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Steamtown National Historic Site Schedules Leaf Peeper Excursions in the Poconos


Steamtown's CN3254 steam locomotive roars under a signal bridge. NPS photo by Ken Ganz.

Steamtown National Historic Site has scheduled steam-powered train trips in the Pocono Mountains during the fall foliage season. Critics have loudly complained about Steamtown’s sparse excursion schedule, but there’s little to dislike about these leaf peeper outings.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is at its scenic best during the fall foliage season, so it makes good sense for Steamtown to schedule leaf peeper excursions. This fall there will be eight steam-powered train trips departing from the downtown Scranton park and chugging to two popular destinations in the Poconos.

Excursions to Moscow will depart the Steamtown NHS boarding platform at 1:00 p.m. on October 5, 12, 18 and 26, and are expected to return at 3:00 p.m. The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Chapter, NRHS, which leases the former Moscow passenger station and freight house [see accompanying photo], will offer light refreshments for sale during the train’s layover. Moscow excursion tickets are priced at $21.00 for adults 17 to 61, $19.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $15.00 for children aged 6-16. Children 5 and younger require a “no-charge” ticket.

Excursions to Tobyhanna, a village [pop. 6,152] atop the Pocono Mountains, are planned for October 4, 11, 19 and 25. The Coolbaugh Township Historical Association and the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority will conduct brief walking tours during the one-hour layovers, and will have also feature light refreshments for sale. Additionally, the October 19 excursion will include a brief layover at the Gouldsboro Station. Departure from the Steamtown NHS boarding platform is 11:00 a.m., with an expected 3:00 p.m. return. Ticket prices for the Tobyhanna excursion are $31.00 for adults 17 to 61, $26.00 for seniors 62 and older, and $20.00 for children ages 6-16. Children 5 and younger require a “no-charge” ticket.

These leaf peeping excursions offer high quality, family friendly recreation at affordable prices, so booking them solid should be a fairly simple matter. The real challenge may be to find some way to do this sort of thing more often.

Steamtown has been in the news a good bit lately, and it’s not the kind of publicity the Park Service likes. Steamtown’s disappointing attendance and chronic budgetary woes have prompted calls for privatization, with some critics loudly insisting that Steamtown's annual schedule of excursions is far too light, and that the park must schedule excursions on a more frequent basis throughout the year if the park is to reverse its declining attendance trend and generate a healthy cash flow.

Whether and to what degree this might happen remains to be seen. Steamtown’s defenders vigorously oppose privatization and insist that visitor activities should remain primarily focused on the park’s downtown Scranton site. The battle of words continues. Meanwhile, Steamtown’s leaf peeper excursions in the Poconos are primed for fall fun.


Northeast PA, specifically Scranton, has been known lately more for being the hometowns of Biden and Clinton and maybe for "The Office," but once upon a time Steamtown was it's claim to fame. As a local, I can see something needs to be done with's a sad site, and very pathetic how it's barely noticed anymore. Maybe some successful leaf peeper excursions will revive the floundering historical site. Get out on that train, folks!!!!

It's barely noticed because there are many other far more interesting and compelling places that tourists can visit than this drab corner of the formerly industrial Northeast. Empty factories and forlorn streets full of shuttered businesses might catch the notice of a black & white photographer looking for ample subject matter but beyond that this area is about as enticing as a cloudy day in Jersey City.

Ouch! Does Scranton really look that bad from the outside? Seriously...Jersey City? We can't possibly be worse than that. It's not as hip as some places, but it's trying.

I almost grew up in Steamtown when it was in Bellows Falls. I used to climb all over the trains, my father has endless hours of 8mm film of trains. I've yet to make it to the "new" location but my father just returned from a trip there. As a steam fanatic he will go again and maybe I'll make a weekend trip there sometime but he claims that the National Historic Site is a pale shadow of the Vermont attraction. While Bellows falls was a gorgeous location (right on the Connecticut River (remember the Steam Launch?)) I understand the collection in Scranton does not compare to what was in Vermont. If the National Park Service is going to do a Steam Train museum then do it right. (How about a Smithsonian Steam Train Museum?).

"Meet me at the Station"

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