The opening of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in April, 2008 was the culmination of a 30-year effort by the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society to acquire a permanent facility to house and display its collection of Reading Railroad locomotives, rolling stock, artifacts and documents, so that the story of how the Reading Railroad shaped communities could be shared with the public. Although we've made significant strides in the development of the Museum, much more remains to be done.
A Scenic Railroad Excursion: Passenger excursions between Temple and Hamburg will be operated at first. Service is envisioned to expand to a full schedule between Reading and Southern Schuylkill County. The excursion will carry visitors in historic Reading Railroad cars through scenic Northern Berks and Southern Schuylkill Counties, allowing passengers to enjoy the Schuylkill River and the many recreational and cultural attractions of the communities along the line.
Interpretive Centers: Exhibits and events telling the story of the Reading Railroad are planned for Temple and Hamburg. Planning for these centers will begin soon.
Economic Development Initiative (Communities along the Rail Line): A comprehensive plan for tourism will encourage development of visitor attractions all along the line. These may include opportunities to enjoy the Schuylkill River (fishing, hiking, etc.), interesting shops (antiques, local products), cultural activities (architectural tours, canal information, special events), and so much more.
Excursion Route Conservation: Efforts to preserve the scenic beauty along the rail line will be developed.
One of the first significant steps in making the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum a reality was accomplished in 2000 with the development and publication of the Society's first Long-Range Plan. Click here to download a PDF copy of the Plan. In recent years, the RCT&HS completed a Museum Development Study. The study was funded by a grant from the Schuylkill River Greenway Association, the Pennsylvania Heritage Parks Program, and the Federal Community Development Block Grant Program of Berks County. Several grants have been obtained to fund initial renovations of the Hamburg museum site.
A Capital Campaign supported by the Society membership is drawing to a close. Support has been strong for the Founders' Club. The money will be used as matching money for grants and to continue museum development efforts. We know that a strong effort among our membership to fund the museum will show other potential supporters that the RCT&HS believes that this project is important! There is still time to join the effort and have your name registered as a Founder of the Museum.
The Society has been fortunate to receive considerable assistance from
noted architect Lee Olsen in
the development of a long-range site plan for the Reading Railroad Heritage
Museum. While we hope that the Museum will never truly be "finished,"
the "end state" of site development can be seen above. The final
plan calls for adequate trackage to house the majority of the Society's
rolling stock collection, with both indoor and outdoor storage along with
enclosed working facilities for our volunteer restoration crew. Flexible
exhibit space will allow for continual changing and updating of Museum
exhibits as new artifacts and documents from our archives are unearthed.
This space will also facilitate public events such as receptions and conferences.