Best Vintage Rides in East

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Joined
May 1, 2017
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1,105
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Where are the best places in the Eastern US to experience riding the rails in vintage 1940s and 50s rolling stock that is pretty much in its original configuration? Ideally somewhat accessible by intercity rail or other modes.

I'm not talking about stock that is refurbished to modern standards but is essentially restored as it was in the heyday. And ideally, yes, operational is ideal but static displays are ok on a secondary level.

I've yet to visit Steamtown and imagine that would be a good experience but it's not easily accessible from Pittsburgh. I'm not into driving long distances anymore. I've been on the Strasburg RR but that's older than I'm thinking anyway.

I do intend to take The Canadian again (have done it twice previously, last being 1987) but it's more "updated" now than what I'm talking about.

Yeah, specific taste, I know. Any thoughts are appreciated.

*Edit: Excursions and museums.
 
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Where are the best places in the Eastern US to experience riding the rails in vintage 1940s and 50s rolling stock that is pretty much in its original configuration? Ideally somewhat accessible by intercity rail or other modes.

I'm not talking about stock that is refurbished to modern standards but is essentially restored as it was in the heyday. And ideally, yes, operational is ideal but static displays are ok on a secondary level.

I've yet to visit Steamtown and imagine that would be a good experience but it's not easily accessible from Pittsburgh. I'm not into driving long distances anymore. I've been on the Strasburg RR but that's older than I'm thinking anyway.

I do intend to take The Canadian again (have done it twice previously, last being 1987) but it's more "updated" now than what I'm talking about.

Yeah, specific taste, I know. Any thoughts are appreciated.
When you did the Strasburg RR did you also visit the museum across the street?
 
Reading Blue Mountain & Northern.
https://www.amtraktrains.com/thread...d-northern-steam-excursion-behind-2102.83629/
https://www.rbmnrr-passenger.com/
The coaches are more 1930's commuter coaches, one of the dome cars has been modified, but they also run RDCs.

A ride up the Hudson in Hickory Creek or NYC Tavern-Lounge 43
https://www.hudsonriverrail.com/
https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/hickory-creek-excursion.85065/
These cars are probably restored close to the original, and they are attached to An Amtrak Empire Service train and go 80, 90, and even 100+ mph. One problem with a lot of heritage lines is that the trains run real slow. These rides are real popular and you have to be prepared to hustle online and get the tickets as soon as they become available. It's a whole day trip, and they give you a good meal and serve drinks all day, too.

Northern Central Railway of York (Pa).
https://www.northerncentralrailway.com/train-cars/

In addition to their replica circa 1863 steam trains, they also are now running Pacific Trail (a reclining seat coach) and Overland Trail (a club-Lounge car). I rode on Pacific Trail a couple of years ago when it was operated on the Western Maryland Scenic railway.

https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/western-maryland-scenic-railroad.82976/
https://wmsr.com/

Or, what the heck, just take a ride on the Northeast Regional, Keystone Services, Empire Service, Vermonter, Ethan Allen, or Carolinian. Those Amfleet 1 cars may not be 1950's vintage, but they are almost 50 years old and still running strong.
 
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It's not in the East but the Illinois Railway Museum in Union IL (outside of Chicago) has some equipment from that time. The Zephyr set, is an articulated streamline set, the Electroliner will be in operation again soon, and they have a lovely set of CB&Q Bi-Levels. That's in addition to electric interurbans, a steam train, and lots of trolleys that operate as well. If you can plan a trip during "Members Weekend" or another event weekend, you can ride on a crazy amount of historic equipment. Very fun.

Strasburg is one of my favorite places to visit - honestly much better than Steamtown although Steamtown is worth the visit.

Western Maryland in Cumberland MD is a nice trip that might fit what you are looking for.
 
It's not in the East but the Illinois Railway Museum in Union IL (outside of Chicago) has some equipment from that time. The Zephyr set, is an articulated streamline set, the Electroliner will be in operation again soon, and they have a lovely set of CB&Q Bi-Levels. That's in addition to electric interurbans, a steam train, and lots of trolleys that operate as well. If you can plan a trip during "Members Weekend" or another event weekend, you can ride on a crazy amount of historic equipment. Very fun.

Strasburg is one of my favorite places to visit - honestly much better than Steamtown although Steamtown is worth the visit.

Western Maryland in Cumberland MD is a nice trip that might fit what you are looking visited

It's not in the East but the Illinois Railway Museum in Union IL (outside of Chicago) has some equipment from that time. The Zephyr set, is an articulated streamline set, the Electroliner will be in operation again soon, and they have a lovely set of CB&Q Bi-Levels. That's in addition to electric interurbans, a steam train, and lots of trolleys that operate as well. If you can plan a trip during "Members Weekend" or another event weekend, you can ride on a crazy amount of historic equipment. Very fun.

Strasburg is one of my favorite places to visit - honestly much better than Steamtown although Steamtown is worth the visit.

Western Maryland in Cumberland MD is a nice trip that might fit what you are looking for.
Visited the Illinois museum years ago and at the time it was great and plan to revisit sometime. Looks like it's only stepped up it's game.
 
Visited the Illinois museum years ago and at the time it was great and plan to revisit sometime. Looks like it's only stepped up it's game.
They really have. Couple years ago I managed to visit during the "RPO" weekend and got to see the RPO car demonstrated. Really cool - I've never seen one in operation before. Make sure to check out the "event weekends" and try to hit one of those. I think last year they ran steam trains all night long during the members weekend - they do some really fun stuff.
 
Valley RR in Essex CT runs a heavyweight ex NH Parlor car "Great Republic" which is a great ride for experiencing first class travel in the golden age of railroading. I guess a heavyweight car is more typical or an earlier era but I believe these cars lasted into the 1950s on many railroads.

Not the best picture but gives you an idea of the interior
valley_rr_great_republic.jpg
 
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