The Everett Railroad is a small shortline railroad in central Pennsylvania with 23 miles of track and several moderately sized industrial customers. It’s a real Class III working railroad hauling short revenue freight trains a few times a week with old diesel engines. Freight cars of all types go in and out through an interchange with the Norfolk Southern at Hollidaysburg PA.
However, there’s a completely different and more fun side to the Everett Railroad: steam train rides!
They use a restored 2-6-0 Alco steam engine, a switcher built in 1923 which has been converted to burn oil, not coal. That means less smoke and none of the smell of burning coal and flying cinders unlike many other steam train rides will have. No matter, there’s plenty of steam powerful enough to haul a short string of passenger cars filled with happy tourists enjoying a ride behind a live antique steam locomotive 100 years old.
The enjoyable train ride goes through several small towns and out through the countryside in a scenic area of Pennsylvania’s Blair County called the Cove. It’s a farming valley dotted by many silos and covered in wide fields of corn, soy, and winter wheat. Low distant mountains frame the valley and the relaxing train ride can be rather spectacular in the colors of Fall.
The Everett railroad has corporate offices near Hollidaysburg, but in Hollidaysburg itself, they’ve built a small new modern station and gift shop with a large parking area for the steam train riders. New restroom facilities and a well-lit paved loading platform are there too.
The train crews are very helpful and accommodating; you can easily talk with any of them. There’s a real small-town feel to everything and the rides are mostly family orientated. After each return to the station, the crew takes time to let people pose for pictures with the steam engine and crew and it’s apparently a popular thing to do. It can be pretty exciting for the kids to get close to #11 after riding behind it.
That popularity goes much further. As of this writing, the numerous Santa Train rides over the weekends in November and December are all sold out ahead of time. In the Fall, Pumpkin Patch Trains are very well attended. There are many other kinds of themed rides throughout the year, such as the Easter Eggspress, the Hobo Express, the Valley Flyer, and more. Altogether, there are fifteen different themed rides to take on the Everett throughout the year. You can visit and find the train ride schedule at everettrailroad.com.
I’m glad to see this little railroad succeed in its friendly people-pleasing ways of offering steam train rides. That’s not easily accomplished: many of the tourist railroad situations are rather wobbly and often fail, yet the Everett Railroad has done it up very well and thrives. In fact, they’ve expanded the tourist operations by acquiring another old steam engine that is being rebuilt and going into service soon.
My time with the railroad was to photograph during an exclusive charter for shooters like myself. We began in the morning dark and returned at dark with many stops to photograph, often with reenactors and antique cars. I usually don’t include people in my fine art photography work on this website, but it was fitting, something different, and offered more story to the images.
All in all, it was a long day of shooting but clearly fun. Throughout, the train crew was very helpful toward the photographers on the charter and did many things with the train by request for our benefit. They even dressed in period railroad clothing to look the part. The entire train crew was outstanding; much appreciated!
All the pictures here are available as quality prints on matted paper, stretched canvas, or laminated super high gloss, all made here in the studio. ~Andy