News & Reviews News Wire News Photos: Doubleheaded ‘Iron Horse Ramble’ marks Reading & Northern owner’s 75th birthday

News Photos: Doubleheaded ‘Iron Horse Ramble’ marks Reading & Northern owner’s 75th birthday

By | August 14, 2022

Excursion with 19-car train is first steam doubleheader for railroad since 1988

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Passenger train with two steam locomotives rounds sharp curve
Reading & Northern’s 4-8-4 No. 2102 and 4-6-2 No. 425 pull a 19-car Iron Horse Ramble excursion around the wye at Jim Thorpe Junction on Saturday, Aug. 13. (Dan Cupper)

READING, Pa. — A doubleheader of 4-8-4 No. 2102 and 4-6-2 No. 425 made the Saturday, Aug. 13, Reading & Northern Iron Horse Ramble — the third of four scheduled — even more of a special event for railfans in the Northeast, drawing large crowds to see the sold-out excursion.

It was the first Reading & Northern steam doubleheader since 1988. Reading & Northern owner Andy Muller decided to run the event as a doubleheader to mark his 75th birthday, which also fell on Saturday. Muller, who was onboard the excursion, told Trains News Wire that the two locomotives operated flawlessly, and that passengers applauded as he walked through the train.

The train, with 19 cars, ran from R&N’s Reading Outer Station to Jim Thorpe, about 67 miles, where passengers had several hours for tourist activities or lunch. Matching SD50 diesels, in the special paint scheme to promote the railroad’s North Reading Fast Freight, pulled the train back to the wye at Nesquehoning Junction/Jim Thorpe Junction, turned it, and brought it back to Jim Thorpe. There, the steam locomotives were cut off, and stairs were set up to allow public cab visits.

Black and gray F units round curve with passenger train
Reading & Northern’s former Norfolk Southern F-units pull a Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway trip at Glen Onoko, Pa., on Saturday, Aug. 13. (Dan Cupper)

Also operating from Jim Thorpe on Saturday were R&N’s former Norfolk Southern F7A and B units, which were pulling the railroad’s trains through Lehigh Gorge which operate several times a weekend. Normally, these are pulled by GP38-2s or GP30s.

With the steam locomotives reattached, the train made a run-by in Jim Thorpe, then departed on the return leg. For operational reasons, the steam locomotives were cut off in Port Clinton, Pa., home of the railroad’s steam shops, with the SD50s providing power for the final 20 miles to Reading.

The last of the summer’s Iron Horse Rambles is set for Saturday, Sept. 3. Like the others, it is sold out. The R&N also plans to run some fall foliage trips with No. 2102 later this year.

More photos from the trip are below.

— Dan Cupper and Scott A. Hartley contributed to this report.

Train with steam locomotives passes spectators and man with video camera
The doubleheader heads east near East Mahanoy Junction, Pa. (Dan Cupper)
Locomotives on passenger train
The move through the wye at Nesquehoning Junction provides a good look at 4-6-2 No. 425, built for the Gulf, Mobile & Northern. (Scott A. Hartley)
Steam locomotives and photographers
A large crowd of photographers document the move through the wye. The steam locomotives are now at the end of the train as it is pulled by diesels. (Scott A. Hartley)
Diesel locomotives pulling passenger train
SD50s pull the excursion train back into Jim Thorpe after it was turned at the wye. (Dan Cupper)
Two steam locomotives under large cloud of black smoke as they pass through a town
The excursion is westbound at the Mermon Street crossing in Nesquehoning, Pa., as it heads back to Reading. (Dan Cupper)

3 thoughts on “News Photos: Doubleheaded ‘Iron Horse Ramble’ marks Reading & Northern owner’s 75th birthday

  1. Cutting off the steam on the return trip as close to the shop as possible is a tradition going back to the April 30, 1960 Iron Horse Ramble from Wayne Junction to Gettysburg.

    In 1960, 2124 pulled the Ramble to Gettysburg and back to Reading, where it would need coal and water. FP7’s 902-903 took the train back to Philadelphia. Today, 2124 and 902-903 are on adjacent tracks st Steamtown.

  2. Oh WOW. Wish I could have been there. Thank You Andy Muller. Thank you. I hope your efforts make more money than you expect. I think you know that we all appreciate you have accomplished

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