A hunt for the perfect Mother’s Day gift this year opened my eyes to a part of Pennsylvania that, once experienced, will force people to stop saying, “There’s nothing to do around here.”
Of all 50 states, Pennsylvania is virtually unmatched in its offerings of train rides, excursion trains, and train museums. It is widely known that the Commonwealth has a rich railroad history, but few know that rides of all types– happy hour, Sunday brunch, fall foliage, Santa’s Workshop– await.
Spouses, singles, families, grandparents, and anyone needing to change his or her “scenery” for a day deserve to treat themselves to a train ride. Some depart from as close as Scranton, while others are just a quick “road trip” away. For your enjoyment, a mere sampling of what PA has to offer follows. For complete contact information and cost– surprisingly inexpensive– contact the appropriate website.
Electric City Trolley Museum
Scranton, Pennsylvania’s first city to operate a pioneer trolley line, became known as “The Electric City” in 1887. On these trolley excursions, passengers enjoy the scenery of a section of the Laurel Line– “the former Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad right-of-way as it parallels Roaring Brook and makes stops at the Historic Iron Furnaces and continues through the Crown Avenue Tunnel “ (www.ectma.org/museum). Excursions run Thursday-Sunday, at 10:30 a.m., Noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the Trolley Museum Building.
Steamtown National Historic Site
Steamtown offers railroad enthusiasts “Scranton Limited” short train excursions, steam locomotive Cab Rides, and longer excursions to discover some special sections of NEPA. Short train rides run almost daily from April-early December, and on those days when the train is a steam locomotive, passengers age 16 and older can indulge in an exciting, 30-minute Cab Ride. Longer excursions to Moscow will be offered on July 9 and 23 and on August 6, 13, and 20. Trips to Tobyhanna are set for July 16 and 30 and August 27.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway - Jim Thorpe
“While seated on Summer Wind, passengers face the sides of the car to enjoy the view through the open sides. Passengers are also allowed to get up and stand along the sides of the car to enjoy the breeze and gorge views.
Our Caboose includes thick, cushioned seats. Passengers enjoy sitting in the cupola or standing outside on the platform for a more unique view of the Lehigh Gorge.” (www.lgsry.com) June rides are on Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. July and August rides are from Wednesdays-Sundays with the same hours as June, with the addition of a 4:30 p.m. trip.
Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train - Ashland
On a 30-minute Pioneer train ride, passengers discover what it feels like to ride on a steam locomotive that carries them in updated mine cars behind it. “Built in the 1920s, The Henry Clay takes you on a scenic three-quarter mile ride around the side of Mahanoy Mountain to show you another kind of mining called strip mining. You’ll visit the Mammoth Stripping and also learn about the Centralia mine fire as you gaze across the valley to find smoke rising out of the ground.” (www.pioneertunnel.com) Rides are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day, continuously from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The last train runs at 3:45 p.m.
Stourbridge Line Rail Excursions - Honesdale
The Stourbridge Line Rail Excursions run 10 train rides from April-December. For the summer months, it offers the Great Train Robbery, which departs at 1 p.m. on Saturdays: June 25; July 2, 9, 23 and 30; and August 6, 13, 20 and 27. It also runs on September 3rd. “Guard your valuables, partner! Masked marauders ambush the Stourbridge Line on a round trip ride from Honesdale to Hawley. This three-hour ride includes a one-hour stopover for shopping and sightseeing.” (www.waynecountycc.com)
This summer, Alice Klucitas– mother of seven, grandmother of seven, great-grandmother of one, and “adopted” mother of many– will be swept away for a lovely brunch and light dessert while riding the Tioga Central Railroad to scenic Hammond Lake. All aboard, mom!