APRIL/2008: Bee Line Festival (Museum Grand Opening!)new!

We are pleased to announce the Grand Opening of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum on April 12, 2008. In celebration of the Museum and in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of the Reading Railroad, the Bee Line Festival has been brought to life. Click here for more info.

MARCH/2008: Ex-RDG Newtown Branch’s Southampton Station to be Restorednew!

Of the Bucks County Courier Times

SOUTHAMPTON, PA–The Southampton Railroad Station Society will take out its brooms and dustpans to kick-start the restoration of the Southampton Railroad Station. The society is working to restore the more than 100-year-old station, a project that will cost about $300,000. For six months, the society has received donations and grants to cover renovation costs.

First, though, comes the dirty work. The group plans a cleanup in April of the surrounding area from Second Street Pike to Street Road and its underpass, which is cluttered with graffiti on the walls and abandoned furniture. “We can’t wait to get rid of all of that junk,” society member Charles Liberto said Thursday. About 20 volunteers will pick up trash, paint the underpass walls and make track repairs in front of the station. “The cleanup won’t cost much,” Liberto said. The township will provide the group with Dumpsters and Amtrak donated railroad ties. The most costly supplies will be rails and paint, he said.

But not everyone is thrilled with the cleanup plan. The tracks, which are covered by overgrown vegetation, lie behind Phyllis Ullo’s Carlin Drive property and she doesn’t want the weeds to be removed. “You may see it as overgrown vegetation,” read a letter dated March 18 that she sent to the township. “I consider it a sanctuary that affords me privacy, tranquility and an area free from undesirable activity. It is far away enough from the train station building so as not be considered blight on [the] commendable project.”

The society isn’t planning to remove vegetation beyond Street Road at this point, Liberto said. Before the cleanup can happen, Upper Southampton’s supervisors must approve a letter drafted by the society to SEPTA detailing the cleanup plan. “The board needs to discuss that at the April 1 meeting,” township Manager Joe Golden said. “We’re sure we will get the final approval from SEPTA,” Liberto said.

Besides reviving the wood-frame building, the society wants to plant a garden and install a fountain. It wants to built a museum and gift shop. Once renovations are completed, tours and community activities will be planned.

The station is one of the few left on the old Reading Railroad Newtown Line, said society member James Day. The first floor, which remains intact, was used as a waiting room with benches and a ticket window until the 1980s. The second floor has two rooms that were occupied as living quarters by stationmasters but hasn’t been in use since the ’60s.

FEBRUARY/2008: GP7 #621 Finally Arrives Home!new!

NW2 #103 northbound at Five-Locks with #621 in tow. (photo courtesy Nate Mengel)

Newly arrived #621 at the Hamburg Museum. (photo courtesy Nate Mengel)

Ex-Reading Company GP7 #621 has finally arrived home! Between January 17th and 22nd, #621 was moved from the Perkiomen Branch of the East Penn Railway to the Reading & Northern interchange at Temple, PA. The unit remained there until February 9th when it was moved by the RCT&HS to the grounds of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum. Engine #103 was made ready and used for this special move. Thanks to the MP&RE (Motive Power & Rolling Equipment) crew and all the members that made this acquisition and move a success. Time and funds permitting, #621 will eventually be fully-restored into its 1953 as-delivered “olive drab” scheme. Click here for more photos/info on the Railfan.net Reading Co. forum.

FEBRUARY/2008: 3rd Annual RCT&HS Conventionnew!

Preston Cook will present: “Inside EMD.” This will be a two and one-half-hour presentation on the development of the various classes of EMD Locomotives and the inside story on each. (Preston will be retiring this program at the end of this year. It is a must see program.) In addition, the following presentations will be offererd:

All Registrants will receive a tour of the Hamburg Museum.

Click here to download a mail-in ticket order form.

JANUARY/2008: RCT&HS Hamburg Museum and Store Opens!new!

After a long, hard journey, the RCT&HS is proud to annouce another milestone with the opening of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum. The museum is currently open Sundays-only in February and weekends in March. Saturday hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday hours: noon–5 p.m. Included with museum admission: video, "The Reading Railroad Shaped Communities", museum displays, and museum store. Also, tours of outdoor rail car display weather permitting. Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday April 12, 2008. Click here for more info.

JANUARY/2008: FP7’s Safely Arrive at the Railroad Musuem of Pennsylvanianew!

Newly arrived FP7’s at the Railroad Musuem of PA. (photo courtesy Mike Carter, Railroad Museum of PA volunteer)

On January 9th, FP7’s Nos. 902 and 903 arrived at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (RRMofPA). A one year loan arrangement has been agreed upon between the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and the RCT&HS. This agreement allows the locomotives to be displayed at the RRMofPA while the RCT&HS retains the rights to operate the units.

Below is an article on the FP7’s that appeared in the Intelligencer Journal:

Gone loco: Railroad Museum gets two historic diesels

Of the Intelligencer Journal

STRASBURG, PA–The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg has twins: two 58-year-old Diesel locomotives weighing in at 255,000 pounds each. The new arrivals were brought to the museum Wednesday via the main line at Paradise and the tracks of the Strasburg Rail Road.

Dubbed the 902 and the 903, the locomotives are owned by the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society and the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, respectively.

They will be on display at the state museum for at least a year and maybe longer. “We’re very happy to have them and protect them for as long as they’re here,” David Dunn, the museum’s director, said.

The two are part of a fleet of eight FP7 passenger-train diesels built by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division and sold to the Reading Railroad. From 1950, when they were built, to 1967, when Reading phased out passenger service, the locomotives took passengers from Reading and Philadelphia to New York at a top speed of 89 miles per hour.

Trains pulled by locomotives 900 and 901 were called “The Crusader,” while the 902 and 903 operated under the name “The Wall Street.” They were later joined by the 904 and 905. The 906 and 907 arrived in 1952 and were assigned to the Schuylkill line running between Philadelphia and Pottsville.

After 1967, they did a stint pulling commuter trains between Philadelphia and Reading. They were sold to SEPTA in Philadelphia, where they operated until 1985. Retired and in poor condition, the 900, the 902 and the 903–the only ones saved from the scrap yard–were sold.

The Lancaster Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society bought the 902 and the Philadelphia chapter purchased the 903 and 900. After evaluating the condition of each, restoration was begun on the 902 and 903 in 1985, with the intent of making them look like they did during their Reading Railroad days. The 900 will be restored at a later date.

The historic groups knew they had their work cut out for them. Both were “pretty well rusted,” said Cindy Bowers, project coordinator of the Lancaster Chapter of NRHS for the past 21 years. “They were both completely gone over and overhauled mechanically,” Bowers said. “The car bodies were very bad. We had to completely replace the outside panels and do other extensive body work.” A rebuilt diesel motor was put into the 903. Restoration ended in 2000. The 902 cost about $300,000, with the 903 costing a bit less.

In 2006, the Lancaster Chapter of the NRHS donated the 902 to the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society, which is creating its own museum.

Today, both engines are not just restored to look like new but also are fully operational. Both have been used to pull excursion trains, most recently in October, when they traveled over the former Perkiomen branch of the Reading Railroad to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This summer, Bowers said, the NRHS hopes to sponsor excursion trips from Philadelphia to Reading and Philadelphia to Strasburg. The latter trip would allow people from Philadelphia to visit the museum, as well as ride the historic cars of the Strasburg Rail Road.

“These locomotives are fully operational and can run on the main line,” she said. When the excursion season is over, Bowers said, it’s possible the two locomotives might be kept at the Strasburg museum, using it as their base of operation.

“I’ve always thought it a win-win situation for both us and the railroad museum to store these locomotives here,” she said. Dunn agrees. "We will keep them here for as long as the RCT&HS wants us to keep them," Dunn said.