Steam Engines Stalled For Holiday Trips

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SCRANTON -- Trains that are part of a holiday tradition in Lackawanna County are out of commission. The Steamtown National Historic Site has announced that some of its century-old steam locomotives need repair.  That means this year's holiday train trips have been cancelled.

Hundreds of people go on the holiday train excursions in November and December each year. They leave from the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton and head to stations in Moscow and Gouldsboro.

The holiday trips are a big money maker for Steamtown and a few other organizations, but this year all of the old steam locomotives are out of commission.

With the help of modern day technology, mechanics are following a century-old design to get a steam locomotive back in working order.  They have a long list of repairs to make. That led officials at Steamtown National Historic Site to stall some of the most popular train excursions.

"Like old cars and old homes, the more work you do, the more work you have to do on it. It's down. It just wasn't worth the resources to try and get it out for another year or two," said John Mucha at Steamtown National Historic Site.

Mucha says during a good year, Steamtown has two or three locomotives taking passengers across Lackawanna County. But now, all of the site's steam engines are out of commission, so the annual holiday train rides that run between Thanksgiving and Christmas will not happen this year.

No steam locomotives means no steam heat in the passenger cars, so the folks at Steamtown were worried about passengers' comfort when they run trains in the middle of December.

"When we run the mainline steamers on the average with about six cars, we go through about 6,500 gallons of water and about six tons of coal," Mucha said.

The historic site couldn't spare those resources while spending so much on train maintenance but, no holiday train means a huge loss of resources for another railway organization.

"We are really landlocked at this point. Without Steamtown, this is really a tough operation," said Roy Pauli of the National Railway Historical Society.

Vee and Roy Pauli run the Moscow train station where santa always welcomes holiday train riders.  Without the revenue made in December, they say they'll struggle to keep the station open and it's already been a slow year.

"Without steam, attendance, ridership has been way down. We had one Saturday that we only had 80 people on the train and we used to average a good 300," Vee Pauli said.

Folks at the Steamtown National Historic Site say they still have use of their diesel trains and will use those for the annual fall foliage trips and to make up for the holiday train, they plan to host a holiday event at the museum this December.