Old Washington DC Excursion Train Ad

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, June 10, 1913: Nothing much doing.

Source: Watsontown Record and Star (May 1, 1914)

Source: Watsontown Record and Star (May 1, 1914)

$3.00 LOW RATE

Sunday Excursion

Washington

Sunday, May 3

A Rare Chance to Visit the National Capital

SPECIAL TRAIN LEAVES

Williamsport . . . 12:01 A.M.

Market Street. . . 12:05 A.M.

Muncy . . . 12:30 A.M.

Montgomery. . . 12: 38 A.M.

Dewart. . . 12:47 A.M.

Watsontown . . . 12:52 A.M.

Milton. . . 1:02 A.M.

Returning, Special Train will leave Washington. . . 5:40 P.M.

The Trip of a life-time. An education as well as a delight. An opportunity to see “The Heart of the Nation,” a city of magnificent distances, unlike any other city in the country.

An Ideal Sunday Outing

See the New National Museum, Library of Congress, Capitol Building, Concoran Art Gallery, and the varied sights of Washington, “The City Beautiful.”

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s sister Ruth left the previous day for a week-long trip to Washington DC.

Today the 200 mile drive from McEwensville to Washington DC takes at least 3 1/2 hours. I have no idea how low the train ride was a hundred years ago.

It is not what Ruth did, but I was surprised to discover that back then there were one-day excursion trips to DC from central Pennsylvania. The train left Williamsport right after midnight—and picked up people in several nearby towns and then raced to DC. The route would be reversed in the evening.

Imagine the excitement of catching a train in the middle of the night—and pulling into Union Station at dawn. . . and seeing the capitol outlined in the early morning sunlight.

Dang—I almost put myself into the story—and was ready to book a seat on the next excursion train; then I remembered that it was 2013.

26 Responses

  1. The original red-eye :-). I have taken several red-eye flights that leave late in the day in the West and arrive in the morning in the East. Not something I want to do too often. I am sure that many people would sleep on the train so they would be fresh for a day of sightseeing.

    • I’ve also taken a few red-eye flight, and they aren’t fun.

      I think that you’ve got to be young to have the energy to enjoy a marathon trip to DC and home in one day.

  2. I loved your last paragraph! It is nice to think about the excitement of such a trip.
    When I was in 7th grade, our class trip was to Richmond. We rode a bus to Williamsburg, then took a train to Richmond. And we came home that night. I remember how excited we were to ride the train.

    • It sounds like an awesome trip!. I can remember a few school trips–to DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc.–that started very early in the morning (maybe 5 or 6 am) and returned home about midnight, but we always took school buses and they weren’t nearly as much fun as a train. :)

  3. Oh what fun it would be to go on a train again set in 1913.
    What an adventure that would be! :)

    • Somehow–though the prism of time–trains and train stations seem so adventuresome and romantic compared to the airports and crowded highways of today.

  4. I love your blog, because you never know what is coming next for your family, all those years ago.

  5. This is a wonderful blog and would make an excellent book. Thank you for enjoying 1950 Suburban Adventures. My post ‘Armed, but not Dangerous’ is about my own grandmother. She came through Ellis Island in 1917. Thanks for a glimpse into another world through your grandmother’s diary.

  6. Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of what may have been happening 100 years ago in your grandmother’s time!

  7. I love these old ads! They seem so enticing! I want to go back in time and take that trip too, we’ll pack a picnic, you in?

  8. Catching a train in the middle of the night does sound exciting! We’ve taken a train to Union Station in DC (from Connecticut) a number of times – I’m trying to imagine how the station looked a hundred years ago…

    • I bet that the station looked awesome. I googled “Union Station history” and discovered that it opened in 1907, so it would have been an almost new building back then.

  9. I am loving this series. Thanks so much for sharing it! (And digging into it… )

  10. Ah, the great train rides of the past. We have so few passenger trains in our country now. Makes me sad because it is an excellent way to travel.

    • Similarly to New Zealand, there are only a few passenger trains in the US anymore. The train service is still pretty good between the major cities on the east coast–and there are a few other passenger trains that go between other major cities, but it’s nothing like it once was.

  11. So will immersing yourself in 1913 result in a historical novel? You’ve certainly done the research!

    • Thanks for the nice compliment. Sometime I think that once the diary ends that I’ll try to pull it together into a book, but I probably won’t do a historic novel. Since i learned how to do research back in the days when we wrote notes on index cards, I sometime think that each day’s post almost feels like I filled an index card with notes; and that if I could somehow reorganize the “cards/posts” that it could be a book.

  12. are you still able to ride the train to DC from where you live Sheryl? My hubby and I tried to plan a train holiday one fall. It was a disaster. The train derailed in Saskatchewan and we had to take a plane to our destination.

    • I don’t live in central Pennsylvania anymore, but think that if I changed trains that I could get DC.(There’s no passenger train service in the part the area where Grandma lived any more.)

      I had to smile when I read abut your train disaster and how you ended up flying. :)

  13. It does sound fun!

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