Steamtown NHS occupies about 40 acres of the Scranton railroad yard of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania. At the heart of the park is the large collection of standard-gauge steam locomotives and freight and passenger cars that New England seafood processor F. Nelson Blount assembed in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1984, 17 years after Blount's untimely death, the Steamtown Foundation for the Preservation of Steam and Railroad Americana, Inc., brought the collection to Scranton, where it occupied the former DL&W yard. When Steamtown National Historic Site was created, the yard and the collection became part of the National Park System.
The Steamtown Collection consists of locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment from several historic railroads. The locomotives range in size from a tiny industrial switcher engine built in 1937 by the H.K. Porter Company for the Bullard Company, to a huge Union Pacific "Big Boy" built in 1941 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco). The oldest locomotive is a freight engine built by American Locomotive Company in 1903 for the Chicago Union Transfer Railway Company.
A Special History Study of the locomotive collection at Steamtown NHS was prepared for the National Park Service by Gordon Chappell, an NPS historian. This document contains the results of many months of research conducted in 1987 and 1988 for preparation of a Scope of Collections Statement for Steamtown National Historic Site. During the course of that project, the author accumulated a wealth of important raw data that contributed to a determination of which rolling stock should be acquired from the Steamtown Foundation for preservation at the park.