About the
National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) - Harrisburg Chapter


The Harrisburg Chapter is one of over 160 local chapters of the National Railway Historical Society. The chapter received its charter from the NRHS in 1959 and was incorporated as a non-profit educational organization in 1971. The more than 200 members are dedicated to the preservation of rail artifacts and to the documentation of railroad history.  The Harrisburg Chapter is a charter member of the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in the Jeffersonian category, a member of Historic Harrisburg Association, and a member of Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums.

Two completed capital projects are the restorations of ex-PRR GG1 4859, the very first GG1 to bring a revenue train into Harrisburg in 1938, and ex-PRR N6b caboose 980016. Both pieces of rolling stock are on permanent display at the Harrisburg Transportation Center. The GG1 image above right is the unofficial chapter logo. It celebrates the inauguration of electric service to Harrisburg. Click on it for a larger version.

In 1992, Harris Interlocking Tower was acquired by the Chapter from Amtrak. Since then, it has been completely restored to its appearance in 1945 and all facets of the interlocking machine, model board and communications equipment have been made operable so that the tower can be enjoyed by visitors. Many hours of member's time and many dollars of chapter funds have been expended to make this a true museum piece to showcase this unique technology. Visit the Harris Tower Preservation page for more information on the restoration and the Current Activities/Events page for information on the hours and times the tower is open.

Other activities of the chapter are an annual train show and an annual banquet in the spring. The chapter meets monthly (except for July and August) to share in the pursuit of our interests.  During the summer, one of these meetings is in the form of a picnic.  Click here for a picture of the 2011 picnic.

The Harrisburg Chapter maintains a research library in Harris Tower.  Books are not permitted to be removed from the library, but interested parties may conduct research during normal operating hours for the Tower and sometimes by appointment.  A partial listing of the 135+ books may be found here.  There are additional titles yet to be added.  At this time, no copying facilities are available.

Membership in the chapter includes voting privileges, the right to participate in activities and receipt of a monthly newsletter. Full chapter members are required to belong to the National Railway Historical Society. Members of other NRHS chapters as well as family members of full members are welcome to join the Harrisburg Chapter at reduced dues rates.  Dues and other requirements are listed on the application.  A membership application and highlights of membership benefits can be found here.

In 2007 the chapter established a new category of membership entitled "Friends of Harris Tower." Under this category, members do not necessarily belong to the National Railway Historical Society, but receive the chapter monthly newsletter and may attend chapter meetings. "Friends," however, are not permitted to hold office in the chapter or to vote at meetings. We welcome you to attend a meeting and invite you to join our group. 

An interesting history of the Harrisburg Chapter, written by its Historian in 1984, can be found here.  In this history, you will learn that there were actually two Harrisburg chapters at different times.  The struggles of forming a railfan organization in the area are chronicled, and a list of chapter presidents through 1984 is included.