NEPA Scene Staff

Railfest hosts train rides, demonstrations, music, movies, mysteries, and more in Scranton Sept. 2-3

Railfest hosts train rides, demonstrations, music, movies, mysteries, and more in Scranton Sept. 2-3
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From a press release:

Railfest is a celebration of railroading past, present, and future that is held annually on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend at the Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton. This year, the event takes place on Sept. 2-3, with an opening ceremony on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. presented by park Superintendent Debbie Conway.

The theme for 2017 is “Transition from Steam to Diesel.” The superintendent will also introduce this year’s Grand Marshal, Tom Nemeth, editor and publisher of Railpace magazine. Nemeth, who retired from Union Carbide as a packaging engineer, has also edited and published several books on eastern railroads. He resides at Lake Wallenpaupack.

The National Park Service site works with numerous partners to present this end-of-summer event, which is a celebration of railroading that features themed displays, special shop demonstrations and, of course, train rides on both days of the event.

Additional railfan-related entertainment in the Scranton area will include:

  • Railfan movies at the Circle Drive-In (1911 Scranton Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Lackawanna Historical Society in Scranton. For more information, call 570-344-3841 or e-mail
  • The Johnny Cash Experience featuring David Stone will perform a free concert on Friday, Sept. 1 at the Steamtown NHS Theater from 7:30-9 p.m. as part of Scranton’s “First Friday” event. Stone will also perform during the two-day Railfest event at the park, accompanying park staff during live demonstrations of the “Ring of Fire” locomotive tire replacement exhibit.
  • The Erie-Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society in Dunmore will present “A Speakeasy and a Mystery with Dinner” after-hour events on Friday, Sept. 1 and Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton. For more information, visit
  • Jay Smar, a traditional American folk singer, will perform on both days of the Railfest event in the Steamtown Theater.

A 7,500-pound 1925 Whitcomb gasoline-powered locomotive, courtesy of the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, will be a featured display. Onsite activities include maintenance-of-way and hand (pump) car rides, World War I presentations by Mark Nickerson, blacksmithing demonstrations, locomotive shop demonstrations with park preservation specialists, an exhibit of railroad photographs by Dennis Livesly, an art exhibit by Mark Perry and, of course, visits by “Miss Phoebe Snow.” Children’s activities include 1/8-inch scale steam train rides, O- and N-gauge model train layouts, magicians, and a “selfie” photo booth.

There will be excursions to Moscow on each event day. The trips will operate with historic diesel locomotives. The excursions will depart the Steamtown Boarding Platform at 12:30 p.m., with a planned return to the park at approximately 3 p.m. Excursion fares are $24 for adults 16-61, $22 for seniors 62 and older, and $17 for children ages 6-15 and include the park’s daily entrance fee. Children 5 and younger accompanied by an adult require a “no-charge” ticket.

All Railfest activities and programs are included in the park’s $7 daily entrance fee for visitors age 16 and older. Fares for the “Scranton Limited” short train rides are $5 per person, all ages 6 and older, in addition to the park entrance fee. All children must be accompanied by an adult. More information about Railfest 2017 is available at

Other event partners include Lackawanna County’s Electric City Trolley Museum, which will offer an expanded schedule of trolley rides along a portion of the former Laurel Line. Remember to bring along your appetite for great Italian food and treats as La Festa Italiana takes place at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton. The County of Lackawanna Transit System will provide free shuttle service between the Steamtown NHS, the Scranton Iron Furnace State Park, and La Festa during the park’s operating hours on both days. For more information on the Trolley Museum, call 570-963-6590; information on La Festa Italiana is available at

The Steamtown NHS (350 Cliff St., Scranton) is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. From I-81, follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway), then follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67). General park information is available by calling 570-340-5204 during regular business hours or by visiting the park website.

Photo by NPS/Kenny Ganz