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

Railroad History Timeline


1882 August 29, The Erie's Kinzua Viaduct is completed near Mt. Jewett, Pa. At 301 feet high, it is the nation's highest railroad bridge.
1883 November 18, noon, Standard time is introduced to the nation by the railroads.
1886 May, 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.
1887 The Interstate Commerce Act passed by Congress provides for first federal regulation of railroads.
1893 The Railway Appliance and Safety Act is passed by Congress. It outlawed the use of link-and-pin couplers and mandated the use of the Janney coupler and the Westinghouse air brake in interstate service, saving hundreds of lives each year.
May 10, New York Central locomotive No. 999 attains a record speed of 112.5 miles per hour near Batavia, NY.
1894 May-June, Pullman Strike, Chicago, Ill.
1895 On the B&O, electrified locomotive train service in America begins.
1896 In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that passengers on railroad cars could be racially segregated and, by extension, in public facilities. This doctrine of "separate but equal" was overturned in 1954 by Brown v. The Board of Education.
1900 April 30, John Luther "Casey" Jones died at the throttle of the Illinois Central's "Cannonball" in Vaughan, Mississippi.
1901 Mechanical coal stoker first used.
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.
1907 The Hours of Service Act required that operating railroad employees be relieved for a 10-hour period after 16 hours of work.
1910 Completed at $112.9 million, the PRR's Pennsylvania Station in New York City opens for business.
1912 November 24, The Pennsylvania Railroad's blue ribbon New York-Chicago overnight express is christened The Broad Way Limited.
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.
The Adamson Act provides an eight-hour day for railroad operating personnel.
1917 December 28, The United States Railroad Administration takes over operation of the nation's railroads for the duration of World War I.
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 Central Railroad of New Jersey purchases the first diesel-electric locomotive for use as a switch engine in its New York City yard.
1926 May 20, The Railway Labor Act guarantees workers the right to organize and bargain collectively without employer interference.
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.

1791-1841  1842-1881 1928-1980  1981-2000  and history continues!



Kinzua viaduct.
Early scene at Kinzua Viaduct.
























No. 460.
No. 460, the engine that beat the plane.

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