Steam Into History on track for York City expansion

The educational nonprofit railway Steam Into History is preparing for an ambitious expansion to York City

Junior Gonzalez
  • FirstEnergy Foundation recently donated $5,000 to the educational nonprofit.
  • Steam Into History has raised $2.4 million of its $3.8 million capital goal to expand to York City.

With the help of a donation, the educational nonprofit railway Steam Into History is preparing for its most ambitious expansion yet: York City.

Steam Into History

The charitable arm of FirstEnergy Corp. recently donated $5,000 to the organization, which gives historic train tours across southern York County, from the group's headquarters in New Freedom to Glen Rock and Hanover Junction.

With the latest donation and other donations pending, Steam Into History is nearing its $3.8 million capital campaign goal. The funds will be used for start-up capital, past construction costs and new turntables for a track route toward York City.

The organization has raised $2.4 million, and CEO Sharon Dorn said there are several more pending grants that will allow Steam Into History to begin the project within the next few years.

“There are some renovations being done in the Northwest Triangle, and that’s where we hope to get the train into,” Dorn said.

Being close to the York Revolution stadium can be another valuable asset, Dorn said, as well as serving as a new attraction for First Friday patrons.

Steam Into History gets visitors of all ages, but Dorn hopes to attract more young people.

“We’re trying to mix it up so that we can get more millennials here,” she said.

That includes more programming for children, including junior engineer days and tea times for little girls.

History: As an educational railway organization, Steam Into History includes narrators who provide references to historical events that occurred on or near the tracks.

Dorn notes one former president who was on part of Steam Into History’s route.

“Abraham Lincoln traveled on these tracks on his way to Gettysburg,” she said. The next time he was on the tracks, she said, “it was his funeral train that ultimately went to Illinois for his burial.”

Dorn looks forward to a re-enactor of one of Lincoln’s main rivals, Gen. Robert E. Lee, returning as a narrator for the upcoming season.

“He is fantastic,” Dorn said of the narrator. “If you close your eyes for a second, you’ll think that it’s Lee.”

New season: The steam locomotives, which are one of a kind, will begin rolling ahead with new attractions for the spring season starting in March.

“We’ve been working very hard since the holidays for the next year,” said Debi Beshore, a representative for Steam Into History.

One of the new events that the nonprofit is trying out is a craft beer event that will take place near St. Patrick’s Day called Rails to Ales. The event will allow adult visitors to sample drinks from several local breweries and wineries in the railway’s gift shop before embarking on one of the signature rides.

“We’re looking for people that want to have a date night,” Beshore said. “A romance on the rails.”

The organization also plans “bunny rides” for Easter and murder mysteries during the season. It is looking to become a wedding venue for rail enthusiasts or people looking for a rustic theme.

“We like to say that it’ll start the marriage on the right track,” Beshore said.