Between 1959 and 1964 the Reading Railroad operated 59 separate trips for steam enthusiasts the length and breadth of their system. Bill McClellan and his son Rob were on hand to record most of them. Here are 22 of the very best of those excursions. These ranged from Philadelphia to Wilmington along the banks of the Brandywine River, without doubt one of the most scenic of all the Reading Rambles. Others started in New York and were brought to Trenton by the Central of New Jersey.
Many went to Gettysburg; others to Hershey. But the most interesting trips were of course into the coal country – the reason for the Reading’s existence. To tame the mountain grades, the railroad featured double-headed T-1s, often joining two steam-powered sections from different ends of the Reading system to explore the lines north to Tamaqua, Shamokin and West Milton. Among the locomotives you’ll see is T-1 2124 dubbed “the Queen of the Iron Horse Rambles”.
T-1s were freight engines and the “hooter” freight whistle was standard equipment. When revived for passenger service many received the melodious four chime passenger whistles. On many of the double-headed trips there is a continuing ‘conversation’ between the two engines, their two different whistles blending in a lonesome evocation of the days of real steam operations. Throughout the film a variety of Reading diesel engines are seen in the background: covered wagons, RS-1s and 3s and low-nose hoods. There’s even a Heisler bustling around a local industry yard. The tape ends in a roaring salute to steam as a storm of doubleheaders thunder across meadow and mountain, from the first green of Spring to the last blaze of Autumn.
Narration. Sunday River Productions programs may feature Color film, B&W film, Music, Dubbed Sound and still photos.
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