedication.


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