The Museum will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2024.

Today’s Hours: Closed

About the Museum

What’s in a name? Actually, quite a bit. We are the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, not the “Pennsylvania Railroad Museum” or some other variation of the name. We do not just focus on the Pennsylvania Railroad, but all railroads that serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, past, and present. We are a Museum devoted to telling the rich stories of railroading in the Commonwealth, including not just the railroads themselves, but also its manufacturers, its support industries, its workers, and its travelers – then and now.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was created by an act of the state legislature (1963), with a site selected in Strasburg, Lancaster County (1965). Very gradually, the Museum began acquiring its first locomotives and railroad cars, as early as the mid-to-late 1960s. The first phase of Museum construction yielded the installation of a 100-foot ex-Reading Company turntable and yard tracks (1970-1971), while the second phase saw the completion of the Museum building (1972-1974). In April 1975, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania opened to the public, the first structure in North America built specifically as a railroad Museum.

 

The non-profit Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was chartered to provide support for education, restoration, and fundraising projects (1983). A successful capital fund drive yielded a 45,000-square-foot addition to the main exhibit hall that was reminiscent of an arched urban train shed of the late 19th century (1995). Gradually, the 1915-era “Golden Age of Railroading” Street Scene was constructed indoors, with the addition of Steinman Station, a re-created early 20th-century passenger depot (1988); Stewart Junction, an interactive railway education center for all ages (2000); and a furnished streetscape of five-period building vignettes (2004-2010). To better preserve a growing collection, a fully equipped restoration shop was added (1999). The Museum’s front entrance was remodeled, with a new lobby atrium and Museum store (2007), geothermal heating and air-conditioning were installed (2011), and new exhibits were added (2020).

Today, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania features a world-class collection of more than 100 historically significant locomotives and railroad cars – made and/or operated in Pennsylvania – as well as a collection of more than half a million photographic images and documents, and nearly 20,000 smaller artifacts, including tools, uniforms, tickets, station signage, telegraphy and signaling equipment, works of art, and many other items related to railroads serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Created in 1945, the PHMC is responsible for the collection, conservation and interpretation of Pennsylvania’s historic heritage. The PHMC works in partnership with others to preserve the Commonwealth’s natural and cultural heritage as a steward, teacher and advocate for the people of Pennsylvania and the nation.

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Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

The Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (FRM) nonprofit membership organization has supported the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in many ways since 1983, including fundraising, advocacy, programming, marketing and volunteer and paid staff work, ranging from technology services to restoration of rolling stock, education and visitor services. Literally millions of dollars have been facilitated by the FRM for the growth and development of the world-class Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

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Smithsonian Affiliations Program Member

Smithsonian Affiliations
Program Member

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with Museums, educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a relationship among the affiliate organization and the Smithsonian Institution to create lasting experiences that educate, inspire and broaden perspectives on science, history, world culture and the arts.

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Mission Statement

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

A Railroad Treasure in the Heart of Lancaster County

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s mission is to preserve and interpret the Commonwealth’s rich railroad history to engage a broad and diverse audience and to educate the public about the role railroads played, past and present, in building our nation and shaping our daily lives.