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Civil War-era train sets sights on New Freedom

Associated Press Published: November 23, 2012

NEW FREEDOM, Pa. (AP) — A new Civil War-era venue is on track to open June 1 in New Freedom.

A reproduction 19th-century steam locomotive is being built to haul passengers along the same railroad route that Abraham Lincoln twice traveled.

The nonprofit Steam Into History is renovating space at 2 W. Main St., along the York County Heritage Rail Trail, and plans to move in by the end of the year.

Chief operating officer Bob Gotwols said the locomotive, York No. 17, has been constructed in Illinois and will be tested by the end of the year. Organizers also plan to lease vacant land nearby for a new railroad stop.

He said the group wanted to use 1860s vintage rail cars to carry passengers from New Freedom to Hanover Junction on the Northern Central Railroad, a line Abraham Lincoln traveled on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address and posthumously in his funeral car.

But most of the vintage passenger cars were constructed of wood and deteriorated, so the nonprofit is working with a company that constructs replicas for movies.

The company plans to lease two cars from the 1880s to the organization for its first year of operation while two 1860s cars are built for permanent use, Gotwols said.

Other plans: The two cars can carry 200 passengers and will come equipped with a bike carrier for rail trail riders, said Debi Beshore, manager-sales and administration.

She said the administrative space on Main Street will include offices, a gift shop, museum displays, and a model train display arranged by local volunteers.

Gotwols said the organization is in negotiations with the borough and Aero Energy to lease some vacant land adjacent to Marge Goodfellow Park.

Beshore said Steam Into History plans to build an engine house on the lot, where the locomotive and cars would be stored, as well as facilities for visitors and a ticketing and parking area.

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