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1791-1841

1842-1881

1882-1927

1928-1980

1981-2000

and history continues!

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a world class museum of railroad history in Strasburg, PA.

Railroad History Timeline

1842 - 1881
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.
The Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad is chartered to build a line from Mauch Chunk to Easton, Pa.; in 1853 it is renamed the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
1848 Erie Railway's Starrucca Viaduct is completed at Lanesboro, Pa.
1849 The Liggett's Gap Railroad is incorporated in Scranton. It later becomes the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.
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 Pittsburgh is linked with Philadelphia for the first time, via rail and inclined planes.
1854 February 15, The Pennsylvania Railroad's 1300-foot long Horseshoe Curve at Altoona opens for service. Subsequently, railroad travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is reduced from 3-1/2 days to 13 hours.
1855 The first women railroad employee, Susan Morningstar, is hired by the B&O at their Baltimore Terminal.
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.
1861 The Civil War was the first military conflict to make extensive use of the railroads for strategic and tactical purposes.
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.
1867 The first domestic steel rails are rolled in 1867 by the Cambria Iron Works in Johnstown, Pa., using the Bessemer process and installed on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
1868 Eli Janney patents his automatic or "knuckle" coupler.
1869 George Westinghouse applied for a new straight air-brake patent; it is first tested on the PRR's Pittsburgh to Steubenville accommodation.
May 10, The completion of the nation's first transcontinental railroad is celebrated at Promontory Summit, Utah with the driving of a golden spike.
1877 June, The Great Railroad Strike erupts into labor violence on the B&O and spreads across the country to the Pennsylvania Railroad's Pittsburgh Yard; many lives are lost and rolling stock is extensively damaged.
John E. Wootten, general manager of the P&R, introduces a wider firebox for anthracite, introducing hundreds of "Camelback" locomotives in Pennsylvania over the next several years.
1879 February 10, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRR.
Pennsylvania Railroad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porter.
Porter assisting passenger.

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Administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
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