Steamtown National Historic Site

Audio Available:

Quick Overview

Steam locomotives excited the senses and Steamtown works to keep their stories alive!  You'd feel heat from the firebox, smell hot steam and oil; you'd hear the whistle, feel the ground vibrate, and watch as one ton drive rods turned steel wheels.  Remember the sound of "chuff-chuff" from the smokestack?  Today, you can learn the history of steam railroad transportation, and the people who built, repaired and rode, as we work to preserve a special era in America's industrial history! 

This is the audio-only described version of the park’s official brochure. The brochure includes photographs, illustrations and text about the park’s history. There is also a map of the park on side one, which identifies areas and buildings within the park. The following information is derived from the printed brochure. In some instances, information has been added to supplement the print brochure.

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Welcome to Steamtown National Historic Site

You are about to experience a part of American railroading that hasn’t existed for nearly half a century—the era of the steam locomotive. Steamtown National Historic Site was established on October 30, 1986, to further public understanding and appreciation of the role steam railroading played in the development of the United States. It is the only place in the National Park System where the story of steam railroading, and the people who made it possible, is told. 

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Where and What

Steamtown occupies about 40 acres of the Scranton railroad yard of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania. At the heart of the park is the large collection of standard-gauge steam locomotives and freight and passenger cars that New England seafood processor F. Nelson Blount assembled in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1984, 17 years after Blount’s untimely death, the Steamtown Foundation for the Preservation of Steam and Railroad Americana, Inc., brought the collection to Scranton, where it occupied the former DL&W yard. When Steamtown National Historic Site was created, the yard and the collection became part of the National Park System.

The Steamtown Collection consists of locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads. The locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switcher engine built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company, to a huge Union Pacific Big Boy built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco). The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by Alco in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company.  

Steamtown National Historic Site preserves and interprets the legacy of steam-era railroading. Experience this era through tours of the railroad yards and the buildings. Ride in a restored railroad car or caboose. Watch Living History characters depict life in the era of steam. Lectures in the theater and the film Steel and Steam highlight related subjects and provide glimpses into railroading’s past. We encourage you to explore and contemplate the site at your leisure. 

Watercolor painting description (side one, left): A steam locomotive on railroad tracks travels toward us. The steam locomotive is a large horizontal tube, which is the boiler of the locomotive and includes a smokestack, which is spewing greyish tan smoke into the upper part of the image. The shiny black boiler has domes along the top and has multiple narrow pipes running both vertically and front to back. There is a walkway, or running board, along the right side of the tube. The front of the tube has a headlight centered in the middle of a convex circle which is the smokebox cover. Under the smokebox is a large cylindrical air tank. Below the air tank is a horizontal beam with a coupler (a knuckle-shaped device which allows the locomotive to be connected to railroad cars). Below that is a pilot, also called a cowcatcher. It is shaped like an apron and has a metal frame with perpendicular metal rails inside the frame and is slightly angled outward to the front. On both sides of the locomotive are two cylinders, one atop the other.  On the left of the locomotive, the side of the engine is shown, with large wheels connected to the other wheels and the front cylinder with rods. At the back is the locomotive cab, a dark rectangle with a laterally domed roof, a front window above the running board, and a second window on the side. The painting evokes movement, with soft detail and harsh contrast. The image is vertical and overlaps the first fold on the brochure.

Color photo description (side two, left): This photo features a portion of the rights side of the Canadian Pacific steam locomotive number 2317 in the foreground. On the locomotive’s left, in the background is the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western caboose number 889. The locomotive is black and grey, tall and angular and stands in bright sunshine. The front of the locomotive has a pilot (cowcatcher) at the bottom. It is shaped like an apron and has a metal frame with perpendicular metal rails inside the frame and is slightly angled outward to the front.  Above it is a horizontal pilot beam, a wide step, and then a circular smokebox cover. In the center of the smokebox is a headlight. Hanging from the headlight is a black rectangle with a yellow border and the number "2317" in yellow. At the top of the circular smokebox is a dark grey rectangle with "2317" in white. The locomotive sits on rust colored steel rails which rest on pale grey gravel.  The caboose in the background is bright red with the capital letters "LAC" on its right side. The rest of the word "LACKAWANNA" disappears off the right edge. Above the letters is a dark window with a shallow inverted V at the top to catch rain. Above the window is the edge of the cupola, a raised area in the centre of the caboose, with windows, to allow crew to watch the train. The top of the photo is a blue sky with whispy clouds and a thin veneer of bluish-grey coal smoke.

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Points of Interest

The park includes the following points of interest, keyed to the illustrated map described under the Park Map section of this audio described version.

  1. Visitor Center: Begin your visit here for orientation to the park, its facilities, and its attractions. 
  2. History Museum: Exhibits here highlight the people and the history of steam railroading in the United States and include displays on early railroads, life on the railroad, and the relationship between the railroad and labor, business, and government. A timeline presents key moments in the history of railroading and the DL&W from the early 19th to the mid-20th century.
  3. Roundhouse: This remaining portion of the "1902" "1937" roundhouse has been rehabilitated and is used to store, maintain, and display engines from the Steamtown collection. A raised walkway affords opportunities to view work in progress on the locomotives.
  4. Turntable: This 90-foot-long turntable, used for turning engines toward the roundhouse, is the type used here after 1900.
  5. 1902 Roundhouse Section This three-bay portion remains from the second roundhouse, built on this site in 1902.
  6. Technology Museum: This museum offers a look at the technological changes and advances in railroads through the years. Included are exhibits on steam locomotive design, railroad architecture, track design and engineering, signals, communications, and railroad safety. A model of the DL&W’s Scranton yard is located on the second floor. 

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Tours and Excursions

Park rangers offer tours of the site, roundhouse, and locomotive repair shops. On certain days, rail excursions are offered, including a main line train ride to one of several destinations. Check at the visitor center for schedules. Fees are charged for visiting the site, excursions, and certain other programs.

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Park Map

This map, located on the right side of page one of the brochure is a color drawing looking down at an angle onto Steamtown National Historic Site and some surrounding points of interest. The map is oriented with North at the top. The park is in the center and makes up the majority of the map. The description starts in the lower left of the map and goes clockwise to the upper right corner of the map, describing areas on the perimeter of the map in and outside of the park before going into a detailed description of the park’s museum complex.

At the lower left corner, a blue-gray stripe labeled LACKAWANNA RIVER angles from mid left to lower left.  A single railroad track parallels the river - parallel rails sitting on wooden crossties.  A wooded slope extends above the railroad tracks, separating the tracks from the main area of the park. 

At the upper left of the map, a cluster of industrial brick buildings with peaked roofs is the Trolley Museum.  To the upper right of the Trolley Museum is a cluster of parallel railroad tracks crossing a bridge. This is Bridge 60 which crosses the Lackawanna River. The painting, "The Lackawanna Valley" by George Innes, shows a train crossing a bridge at this same location. This painting is described in more detail under the heading “Romanticizing Steam and Remembering its Artifacts.”

To the lower right of the Trolley Museum is a parking area with multiple bays separated by deciduous trees.  More railroad tracks are to the upper right of the parking area.  There is a wooden roofed area supported by multiple columns at the upper right of the railroad tracks with a clerestory, which is a raised section of the roof.  This is the Excursion Loading Platform.  A walkway extends from the parking area over the railroad tracks to the Excursion Loading Platform.

Running down the center of the railroad tracks, from the upper middle to the far right of the map is a long gently sloped trestle walkway leading to a left turn into The Marketplace at Steamtown.  This new structure has the same location and slope as a coal loading pier which was demolished in the 1980s.  This bridge leads into a shopping mall and parking garage dominating the upper middle and right of the image and facing on Lackawanna Avenue.

To the right of the parking area is the Museum Complex.  This includes (1) the Visitor Center and Theater, (2) History Museum, (3) 1902 1937 Roundhouse Section, (4) Turntable, (5) 1902 Roundhouse Section, and (6) Technology Museum.  The Museum Complex is built of red brick with large windows and a gray roof in an industrial style matching the footprint and style of the historic roundhouse sections.  It is donut shaped, thick interrupted circle with an open center.  The open area in the center has railroad tracks radiating from the Turntable in the center to the buildings. 

Just above the Visitor Center is the Oil House (Bookstore), a gray-roofed rectangular building.

To the lower right of the Museum Complex is a grouping of industrial buildings made of cinder block and red brick with a gray roof with small ventilator boxes and a clerestory roof.  This is the Locomotive Repair Shops, parts of which date to 1865.  Railroad tracks lead out of these connected buildings to the lower right and off the map. 

In the center right of the map are two large, low, concrete hollow rings.  Between them is a tall cylindrical concrete tower with a taller brown rectangular structure on the near side.  This is the historic Green Sand Storage Bin.  Sand provided traction for locomotives on slippery tracks.

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For Your Safety: Remember, Steamtown is a working railroad site, so please be careful. Look out for moving trains and other vehicles at all times. Avoid stepping on the rails and do not climb on the locomotives or cars.

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Railroads and the Age of Steam

Railroading has been called “the biggest business of 19th-century America.” Animal- and gravity-powered rail transport had been used by quarry companies in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the Northeast since the early 1800s. The United States quickly adopted the steam railway once reliable locomotives suited to long-distance public transportation were available.

After 1830 and the creation of better locomotive types, railroad investment in both Great Britain and the United States accelerated almost simultaneously. Britain’s first true public steam railway, the Liverpool & Manchester, began operations in 1830, as did the first such American railway, the South Carolina Railroad. 

In the 1830s and ‘40s America’s railroads were small private affairs of limited mileage, scattered along the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Georgia, with a few enterprising companies pushing westward into the Appalachians. By 1852, thanks to merchants demanding faster and more reliable means of transporting their goods, more than 9,000 miles of track had been laid, mostly in the New England and Middle Atlantic states. During the next decade American railroads grew into a coordinated iron network of more than 30,000 miles serving all the states east of the Mississippi River. 

Railroad construction slowed during the Civil War (the first American conflict in which railroads played a major role as movers of troops and supplies) but resumed on a large scale immediately afterward. By 1880 the United States had 94,000 miles of track binding the country together; 20 years later it had 193,000. By the end of World War I in 1918, the country could boast more than 254,000 miles of track and 65,000 steam locomotives. 

As the railroads expanded, so did the country. Between the Civil War and World War I the United States was transformed from an agricultural to a manufacturing nation, thanks largely to the railroads. They brought raw materials like coal, oil, iron ore, and cotton to the factories and carried away steel, machines, cloth, and other finished products. They moved livestock, grain, and produce from farms to the cities. And they carried people everywhere. Most of the immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley traveled there by train, just like the emigrants from the East who settled Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas in the 1870s and ‘80s. 

The railroads shortened the time it took to travel great distances, thus bringing cities closer together. In 1812, for example, a trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia took six days by stagecoach. In 1854 the same journey took 15 hours by train. By 1920 the trip was down to five hours. Rail deliveries of freight and passengers were generally faster and more reliable than those by stagecoach, wagon, steamboat, or canal packet. The railroad drove many canal companies out of business and lured away most potential passengers from riverboats and stagecoach lines. 

Until the end of World War I, railroads carried the bulk of all freight and passengers. After 1918 they faced increased competition from automobiles and trucks. By the 1950s railroads were hauling less freight, had reduced passenger service, and abandoned some lines altogether. By then the railroads themselves had undergone dramatic changes, beginning in 1925 with the introduction of the diesel-electric engine. Within 15 years the diesel locomotive, with its great reduction in labor needs, its operational flexibility, and its relative cleanliness, had replaced the coal-burning steam locomotive. Fortunately, because of places like Steamtown National Historic Site and other museums, the contributions of steam railroading to the development of the United States will never be forgotten. And the lives and duties of the men and women who labored in the yards, roundhouses, and stations and on the trains will be preserved for future generations. 

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Railroad Workers, Then and Now

Photo caption (side two, top left): A signalman tells an engineer to move his train forward. 

Photo description:  This grainy black and white photograph is of a conductor who stands in his uniform of a black brimmed hat with a shiny plate on the peak of the hat, a double-breasted coat, trousers, and work boots.  His left arm is extended out and upward and is waving a signal lantern.   The lantern is light gray with dark glass.  Signal lanterns of this era were constructed of metal and glass with an oil lamp lit inside the glass cylinder.  Photo: National Park Service

Color Illustration Drawing (side one, bottom middle): A conductor and his passengers, 1930s. 

Illustration description: A conductor stands with his left arm raised, and his gaze is to the right.  The conductors uniform is a light blue, three-piece suit with a dark blue tie, white shirt and matching white pocket square; his hat is also light blue with a brim and a gold plate on the peak of the hat. A boy wearing an olive green suit and dark red tie with a flat tan cap stands behind the conductor to his left. He holds a satchel in his left hand and gazes to the right in the same direction as the conductor.  Behind the boy stands a smaller young girl wearing a faded gray dress, short white socks, strapped black dress shoes, with a burnt orange hat and short blonde curly hair.  The girl appears to hold onto the left arm of the boy and also gazes right.  Illustration: Richard Schlecht, National Park Service


Photo caption (side one upper middle): At Steamtown, engineers not only help to maintain their engines in top condition, but demonstrate for visitors the knowledge and skill it took to operate a steam locomotive. 

Photo description: An engineer lubricates parts of the steam locomotive. He wears blue denim coveralls, with a long sleeve light blue shirt, leather work gloves, heeled black work boots, and a faded light blue and white striped engineer's cap.  He faces the side of the locomotive and holds a long spouted oil can at shoulder height. With the can, he reaches into the locomotive valve gear.  Only a portion of the front left side of the large, black steel locomotive where the engineer stands is seen.  The massive wheels and axles are at chest height to the engineer.  A portion of four black steel tubes are visible above the engineers head in the midst of a fog of steam.  The engineer stands on a wet dark boardwalk with bright green grasses and weeds growing between the railroad ties and rails at the base of the engine's wheels.  Photo: National Park Service 

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Romanticizing Steam and Remembering Its Artifacts

Painting Caption (side one top left): The romantic image that steam railroading evokes is reflected in George Inness’s painting entitled “The Lackawanna Valley” (side one, top left), showing Scranton and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad yard in 1855. 

Painting Description: A black steam locomotive with billows of white steam floating from the smoke stack travels along a railroad track, approaching green pastures in the center of the painting. The locomotive is on a bridge crossing the Lackawanna River.  The railroad tracks diverge to the left and right with split rail fencing to either side. To the left and the right of the bridge, pine and deciduous trees cover the river banks. Numerous tree stumps remain in the field in the foreground suggesting recent settlement of the area.  In the left of the foreground, a man wearing a tan hat and red vest sits with his back to us on the hill, gazing down at the locomotive as it travels through the Lackawanna Valley.  A tall tree provides shade to the man from his left.  Off in the distance to the right is the DL&W roundhouse, a large brick building with a domed gray roof. It is surrounded by the brick buildings of the railroad yard.  A church tower ascends within the city of Scranton.  A rolling mountain range sits in the background, among low-lying clouds and a pale blue-gray sky.      

 Painting courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Photo captions for artifacts (side one, top left): A 1920 rail pass and the corporate seal of the Leggett's Gap Railroad, a forerunner of the DL&W. Note the original spelling of the rail line’s name. 

Artifact Descriptions:  The railroad pass is a light blue wallet size card stock pass with the word Lackawanna underlined in large type.  The year, 1920, is centered below Lackawanna.  To the left, the word Pass is printed with an artistic font.  The name Mr. C. W. Vaughn, Engr. M. of Way, N.Y.C.R.R. indicates that this pass belongs to Mr. C.W. Vaughn, who is an Engineer, Maintenance of Way for the New York Central Railroad.  Below the name in a smaller font, the card reads: until December 31, 1920, over all lines of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company unless otherwise ordered and subject to the conditions on the back.  The card number is typed on the lower left corner and reads No.B1086.  The signature of E.M. Rine is written above the title of vice president general manager in the lower right corner.   Text on the right side of the card printed vertically reads: Not good east of Port Morris except on trains numbered below 27.  

The seal of Leggett's Gap Railroad is a brushed silver circle resembling a silver coin with the words Ligett's Gap written at the top in an arc and Railroad P.A. written at the bottom in an arc, both following the edge of the circle.  In a circle in the center is the image of a steam locomotive, with puffs of smoke, pulling a coach.    Artifacts and Photos: National Park Service

Artifact description (side two, bottom middle): A cut-out portion of a photograph is of an old fashioned oil can on the left and conductor's hat on the right.  The oil can is a domed steel cylinder with a handle on the side and an oil spout top center.  The spout of the oil can is three times the height of the cylinder and gradually narrows and bends at its tip. A chain hangs from the base of the spout to the handle. 

The conductor hat is a dark fabric cap with a shiny black brim.  The brim is lined with two gold cords with a knot on each side.  In the center of the peak on the front of the hat is a shiny, brass plate with the word "Conductor."   

Artifacts and Photo: National Park Service

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Where is this park?

Steamtown National Historic Site is located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the northeastern part of the state.

Use GPS Address "350 Cliff Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania  18503"

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Time Issues

Depending on your level of interest, visiting Steamtown takes from a couple of hours to all day.  Walking tours last 30 to 60 minutes.  Scranton Limited Short Train Rides last about 30 minutes.  Nay Aug Limited Short Train Rides take about 50 minutes.  Excursions to destinations outside the park last two and a half to nine hours, depending on the destination.  Train rides are available seasonally.

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Dress for the weather.  The Museum Buildings and Visitor Center are climate controlled, but there is much to see outdoors, including locomotives and cars.

The Short Train Rides and Excursions do not have air conditioning.

Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for walking on rough surfaces.

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Amenities in the Park

Light snacks and soft drinks are available in the Museum Shop and Bookstore.  Water fountains are in the Roundhouse, History Museum, and Technology Museum.  A filling station for water bottles is located in the Visitor Center.

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The DL&W Railroad and the Evolution of the Railroad Yard

In the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad was a major carrier of anthracite, the hard, clean-burning coal found in abundance in northeastern Pennsylvania. The popularity of anthracite not only spurred the growth and expansion of the DL&W but also the four other major railroads that ran through Scranton: the Central of New Jersey, the Delaware and Hudson, the Erie, and the New York, Ontario and Western. The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad, an electric shortline, began operating in 1903. It served local passenger and freight needs. Coal and railroads created a huge industrial complex in the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys. Thanks largely to William H. Truesdale, the DL&W’s president from 1899 to 1925, the railroad was operated with exceptional success and efficiency for many years. Many of the structures within Steamtown National Historic Site are legacies from the Truesdale administration.

The DL&W, like other early eastern railroads, was an amalgam of smaller railroad lines combined through mergers, consolidations, and leases. It was created in 1853 by George and Seldon Scranton (for whom the city of Scranton is named), who were seeking an economical way of hauling their iron products, particularly T-rails used in the construction of railroads. The Scrantons formed the DL&W by joining three railroads—the Cayuga & Susquehanna, the Lackawanna & Western (formerly the Leggett’s Gap Railroad) and the Delaware & Cobb’s Gap. At its height the DL&W operated on about 1,000 miles of mainline and branch track between Hoboken, N.J., and Buffalo, N.Y. 

Northeastern Pennsylvania was a “melting pot” for immigrants who chose the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys as the place to make a better life for themselves and their families. Those who settled in the Scranton area— some 30 ethnic groups—sought employment in silk mills, iron and steel factories, coal mines, and with railroads. At its peak the railroad yard employed several thousand workers, mostly immigrants and the sons and grandsons of immigrants, who came to the United States during the last half of the 19th century. The Scranton railroad yard, now the home of Steamtown National Historic Site, is representative of 20th-century steam-era facilities that were used for the handling of coal, freight, and passenger traffic and the service and repair of locomotives. 

Scranton’s economic fortunes followed those of the DL&W and began to decline in the mid-1920s when the demand for anthracite coal started to subside. By the 1930s and 1940s gas and oil were replacing coal as a home and industrial fuel. The DL&W began using diesel locomotives, reducing the need for coal even further. The steam locomotive repair shop in Scranton closed in 1949. Many functions of the yard were shut down in the 1960s after the DL&W merged with its longtime rival, the Erie Railroad, to become the Erie-Lackawanna. The yard was finally closed by Conrail in 1980, following its 1976 acquisition of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. Steam-era functions have been restored to allow National Park Service staff to show how it was when railroads ran on steam. 

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The Leaders of DL&W

Photo Caption: Ironmakers George and Seldon Scranton, founders of the DL&W, believed that railroads were going to revolutionize transportation and become the primary mover of goods and people.

Black and White Photo Description (side two, top middle): This oval black and white portrait is of a middle-aged George Scranton.  He is dressed in formal attire. His prominent feature is his facial hair in the "mutton chops" style (no beard or mustache, but with sideburns extending to his jaw line).  He has dark eyes, a broad nose, and high forehead.  His written signature is displayed below the portrait.  

This oval black and white portrait is of Seldon Scranton who is an older gentleman dressed in formal attire.  He has a high forehead, with dark eyes and a broad nose.  He parts his hair to the side and has a full beard.  His written signature "S.T. Scranton" is displayed below the portrait. 

Photos: National Park Service

Photo Caption: William H. Truesdale, DL&W President, 1899–1925.

Black and White Photo Description (side two, top right):  This oval portrait is of William H. Truesdale. He is an older gentleman wearing a dark jacket with a v-neck opening, a crisp white, high stiff collared shirt and a dark bow tie. His light thinning perfectly combed hair is gray and parted just left of center. A high forehead rises over dark eyes and a prominent nose. A well-trimmed brush mustache sits over his narrow, straight mouth and small chin. He sits at a slight angle but looks directly at us with a slight tilt to his head.

Photo: National Park Service

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Pictured Highlights of Scranton and the Railroads

Advertisement caption: An ad for the Dickson Manufacturing Company reminds us that Scranton was once a major locomotive builder.

Advertisement description (side two, upper left): The advertisement is rich with text and sketches in dark blue-black ink and white.  A ribbon style banner which reads "Dickson Manufacturing Co." starts in the upper left corner and curves down to the lower right corner. The font is ornate.  Below the word "Dickson" are the words "General Office Scranton, Pa" in a similar, yet smaller font.  The space below shows a sketched outline of two white buildings, one shorter than the other, with small windows and two rectangular smokestacks.  In front of the buildings are four dark sketched steam locomotives featuring different styles of construction.  Across the bottom of the advertisement are three white rectangular blocks with text. The first reads "J.P. Dickson" with the abbreviated title "Prest." under his name.  The second block reads "E.W. Weston," with the abbreviated title "Vice Prest." under his name. The third block reads "W. H. Perkins" with the abbreviated title "Sec'y and Treas." under his name.  The font is plain black print.  Above the ribbon banner, from the top center to the lower right corner are the items available for sale using a variety of fonts and sizes.  The text reads:  "Locomotives of every style and size;  Made to standard gauges and templets, so that parts are interchangeable and may be ordered by number.  Standard and Narrow Gauge.  Also for Plantations, Mines, and Logging." The lower right corner states "Specifications" and another word which is illegible. Advertisement:  The Lackawanna Historical Society         

Photo caption: The bituminous coal used to fuel most passenger locomotives made rail travel inherently dirty. The DL&W, however, used anthracite coal, which created less smoke, soot, and cinders. 

Photo description (side two, upper right): Anthracite Coal. Angular black rock with flat surfaces, some rough, some smooth. The smooth parts are very reflective.

Line drawing caption: The 1857 “Investigator” was the first successful hard-coal burning locomotive owned by the DL&W. 

Line drawing description (side two, top left): The investigator is shown in profile. A pair of small solid wheels sit under the front (right) end. Three large spoked drive wheels, connected with thin rods, with counterweights sit under the center of the locomotive. Directly above the drive wheels is a box, which is the cab of the locomotive. It has three windows, each of which has two, top to bottom, vertical panes. Under the windows is a large nameplate with the word "Investigator." In front of the cab is a vertical cylinder (the steam dome) sitting atop the locomotive's boiler (a horizontal cylinder) with the number "58" on the side and a bell on top. Forward of the steam dome is a tall smoke stack. Forward of the smokestack, on the top front, is a box lantern. At the front bottom is a cowcatcher -- a spoked triangle.

Drawing credit:  Lackawanna Historical Society

Black and White Historic Photo Caption: The transporting of T-rails and anthracite coal led to the expansion of the Scranton railyard facilities, shown here in 1877 when steam railroading was expanding throughout the country.

Photo description of railroad yard (side two, top middle):  Taken from above, this photo shows railroad tracks, cars, and workers.  Tracks run from the lower left to upper right of the photo. Dark boxcars with light writing on the sides and passenger cars sit on multiple parallel railroad tracks. Across the foreground is an irregular row of workmen looking up. Some wear light clothing, others wear dark clothes.

Photo description of T-rail (side two, top middle): A very thin slice, or cross-section, of steel rail shaped like a very wide-bottomed capital "I" with serifs. The base provides a stable platform and an anchor for railroad spikes. The broad, slightly rounded top provides a smooth place for train wheels to roll.

Both photos:  NPS

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An Abbreviated Timeline

  • 1804: Richard Trevithick builds a successful steam locomotive in Great Britain. 
  • 1829: D&H Canal Company Railroad tests the “Stourbridge Lion,” the first real steam locomotive in the United States. 
  • 1849–53: Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad is formed by combining the Cayuga & Susquehanna, the Lackawanna & Western, and the Delaware & Cobb’s Gap railroads. 
  • 1869: The transcontinental railroad is completed between Omaha, Nebraska, and Sacramento, California.
  • 1904: “Phoebe Snow” first promotes travel on DL&W Railroad. Photo caption: The fictitious traveler “Phoebe Snow,” whose “dress stays white from morn to night,” advertised anthracite’s clean-burning qualities for the DL&W. Photo description (side two, top right):  Sepia toned photo of DL&W steam locomotive number 974 with a woman dressed in white standing on the pilot beam of the locomotive.  The locomotive dominates the scene, the smokestack and headlight extending out of the frame.  The boiler, a long large dark tube, has a headlight on the top front.  Behind that is the smokestack, a tall cylinder, and two domes, a steam dome and sand dome.  These items take up the entire space of the top of the boiler.  Behind the last dome is the locomotive cab.  The cab has a flat front, flat sides, and a laterally domed roof.  Windows in the front and side of the cab are open and a bearded engineer, in a jacket and bill cap, leans out the side window.  The woman, Phoebe Snow, wears an early 20th-century full-length dress, gathered at a high waist, pleats and frills on the breast, a band collar, and long sleeves gathered at the elbow.  She also wears white half gloves.  Her bright white clothing is in stark contrast to the dark industrial steel of the steam locomotive.

Photo: National Park Service

  • 1949: The diesel-powered luxury train Phoebe Snow is introduced. Scranton locomotive shops close.
  • 1960: DL&W and the Erie railroads merge to form the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. M.G. McInnis of the Erie becomes president. 
  • 1976: Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) is formed from the merging of numerous railroads, including the Erie-Lackawanna. 
  • 1986: Congress establishes Steamtown National Historic Site. 
  • 1995: Restored and recreated roundhouse and museum complex opens to visitors. 

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Accessible parking is available in marked spaces in Steamtown's parking area. These are located in the easternmost parking bay, as well as next to the boardwalk leading to the Excursion Loading Platform.

The Visitor center, Museum Shop and Bookstore, Theater, History Museum, Roundhouse and Technology Museum are accessible. There are four railroad cars on display in the buildings. These are not currently accessible.  

Wheelchairs are available at the Visitor Center Desk.

Steamtown National Historic Site's film, Steel and Steam, has closed captioning and is audio described. Receivers, ear speakers, and neck loops (for use with t-coil hearing aids) can be obtained at the Visitor Center desk for use in the Theater.   

Video exhibits with narration offer closed captioning in the park's History Museum and Technology Museum. All guided tours are accessible.

The park brochure is available in Braille and is audio described.

The park visitor center desk has an UbiDuo dual keyboard and monitor communication device which allows two people to have a face to face conversation through text. Sign language interpreters will be scheduled as needed. Please call the park to request services prior to your visit.

The park has a railroad passenger car with a wheelchair lift to grant physical access to the yard shuttles and excursions. Please let our staff know of any mobility issues when planning your visit or making excursion reservations, not all excursion destinations are accessible at this time.  

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Contact Information

Phone:  888-693-9391 or 570-340-5200

Mail:  Steamtown National Historic Site, 150 South Washington Avenue, Scranton, PA  18503-2018

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Steamtown National Historic Site; 150 South Washington Avenue; Scranton, PA 18503-2018. 888-693-9391. 

For internet or GPS driving directions, use 350 Cliff Street; Scranton, PA  18503-2018

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For internet or GPS directions, use: 350 Cliff Street; Scranton, PA  18503-2018

From Interstate 81:  Exit 185, Central Scranton Expressway;  Left at first light,  Jefferson Ave.;  Bear right onto Lackawanna Avenue; Continue for 6 blocks and turn Left onto Cliff Street just past the bus station;  continue under the railroad bridge to the Steamtown National Historic Site parking lot.

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For More Information

Visit the National Park Service website at 

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