Sitting on the rambling 100-foot long porch of the Station Inn in Cresson, Pa., the question as to what the inn’s guests call themselves arose. Rail fans, train enthusiasts, rail buffs? Someone even suggested train nuts.
There certainly is more than enough ebullience in the air as guests sit on the porch’s rocking chairs, some with scanners listening to the conversations between the engineers and train dispatchers, some with laptops with all sorts of train information or photos taken throughout the day emblazoned on their screens.
The Station Inn has been drawing rail enthusiasts like a moth to a flame ever since it opened as a bed and breakfast in 1993. What makes the inn a magnet for train buffs is the fact that it sits 150 feet off Conrail’s triple track, Pittsburgh line, which can see as many as 60 trains go by each 24 hours.
"There are a lot of places in the nation where rail fans can indulge in their pursuit of watching trains," said owner Tom Davis. "But they don’t offer the full range and variety of trains as we do."
From the inn, guests can point their cameras in the direction of the tracks in the hope of capturing images of mixed merchandise freights, auto racks, coal drags, ore trains, double stacks and helper engines. Once a day, in both directions, Amtrak’s Pittsburgh to New York line clickety-clacks by, and even more exotic is the annual run of the circus train.
The inn started out in 1866 as the Callan House, a mid-level getaway for vacationing Pittsburghers. Later it became a stopover for traveling salesmen, and in the 1920s, it accommodated crews servicing the rail lines.
Don’t expect luxury at this rail-focused mecca which eschews telephones, TVs and air conditioning in the inn’s seven comfortably furnished, railroad-themed bedrooms, many of which overlook the mainline.