America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Reading Railroad Museum and the Reading Phils
We're going to give you two, yes two, sites that tell the story of one city, and make a great day to visit history, in its railroad form, and baseball, in a current form with a rich history all its own in minor league baseball. So pack up a cooler or just a carload of adults and kids to travel along Route 61 in east/central Pennsylvania and visit the Reading Railroad and the Reading Phils. Make a day of it, learn something that tells the story of coal and transportation, then say, play ball. Photo above: Banners of the railroad inside the museum.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Reading Railroad Museum and Reading Fightin Phils
Just north of Reading, only 14 miles and 20 minutes from the baseball park and city of its namesake railway sits a five year old museum that's a labor of history and lore for the men and women who run it. Yes, the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum is now in Hamburg, Pennsylvania just off Route 61 and not far from Cabela's, plus right next to a new trailhead for the Schuylkill River Heritage Trail. And its location, if not its name, has as much to do with the cities north of Reading through the coal mining towns of Pennsylvania, as it does to the namesake city, as the line was founded back in 1833 to take anthracite coal from the mines to market. And eventually lead to its place amongst the most important reasons for the success of the industrial revolution, plus a location on that monopoly board.
But don't expect this museum, sitting on 7.5 acres of land, to be a dull place of still photos. Expect a railyard of steel behemoths in transition from rust to reign as they transform a patch of industrial ground into an attraction that tells the story of the Reading.
You'll begin with a 15 minute film, well done by any measure, in an air-conditioned theatre for 60 (so you can bring a group from school or otherwise) followed by exhibits and the yard tour. It's a growing site with lots of plans and goals to accomplish. Get on the ground floor, or perhaps a bit on the second step, and visit the Reading Railroad and its history.
As of right now, the museum and yard tour are available solely on weekends. It can be opened on other days for school groups, etc., so give them a call. Expect to spend about an hour and a half at the museum, maybe a little more, depending on your love of railroad history.
Whether you are a train buff, a monopoly player, or just someone who loves to find gems of historic attractions to visit, go to this growing museum on the history of the Reading and take their yard tour. The Reading Railroad Heritage Museum is a great example of how enthusiatic historians can make something special happen one track at a time.
Photo above: First Energy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin Phils. Photo below: Exterior exhibit at the Reading Railroad Museum.
Where Is It
Reading Railroad Museum. Not hard at all. If you're coming from I-78, take Route 61 south a couple miles. If you go north, you go to Cabela's. The museum is located at 500 S. 3rd Street, Hamburg, Pa. 19526, which is a left hand turn off Route 61 at the first traffic light. There's not a lot of signs to the site as of yet, but you can get easy directions on mapquest.com or other tour direction sites.
What is There Now
Reading Railroad Museum
7.5. acres of railyard.
A 15 minute film on the history of the railroad.
Exhibits and a museum store.
Parking along the street as well as in the Schuylkill River Heritage Trail trailhead right next door.
When Did It Open
The Reading Railroad Heritage Museum opened in 2008. Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays.
How Much to Visit
$7 - Adults
$6 - Senior
$3 - Children 5-12
Free - Under 5
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Reading Railroad Heritage Museum
Schuylkill River Heritage Trail and River, part of the National Park Service Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area, which meets up with the Appalachian Trail. Cabela's (Yes, a store, but with an acquarium, plus domestic and exotic animal exhibits). Hawk Mountain. Lancaster and its Amish culture, including the Landis Valley Museum and other attractions.
Photo above: Appalachian Trail near Hawk Mountain.