Steamtown National Historic Site - Atlas Obscura

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Steamtown National Historic Site

The train collection of an eccentric New England seafood mogul is now a National Historical Site. 

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The Steamtown National Historic Site is a museum and active railyard operated by the National Parks Service in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania. The museum features a roundhouse with a working turntable, several outbuildings, exhibits, a theater, and an impressive collection of locomotives, train cars, and railroad equipment.

Steamtown was built on a defunct railyard of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. Many of the outbuildings date to the time when this was an active hub for the DL&W railroad, and the main roundhouse was constructed on the remnants of a 1932 roundhouse.

Much of the collection was amassed by F. Nelson Blount, a wealthy New England seafood processor and railroad enthusiast. In 1964, Blount established Steamtown USA in Bellows Falls, Vermont, as a museum and railroad excursion business.

Twenty years later, Steamtown was moved to Scranton following declining visitor numbers and problems with Vermont’s air quality regulations. The city of Scranton helped fund the move to help with the city’s urban development. However, the museum remained poorly attended and soon was facing bankruptcy.

In 1986, U.S. Representative and Scranton native Joseph McDade pushed for Steamtown to receive $8 million in federal funding and turn the museum into a national historic site. Steamtown has faced questions about its historical value and worthiness as a national historic site but remains under the control of the National Parks System.

Over time, the collection has changed, with some locomotives deemed of lesser historic value being sold off and replaced with other pieces. During the spring, summer, and autumn, Steamtown offers train rides.

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November 30, 2023

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