An American Standard
Railroaders think about the long term. They have to. At the Wilmington & Western Railroad, volunteers maintain 10 long miles of track with bridges that can withstand a 500-year flood. It takes them five years or more, and thousands of volunteer hours, to restore a historic locomotive to working condition. They’re in it for the long game, and they have a long history.
The Wilmington & Western was founded in 1867 to carry passengers and freight through the Red Clay Creek valley, and it now operates as a historic site and tourist attraction, offering themed rides throughout the year. At their station between Wilmington and Newark, you can step into an original 1872 railroad station moved from Yorklyn, Delaware, view artifacts from the long-gone Brandywine Springs Amusement Park (1886-1923), and board a hundred-year-old passenger car for a trip down the tracks.
A historic locomotive will be pulling your cars, perhaps Number 98, a steam-powered “American Standard” type built in 1909. You can tell an American Standard by its particular “4-4-0” wheel arrangement, with four small forward “pilot wheels,” four large “drive wheels,” and no (zero) rear “training wheels.” 4-4-0 locomotives like Number 98 were popular were for over a century after they first appeared in 1837.
Since 1972, Number 98 has brought this impressive history to life by pulling carloads of passengers along the Wilmington & Western’s scenic corridor. A recent restoration ensures that Number 98 will be hard at work for a long time to come. You can find out what it was like to ride the rails yourself by visiting the Wilmington & Western.
Visit Historic Red Clay Valley and the Wilmington & Western Railroad
Location: 2201 Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington, DE 19808
Phone: (302) 998-1930
Hours: Regular and themed train trips take place on most weekend throughout the year (see website for details).
Admission: The museum is free and train ticket costs vary depending on trip (see website).