The Pennsylvania railroad was the dominant memeber of the American railroad family during it's heyday. In an era there were more than 130 class 1 railroads, the PRR moved 10% of Americas freight and 20% of its passengers. It's 10,500 mile system served 13 states in the most populous and industrialized region of the country. In 1843 the B&O requested a chater for a line to Pittsburgh. The B&O line was charted but so was the PRR on April 13, 1846. Backed by the Philadelphia buisness community, the new company would build a line from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. The B&O's charter would be valid only if the PRR was not constructed. J. Edgar Thomson, who built the Georgia Railroad, surveyed the route. Although some had advised a line with a steady grade from Harrisburg to the Allegheny summit, he laid out instead a nearly water-level line along the susquehanna and Juniata rivers from Harrisburg to Altoona, where a steeper grade began for a comparatively short assault on the mountains. This concentrated the problems of a mount railroad in one area. By 1852 rails ran from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, via connection with the Allegheny ortage railroad between Hollidaysburg and Johnstown. The summit tunnel at Gallitzin, opened in Feburary of 1854, which bypassed the inclines and erected a continuous railroad from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. In 1857 the PRR bought the main-line of Public Works, including the New Portage Railroad, a Hollidaysburg-Gallitzin replacment for the inclines that was built about the same time as PRR's own line, and in 1861 leased the HPM&L, putting the whole Philadelphia-Pittsburgh under one managment.
Move on ahead to Becoming Bigger
Back to Main Page