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The Philadelphia Chapter of the

National Railway Historical Society

Established in 1936


Histories of local railroad operations

The Pennsylvania Railroad

  The Pennsylvania Railroad was chartered on April 13, 1846 and merged with the New York Central to form the Penn Central on February 1, 1968. Headquartered in Philadelphia, it was considered by itself and many others as "the Standard Railroad of the World". It was one of the largest railroads, with rail stretching from New York, Washington DC, Chicago, St. Louis and just about all points between. It was also part owner for a time in other railroads, namely the Lehigh Valley, the Long Island and the Norfolk and Western.
Pennsylvania Station - 30th Street  


  The main passenger stations in the Philadelphia area were Pennsylvania Station (30th Street Station), Broad Street Station (later replaced by Suburban Station) and North Philadelphia Station. The railroad designated the direction of travel in relation to ZOO interlocking, located between 30th Street Station and North Philadelphia Station and named for its proximity to the Philadelphia Zoo. ZOO was probably one of the most complex interlockings ever created, with flyovers and duck-unders allowing trains unrestricted travel in all directions. Trains traveling compass north of ZOO between New York and ZOO were designated as east (north to New York) and west (south from New York). Trains traveling compass south of ZOO between Washington DC and ZOO were designated as south (south to Washington DC) and north (from Washington DC). Since its creation in the 1930's, Penn Station (30th Street Station), located in West Philadelphia just across the Schuykill River from Center City, was a station for both commuter and north-south inter-city travel. Many east-west trains such as the Broadway Limited stopped only at North Philadelphia, connecting to the Main Line at ZOO. For many years, Broad Street Station, built in the 1880's and razed in the 1950's, was the main Center City terminal and housed the offices of the railroad. It had an enormous train shed, but was a stub ended terminal that required trains to make complicated moves to service it. Its platforms were also above street level, which made the approach from 30th Street Station a huge viaduct called the Chinese Wall, basically splitting Center City west of Broad Street in half. The station that replaced it, Suburban Station, is subterranean, eliminating the Chinese wall, and was primarily used by commuters in the Philadelphia area.
Broad Street Station
North Philadelphia Station
  The lines that serviced Philadelphia were the New York line to the north, the Main Line to the West, and the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington line to the south, as well as the Kensington and Tacony Branch, the West Chester Branch, the Chestnut Hill Branch, the Bustleton Branch, and the Belmont Connecting Railroad.
Pennsylvania License Plate with PRR K4  
  The main yard for freight traffic was Greenwich Yard in South Philadelphia. Servicing the docks along Delaware Avenue, ore and coal traffic as well as merchandise was handled here. It was also the destination for trains for the annual Army-Navy football game held at Philadelphia Municipal Stadium (later renamed JFK Stadium). Nearby was the Philadelphia Navy Yard and many refinery facilities. Much of the trackage along the waterfront was actually owned by the Philadelphia Belt Line Railroad, over which both the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads had track rights. Other yards in the area were Race Street Yard and Penn Coach Yard near 30th Street, and Frankford Junction Yard on the New York main.

PRR 5711 on Delaware Avenue May 9, 2002

    Its electrified territories included what are now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) from New York and Washington DC, and Amtrak's Harrisburg line from Philadelphia to Harrisburg (the Mainline), as well as a few South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) commuter routes in the Philadelphia area: the R5 Downingtown/Paoli, the R2 Wilmington, the R3 Elwyn, the R7 Trenton and the R8 Chestnut Hill West. Non-electrified routes that remain are used by Norfolk Southern, CSX and Conrail Shared Assets Operations and include Greenwich Yard (CSX), the Trenton Cut-Off and part of Morrisville Yard (NS), the Bustleton Branch and the Kensington and Tacony Branch (CSAO) and the High Line, Belmont Connecting Railroad, and "O" track that parallels the NEC leading to Frankford Junction, the Delair Bridge and Pavonia yard in Camden NJ (used by all three).


Pennsylvania Railroad Genealogy

Predecessors, subsidiaries and affiliated railroads

Akron & Barberton Belt Railroad
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
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Little Miami Railroad
Logansport & 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
Monongahela Railway
Mountour Railroad
New York Bay Railroad
New York and Long Branch Railroad
New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk Railroad
Norfolk and Western Railway
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-Reading Seashore Lines
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
Richmond-Washington Company
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
Vandalia Railroad
West Jersey and Seashore Railroad Company
Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad
Wheeling Terminal Railroad
Winfield Railroad
York, Hanover & Frederick Railroad
Youngstown & Ravenna Railroad

Copyright © 2005 John P. Almeida

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Website created June 12, 2002

Last Updated January 9, 2005