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Field Trip Report: Part 2 of 7 – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York

Click on each image for a closer look!

The following day, August 4, I rode various commuter trains around the Philadelphia area. In my opinion Philadelphia is the most interesting city in North America to experience a wide variety of rail passenger transportation and mass transit. I had ridden most of the commuter lines on previous trips and this time I traveled from Center City Philly to Wilmington, Delaware along the Northeast Corridor. Along the way, I snapped two photos of the old Baldwin Locomotive Works site through the window of the speeding SEPTA coach.

#4- The Baldwin works were located in Eddystone, PA, a few miles southwest of Philadelphia and these were the boiler shops. From 1831 to 1956, Baldwin produced over 70,000 locomotives. The company made 535 steam locomotives for CN, about 13% of their roster, as well as hundreds of locomotives for CN predecessor companies, including the first locomotives used in commuter train service in Toronto in 1878.

#5- The administration building was built in 1928. Baldwin was far less successful with its diesel locomotives than with steam. One of its 1948 diesel products was CPR 7069, currently residing in Roundhouse Park. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to develop the site since Baldwin went out of business in 1972.

Time was also spent visiting the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania on our way to Buffalo, New York. The museum had a display called the Railroad Education Centre that I was interested in photographing for ideas for the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. It was aimed towards educating the general public about the role of railroads in society and was economical and compact in its presentation. Unfortunately this has now been displaced by a day care centre and Thomas play area, a telling sign of the direction that railroad museums are moving towards these days.

Another disappointment was the bookstore at the Strasburg Railroad, which I remember as the best and most comprehensive bookstore for railroad titles I've ever seen. The store has been moved to an outlet mall closer to the main highway three miles away and the book selection has been considerably reduced. It was also a mess with books all over the place and clearly no one had bothered to clean it up in days.

The Strasburg operation itself was, as always, interesting. I usually marvel at the different ways that they manage to extract money from visitors, usually a couple of new schemes every time I visit. My Pennsylvania friend went for a bike ride around Amish country and I sat on the passenger platform watching the steam locomotives. There were three of them in operation that day, including a CN engine, and it didn't cost a dime to watch them!

Click here to read Part 3; To return to the first installment of this news posting, click here.

Posting and Pictures by Derek Boles, TRHA Historian

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