August 26 – Reading Railroad Heritage Museum (ONP #238)

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Did not take a ride on the Reading today. Did not pass Go. Did not collect $200.

Nope, no ride. The trains at this museum here in Hamburg, PA, are permanently parked. But we did get a tour that took us off the Monopoly board and into the yard to see the large variety of engines and cars that belonged to the Reading RR line over the decades. We even got to clamber around in a caboose.

You know, I don’t think I would have gone to this museum if it hadn’t been for this One New Place project. It’s not like I am wild and crazy about trains, especially in the specialized way that a museum dedicated to just ONE train company promises. But I needed a New Place today, and the museum was close, and I had never been there. In the end I am glad I went (isn’t that always the case?).

I did learn a lot about trains, and the museum did an especially great job connecting the rise and fall of the Reading RR to so many trends in US History, especially the rise of the steel industry, locally, and the mining of the coal just north of here in “coal country.” Since so much of the history was local, it also gave context to some of my personal memories too:  seeing and hearing the trains rumble along the RR tracks behind our property when I was growing up, taking a ride on a steam engine with my train-enthusiast grandfather (who always wore a train engineer’s hat on his head), eating boxes of “coal candy” given to my dad by the Sales Rep from Lehigh Coal Company.

I didn’t realize that some of these New Places would circle me around to my own back yard. . .