Significance of the Train in New Freedom

Matthew Schwanke, Reporter

The “Steam Into History” train in New Freedom has become part of the identity of the town. It has brought with it lots of people, who now support the town.


The train advances through one of the many crossings on its route. This is a 4-4-0 American type locomotive. That means it has four pilot wheels in the front, four drive wheels, and no trailing wheels. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

A view inside the cab of the engine of the train. Many engines like this type would have burned coal or wood. However, because this is an updated model, this engine burns oil. Photograph by Matthew Schwanke.

The train passes by the Valley Street bridge in Glen Rock. It runs through several small towns including Hanover Junction, New Freedom, and Glen Rock. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

This train type, in particular was chosen by “Steam Into History” due to its historical relevance to the town of New Freedom. This train is the type of train that would have been used by many railroads in the area during the Civil War. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The train runs along long portions of the Heritage Rail Trail, in Heritage Rail Trail Country Park. This trail covers more than 170 acres. The trail was built on the former Northern Central Railroad line after its abandonment in the 1970’s. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

“Steam Into History” has updated many safety systems in the train. Back in the era in which this type of train was popular, it did not have many safety features such as air brakes, and knuckle couplers. The new train however, has both as it has been updated to enhance safety. “Steam Into History” also deploys flaggers at every crossing and railroad stop to make sure people to not get hurt when the train is crossing a road. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The train is decorated for the Christmas holiday season. “Steam Into History” offers many different themed rides. These themes range from cowboys to holidays. These themes offer something different then a traditional train ride experience. They also have, on certain occasions, people who act as the role of prominent Civil War figures. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The trail is not just used for the train. It also is used for bike riding, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The train plays an important role in the community. “It brings in lots of tourists that end up shopping at local shops, and eating at local restaurants,” said Joe Gusherowski, a “Steam Into History” employee. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The time period that this type of train would have run throughout the area ran from the 1860’s to the 1870’s. This train type became obsolete by the 1880’s. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

New freedom was used as a stopping point for the train system. It was an important stop because it is midway between Baltimore, MD and Harrisburg, PA. New Freedom had a small train yard, depot, and small industries and would have interchanged cars with the Stewartstown Railroad. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

Today, New Freedom is a perfect place to create a tourist railroad. It is a relevant area because of how close it is to Gettysburg and how much the railroad impacted the Civil War. This railroad twice carried Abraham Lincoln. Once to the Gettysburg Address, and once as his funeral train. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

“Steam Into History” is very important, not only from a historical standpoint, but also as a way to draw people to the small town. It provides a way for people to come to businesses they otherwise would not. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

New Freedom already had the trail running through town, as well as, the railroad tracks. Due to having that infrastructure already in place New Freedom was choosen as the place to have the train. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.

The train has once again become a vital part of this little town. Its character has brought the town a new feeling. It also has been great for local businesses. Photograph by Joe Gusherowski.