ALL ABOARD Major Railroad and Train Exhibit Including Thomas the Tank Engine at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum Opening Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 pm

Nov 7th, 2011

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2011
Photographs Attached (captions at bottom of release)



Major Railroad and Train Exhibit

Including Thomas the Tank Engine

at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum

Opening Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 pm


Allentown, PA – Trains invoke awe; the roar of steam locomotives, the power of modern diesels, and their role in building America comes to life on Saturday, November 19th at 1:00 pm when the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum opens its massive railroad exhibit titled Glory & Triumph:  Trains Made America.  The announcement was made today by Joseph Garrera, Executive Director of the Museum.

“On a national level it’s the story of the Transcontinental Railroad; in Eastern Pennsylvania the Route of the Black Diamond, anthracite coal, and how the Lehigh Valley Railroad forged American history,” said Garrera.  “It’s a story of risk-taking, politics, and colossal achievement.  Trains are unsurpassed in power and presence; to this day, they capture the imaginations of young and old.  We see this in Thomas the Tank Engine, the Polar Express, and the lure of modern passenger trains.”

The exhibit opening at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 19th, will feature a presentation by nine book author and historian Michael Bednar Bednar, an expert on railroading, is the premier authority on the Lehigh Valley Railroad.  State Senator Pat Browne, who is extremely knowledgeable about railroad history, will also speak at the opening program in conjunction with Bednar.

At 2:00 pm, Thomas the Tank Engine, an international icon, will occupy a place of excitement when the Museum’s new Thomas Fun Room opens.  Children can watch numerous model trains running on tracks, do some train art, learn railroad signals, or try their hand at a working telegraph system.  Families can view authentic railroad artifacts in one part of the exhibit, as their imaginations are challenged by the magic of model trains and hobo life on the rails in another section.

The 4,000 square foot exhibit was will re-create the era when railroads were King.  Visitors will be greeted by a railroad conductor who will punch their boarding pass.  They will hear the sounds of train whistles and the hiss of steam locomotives while exploring a variety of engaging train activities.  They can test their knowledge of railroad signals or see authentic telegraph equipment formerly used by the LVRR in the early 1900s.  Children can try their hand at telegraph messages as they travel back in time to the era of steam locomotives.  The exhibit will include an authentic LVRR conductor uniform, antique Lionel trains, a wallboard on train hobos, and more than 250 train-related artifacts and relics.  Three large brass locomotive engine bells will amaze visitors young and old with their power, presence, and dynamic sound.

“The now defunct Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) will play an important role in this exhibit,” said Garrera.  “In its halcyon years, it was a major carrier of anthracite coal.  With a stable of more than 1,000 locomotives, a Great Lakes steamship line, a fleet of express passenger trains and a rail system that stretched across New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the LVRR made history in the building of America,” said Garrera.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad officially opened on September 12, 1855, when the LVRR ran its first daily passenger train between Mauch Chunk and Easton.  Three days later, on September 15th, the railroad’s first shipment of anthracite coal came rumbling down the tracks.  By 1926 the LVRR grossed an incredible $80.4 million.  The years of prosperity crumbled with the 1929 Wall Street financial collapse and the Great Depression.  Changes in transportation and declines in the use of anthracite coal ushered in the demise of the LVRR.  The final run of the LVRR’s iconic Black Diamond passenger train occurred in 1959.  Yet the history and presence of the LVRR endures in history and folklore to this day.

Crucial support for this exhibit has come from the collections of Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Important vintage dinnerware once used in railroad dining cars has come from as far away as the Canadian Pacific Railways in Montreal, Canada.  The exhibit also received funding from the Norfolk and Southern Railroad and grants from the County of Lehigh, the Charles H. Hoch Foundation, the Holt Family Foundation, the Julius & Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Keystone Nazareth Charitable Foundation, the Rider-Pool Foundation, the Sylvia Perkin Perpetual Charitable Trust and Wells Fargo.

The exhibit opening on Saturday, November 19th is FREE to members.  Non-member adults pay $6; children are $3; children under 5 are FREE.  The exhibit will remain on display into 2012 during regular Museum hours.

The Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum is a teaching institution that attracts a diverse audience.  Its collections of historical Americana include over 30,000 three-dimensional objects, 3 million documents and more than 75,000 vintage photographs.  The Museum is located at 432 W. Walnut Street in Allentown.   Parking is available in the rear of the Museum, on the street, and in nearby lots.  Regular Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.  Regular admission is FREE to members, Non-members $6 adults, $3 children, FREE under age 5.  For more information, contact Joseph Garrera, Executive Director, at 484-553-2592 (cell) any time of day or at 610-435-1074. Visit or visit us on Facebook.


# # # END # # #





LocomotiveBells.JPG:  Assistant Director Jill Youngken prepares authentic brass locomotive bells for new railroad exhibit; vintage lanterns and train signs appear in the background.


LV34BethlehemPAcirca1900.jpg:  Lehigh Valley Railroad Engine at Kimmet’s Lock.


LVRREngine464Easton.jpg:  This photo taken in South Easton is part of the 4,000 square foot railroad exhibit opening at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum on Saturday, November 19th.


Thomas Iron Co Loco.jpg:  The Cinderella, shown here about 1870, was a narrow gauge engine that transported raw materials and finished products at the Thomas Iron Company.


JillandThomasTrain2011Cropped2.JPG:  Assistant Director Jill Youngken Welcomes Thomas the Tank Engine to the Museum; the Thomas Fun Room will open at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 19th.