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Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a world class museum of railroad history in Strasburg, PA.

Learning in Motion.Railroad

Learning about railroad history is fun!


The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of education programs. The Railway Education Center is the center of a learning program for all ages. Learning may be accomplished by means ranging from casual visitation to structured programs. Scout and class group visits and distance learning are also available.

Many youngsters (and some adults too) think that Thomas the Tank represents the reality of railroading. Thomas has contributed greatly to a rekindling of interest in the subject, but railroading is so much more, and it is our challenge to tell the full story. Indeed, the story includes civil engineering triumphs, the geographic expansion of our nation, human and political drama, and the economic impact of an industry whose effects are often not realized.

Teaching Aids and History Education Resources

The web provides many excellent resources for teaching about historical subjects. The following include materials on our web site and others that should be helpful to teachers and students.

  • Kids Corner, our online source for coloring sheets and basic information for youngsters. Now includes How Steam Engines Work.
  • Railroads in Society, our special section dealing with the role women, African-Americans, and governmental and economic factors.
  • Real Railroaders, pictures of them and the jobs they performed.
  • Railroad History Timeline, 1791-today. Our authoritative summary of significant events in the development of American Railroading.
  • Railroads Today. American railroads today are very active and important economic forces. You depend on them more than you think! See what's happening, as history continues being made!
  • Railroads and Music. Railroads have long inspired music. Hear music and see links to information about it.
  • American Memory Project of the Library of Congress presents historical collections for the National Digital Library, including maps, manuscripts, photos, sound recordings.... On their Collections page, search for "railroads" for hundreds of fascinating items. (Opens in a separate window.)
  • "History Matters" provides high school and college teachers a skillfully developed starting point for navigating U. S. history on the Web. (Opens in a separate window.)
  • Historical Articles from Milepost, the Friends of the Museum's quarterly journal. Scholarly research.
  • Alvin All-Star Railroad, a fine example of how railroads can be taught in the classroom. This site is designed to teach social studies, local history, and science content to a third grade class under the umbrella of railroading. (Opens in a separate window.)
  • Tracing relatives who used to work for a railroad? It is not easy, but we've assembled suggestions for the serious researcher.
  • Our own Links Page lists a number of railroad-related web sites, including those of today's railroads and railroad magazines.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine? See his own web site which includes material your students may be familiar with, and some things to do. Thomas sometimes operates on the Strasburg Rail Road here in Strasburg. But remember, there's more to the story of railroading than Thomas! (Opens in a separate window.)
  • More information about Thomas appearances.
  • Teens on the Road in the Great Depression. A PBS film. At the height of the Great Depression, more than a quarter million teenagers were living on the road in America, many criss-crossing the country by illegally hopping freight trains. This film tells the story of ten of these teenage hobos -- from the reasons they left home to what they experienced -- all within the context of depression-era America.
Railway Education Center
  Stewart Junction.
A great place for hands on, structured, or casual visits by children of all ages. Visit the hub of our exciting programs.
Visit Kids Corner
  Activities page to print and do.  
Education Programs Booklet
  Lots of carefully designed learning experiences! How to sign up for structured visits, scout and class programs.
See our Education Programs booklet.
Distance Learning
  We can come to you! School outreach programs are now available for all age levels. Described in our Education Programs booklet above, or take a peek!  
Lesson Plans with Things to Do
  Teacher's Guide for Railroad History -- topics, assignments, terminology. (PDF, quick download)
RR Safety and Signals (Grades 3 - 6, 622K PDF file, allow download time)
Learning from Artifacts, PDF, preparation for a visit and in the classroom.
  New Curricula Guides  
  Primary Grades
Middle Level
High School
Background Reading
  Background on the Museum and railway history of Pennsylvania, for student reading assignment before visiting the Museum.
History and Magic of Railroads story.
Railroad Music
  Music has been a traditional part of railroad history and lore. Listen to some favorites here.  
Education Leaflet
  Print out a PDF with brief overview of our educational opportunities here.
(For more details, view the Education Programs Booklet listed above.)

Railroad Badge.
Railroading Merit Badge Program

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Administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Assisted by the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
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