Welcome to Photo Line! RailCamp is a week-long program held at Steamtown National Historic Site sponsored by the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS). The camp is designed to provide a rail history preservation background, and an introduction to railroad operations and career opportunities, geared towards high school students. It is an excellent forum for young adults with similar interests to learn about the rail history movement while sharing ideas with peers from other parts of North America. For more information visit their website. Mark Blackwell, a veteran of both the Steamtown and Nevada Northern RailCamp programs since 2006, takes us through some of the highlights of this year's progam at Steamtown.
Lackawanna Anthracite Coal Mine Tour
The miner's lantern lights the way for campers as they take a tour of the Lackawanna Anthracite Coal Mines. Here they learned about exactly why the railraods came to Scranton: To haul the hard, clean- burning anthracite coal that fueled the fast expansion and development of American industry.
Steam locomotives from a different perspective
Looking out from Canadian National 3254 in the pits of Steamtown's roundhouse we can see Canadian Pacific 2317. Campers crawled under these locomotives to learn what inspections must be done daily to keep they rolling down the rails. These two locomotives have been the backbone of the operating fleet for many years.
Learning the tricks of the trade
Alex Polimeni climbs out of the cab after learning tips on keeping a good fire. We learned that to keep a steam locomotive running at peak efficiency, you need to pay attention to steam pressure and water levels in addition to keeping a hot fire. Alex is now in his second year as a RailCamp counselor after attending both the Steamtown and Nevada Northern programs.
Getting some throttle time on scaled-down steamers
Camper Benton Schwartz takes Seth Corwin's live steamer for a spin around the Scranton shops. While the scaled-down version of a live steam locomotive is a great experience, campers also get the chance to operate life-size diesels as well.
Steam locomotives from the inside, out
William Cate of the Indiana Transportation Museum and two campers inspect the new stay bolts inside Baldwin 0-6-0 No. 26. This small switcher has undergone a multi-year restoration at the Steamtown shops, which included a new all-welded boiler that should extend its service life for years to come. Campers learned of the different FRA regulations governing the operation and inspection of steam engines throughout the week.
The view from inside a steam locomotive
Kevin Phalon is seen in the engineer's seat of CN 3254 prior to the day's regular runs. Many of the campers were given cab rides on the "Scranton Limited" trains to experience first hand what its like to run and fire a steam locomotive.
Keeping trains on the right track
Steamtown Employee Willy Sturdevant leads campers through the Steamtown yards where they learn how to inspect track for flaws. Inspecting the tracks is just one of the crucial safety jobs essential to a successful railroad operation.
Talkin' about trains...
Campers learned how to interpret th ehistory of the railroad equipment in a way that is interesting and engaing to the public. The idea is to communicate how important the railroads were to America's growth, and the important role they still play today. It's easy to understand if you already have an interest in railroads, but it might take a little more careful explanation to the general public.
Your chance at the throttle is coming...
Camper Conner Schiro watches a Nickel Plate GP-9 passes by with the yard shuttle, maybe imagining what it would be like to sit in the right-hand seat and operate! He wouldn't have to wonder for too long, as part of the RailCamp experience included hands-on training in the operation of NKP 514.
Campers gather at the turntable
All 24 campers line up to watch the 514 turned on the turntable. One of the best parts of NRHS RailCamp is that it brings kids with common interests from all over the country together to learn about railroads and preservation.