Autumn Steams Into Steamtown! All Aboard!

Imagine getting underway on this train at Steamtown National Historic Site. This autumn is the time to do it! NPS Photo.

Come fall in Pennsylvania the hardwood forests glow orange, red, and yellow as the air takes on a crispness that blankets the Poconos with the smells of autumn. Board one of Steamtown National Historic Site's special fall excursion runs through this brilliant countryside and you can feast your eyes on the colors of the season in the comfort of a coach.

Through October the folks at Steamtown have lined up a series of excursion trains that will chug from their railyards in Scranton, Pennsylvania, into the Poconos.

* Five steam-powered trips -- on October 6, 13th, 14th, 21st, and 27th -- will head to Moscow. Once you arrive at the station, you'll have time to explore the area and enjoy refreshments made available by The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, which leases the former Lackawanna Railroad depot.

Tickets for this excursion, which departs the Steamtown boarding platform at 12:30 pm., are priced at $24 for adults 16 to 61, $22 for seniors 62 and older, and $17 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a "no-charge" ticket. The trains are scheduled to return to Steamtown at 3:15 p.m.

* A special diesel-powered excursion to Gouldsboro will be offered on October 7. This excursion will be Great Gatsby themed and will feature 1920s music and costumed characters dressed as prohibition agent Eliot Ness, gangster Al Capone, and “flappers.”

During the layover in Gouldsboro you'll have time to explore the small station museum that tracks Gouldsboro’s development, pose with the characters for photographs, and purchase refreshments. On the return run to Steamtown the train will make a brief stop at the Tobyhanna Station.

The train departs from Steamtown at 11 a.m. and is expected to return at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for the Great Gatsby excursion are $34 for adults 16 to 61, $29 for seniors 62 and older, and $22 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a “no-charge” ticket.

* The last of the fall foliage excursions is a trip to Tobyhanna on October 30. Upon arrival in Tobyhanna, Lackawanna Heritage Valley Ambassador Dominic Keating will conduct a 45-minute walking tour of a historic mill that was built as a wagon factory in 1871. The facility also served the Tobyhanna region as a silk mill and, later, a machine shop that claims to have manufactured the first electric tooth brush in the country. The mill is currently in the process of being converted into a Classic Car Museum.

The walking tour will happen rain or shine. The train departs from the Steamtown platform at 11 a.m. and is expected to return at 3 p.m. Tickets are $34 for adults 16 to 61, $29 for seniors 62 and older, and $22 for children aged 6-15. Children 5 and younger require a “no-charge” ticket.

“Fall foliage excursions are very popular and can sell out early; reservations are strongly recommended," says Mark Brennan, Steamtown's chief of visitor services. "Reservations must be pre-paid, and tickets are non-refundable unless Park Management cancels an excursion."

If you have extra time, or can't arrange your schedule to make one of these excursion trips, a visit to Steamtown's 40 acres any time of year is worth it. A unit of the National Park System since 1995, the historic site stands on the Scranton railroad yard of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.

The focal point of the historic site is its museum, which features an amazing collection of locomotives, passenger, and freight cars. You'll also find a working turntable and roadhouse and several original outbuildings from the old DL&W facility.

Another option to one of the fall excursion trips would be to hop aboard Steamtown's regulary scheduled Scranton Limited rides, which run Wednesday through Sunday until October 31 (with an additional run scheduled for Columbus Day, Monday, October 8). These 30-minute rides depart from Steamtown at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 2:15 p.m. Tickets for the Limited run $5 in addition to the regular park admission rate of $7 for visitors 16 and older. Children 15 and under, when accompanied by an adult, are admitted free of charge.

Located in downtown Scranton, Steamtown is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the main entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the park website.

To read a fascinating history of the park’s railroad equipment check out the online book, Steam Over Scranton: The Locomotives of Steamtown—A Special History Study.