[[posterous-content:pid___0]]The Strasburg Railroad holds the unique distinction as America’s oldest short line railroad and is a designated heritage site. Founded during the first term of President Andrew Jackson, Strasburg Rail Road was incorporated by a special act of the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1832.
Founded in 1832, the Strasburg Rail Road celebrated the 175th Anniversary of its railroad charter in 2007. Precisely when the railroad first turned a wheel is still a matter of patient research, but the earliest timetable found to date indicates Strasburg trains were scheduled as of December 1851.
On February 22, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln made a stop at Leaman Place on his inaugural train ride, en route to Lancaster. His four-minute visit brought nearly 5,000 people out to cheer for the President and Mrs. Lincoln.
To prepare for the President’s visit, Strasburg Rail Road had purchased their first passenger car, which ran on a special train to transport people to and from Leaman Place.
First used for passenger and freight transportation, the railroad’s main purpose became a freight interchange with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Following World War II, improved highway transportation decreased the need for the railroad. By the mid 1950s, the Strasburg Rail Road was nearing the end of its usefulness. In 1957, destruction of the tracks caused by a series of storms placed an immediate embargo on the carload freight. The owners were unwilling to invest in the necessary repairs.
A second chance.
While petitions for abandonment were being considered, Henry K. Long, an industrialist and railfan from nearby Lancaster, along with Donald E. L. Hallock, another enthusiastic railfan with a vision, formed a group of interested individuals to save the railroad. With perseverance and a creative idea, the Strasburg Rail Road was saved.
After repairing the worst spots on the four-and-a-half mile track, the owners began acquiring an inventory of historic locomotives and passenger cars from all across North America. Using the old feed mill as a station, the ambitious band of “rail barons” opened the railroad to visitors in 1958. 2008 will mark the 50th anniversary of Strasburg Rail Road as a tourist railroad.
Today, as we look back at their labor of love, the Strasburg Rail Road is one of Lancaster County’s most popular tourist attractions – and recognized as one of America’s most significant examples of early 20th century railroading.
Myron L Meters is proud to do business with the Strasburg Rail Road Company.
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