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July 6, 2020
Strasburg Rail Road: Combining history, luxury, and playfulness.
Kids love trains for their boisterousness; the thunderous roar of steam and engine, the clank and bang of moving metal, the speed of a new journey unfolding. But for adults, trains offer something a little different; respite. An effortless and steady roll through familiar landscapes–a pause–a moment to reflect in silence among the chaos of the world. Strasburg Rail Road perfectly cultivates both of these experiences with an expert blend of history, luxury, and playfulness that children and grownups alike find hard to forget.
It all began in 1832, when Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a charter for a small rail line connecting Strasburg to the main tracks, which carried passengers and freight throughout Central Pennsylvania. It operated seamlessly for nearly a hundred years, until an increase in automobile travel and electric trolleys left the line neglected and badly damaged. Luckily, in 1957, 24 rail fans and industrialists scraped together funds to salvage the tracks. And by 1960, their purchase and restoration of multiple historic coaches began attracting folks from all over the country (with burgeoning interest in the Amish) to take rides through the scenic Lancaster countryside. Strasburg Rail Road is still continuing this extraordinary legacy more than sixty years later.
Lancastrians may already be familiar with the youth events Strasburg Rail Road hosts, such as their “Day Out With Thomas” or “Santa’s Christmas Trolley”, but Steve Barrall, Vice President of Guest Experiences, heartily encourages them to explore excursions offered for more mature audiences.
The Wine and Cheese Train, for example, offers a 45 minute outing through Lancaster’s pastoral terrain that replicates the decadence of dining aboard real first class cars, which have been expertly restored by in-house craftsmen. It’s the perfect opportunity to slow down, unwind, and engage in conversation with loved ones and friends.
“We really do just need time to disconnect, from work life from the busy-ness of what’s around us, and instead just connect with the people that mean the most to us,” says Steve. “Back in the early 1900’s, if you wanted to connect with folks, you wouldn’t jump on a zoom meeting. You’d jump on a train!”
Safety has become a top priority for Strasburg Rail Road in the wake of COVID-19. In July, reservations for the Wine and Cheese train must be made in advance on their website: strasburgrailroad.com.