Friday, February 10, 2012

USA - Pennsylvania - Steamtown National Historic Site

Engine #2317 shown here, a 4-6-2 type was formerly owned by the Canadian Pacific R.R. and once pulled intercontinental expresses in Canada. Built in 1923 and based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, this engine and tender weighing nearly 300 tons now thrills visitors with excursions through the lush mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Sent by Dan, a postcrosser from Pennsylvania, USA.

This is from Wikipedia : Steamtown National Historic Site (NHS) is a railroad museum and heritage railroad located on 62.48 acres (25.3 ha) in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, at the site of the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The museum is built around a working replica turntable and a roundhouse that is largely a replica but which includes two authentic sections built in 1902 and 1937. All the buildings on the site are listed with the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Yard-Dickson Manufacturing Co. Site.

Most of the steam locomotives and other railroad equipment at Steamtown NHS were originally collected by F. Nelson Blount, a millionaire seafood processor from New England. In 1964, Blount established a non-profit organization, the Steamtown Foundation, to operate Steamtown, USA, a steam railroad museum and excursion business in Bellows Falls, Vermont. In 1984, the foundation moved Steamtown to Scranton, conceived of as urban redevelopment and funded in part by the city. But the museum failed to attract the expected 200,000 to 400,000 annual visitors, and within two years was facing bankruptcy.

In 1986, the U.S. House of Representatives, at the urging of Scranton native Representative Joseph M. McDade, approved $8 million to begin turning the museum into a National Historic Site. The idea was derided by those who called the collection second-rate, the site's historical significance questionable, and the public funding no more than pork-barrel politics. But proponents said the site and the collection were ideal representations of American industrial history. By 1995, the National Park Service (NPS) had acquired Steamtown, USA and improved its facilities at a total cost of $66 million.

Steamtown National Historic Site has since sold a few pieces from the Blount collection, and added a few others deemed of greater historical significance to the region. Low visitor attendance and the need of costly asbestos removal from many pieces of the collection have spurred discussion about privatizing Steamtown.

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