Photographs & History

Photographs and History

Harrisburg Passenger Station

Front elevation drawing of the Harrisburg Train Station.   (below) Detail drawings of the fireplace and floor tile work. Drawings collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service drawn by Harry Weese & Associates  .

Front elevation drawing of the Harrisburg Train Station. (below) Detail drawings of the fireplace and floor tile work. Drawings collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service drawn by Harry Weese & Associates.

Harrisburg was at the crossroads of the eastern system, and the largest city on the PRR between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. From the east passenger trains originated from Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore and Washington DC, from the west traffic came via Buffalo and Pittsburgh gateways to the North, South and West.

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The surviving passenger station, built between 1885-87 is the third such built by the PRR in the general area between Mulberry and Market Streets. Constructed of brick and stone, the Queen Anne style station was altered several times during the early 20th Century and featured details like facing granite and brick fireplaces in the main waiting room, coffered ceilings, wood paneling and intricate mosaic tile floor patterns. After a destructive fire in 1904, the station was completely remodeled restoring the unique gambrel roof while converting the attic space into a third floor for offices adding the eight dormers on the front (east) elevation. A major addition to facilitate the electrification to Harrisburg in 1936-37 added a two story, three bay extensions on the south end of the building to accommodate the new Power Dispatcher’s facility and State Interlocking.

Train shed interior looking east. Notice the intricate iron work on the stair railings and trusses. The active center platform has been elevated to accommodate Amtrak/ ADA compliance needs but the remaining low level platforms are still traditional herringbone brick with stone curbs. This shed is one of few remaining examples of a style of station that was once commonplace in America.

Train shed interior looking east. Notice the intricate iron work on the stair railings and trusses. The active center platform has been elevated to accommodate Amtrak/ ADA compliance needs but the remaining low level platforms are still traditional herringbone brick with stone curbs. This shed is one of few remaining examples of a style of station that was once commonplace in America.

The surviving train sheds behind and to the east of the station were of even greater significance. When constructed they were considered some of the largest of its time, utilizing historic Fink trusses constructed of wood and iron to support the roof. The twin station sheds were extended at various times and measure roughly 540 feet in length providing shelter to 8 of the 10 station tracks maintained in the busy terminal.

View from photographer Harlen Hambright, taken during the 1981 HAER survey. Survey caption reads "View, looking north (railroad west) under shed from concourse, showing exposed truss after shed roofing was removed." Collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service.

View from photographer Harlen Hambright, taken during the 1981 HAER survey. Survey caption reads "View, looking north (railroad west) under shed from concourse, showing exposed truss after shed roofing was removed." Collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service.

Current view of the south (railroad east) end of the station bound by the Mulberry Street Viaduct itself a beautiful curved concrete arch bridge. The track curving off from the bottom right is Norfolk Southern's connection with the former Reading Company Lebanon Branch, now part of the busy Harrisburg Line. The track immediately behind that and parallel to the station is the Royalton Branch which provides freight an alternate route off the Port Road via Shocks Mill, running alongside Amtrak's Keystone Line west of Roy Interlocking.

Current view of the south (railroad east) end of the station bound by the Mulberry Street Viaduct itself a beautiful curved concrete arch bridge. The track curving off from the bottom right is Norfolk Southern's connection with the former Reading Company Lebanon Branch, now part of the busy Harrisburg Line. The track immediately behind that and parallel to the station is the Royalton Branch which provides freight an alternate route off the Port Road via Shocks Mill, running alongside Amtrak's Keystone Line west of Roy Interlocking.

Today the passenger terminal and sheds survive and are on the National Register of Historic Places and are also designated as a National Engineering Landmark. Known as the Harrisburg Transportation Center, the building serves both bus lines and Amtrak, where the Keystone Service from Philadelphia and New York Terminates, and the daily New York – Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian calls in each direction. While passenger train service is a mere ghost of what it used to be, the historic building survives as a monument of what rail travel used to be for future generations.

Situated on the former #5 Station track, PRR class GG-1# #4859 resides as part of a permanent display owned and maintained by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, also accompanied by a class N6b PRR Cabin Car (caboose to non-PRR people). The 4859 is of particular significance to Harrisburg as it hauled the first scheduled electric powered passenger train into the station in 1938. The locomotive was part of a fleet of 140 locomotives built by both the PRR in Altoona and General Electric, the ubiquitous G,  was the workhorse of both the limiteds, regional and local passenger/ mail trains as well as freight on the PRR. The last operational  GG-1 ran in October of 1983 and 16 survive around the US as static displays.

Situated on the former #5 Station track, PRR class GG-1# #4859 resides as part of a permanent display owned and maintained by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, also accompanied by a class N6b PRR Cabin Car (caboose to non-PRR people). The 4859 is of particular significance to Harrisburg as it hauled the first scheduled electric powered passenger train into the station in 1938. The locomotive was part of a fleet of 140 locomotives built by both the PRR in Altoona and General Electric, the ubiquitous G,  was the workhorse of both the limiteds, regional and local passenger/ mail trains as well as freight on the PRR. The last operational  GG-1 ran in October of 1983 and 16 survive around the US as static displays.

Follow Up on Day Tower

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After the last post on Day Tower at Enola's South End, I received an email from a gentleman sharing a story about his grandfather who worked Day Tower as a block operator. He was gracious enough to allow me to share these reflections with everyone here.  For me it is a great pleasure to have people reach out and share experiences like this, giving me and the photographs a connection the late great Pennsylvania Railroad! Enjoy!

Michael Froio

My name is Ronald Busey, and I am grandson of the late “Brownie” Ernst (Maurice H. Ernst) who for many years thru the mid 1900’s served as South End block operator for Enola Yard at Day Tower.  His “leverman” was Garnet Largent. 

I practically “grew up” with trains during summer weeks at my grandparents lodgings … from early 1940’s it was at Lemoyne, PA ( How I remember “Lemo Tower” there) … and later it was at Summerdale, PA (west of Enola’s north end)

I “smiled” when I read your inclusion that at some point in Day’s history, it was thought a train might have destroyed Day Tower. My Granddad was in the tower the day a “motor” pulling hopper cars bore down on the tower. Either the motor or one or more hoppers derailed partially, tearing off a portion of the upper level.  My Granddad saw it coming and made a fast exit down the stairs and out the back of the tower. I heard about this in the aftermath.  I was not “fortunate” enough to have been there to add that one to my memory.  My Granddad came home in Summerville that day after shift, to my Grandmother’s exclaim “What has happened, you’re white as a sheet” he replied “I fled a damned motor that took out part of the tower and after I got off work I stopped at Ricky’s (local tavern in Enola) for a couple of beers and then I came home”.

 Not long in history after that came the push for CTC and my late Granddad became emotionally despondent when left without a leverman and eventually left his position on medical disability, no longer having strength to throw the levers.

One of my favorite moments in Day was the occasion when the head North Enola dispatcher happened to get on the phone to my Granddad, who was taking a couple of minutes to heat a pot of coffee.  The “north-ender" was complaining about something and I heard my Granddad tell him “mind your own business, I’m running this yard down here”.  

How it happened I yet do not know, but on the dedication day for Lemo at Strasburg, PA, I was there thru a special invite received.  I had a chance to give a testimonial for my Granddad.  When the ceremony ended, who walked up to me and tapped my shoulder but Garnet Largent!  I hadn’t seen him in over 40+ years.

Speaking of Lemo Tower, we will continue our tour of the Harrisburg Terminal next week picking up with Lemo Tower in Lemoyne Pennsylvania, just a few miles south of Enola yard.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 12

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 11

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 10

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 9

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 8

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 7

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 6

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 5

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 4

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 3

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 2

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 1

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.