The history of PRR.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was founded in 1846 and went on to become one of the largest railroads in US history at one time managing a budget larger than the US government’s. It controlled about 10,000 miles of track and was affiliated with about 800 other rail companies. The PRR developed a repair facility in Altoona in 1849 that was later to become the largest in the world. Additional repair shops were developed in Western Pennsylvania and Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the following years, facilities present at Altoona, renamed Altoona and Juniata Shops, contributed to the development of the railroad company with the production of locomotives, freight and passenger cars. In addition, to Altoona, took place also the maintenance and repairs.
Multiple mergers and expansions took place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that helped form the Pennsylvania Railroad including acquisition of the North Central Railway, United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, Baltimore and Potomac RR, Union RR and later the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore RR (PW&B). Passenger service started in 1885 from NYC to Washington, DC called the “Congressional Limited Express”. Later the “Senator” was added from Boston to Washington. The passenger service continued to expand with the New York to Chicago service called the “Pennsylvania Limited”. This was the first passenger service to contain the vestibule between each car allowing movement from one car to another within an enclosed area. In 1902, this line was changed to the “Pennsylvania Special”, and later in 1912, it was replaced by the famous “Broadway Limited”.
The growth of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in many respects, closely parallels the movement westward to the growing population centers in the midwest. The City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania wanted to meet the challenge of New York interests to be the first railroad to the west. In addition, there were many small railroads starting up in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, all trying to serve segments of the path toward the growing cities. The main lines of the Pennsylvania were brought together through charters, mergers, leases and acquisitions to reach from Philadelphia to the major western cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis. In addition, the eastern cities of Washington, Baltimore and New York City were in the sites of the Pennsylvania.
In 1910, the PRR began to electrify some of its rail lines using DC current that supplied power via a third rail. This started in the New York Terminal first, then was followed by Philadelphia, but this time, the power was supplied by overhead lines using AC current. This method then became the universal way of electrifying train lines. The “Congressional Limited” became the first passenger service to use electric trains between New York and Washington pulled by GG1-type locomotives. The “Metropolitan” was the first electric passenger train to go into operation from Philadelphia to Harrisburg in 1938. Eventually, over 2600 miles of track became electrified within the PRR system.
In 1916, the PRR began using the slogan “Standard Railroad of the World”, meaning the PRR was the railroad by which all other railroads measured themselves. It was the first railroad to implement many new innovations, including the vestibule as mentioned above. Also they were the first to replace wooden cars with steel-bodied cars. They were also one of the first companies to standardize equipment and processes throughout the entire company, not a common concept in those times. They were even one of the first to standardize their color scheme.
PRR used some aesthetic differences for the fleet of locomotives in use, to recognize immediately the engines intended for use by passengers as freight:
- steam engines freight service: a circular number plate on the front of smoke box
- steam locos passengers: road number inside the keystone in the same position
- diesel locomotives freight service: single strip to the sides of the body
- diesel locos passengers: five stripes to the sides of the body
- electric engines: as for diesel types.
Another first for the Pennsylvania Railroad was to use position-light signals to replace the old semaphore signals. The position-light signal was a round target-type display of up to 9 lights – one in the center and eight in a circle near the edge. The lights used were amber-colored so that they could be seen through fog. Different light displays sent different messages. They were usually displayed as 3 lit lights in a row. For example, if the 3 lights were arranged horizontally, that meant to stop. A vertical display meant to proceed. An “X” meant to take a siding. Later on the 2 outside lights in the horizontal row were changed to red lenses and the center light would be off in the “stop” display. Eventually, these signal displays could be transmitted electronically directly into the engineer’s cab via a track circuit (called cab signaling). The PRR was the first to use this technology also.
The PRR’s steam locomotives were built conservatively and standardized with a certain design style like the rest of the company. They designed and built a large number of their own locomotives. If they needed an outside service they would usually turn to Baldwin and rarely to ALCO since that was a supplier to its competitor, the New York Central.
Diesel locomotive use began in the 1940s beginning with E7s from General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Most were “A” units and some were “B” units (cabless boosters). Later after trying 2 groups of Baldwin engines which proved troublesome, they went back to EMD for E8 “A” unit locomotives in the early 1950s.
The Pennsylvania Railroad built many great passenger stations such as the Broad Street Station in Philadelphia, the Union Station in Washington, DC (built jointly with B&O), the Penn Station in New York City and in Newark New Jersey, the grand 30th Street Station In Philadelphia and the Union Station in Chicago (built jointly with Milwaukee Road and Burlington Route).
Like most large railways, the Pennsylvania Railroad was no stranger to big changes in the mid to late 1900’s. In 1968, it merged with New York Central, one of its main competitors, to form the Penn Central System. Shortly after that, it acquired the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Unfortunately, the company met with hard times in the 70’s and had to file for bankruptcy. Its assets were then transferred to Conrail in 1976. Conrail was later acquired by Norfolk Southern and CSX, splitting its assets. Now, most of the original PRR is owned by Norfolk Southern.
The Pennsylvania Railroad, however, stands as one of the greatest railroads in the history of the world. It was a great and grand empire in its day and made an undeniably huge contribution to industrialization, transportation and financial development of the United States. The famous "Horseshoe Curve", in operation since 1854 and built by PRR, located near Altoona (PA), is a favorite place to replicate by model railroaders. It was originally 2 track, then expanded to 4 tracks in 1898. Later, Conrail removed one of the tracks. The three track "engineering marvel" is now owned and operated by Norfolk Southern, CSX and others "class one" railroads of the East.
Predecessors, subsidiaries and affiliated railroads
Akron & Barberton
Allegheny Valley Railroad
Ashbourne, Cheltenham and Philadelphia Railroad Company
Bala, Haverford and Villanova Passenger Railroad Company
Baltimore and Eastern Railroad Company
Baltimore and Potomac Railroad
Belvidere-Delaware Railroad Bradford Railroad
Broad Street Underground Railroad Company
Bustleton and Eastern Railroad Company
Bustleton Railroad Company
Calumet & Western Railroad
Camden and Amboy Railroad
Camden & Burlington Railroad
Catonsville Short Line Railroad
Chartiers Southern Railway
Cherry Tree & Dixonville Railroad
Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad
Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad
Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern Railroad
Cincinnati, Richmond & Fort Wayne Railroad
Columbus, Chicago and Indiana Central Railroad
Columbus, Sandusky and Hocking Railroad
Connecting Railway Company
Connellsville & Monongahela Railroad
Cumberland Valley Railroad
Delaware, Maryland & Virginia Railroad
Delaware Railroad Company
Detroit Union Railroad
Depot & Station Company
Elmira & Lake Ontario Railroad
Elmira & Williamsport Railroad
Engelside Railroad Company
Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad
Fair Hill Railroad Company
Frankford and Holmesburg Railroad Company
Frankford Creek Railroad Company
Freehold and Jamesburg Railroad
Germantown and Chestnut Hill Railroad Company
Grand Rapids and Indiana Harrison & East Newark Railroad
Hudson & Manhattan Railroad
Johnsonburg Railroad Kensington and Tacony Railroad Company
Little Miami RailroadLogansport & Toledo Railway Company
Long Island Railroad Company
Lorain, Ashland & Southern Railroad
Louisville Bridge & Terminal Railway
Lykens Valley Railroad
Mansfield, Coldwater and Michigan Railroad
Manufacturer's Railway Market Street Underground Railroad Company
Massillon & Cleveland Railroad
New York Bay Railroad
New York and Long Branch Railroad
New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk Railroad
Northern Central Railroad Company
Ohio River & Western Railroad
Overbrook, Bryn Mawr and Paoli Railway Company
Overbrook, Wayne and Paoli Railway Company
Paoli, Wayne and Overbrook Street Railway Company
Pemberton & Hightstown Railroad
Pennsylvania & Atlantic Railroad
Pennsylvania, Ohio & Detroit Railroad
Pennsylvania Tunnel & Terminal Company
Perth Amboy & Woodbridge Railroad
Philadelphia, Bala and Narberth Railway Company
Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington Railroad
Philadelphia, Baltimore and Wilmington Railroad Company
Philadelphia Belt Line Railroad
Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr and Paoli Street Railway Company
Philadelphia and Bustleton Railway Company
Philadelphia, Bustleton and Trenton Railroad Company
Philadelphia & Erie Railway
Philadelphia, Germantown and Chestnut Hill Railroad Company
Philadelphia & Long Branch Railroad
Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad
Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny Railroad
Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad
Pittsburgh, Ohio Valley and Cincinnati Railroad
Pittsburgh & Steubenville Railroad
Pittsburgh, Youngstown & Ashtabula Railway Company
Radnor Belt Line Street Railway Company
Redstone Central Railroad
Rocky Hill Railroad
Roxborough Railroad Company
St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute Railroad
Shamokin Valley & Pottsville Railroad
South Chicago & Southern Railroad
Steubenville & Indiana Railroad
Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad
Toledo, Columbus & Ohio River Railroad
Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroad
Toledo, Tifflin and Eastern Railroad
Toledo and Woodvale Railroad
Trailer Train Corporation
Union Railroad of Baltimore
United New Jersey Railroad
West Jersey and Seashore Railroad Company
Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad
Wheeling Terminal Railroad
Winfield Railroad York, Hanover & Frederick Railroad
Youngstown & Ravenna Railroad
US Railroad History & PRR Timeline
1791 - Anthracite coal is discovered at Mauch Chunk, PA.
1804 - Richard Trevithick builds a successful steam locomotive to run on simply rails of the Pen-y-Darren tramway in South Wales.
1809 - Thomas Leiper's horse-drawn wooden tramway connected quarries in Delaware County (Pennsylvania) to a boat landing. It was the first time rails were utilized for freight transportation.
1815 - The state of New Jersey granted America's first railroad charter to Col. John Stevens of Hoboken, to run between New Brunswick and Trenton, NJ. Because of funding difficulties, it was not built.
1825 - Col. John Stevens built and operated a prototype steam locomotive on a circular track on his estate at Castle Point, Hoboken, NJ.
1827 - The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is chartered to run from Baltimore to the Ohio River in Virginia. It was the first westward bound railroad in America.
1828 - Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, lays the first stone to begin construction of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the nation's first common carrier.
1829 - The Stourbridge Lion, imported from England, was experimentally operated by Horatio Allen on the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company's railroad at Honesdale, Pa. It was the first steam engine to run on commercial railroad tracks in the United States.
1830 - The first scheduled passenger train service in America, by Best Friend of Charleston, at Charleston, South Carolina. 23 miles of railroad track completed in the United States.
1831 - Robert Stephenson built the locomotive John Bull in England for the Camden & Amboy Railroad, operated by the sons of Col. John Stevens. It made its inaugural run in Bordentown, NJ in November, and entered regular passenger service in 1833. The first U.S. mail is carried by rail on the South Carolina Canal & Railroad Co. Locomotive DeWitt Clinton pulls the first steam train in New York. The Elizabethtown & Somerville, the earliest ancestor road of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, is incorporated.
1832 - April, the 6-foot gauge New York & Erie, the ancestor of the Erie Railway, receives a charter from the New York State Legislature. November 23, Matthias Baldwin, a Philadelphia jeweler and abolitionist, entered the locomotive business with the successful operation of his first locomotive, Old Ironsides, on the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad.
1833 - Staple Bend Tunnel on the Allegheny Portage Railroad, east of Johnstown (Pennsylvania), is the first railroad tunnel built in the Western Hemisphere.
1837 - The first American-type locomotive (4-4-0) is planned and built. The first sleeping car, a crudely remodeled day coach, was placed in service on the Cumberland Valley Railroad between Harrisburg and Chambersburg.
1840 - Nearly 3,000 miles of railroad and 3,300 miles of canal in operation in the United States.
1841 - The first caboose, termed a way-car, was placed in service on the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad in New York.
1842 - The Philadelphia & Reading Railway is opened to transport hard coal from mines in Schuylkill County's southern anthracite field to tidewater Philadelphia.
1845 - The first iron railroad bridge in the U.S. opens on the Philadelphia & Reading near Manayunk, Pa.
1846 - April 13, the Pennsylvania Railroad obtains a charter from the Pennsylvania State Legislature and so, the future "Standard Railroad of the World" was created. Commonwealth of PA chartered the PRR to build a rail and canal corridor from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. Then, charter to build from Richmond to New Castle (Indiana).
1848 - Ohio and Pennsylvania RR chartered to build from Pittsburgh to Crestline (Ohio). Erie Railway's Starrucca Viaduct is completed at Lanesboro, Pa.
PRR chartered to build west from Steubenville (Ohio).
1849 - The Liggett's Gap Railroad is incorporated in Scranton. It later becomes the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.
PRR charter to build west from Pittsburgh across Virginia, beginning of The Panhandle Route.
1850 - The Pennsylvania Railroad becomes the first railroad to own and operate an anthracite mine in northeastern Pennsylvania.
1851 - September 22, The telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse, is first used in railroad dispatching operations, on the Erie Railway at Turners, NY.
1852 - Fort Wayne & Chicago chartered to build west to Chicago.
1853 - Line to Crestline completed and used by many railroads. Richmond to New Castle (Indiana) main line opened by PRR.
1854 - February 15, The Pennsylvania Railroad's 1300-foot long Horseshoe Curve at Altoona opens for service. Line to Fort Wayne completed (Ohio & Indiana & Great Western of Ohio RR).
1855 - Line west to Newark (Ohio) was completed.
1856 - The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River is completed at Davenport, Iowa.
1859 - The first Pullman sleeping car, built by George Mortimer Pullman, makes its initial run.
1862 - The first mail car for sorting mail en route is placed into service between Hannibal and St. Joseph, MO.
1865 - Manual block system of train control perfected by Ashbel Welch was placed in service between New Brunswick, NJ and Philadelphia.
1868 - Eli Janney patents his automatic or "knuckle" coupler.
1869 - The completion of the nation's first transcontinental railroad is celebrated at Promontory Summit, Utah with the driving of a golden spike.
1879 - The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railway opens for freight service.
1880 - With 30,000 employees and $400 million in capital, the Pennsylvania Railroad is the world's largest corporation.
1881 - Railroad mileage exceeds 100,000 route miles for the first time.
1882 - The Erie's Kinzua Viaduct is completed near Mt. Jewett, Pa. At 301 feet high, it is the nation's highest railroad bridge.
1883 - Standard time is introduced to the nation by the railroads.
1886 - Standard gauge, or 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches (measured between the inside vertical surfaces of each rail head), is adopted as the national standard.
1893 - New York Central locomotive No. 999 attains a record speed of 112.5 miles per hour near Batavia, NY.
1895 - On the B&O, electrified locomotive train service in America begins.
1902 - Rockville bridge, the longest stone arch bridge in the world, is built by the Pennsylvania Railroad across the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg. It still stands and is in use.
1906 - The first all-steel passenger coach built by the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona shops, is introduced in commuter service.
1910 - Completed at $112.9 million, the PRR's Pennsylvania Station in New York City opens for business.
1912 - The Pennsylvania Railroad's blue ribbon New York-Chicago overnight express is christened The Broad Way Limited.
1914 - Production of K4 class 4-6-2 Pacific steam locos for Pennsylvania Railroad begin at Altoona (Juniata Shops).
1915 - The DL&W's Tunkhannock Viaduct opens at Nicholson, Pa.
1916 - U.S. railroads reach their peak mileage, with over 254,037 miles of trackage. PRR adopts new motto, "Standard Railroad of the World". The first I1s "Decapod" 2-10-0 steam locomotive is completed, and switching locomotives of the A5s and B6sb class are introduced.
1920 - Pennsylvania's peak railroad mileage totals 11,551 miles.
1923 - The Reading Company merges the Philadelphia & Reading and other subsidiaries and becomes an operating company.
1925 - The American Locomotive Company (ALCO), along with G.E. and IR, builds its first Diesel-electric loco. The Central Railroad of New Jersey purchases this first diesel-electric locomotive for use as a switch engine in its New York City yard.
1927 - Pennsylvania Railroad Atlantic Class Locomotive No. 460 races a plane carrying newsreel films of Charles Lindbergh's triumphal welcome in Washington, DC, and gets the films to Broadway theaters before the plane. The competition between train and plane on this route continues today. This locomotive is on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
1930 - Air-conditioned passenger cars first appear.
1934 - Introduction of lightweight streamlined passenger trains by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Union Pacific.
1935 - The first electric streamliner locomotive GG-1 entered in service with PRR.
1941 - At 7,000 horsepower, the Union Pacific's "Big Boy" locomotives (4-8-8-4) debut as the world's largest steam locomotives ever built.
1945 - Railroads quickly purchased diesel locomotives for freight and passenger service; the last domestically-built engines are delivered by Alco, Baldwin and Lima four years later.
1946 - Last Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive, T1, 5546 (4-4-4-4), enters service.
1952 - The Pennsylvania Railroad's Broad Street Station in Philadelphia closes, ending seventy-one years of faithful service.
1956 - The Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, once the world's largest producer of locomotives, ceases production with a total output of 70,500 locomotives built.
1957 - The New York, Ontario & Western Railway becomes the first anthracite carrier to abandon operations in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Railroad ends its use of steam locomotives. Some of its most historic locomotives are in storage, most destined to be preserved in the future Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
1959 - National rail network drops to 220,000 miles.
1960 - The Grand Trunk Western in Detroit, Michigan, operated the nation's last regularly scheduled steam passenger service with two 4-8-4's. The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and the Erie merge as the Erie-Lackawanna Railway.
1963 - The Pennsylvania Railroad's grand Penn Station in New York City's midtown was demolished, ushering in the contemporary historic preservation movement.
1968 - February 1, The Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central merge together to form the world's largest privately-owned railway, the Penn Central.
1970 - The Penn Central declares bankruptcy, with a $431 million loss; it was the biggest business failure in American history.
1971 - Amtrak is created as a measure of nationalizing the country's passenger trains.
1975 - The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania opens to the public for the first time, with the first building built specifically for a train museum.
1976 - Conrail is established by Congress to save and consolidate seven of the nation's ailing northeastern carriers-the Penn Central, Reading, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh Valley, Erie-Lackawanna, Lehigh & Hudson River and Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines.
Pennsylvania Railroad Motive Power Steam Locomotives
Diameter x Stroke
|D2a||4-4-0||68in||18x24in||125psi||24t||37t||18sq.ft.||1057sq.ft.||none||Orig: B A|
|D4||4-4-0||62in||17x24in||125psi||25t||37t||29sq.ft.||1158sq.ft.||none||Orig: C ANTH|
|D4a||4-4-0||68in||17x24in||125psi||26t||38t||29sq.ft.||1158sq.ft.||none||C A ANTH|
|D7||4-4-0||68in||17x24in||140psi||29t||42t||35sq.ft.||1289sq.ft.||none||Orig: A ANTH|
|D7||4-4-0||68in||17x24in||140psi||29t||42t||35sq.ft.||1444sq.ft.||none||Orig: A ANTH|
|D odd||4-4-0||78in||19x24in||180psi||37t||57t||26sq.ft.||1800sq.ft.||none||D: 1504|
|D odd||4-4-0||78in||13/24x24in||180psi||38t||56t||38sq.ft.||1700sq.ft.||none||D: 1510|
|G odd||4-6-0||72in||14/24x24in||180psi||46t||60t||28sq.ft.||2200sq.ft.||none||Q: 1502|
|G odd||4-6-0||74in||20(1)/30(1)x24in||180psi||48t||65t||26sq.ft.||2000sq.ft.||none||Q: 1503|
|H4||2-8-0||56in||22x28in||185psi||71t||79t||30sq.ft.||2470sq.ft.||none||316 2" tubes|
|H4||2-8-0||56in||22x28in||185psi||71t||79t||30sq.ft.||2322sq.ft.||none||263 x 2¼"|
|I1s||2-10-0||62in||30½x32in||250psi||155t||168t||70sq.ft.||4331sq.ft.||1133sq.ft.||Type A, 1928|
|I1sa||2-10-0||62in||30½x32in||250psi||160t||175t||70sq.ft.||4590sq.ft.||1634sq.ft.||Type E, 1929|