SCRANTON — About 3,000 railroad enthusiasts were expected to visit the city of Scranton to attend the Railfest 2016 event held at the Steamtown National Historic Site.
The two-day event, which began Saturday, highlights the importance of the railroad industry throughout our nation’s history and in meeting today’s transportation needs, according to park officials.
Debbie Conway, park superintendent, said Railfest is a “celebration of railroading both past and present.”
Visitors got a close look at new diesel-powered rail equipment with several samples brought in from various railroads. And they got to take a trip into the past through seeing, hearing and touching working steam engines.
“This year, we are very excited to host Peppersass, the 150-year-old steam engine from the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire,” Conway said. “Every year we work to bring in new and different equipment.”
There were sophisticated model train displays, an exhibit of railroad photos, children’s activities, food and music. Over 150 staff and volunteers from local communities and outside areas including Baltimore, Harrisburg and Philadelphia assisted in keeping the event moving smoothly. They answered questions and demonstrated railroading techniques such as removing wheels and repairing locomotives.
Julio and Sophia Vargas came from Phillipsburg, N.J., with their two small children. The children were amazed at the size and power, Julio Vargas said. They also loved the model trains.
Visitors interested in riding the rails could jump on the “Scranton Limited” short train rides or sign up for the four-hour “Moscow Excursions,” take trolley rides at the Lackawanna County Trolley Museum or ride a “hand car,” also known as a “pump car.”
Jenny Hewett and Julie Welder, from Great Bend in Susquehanna County, said their young children were “awestruck” about taking their first train rides.
Conway thanked event partners, including the Friends of Northeast PA Railroading, the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail Authority and the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad, which sent equipment for display.