As a non-profit, educational institution, the Hummelstown Area Historical Society relies on the generous support of individuals, businesses, foundations, and local and state governments to fund our programs.
The social and economic development of Hummelstown is closely tied to railroads. The success of brownstone as a building material was due in some part to our local Brownstone Railroad. The railroad was built to efficiently transport brownstone from the quarry to Hummelstown, where it began its journey by rail throughout the country. The building of the Rutherford train yards and steam engine repair shop in the first part of 1900 provided new employment opportunities, and many of the new workers relocated to Hummelstown.
Trains also helped farmers to get their produce and grains to broader markets. This goal prompted the building of the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad, hence its nickname “the Milk and Honey Railroad.” Products for the stores in our community were shipped by train. And many Hummelstown families, and business owner as well, “went down to the Reading Railroad’s baggage room” to pick up merchandise shipped via train.
Trains helped Americans do what they have always loved to do – travel! Trains were an integral part of the western expansion of the country. The railroad provided residents of Hummelstown with access to the country. When boarding a train at the Hummelstown station, one could travel east to Philadelphia and New York or west to Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Trains took us to Mt. Gretna, the Philadelphia Exposition, Atlantic City, and Chicago.
Trains provided a feeling of travel adventure you can not get from traveling by plane or driving the interstates. Trains represent transportation which is slower, and provides one with an opportunity to see the countryside. Trains for many people represent the “good old days. ” The blare or toot of a train whistle and the roll of railcar wheels are sounds that evoke memories for many people.
The popularity of railroads is evident by the presence of railroad museums and excursion railroads throughout the country. Cities and towns are also possessive about their railroad stations. For over a hundred years, we have bought model trains and created layouts for the display of our model trains. This hobby is re-defined by each generation. But in every case, young and old alike continue to admire, display, and operate model trains and collect railroad memorabilia.
Today trains are back! Passenger service will never be at the levels of fifty years ago. But railroads have experienced a revitalized role by transporting raw materials and moving freight as part of intermodal transportation systems.
The All Aboard Show, staged by the Hummelstown Area Historical Society, has several objectives:
showcase the impact of the railroad on the community educate about railroad operations demonstrate how model trains continue to entertain encourage families to share their own stories about railroads.
All Aboard, a familiar cry by the conductor for passengers embarking on trains. But the phrase also captures the spirit of the Show. Without the help of many people who volunteered, served as donors, and shared items for display, the Show could not have occurred. Enjoy the Show!
Railroading in Hummelstown