In 1857, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) took over Pennsylvania’s Main Line of Public Works, a state-owned railroad and canal system built in the 1830s. Costly to build and maintain, and never attracting the traffic needed to sustain it, the state was eager to let it go. Keeping the rail portion and combining it with its own lines, the PRR ultimately developed a well-built and well-run rail line from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh all while keeping the “main line” moniker. The eastern section between Philadelphia and Harrisburg was especially successful, particularly after the railroad built new communities along the line that were at first summer destinations and later year-round homes for daily commuters. Other towns and cities along the main line had a strong industrial or agricultural base needing rail access, and many of these communities had attractive train stations. Images of America: Pennsylvania Main Line Railroad Stations: Philadelphia to Harrisburg documents many of these passenger stations through vintage photographs and other images. Most are gone, but fortunately some still stand and are in use today.
From 1860 until the decline of the railroads nearly 100 years later, Pennsylvania led the nation in railroad miles. The zenith came in 1920, when the state boasted 11,500 miles of track. The northwest corner of the state was home to the Pennsylvania oil rush in the late 19th century, coal mines, timber forests, and stone quarries. The landscape was dotted with railroad depots every couple of miles. These depots were waypoints for business transactions, family reunions, outings to amusement parks, and soldiers leaving for or returning from service; they also became hangouts for pickpockets, targets for nighttime burglars, and sometimes storage sheds for explosives. Although Pennsylvania still has over 5,000 miles of track, only a few stations remain, and most of them have been repurposed as museums and businesses. This book captures the stories these stations told when rail was king in the early 20th century.
Explores the Pennsy main line from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and the three divisions that operated it. Photos and explanations trace the line's electric, steam, and diesel locomotives in all their glory.
Erie's rail link to Philadelphia was achieved in 1864 with the completion of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad, which later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. By 1869, railroad lines from Buffalo through Erie to Chicago were consolidated into the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, which later became part of the New York Central Railroad. Completed in 500 days, the parallel New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, commonly known as the "Nickel Plate Road," was a 513-mile, well-designed railroad that emphasized excellent service. South of the lakeshore, the wide-gauge Erie Railroad enhanced east to west connections. Through vintage photographs, Northwestern Pennsylvania Railroads brings to life the history of the railroads that have served the region.
Railroads by United States. Emergency Board (Carriers and employees, 1949)
"Do not think of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a business enterprise," Forbes magazine informed its readers in May 1936. "Think of it as a nation." At the end of the nineteenth century, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest privately owned business corporation in the world. In 1914, the PRR employed more than two hundred thousand people—more than double the number of soldiers in the United States Army. As the self-proclaimed "Standard Railroad of the World," this colossal corporate body underwrote American industrial expansion and shaped the economic, political, and social environment of the United States. In turn, the PRR was fundamentally shaped by the American landscape, adapting to geography as well as shifts in competitive economics and public policy. Albert J. Churella's masterful account, certain to become the authoritative history of the Pennsylvania Railroad, illuminates broad themes in American history, from the development of managerial practices and labor relations to the relationship between business and government to advances in technology and transportation. Churella situates exhaustive archival research on the Pennsylvania Railroad within the social, economic, and technological changes of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, chronicling the epic history of the PRR intertwined with that of a developing nation. This first volume opens with the development of the Main Line of Public Works, devised by Pennsylvanians in the 1820s to compete with the Erie Canal. Though a public rather than a private enterprise, the Main Line foreshadowed the establishment of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1846. Over the next decades, as the nation weathered the Civil War, industrial expansion, and labor unrest, the PRR expanded despite competition with rival railroads and disputes with such figures as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. The dawn of the twentieth century brought a measure of stability to the railroad industry, enabling the creation of such architectural monuments as Pennsylvania Station in New York City. The volume closes at the threshold of American involvement in World War I, as the strategies that PRR executives had perfected in previous decades proved less effective at guiding the company through increasingly tumultuous economic and political waters.
Commuters by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
One of the first railroad lines in the United States, the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad was formed by the government of Pennsylvania in the early 19th century. Eventually, this line stretching west from Philadelphia was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad, helping that corporation to become one of the most powerful in the world. A group of small depots were built along the portion of the line closest to the city, eventually leading to the development of a string of commuter suburbs collectively known as the "Main Line." Today, 17 of these train stations continue to serve the towns of the Main Line, all of which date back to the Pennsylvania Railroad era or earlier. Of these, several retain their historic station structures that are in continuous daily use by the commuter railroad that still ferries thousands of passengers to Philadelphia each day. These historic depots range in condition from well-maintained to nearly abandoned. Some communities have taken active roles in restoring their stations, from performing small tasks such as planting flowers on surrounding land to taking the lead in extensive restoration efforts. In Merion and Wynnewood, for example, the nearby communities have taken to performing basic tasks that mainly serve to keep their stations visually attractive. In Wayne, an effort started in the 1990s aimed to do more, including restoring windows, re-constructing canopies and repairing roofing. Other historic stations are in dire need of help. Devon, whose historic fabric is essentially intact, is badly damaged after years of neglect. Associated railroad buildings located variously along the line, such as signal towers, have been made obsolete by modern technology, and thus are crumbling away. The Main Line is an affluent area known for its large homes, impressive schools and attractive commercial districts, and yet its railroad infrastructure is treated as an afterthought. The Main Line's train stations exist in a constant state of flux, as the needs and funding of the current transit operators change. Several depots are slated for imminent changes, while others continue to languish and face uncertain futures. Whether or not the historic and architectural legacy of these stations will continue to thrive and be maintained will largely depend on their users and surrounding communities; the transit agencies alone cannot be expected to provide solutions that are timely, sensitive to local identity, and in keeping with historic character.