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Steam Strikes Back! Strasburg Rail Road Celebrates 60 Years

Past Meets Present! As part of the Steam Strikes Back photo charter on Saturday morning, October 17, SRC 2-6-0 89 and 2-10-0 90 were positioned at Leaman Place Junction while an eastbound Amtrak Keystone Service train roared past, allowing photo charter participants to capture images of two very different types of motive power. Andrew Desabatino photo

Steam Strikes Back! Strasburg Rail Road Celebrates 60 Years

January 2021by Christopher Pollock/photos as noted

In the Fall of 1960 the Strasburg Rail Road became the first railroad in America to return a steam locomotive to I.C.C. (now FRA) passenger service. Since then, it has scheduled steam continuously for its passenger service.

On the weekend of October 16-18, 2020, the Strasburg Rail Road marked its 60 year heritage as a tourist railroad with a series of photo charters titled “Steam Strikes Back.” This marks a new era for tourist railroads that have been around long enough to return to their heritage paint scheme. The main star was former-Great Western 90, which was backdated to its late 1960s appearance, complete with white painted wheels, gold striping, a red number plate on the smokebox, and the classic “egg” logo on the tender, a look that has not been seen since 1983.

Also making an appearance on Friday of the weekend was the “Return of the Plymouth” charter featuring Plymouth No. 1, a gasoline-powered locomotive which was purchased by the railroad in 1926.

Strasburg 60th

Strasburg No. 90 in the yard with cylinder cocks open, creating a huge cloud of steam that surrounds SRC Trainmaster Ryan Merrill during the Friday night Lerro Photography photo shoot. Christopher Pollock photo

This return to the past was made possible by operating equipment not usually seen on the line, and also offering photographers a chance to view operations in a scenic landscape that has remained virtually unchanged since tourist service began 60 years ago.

On Friday, October 16, two daytime photo sessions were offered with the Plymouth, followed by a night shoot featuring steam locomotive No. 90, with 475 and 89 also in steam. On Saturday the 17th, numerous run-bys were completed at sunrise and throughout the day with 90 and ex-Canadian National 89, complemented with period vehicles and reenactors. Nine of the vintage freight cars were used for a photo freight drawn by SRC 89.

Strasburg 60th

A full side view of Strasburg 90 shows off its “heritage” look, replete with gold striping, white drivers and the iconic “egg” herald, which hasn’t been used since 1983. The former Great Western decapod is Strasburg’s largest and most powerful locomotive. Christopher Pollock photo

Sunday morning, October 18 brought another sunrise charter was held with No. 90, completing a whirlwind sequence of six separate photo sessions, all made possible by the steam crews at Strasburg through coordination with photographers Christopher Pollock, Steve Barry and Peter Lerro…

January 2021Read the rest of this article in the January 2021 issue of Railpace Newsmagazine. Subscribe today!

This article was posted on: December 18, 2020