Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pennsylvania short line tour railroad, the Strasburg Rail Road. The road is barely five miles and it was sold to enthusiasts in 1959 after storms damaged a section of track. And the road probably was utterly unprofitable. The story goes that the folks started hitching rides through Amish country with lawn chairs on flatbed rail cars, and someone realized that this could be a real business.
The road is charming, and I recommend it and the nearby museum to anyone visiting the Lancaster, PA, region. The experience probably is fully authentic, right down to the soot from the engine. Soot on your clothes, soot in your mouth, soot soot soot. Charming for one day, but it really brings home just how bad a neighbor the railroads were circa 1910. When we got to within a few miles of the rail road we knew we were in the right place based simply on the plume of black smoke wafting over the countryside. The road connects with the Philadelphia main line (although there presently is no stop), it has one siding, and it boasts of being the only place in North America where two steam trains regularly are scheduled to pass!