Area train enthusiasts gathered at the Penobscot Train Yard in Mountain Top for a trip back in time on a steam-engine-powered train.
Most of the 620 people waiting to board the train had brought cameras for the trip to historic Jim Thorpe and back. They hoped to capture an image of two tunnels, a beautiful waterfall and other scenic areas.
In between the two trips, the travelers enjoyed a day of food, shopping and sightseeing.
Young and old were thrilled to hear the train’s whistle as they boarded one of nine cars pulled by the steam engine.
R.J. Supkowski, 4, was especially excited for the trip. His family purchased their tickets for the event in May and had counted down the days to the excursion.
“I love trains,” said a smiling Sukowski, accompanied by parents Ron and Laura, and sister Lizzy who seemed to share his enthusiasm.
The event was a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Mountain Top. The club, whose motto is “Service before Self,” serves the community in a variety of areas, including supporting its young people in academic and athletic endeavors.
Ted Dennis, of Larksville, said the trip was a gift from his wife, Ellen. Dennis said he thought the event took attendees back in time and created a wonderful spirit of nostalgia.
“Highways and air travelled developed and made trains seem obsolete,” said Dennis. “But in reality, they use less fuel and would have been a viable option for shipping goods and transporting passengers.”
Dan Zukos, a true train authority, said the steam engine — No. 425 — is a 4-6-2 light Pacific built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1928. Originally built for Northern Railroad at a cost of $44,000, the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad bought the locomotive in 1984.
Attendees Buck and Lisa Steltz — who were taking sons Jesse, 16, and Wyatt, 17, on the ride — were also excited about their destination.
“We look forward to the shops, restaurants and beautiful landscapes Jim Thorpe has to offer,” said Lisa.
Jerry and Kathy Golembeski, relatively new to the area and on their first trip to Jim Thorpe, looked forward to experiencing the little town described to them as “a little bit of history” only a few hours away.
Attendees were provided with an informational brochure about Jim Thorpe, which is tucked away at the base of a series of mountains, so that they would not miss anything it had to offer.
Upon arrival, club President Paul Cwalina, dressed as Benjamin Franklin, presented a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Rotarian Glenn Grosek said the event is a major fundraiser for this year and will be followed by a “Taste of the Mountain” event in September, which will afford area residents the opportunity to sample offerings from local restaurants.
Grosek said approximately 14 members are active in the group, with fundraising being comprised of “raising money to give it away.”
He said the timing of this year’s event was perfect, in that many attendees, having just celebrated the Fourth of July, were history-minded.
Looking toward the future, Grosek hopes the excursion will be an annual event. Having sold out the event this year, it seems likely.