Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton

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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 turntable and a roundhouse that are largely replications of the original DL&W facilities; the roundhouse, for example, was reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure. The site also features several original outbuildings dated between 1899 and 1902. 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, U.S.A., 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. By 2008, low visitor attendance and the need of costly asbestos removal from many pieces of the collection were spurring discussion about privatizing Steamtown.
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Steamtown National Historic Site reviews

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TripAdvisor
  • This is a great family experience to ride and see the old steam locomotives. The price for the ride is only $6.00 to take the tour around Scranton. We did not take the longer trips since we were on... 
    This is a great family experience to ride and see the old steam locomotives. The price for the ride is only $6.00 to take the tour around Scranton. We did not take the longer trips since we were on...  more »
  • The kids LOVED this stop. Note you'll have to pick up your Jr Ranger book from the information stand where they sell the train tickets. The museum is GIANT with one section covering the science of.....  more
    The kids LOVED this stop. Note you'll have to pick up your Jr Ranger book from the information stand where they sell the train tickets. The museum is GIANT with one section covering the science of.....  more »
Google
  • If you like really huge trains, this is a must. Massive engines in this brilliant historic railway site. A tour into the working area where maintenance and restoration is going on is also provided. Interesting and informative with a movie theatre and museum providing a history of the local railways. Did not know what to expect but was impressed. Ample parking and walkway to nearby food and retail centre.
  • Steamtown is absolutely amazing. We live close to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, and I gotta say this might actually be better. And not just because it's free. It's a lot bigger, has a better collection of trains, and the exhibits seemed designed better. Not to say there's anything wrong with the B&O; Steamtown is just much better. We took a train ride: it was $6, and the cars were built in the 1920s. The ride we took zigzagged through the train depot and was narrated by a funny ranger. It was also cool to see a Big Boy locomotive, but it's unfortunately a static display you can't climb on. Still cool to see. As a side note, we didn't do the trolley museum as that's separate from Steamtown and we ran out of time. Definitely give Steamtown a visit. You won't regret it.

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