Railroad (reporting mark PRR) (or Pennsylvania
Railroad Company and also known as the "Pennsy") was an American Class
I railroad that was established in 1846 and was headquartered in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was called the
because it was established in the state of Pennsylvania.
The PRR was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the U.S.
for the first half of the 20th century. Over the years, it acquired,
merged with or owned part of at least 800 other rail lines and
companies. At the end of 1925, it operated 10,515 miles of rail
line; in the 1920s, it carried nearly three times the traffic as
other railroads of comparable length, such as the Union Pacific or
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroads. Its only formidable rival
New York Central
New York Central (NYC), which carried around three-quarters of
At one time, the PRR was the largest publicly traded corporation in
the world, with a budget larger than that of the U.S. government and a
workforce of about 250,000 people. The corporation still holds the
record for the longest continuous dividend history: it paid out annual
dividends to shareholders for more than 100 consecutive years.
In 1968, PRR merged with rival NYC to form the Penn Central
Transportation Company, which filed for bankruptcy within two
years. The viable parts were transferred in 1976 to Conrail, which
was itself broken up in 1999, with 58 percent of the system going to
Norfolk Southern Railway (NS), including nearly all of the former
Amtrak received the electrified segment east of Harrisburg.
1.1 Main Line
1.1.2 Early history
1.2 New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington lines
1.3 New York-Chicago
1.4 New York-St. Louis
1.5 "Low-grade" lines
1.7 Penn Central merger and Conrail
2.1 Paint schemes
2.3 Steam locomotives
2.4 Electric locomotives
2.5 Diesel locomotives
3.1 Altoona Works
3.2 Major passenger stations
3.2.1 Broad Street Station – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
30th Street Station
30th Street Station – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3.2.3 Penn Station – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3.2.4 Penn Station – Baltimore, Maryland
3.2.5 Union Station – Chicago, Illinois
3.2.6 Penn Station – Newark, New Jersey
3.2.7 Penn Station – New York City, New York
3.2.8 Union Station – Washington, D.C.
5 Heritage Unit
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Main article: Main Line (
Amtrak's "Pennsylvanian" operates daily runs between New York and
Pittsburgh over the former PRR Main Line.
With the opening of the
Erie Canal (1825) and the beginnings of the
Ohio Canal (1828),
Philadelphia business interests
became concerned that the port of
Philadelphia would lose traffic. The
state legislature was pressed to build a canal across
Main Line of Public Works
Main Line of Public Works was commissioned in 1826. It
soon became evident that a single canal would not be practical and a
series of railroads, inclined planes, and canals was proposed. The
route consisting of the
Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, canals up
the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, an inclined plane railroad and
tunnel across the Allegheny Mountains, and canals down the Conemaugh
and Allegheny rivers to
Pittsburgh on the
Ohio River was completed in
1834. Because freight and passengers had to change cars several times
along the route and canals froze in winter, it soon became apparent
that the system was cumbersome and a better way was needed.
The Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania granted a charter to the Pennsylvania
Railroad in 1846 to build a private rail line that would connect
Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. The Directors chose John Edgar Thomson,
an engineer from the Georgia Railroad, to survey and construct the
line. He chose a route that followed the west bank of the Susquehanna
River northward to the confluence with the Juniata River, following
its banks until the foothills of the
Allegheny Mountains were reached
at a point that would become Altoona, Pennsylvania. In order to
traverse the mountains, the line climbed a moderate grade for 10 miles
until it reached a split of two mountain ravines which were cleverly
crossed by building a fill and having the tracks ascend a 220-degree
curve known as Horseshoe Curve that limited the grade to less than 2
percent. The crest of the mountain was penetrated by the 3,612-foot
Gallitzin Tunnels and then descended by a more moderate grade to
The western end of the line was simultaneously built from Pittsburgh
east along the banks of the Allegheny and Conemaugh rivers to
Johnstown. PRR was granted trackage rights over the
Columbia and gained control of the three short lines connecting
Lancaster and Harrisburg, instituting an all-rail link between
Pittsburgh by 1854. In 1857, the PRR purchased the
Main Line of Public Works
Main Line of Public Works from the state of Pennsylvania, and
abandoned most of its canals and inclined planes. The line was double
track from its inception, and by the end of the century a third and
fourth track were added. Over the next 50 years, PRR expanded by
gaining control of other railroads by stock purchases and 999-year
John Edgar Thomson
Thomson (1808–1874) was the entrepreneur who led the PRR from 1852
until his death in 1874, making it the largest business enterprise in
the world and a world-class model for technological and managerial
innovation. He served as PRR's first Chief Engineer and third
President. Thomson's sober, technical, methodical, and
non-ideological personality had an important influence on the
Pennsylvania Railroad, which in the mid-19th century was on the
technical cutting edge of rail development, while nonetheless
reflecting Thomson's personality in its conservatism and its steady
growth while avoiding financial risks. His
in his day the largest railroad in the world, with 6,000 miles of
track, and was famous for steady financial dividends, high quality
construction, constantly improving equipment, technological advances
(such as replacing wood fuel with coal), and innovation in management
techniques for a large complex organization.
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington lines
Main article: Northeast Corridor
November 3, 1857
1893 PRR territory map
1899 map of "Lines East" territory
PRR Phila/NY coach ticket (c.1955)
In 1861 the PRR gained control of the Northern Central Railway, giving
it access to Baltimore, Maryland, as well as points along the
Susquehanna River via connections at Columbia,
On December 1, 1871, the PRR leased the United
Canal Company, which included the original Camden and Amboy Railroad
New Jersey (across the
Delaware River from Philadelphia)
to South Amboy,
New Jersey (across
Raritan Bay from New York City), as
well as a newer line from
Philadelphia to Jersey City, New Jersey,
much closer to New York, via Trenton, New Jersey. Track connection in
Philadelphia was made via the PRR's
Connecting Railway and the jointly
Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road
Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road opened on July 2, 1872,
between Baltimore and
Washington, D.C. This route required transfer
via horse car in Baltimore to the other lines heading north from the
city. On June 29, 1873, the
Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel
Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel through
Baltimore was completed. The PRR started the misleadingly named
Pennsylvania Air Line service via the
Northern Central Railway
Northern Central Railway and
Columbia, Pennsylvania. This service was 54.5 miles (87.5 km)
longer than the old route but avoided the transfer in Baltimore. The
Railroad line opened on July 24, 1873. This route eliminated the
transfer in Baltimore. PRR officials contracted with both the Union
Railroad and the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad
Railroad for access to this line. The PRR's New
York–Washington trains began using the route the next day, ending
Pennsylvania Air Line service. In the early 1880s, the PRR acquired a
majority of PW&B Railroad's stock. This action forced the
Railroad (B&O) to build the Baltimore and
Railroad to keep its
Philadelphia access, where it
connected with the Reading
Railroad for its competing Royal Blue Line
passenger trains to reach New York.
In 1885, the PRR began passenger train service from
New York City
New York City via
Philadelphia to Washington with limited stops along the route. This
service became known as the "Congressional Limited Express." The
service expanded, and by the 1920s, the PRR was operating hourly
passenger train service between New York,
Philadelphia and Washington.
In 1952, 18-car stainless steel streamliners were introduced on the
Morning Congressional and Afternoon Congressional between New York and
Washington, as well as the Senator from Boston to Washington.
On July 1, 1869, the
Railroad leased the Pittsburgh, Fort
Chicago Railway in which it had previously been an investor.
The lease gave the PRR complete control of that line's direct route
Indiana as well as entry into the emerging
rail hub city of Chicago, Illinois. Acquisitions along the Pittsburgh,
Fort Wayne and
Chicago Railway: Erie and
Pittsburgh Railroad, Toledo, Columbus and
Railroad, and Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Ashtabula Railway gave the
PRR access to the iron ore traffic on Lake Erie.
On June 15, 1887, the
Pennsylvania Limited began running between New
York and Chicago. This was also the introduction of the vestibule, an
enclosed platform at the end of each passenger car, allowing protected
access to the entire train. In 1902 the
Pennsylvania Limited was
replaced by the
Special which in turn was replaced in
1912 by the
Broadway Limited which became the most famous train
operated by the
Pennsylvania Railroad. This train ran from New
York City to Chicago, via Philadelphia, with an additional section
Harrisburg and Washington (later operated as a separate
Chicago train, the Liberty Limited).
New York-St. Louis
In 1890, the PRR gained control of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago
and St. Louis Railroad, itself the merged product of numerous smaller
lines in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Commonly called the Panhandle
Route, this line ran west from
Pittsburgh to Bradford, Ohio, where it
split, with one line to
Chicago and the other to East St. Louis,
Illinois, via Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1905, the acquisition of the
Railroad gave the PRR access across the Mississippi River to
St. Louis, Missouri.
Double-tracked for much of its length, the line served the coal region
Illinois and as a passenger route for the Pennsylvania
Railroad's Blue Ribbon named trains The St. Louisan, the Jeffersonian,
and the Spirit of St. Louis.
See also: Category:
Railroad Through-freight Lines
Around 1900, the PRR built several low-grade lines for freight to
bypass areas of steep grade (slope). These included:
1892: Trenton Branch (PRR) and Trenton Cut-Off
Railroad from Glen
Pennsylvania east to Morrisville,
Pennsylvania (not only a
low-grade line but a long-distance bypass of
1892: Waverly and Passaic
Railroad (finished by the New York Bay
Railroad) from Waverly,
New Jersey to Kearny, New Jersey
1904: Reopening of the New Portage
Railroad from the Gallitzin Tunnels
east to New Portage Junction (abandoned), then continuing north over
the Hollidaysburg Branch to Altoona
Philadelphia and Thorndale Branch from Thorndale, Pennsylvania
east to Glen Loch (abandoned by
Conrail in 1989)
Atglen and Susquehanna Branch
Atglen and Susquehanna Branch from
Harrisburg via the Northern
Central Railway south to Wago Junction, then east to Parkesburg (the
latter abandoned by
Conrail in 1990)
Pennsylvania and Newark
Railroad was incorporated in 1905 to build
a low-grade line from Morrisville,
Pennsylvania to Colonia, New
Jersey. It was never completed, but some work was done in the Trenton
area, including bridge piers in the
Delaware River. North of Colonia,
the alignment was going to be separate, but instead two extra tracks
were added to the existing line. Work was suspended in 1916. Another
low-grade line across the mountains of Pennsylvania, to avoid the
congestion of Pittsburgh, was contemplated but never built.
Main article: Railway electrification system
See also: Amtrak's 25 Hz traction power system
A GG1 electric locomotive pulls The Congressional out of the North
River Tunnels, 1965
Early in the 20th century the PRR tried electric power for its trains.
First was the New York terminal area, where tunnels and a city law
restricting the burning of coal precluded steam locomotives. There a
direct current (DC) 650-volt third rail powered PRR locomotives (and
LIRR passenger cars). The system was put into service in 1910.
The next area to be electrified was the
Philadelphia terminal area,
where PRR officials decided to use overhead lines to supply power to
the suburban trains running out of Broad Street Station. Unlike the
New York terminal system, overhead wires would carry 11,000-volt
25-Hertz alternating current (AC) power: the system used for all
future installations. In 1915, electrification of the line from
Philadelphia to Paoli,
Pennsylvania was completed. Other
Philadelphia lines electrified were the Chestnut Hill Branch (1918),
White Marsh (1924), West Chester (1928), the main line to Wilmington,
Delaware, and in 1930 the
Schuylkill Branch to Norristown, along with
the rest of the main line to Trenton.
The former PRR electrified Main Line west of
Philadelphia is now owned
and operated by
Amtrak and shared with
SEPTA as far as Paoli and
William Wallace Atterbury
William Wallace Atterbury announced in 1928 plans to
electrify the lines between New York, Philadelphia, Washington and
Harrisburg. In January 1933, through main-line service between New
York and Philadelphia/Wilmington/Paoli was placed in operation. The
first test run of an electric train between
Washington occurred on January 28, 1935. On February 1 the
Congressional Limiteds in both directions were the first trains in
regular electric operation between New York and Washington, drawn by
the first of the GG1-type locomotives. All regular passenger trains
between these cities were electrified by March 15.
In 1934 the PRR received a $77 million loan from the New Deal's Public
Works Administration To complete the electrification project
initiated in 1928, work was started January 27, 1937, on the main line
from Paoli to Harrisburg; the low-grade freight line from Morrisville
through Columbia to
Enola Yard in Pennsylvania; the Port Road Branch
Maryland to Columbia; the Jamesburg Branch and Amboy
Secondary freight line from Monmouth Junction to South Amboy; and the
Landover-South End freight line from Landover,
Potomac Yard in Alexandria,
Virginia (now called the
Landover Subdivision and RF&P Subdivision of CSX). In less than a
year, on the following January 15, the first passenger train, the
Metropolitan, went into operation over the newly electrified line from
Philadelphia to Harrisburg. On April 15, the electrified freight
Enola Yard east was inaugurated, thus
completing the Pennsy's eastern seaboard electrification program. The
railroad had electrified 2,677 miles (4,308 km) of its track,
representing 41% of the country's electrically operated standard
railroad trackage. Portions of the electrified trackage are still in
use, owned and operated by
Amtrak as the
Northeast Corridor and
Keystone Corridor high-speed rail routes, by SEPTA, and by
Penn Central merger and Conrail
Main article: Penn Central Transportation
Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles
Source: ICC annual reports
Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles
Source: ICC annual reports
On February 1, 1968, the PRR merged with its arch-rival, the New York
Central railroad, to form the Penn Central. The Interstate Commerce
Commission (ICC) required that the ailing New York, New Haven &
Railroad be added in 1969. A series of events including
inflation, poor management, abnormally harsh weather conditions and
the withdrawal of a government-guaranteed $200 million operating loan
forced the Penn Central to file for bankruptcy protection on June 21,
1970. The Penn Central rail lines were split between Amtrak
Northeast Corridor and Keystone Corridor) and
Conrail in the 1970s.
After the breakup of
Conrail in 1999, the portion which had been PRR
territory largely became part of the
Norfolk Southern Railway. The few
parts of the PRR that went to
CSX after the
Conrail split are (1) the
western end of the Fort Wayne Line across western
Ohio and northern
Indiana, (2) the Pope's Creek Secondary in Maryland, just to the east
of Washington, (3) the Landover Subdivision, a former Pennsy freight
line in DC which connects to Amtrak's ex-Pennsy
Northeast Corridor and
CSX's ex-B&O Alexandria Extension on the north end and CSX's
RF&P Subdivision on the south end via the ex-Pennsy "Long Bridge"
across the Potomac River, and (4) the Terre Haute, Ind.-to-East St.
Louis, Ill. segment of the St. Louis main line (the segment east of
Terre Haute is former-New York Central).
1846: PRR is chartered to construct a rail line from
1850: Construction begins on
Altoona Works repair shop at Altoona,
1860–1890: PRR expands throughout the eastern U.S.
1869: PRR leases the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago, formally
giving it control of a direct route into the heart of the Midwest.
1885: The Congressional Limited Express from New York City-Washington,
D.C. is introduced.
Pennsylvania Limited service begins between New York-Chicago;
first vestibuled train.
Pennsylvania Pacific Corporation is formed by the PRR.
Special service begins between New York and Chicago
1906: An accident in
Atlantic City kills 53 people
1910: Completion of the
North River Tunnels
North River Tunnels under the Hudson River,
providing direct service from
New Jersey to Manhattan on electrified
lines, terminating at the massive new Penn Station
1912: The Second Vice-President of the PRR, John Borland Thayer, is
lost in the sinking of
RMS Titanic at age of 49.
Broadway Limited was inaugurated, replacing the Pennsylvania
1915: PRR electrifies its suburban
Philadelphia lines to Paoli,
1916: PRR adopts new motto, Standard
Railroad of the World. The first
I1s Decapod locomotive is completed, and switching locomotives of the
A5s and B6sb class are introduced.
1917: Completion of the New York Connecting
Railroad and the Hell Gate
1918: PRR stock bottoms at $40¼ (equal to $654.86 today), the lowest
since 1877, due largely to Federal railroad control. Emergency freight
is routed through New York Penn Station and the
Hudson River tunnels
by the USRA to relieve congestion. Locomotive class N1s is introduced
for PRR's western lines; PRR electrifies suburban commuter line to
1928–1938: PRR electrifies its New York–
Washington, D.C. and
Philadelphia line between
Harrisburg and Paoli, several
Philadelphia and New York area commuter lines, and major through
1943: An accident at Frankford Junction,
Pennsylvania kills 79.
1946: PRR reported a net loss for the first time in its history.
1951: An accident in Woodbridge,
New Jersey kills 85 people.
1957: Steam locomotives are removed from active service in the PRR
1968: PRR merges with NYC to form the Penn Central Transportation
The PRR's corporate symbol was the keystone, the commonwealth of
Pennsylvania's state symbol, with the letters "PRR" intertwined
inside. When colored, it was bright red with a silver-grey inline and
As noted, PRR colors and paint schemes were standardized. Locomotives
were painted in a shade of green so dark it seemed almost black. The
official name for this color was DGLE (Dark Green Locomotive Enamel),
though often referred to as "Brunswick Green." The undercarriage of
the locomotives were painted in black, referred to as "True Black."
The passenger cars of the PRR were painted Tuscan Red, a brick-colored
shade of red. Some electric locomotives and most passenger-hauling
diesel locomotives were also painted in Tuscan Red. Freight cars of
the PRR had their own color, known as "Freight Car Color," an
iron-oxide shade of red. On passenger locomotives and cars the
lettering and outlining was originally done in real gold leaf. After
World War II
World War II the lettering was done in a light shade of yellow called
Main article: Railway signal
Position light signals
PRR was one of the first railroads to replace semaphore signals with
position-light signals. Such signals, which featured a large round
target with up to eight amber-colored lights in a circle and one in
the center, could be lit in various patterns to convey different
meanings, were more visible in fog, and remained effective even when
one light in a row was inoperative.
Signal aspects, or meanings, were displayed as rows of three lit
lights. The aspects corresponded with upper-quadrant semaphore signal
positions: vertical for "proceed", a 45° angle rising to the right
for "approach", horizontal for "stop", a 45° angle rising to the left
for "restriction", a "X" shape for "take siding", and a full circle
(used in electrified territory) for "lower pantograph". Additional
aspects were conveyed with a second target head below the first,
either a single light, a partial target, or a full target. Separate
Manual Block signal aspects existed as well.
In later years, interlocking home signals north and west of Rockville
(near Harrisburg) were modified so that the two outside lights in the
horizontal "stop" row had red lenses; the center lamp would be
extinguished when the signal displayed "stop". Such "red-eye"
lenses were also temporarily installed at Overbrook Interlocking near
Starting in the late 1920s, the PRR installed Pulse code cab signaling
along certain tracks used by high-speed passenger trains. Information
traveled through the rails using track circuits, was picked up by a
sensor on the locomotive, and displayed in the engineer's cab. PRR
ultimately installed cab signals on its New York-Washington,
Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh-Indianapolis lines (the latter
which was later downgraded by PC and ultimately abandoned by Conrail).
PRR also experimented with cab signals without wayside signals, an
approach later expanded by
Conrail (Conemaugh line) and Norfolk
Southern Railway (Cleveland line). Cab signals were subsequently
adopted by several other U.S. railroads, especially on passenger
lines. This technology, advanced for its time, is still used by
Main article: Steam locomotive
PRR I1sa #4483 on display at Hamburg, New York.
K4s at Aberdeen, Maryland, April 26, 1944.
PRR engine #1223 in operation on the
Strasburg Rail Road
Strasburg Rail Road (1989)
For most of its existence, PRR was conservative in its locomotive
choices and pursued standardization, both in locomotive types and
their component parts. Almost alone among U.S. railroads, the PRR
designed most of its steam locomotive classes itself. It built most of
them in Altoona, outsourcing only when PRR facilities could not keep
up with the railroad's needs. In such cases, subcontractors were hired
to build to PRR designs, unlike most railroads that ordered to
broad specifications and left most design choices to the builder.
The PRR's favorite outsourcer was Baldwin Locomotive Works, which
received its raw materials and shipped out its finished products on
PRR lines. The two companies were headquartered in the same city; PRR
and Baldwin management and engineers knew each other well. When the
PRR and Baldwin shops were at capacity, orders went to the Lima
Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. Only as a last resort would the
PRR use the
American Locomotive Company
American Locomotive Company (Alco), based in Schenectady,
New York, which also built for PRR's rival, NYC.
The PRR had a design style that it favored in its locomotives. One
example was the square-shouldered Belpaire firebox. This British-style
firebox was a PRR trademark that was rarely used by other locomotive
builders in the U. S. PRR also used track pans extensively to retrieve
water for the locomotive while in motion. Using this system meant that
the tenders of their locomotives had a comparatively large proportion
of coal (which could not be taken on board while running) compared to
water capacity. Locomotives of the PRR had a clean look to them. Only
necessary devices were used and they were mounted neatly on the
locomotive. Smoke box fronts bore a round locomotive number board
denoting a freight locomotive or a keystone number board denoting a
passenger locomotive. Otherwise the smoke box was uncluttered except
for a headlamp at the top and a steam-driven turbo-generator behind
it. In later years the positions of the two were reversed, since the
generator needs more maintenance than the lamp.
Each class of steam locomotive was assigned a class designation.
Early on this was simply a letter, but when these ran short the scheme
was changed so that each wheel arrangement had its own letter, and
different types in the same arrangement had different numbers added to
the letter. Subtypes were indicated by a lower-case letter;
superheating was designated by an "s" until the mid-1920s, by which
time all new locomotives were superheated. A K4sa class was a 4-6-2
"Pacific" type (K) of the fourth class of Pacifics designed by PRR. It
was superheated (s) and was of the first variant type (a) after the
original (unlettered). Steam locomotives remained part of the PRR
fleet until 1957.
Main article: PRR locomotive classification
PRR's reliance on steam locomotives in the mid-20th century
contributed to its decline. Steam locomotives require more maintenance
than diesel locomotives, are less cost efficient, and require more
personnel to operate. PRR was unable to update its roster during the
World War II
World War II years; by the end of the war their roster was in rough
shape. In addition, PRR was saddled with unsuccessful experimental
steam locomotives such as the Q1, S1, and T1 "Duplex Drive"
locomotives, and the S2 turbine locomotive. Unlike most of their
competition, PRR did not acquire any
PRR's competitors managed this period better with their diesel
locomotive rosters. PRR voluntarily preserved a roundhouse full of
representative steam locomotives at Northumberland,
1957 and kept them there for several decades. These locomotives, with
the exception of I1sa #4483 which is on display at Hamburg, New York,
are now at the
Railroad Museum of
Pennsylvania in Strasburg,
Pennsylvania. In sharp contrast, NYC's
Alfred E. Perlman
Alfred E. Perlman deliberately
scrapped all but two large steam locomotives, and these survived only
On December 18, 1987, the Commonwealth of
K4s as the official State Steam Locomotive. The two surviving
locomotives are housed at Strasburg and Altoona.
As of 2016[update] the only operable PRR Steam Locomotive is class B4a
engine # 643, built in July 1901 in Altoona. Engine 643 is maintained
by volunteers of the Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine
Association outside of Harrisburg, and is operated several weekends
each summer. As of 2017[update] however, a major construction
project has been underway since 2014, building a new operational
example of a class T1 engine numbered 5550, as all original class T1
locomotives have been scrapped. The project is being undertaken by the
Railroad T1 Steam Locomotive Trust and is projected to be
finished by 2030.
Main article: Electric locomotive
PRR FF1 experimental engine
PRR GG1 #4890 at the National
Railroad Museum Green Bay, Wisconsin.
When work on the
Hudson River tunnels and New York's Penn Station was
in progress, the type of electric locomotives to be used was an
important consideration. At that time only a few electric locomotives
existed. Several experimental locomotives were designed by railroad
and Westinghouse engineers and tried on the West Jersey & Seashore
Railroad track. From these tests the DD1 class was developed. The
DD1s were used in pairs (back to back). Thirty-three of these engines
having Westinghouse equipment were built at Altoona. They were capable
of speeds up to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). Placed in service
in 1910, they proved to be quite efficient.
Steel suburban passenger cars capable of being electrified for MU
operation were designed due to the need for such cars in service to
Penn Station through its associated tunnels and were designated
MP54. Designs for corresponding cars accommodating baggage and
mail were produced also. Eight of these cars were electrified with DC
equipment to provide shuttle service from Penn Station to Manhattan
Transfer between 1910 and 1922. More extensive electrification plans
required AC electrification, starting with 93 cars for the Paoli Line
in 1915. With the expansion of the AC electrification, additional MP54
cars were electrified or purchased new until a total of 481 cars was
reached in 1951. Replacement with newer types of cars began in 1958
and the last MP54 cars were retired in 1980.
The single FF1 appeared in 1917 and ran experimentally for a number of
years in preparation for electrification over the Allegheny Mountains
that never came to fruition. Its AC induction motors and side-rod
drive powered six axles. It developed a starting tractive force of
140,000 pounds, which was capable of ripping couplers out of the
fragile wooden freight cars in use at the time.:123
In 1924 another side-rod locomotive was designed: (the L5 class).
Two DC locomotives were built for the New York electrified zone and a
third, road number 3930, was AC-equipped and put in service at
Philadelphia. Later 21 more L-5 locomotives were built for the New
York service. A six-wheeled switching engine was the next electric
motive power designed, being classified as B1. Of the first 16 AC
engines, two were used at
Philadelphia and 14 on the Bay Ridge line,
while 12 DC-equipped engines were assigned to
Sunnyside Yard in
Queens, New York.
The O1 class was a light passenger type. Eight of these engines
were built from June 1930 to December 1931. The P5 class was also
introduced, with two of this class being placed in service during July
and August 1931. Following these came the P5A, a slightly heavier
design capable of traveling 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and with
a tractive force of 56,250 pounds. In all, 89 of these locomotives
were built. The first had a box cab design and were placed in service
in 1932. The following year, the last 28 under construction were
redesigned to have a streamlined type of cab. Some engines underwent
regearing for freight service.
In 1933 two entirely new locomotives were being planned: the R1 and
the GG1 class. The R-1 had a rigid frame for its four driving axles,
while the GG-1 had two frames which were articulated. Both of these
prototypes, along with an O-1, a P5A and a
K4s steam locomotive
underwent exhaustive testing. Testing was conducted over a special
section of test track near Claymont,
Delaware and lasted for nearly
two years. As a result of these experiments, the GG1 type was
chosen and the construction of 57 locomotives was authorized. The
first GG1 was finished in April and by August 1935 all 57 were
completed. These first GG1 engines were designated for passenger
service, while most of the P5A type were made available for freight
service. Some of the later-built GG1s were assigned to freight service
as well. The total number of GG1s built was 139. They are rated at
4,620 horsepower (3,450 kW) at speeds of 100 mph
(160 km/h).
On August 26, 1999, the
U.S. Postal Service
U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative
All Aboard! 20th Century American Trains stamps. These
commemorative stamps featured five celebrated American passenger
trains from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the five stamps features an
image of a GG-1 locomotive pulling the "Congressional Limited
Express." The official
Pennsylvania State Electric Locomotive is the
GG-1 #4859. It received this designation on December 18, 1987, and is
currently on display in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Main article: Diesel locomotives
EMD E8 #5809
In the mid-1940s, the PRR began to add diesel locomotives to their
fleet. From 1945 through 1949 it purchased 60 E7 class locomotives
from General Motors EMD (Electro-Motive Diesel). These units were
given the classification EP20 by the PRR. Sixty of this number were
designated "A" units, meaning that they had a cab for the train crew.
The remaining 14 were designated "B" units; these were cabless booster
units that were controlled by an "A" unit.
Another addition to the PRR diesel locomotive fleet was the Baldwin
DR-12-8-1500/2, referred to as the "Centipede." Twenty-four of these
units were purchased, and PRR classified them as BP60. These units had
reliability problems and were soon obsolete. They were relegated to
helper service.
In 1948 the PRR purchased twenty-seven DR-6 locomotives from Baldwin
Locomotive Works. These units were given the PRR classification BP20.
Originally for the passenger service fleet, these locomotive proved
troublesome, and some were reclassified as BF16z freight
From 1950–1952, the PRR purchased another group of 74 locomotives
from EMD. These were EMD's E8 locomotives (successor to the E7). All
of this group were "A" units. The PRR gave these units the
classification EP22s. In 1956, the Pennsy opened bidding for a large
order of diesel replacement locomotives. GM/EMD gave the PRR an
exceptional deal on new, reliable GP9s, so the entire bid went to EMD.
When this large diesel order arrived, the PRR was able to retire its
entire remaining steam fleet, in 1957.
Baldwin Locomotive Works
Baldwin Locomotive Works (BLW)
was counting on PRR (BLW's lifelong loyal customer) to keep the
struggling company in business by purchasing at least some Baldwin
diesels. When that did not happen, the 126-year-old company went
From 1964-1965, they purchased 31
Alco C425's, numbered
Main article: Altoona Works
In 1849, PRR officials developed plans to construct a repair facility
at Altoona. Construction was started in 1850, and soon a long building
was completed that housed a machine shop, woodworking shop, blacksmith
shop, locomotive repair shop and foundry. This facility was later
demolished to make room for continuing expansion. Additional PRR
repair facilities were located in Harrisburg,
Pittsburgh and Mifflin,
Altoona Works expanded in adjacent Juniata, Pennsylvania.
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell sent two assistants to the Altoona
shops in 1875 to study the feasibility of installing telephone lines.
In May 1877, telephone lines were installed for various departments to
communicate with one another. Fort Wayne, Indiana, also held a key
position for the railroad. By the turn of the 20th century, its repair
shops and locomotive manufacturing facilities became known as the
"Altoona of the West."
By 1945 the
Altoona Works had become one of the largest repair and
construction facilities for locomotives and cars in the world.
During World War II, PRR facilities (including the Altoona Shops) were
on target lists of German saboteurs. They were caught before they
could complete their missions.
In 1875, the
Altoona Works started a testing department for PRR
equipment. In following years, the
Railroad led the
nation in the development of research and testing procedures of
practical value for the railroad industry. Use of the testing
facilities was discontinued in 1968 and many of the structures were
Map of the Altoona Works, circa 1931
Major passenger stations
The PRR built several grand passenger stations, alone or with other
railroads. These architectural marvels, whose city name was usually
preceded by "Penn Station", were the hubs for the PRR's passenger
service. Many are still in use today, served by
Amtrak and regional
Broad Street Station – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Main article: Broad Street Station (Philadelphia)
Broad Street Station, Philadelphia
Broad Street Station was the first of the great passenger stations
built by the PRR. Opened in 1881, the station was expanded in the
early 1890s by famed
Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. For most of
its existence it was with City Hall one of the crown jewels of
Philadelphia's architecture, and until a 1923 fire had the largest
train shed in the world (a 91 m span). It was the terminal for the PRR
in Philadelphia, bringing trains into the center of the city. It was
demolished in 1953 after the PRR moved to 30th Street Station.
30th Street Station
30th Street Station – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia's 30th Street Station
Main article: 30th Street Station
30th Street Station
30th Street Station displays its majestic—and
traditional—architectural style with its enormous waiting room and
its vestibules. The station, in spite of its architectural classicism,
opened in 1933, when modern and
Art Deco styles were more popular. Its
construction was needed to accommodate increased intercity and
suburban traffic. It replaced the 32nd Street Station (West
Philadelphia). It is now the primary rail station in Philadelphia,
serving long-distance and commuter trains.
Penn Station – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh's Penn Station
Main article: Union Station (Pittsburgh)
Built 1898-1903, renovated in 1954 and partially repurposed in 1988,
it was originally called "Union Station" as the terminal for some
Penn Station – Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore Penn Station
Pennsylvania Station (Baltimore)
The main station of Baltimore, this Beaux-Arts building was built in
1911 from a design by architect Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison. It is
currently served by
Amtrak and MARC commuter service. Both approaches
to the station are via tunnels, the B&P Tunnel to the south and
the Union Tunnel to the north.
Union Station – Chicago, Illinois
Chicago's Union Station
Main article: Union Station (Chicago)
The PRR, along with the Milwaukee Road and the Burlington Route, built
Chicago's Union Station, the only one of Chicago's old stations still
used as an intercity train station. It was designed by Graham,
Anderson, Probst & White in the Beaux-Arts style.
Penn Station – Newark, New Jersey
Penn Station, Newark, New Jersey
Pennsylvania Station (Newark)
Pennsylvania Station was designed by McKim, Mead and White.
It opened in 1935, was completed in 1937 and was refurbished in
2007. Its style is a mixture of
Art Deco and Neo-Classical. All
Amtrak trains stop here, and the station serves three commuter lines,
PATH rapid transit to Jersey City and Manhattan, and the Newark Light
Penn Station – New York City, New York
New York Penn Station in 1962, shortly before its demolition
Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Pennsylvania Station was designed by the noted
architectural firm of
McKim, Mead and White
McKim, Mead and White and was modeled on the
Roman Baths of Caracalla; it was notable for its high vaulted
ceilings. The station opened in 1910 to provide access to Manhattan
New Jersey without having to use a ferry, and was served by PRR's
own trains as well as those of its subsidiary, the Long Island Rail
Road. Infamously, the station was demolished for redevelopment in
1963. The only pieces to survive the demolition were the platforms,
the tracks, and even some of the staircases. The station continues as
an underground operation (serving Amtrak,
New Jersey Transit and the
LIRR) and is the busiest intercity railroad station in the United
Union Station – Washington, D.C.
Union Station, Washington D.C.
Main article: Union Station (Washington, DC)
Union Station, built jointly with the B&O, served as a hub for PRR
passenger services in the nation's capital, with connections to the
B&O, and Southern Railway. The station was designed by architect
Daniel Burnham and opened in 1908. The Richmond, Fredericksburg &
Railroad provided a link to Richmond, Virginia, about 100
miles (160 km) to the south, where major north–south lines of
the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line railroads provided
service to the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Today Union Station is
the location of
Amtrak headquarters and serves
Amtrak and regional
commuter railroads (MARC and VRE).
Samuel V. Merrick (1847–1849)
William C. Patterson (1849–1852)
J. Edgar Thomson
J. Edgar Thomson (1852–1874)
Thomas A. Scott
Thomas A. Scott (1874–1880)
George Brooke Roberts
George Brooke Roberts (1880–1896)
Frank Thomson (1897–1899)
Alexander J. Cassatt
Alexander J. Cassatt (1899–1906)
James McCrea (1907–1912)
Samuel Rea (1913–1925)
William W. Atterbury
William W. Atterbury (1925–1935)
Martin W. Clement
Martin W. Clement (1935–1948)
Walter S. Franklin (1948–1954)
James M. Symes (1954–1959)
Allen J. Greenough (1959–1968)
Stuart T. Saunders
Stuart T. Saunders (1968–1970) Penn Central, CEO
The controlling non-institutional shareholders of PRR were, during the
early 1960s, Henry Stryker Taylor, who was a part of the Jacob Bunn
business dynasty of Illinois, and Howard Butcher III, a principal in
Philadelphia brokerage house of Butcher & Sherrerd (later
Butcher & Singer).
PRR system map, November 1857
PRR system map, 1893
PRR eastern system map, 1899
Share of the
Railroad Company, issued 29. February 1912
PRR M1a at 1939 New York World's Fair
PRR S1 at 1939 New York World's Fair
PRR herald, Newark Penn Station
PRR Exchange Place Station, Jersey City, 1893
Penn Station New York, 1911
A DD1 electric locomotive approaching New York Penn Station, 1910
SEPTA commuter trains on electrified Main Line, Rosemont,
Amtrak's Pennsylvanian on the electrified Main Line, Bryn Mawr,
As a part of Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary, they painted 20 new
locomotives into predecessor schemes. NS #8102, a GE ES44AC, was
painted into the
Pennsylvania RR scheme.
Conrail — successor to Penn Central from 1976
Horseshoe Curve (Altoona, Pennsylvania)
Railroad lines east of Pittsburgh
Railroad lines west of Pittsburgh
Railroad passenger trains
Railroad predecessor railroads
PRR locomotive classification
New York Central
New York Central Railroad — longtime adversary, eventual merger
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad — longtime partner in
run-through trains, also became part of Penn Central
Norfolk Southern Railway — successor to
Conrail in former PRR
Penn Central Transportation
Penn Central Transportation Company — successor to the PRR and
NYC in 1968
Pennsylvania Company — holding company incorporated in 1870 to
own/operate lines west of Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania Lines LLC —
Conrail subsidiary that owned ex-PRR
trackage and PRR reporting mark
Pennsylvania Station, the name for several major stations
Monopoly — One of the railroads in the
Atlantic City themed
version of the game is the PRR.
Railroad Freight Building
Railroad Office Building
Unification to standard gauge on May 31, 1886
Railroad Company Inspection of Physical Property Board
of Directors and Arbiters". November 10, 1948. Retrieved
^ Not including LIRR, WJ&S and several smaller subsidiaries. PRR
track-miles in 1925 totalled 25,752; at the end of 1967, mileages were
9,481 and 21,868.
^ a b c "Railfan's Guide to the Altoona Area". www.trainweb.org.
Archived from the original on 2013-12-21. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
^ "The Erie Lackawanna Limited — The
^ a b "Chapter 1: History of the Altoona
Railroad Shops Heading 14.
The Elimination Of the Older
Railroad Shop Buildings In The 1960s And
After paragraph 6". National Park Service
Special History Study.
United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved
^ Messer (1999).
^ a b c Schafer & Solomon (1997).
^ a b c d Staufer (1993).
^ "History of the Altoona
Railroad Shops: The Creation And Coming Of
Pennsylvania Railroad". National Park Service
Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved
^ Chandler, Jr. (1965).
^ Ward (1975).
^ Harwood, Jr. (1990), p. 22.
^ "PRR Chronology 1871" (PDF). PRR Research.
Railroad Technical & Historical Society. January
2005. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
^ "The Congressional Service". American-Rails.com. Retrieved
^ "The Congressionals and the Senator". www.steamlocomotive.com.
^ Dubin 1964, pp. 76–95
^ Doubleday (1902).
^ Walsh (1999).
^ a b c d e f "
Pennsylvania RR Electrification". Northeast
Railfan.net. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
^ "The Electrification of the
Railroad from Broad Street
Philadelphia to Paoli". The Electric Journal. Pittsburgh, PA.
December 1915. pp. 536–541.
^ "P.R.R. WILL SPEND $77,000,000 AT ONCE; Atterbury Outlines Projects
Under PWA Loan Giving Year's Work to 25,000. TO EXTEND ELECTRIC LINE
Sees Buying Power Restored and Industry Stimulated by Wide Building
Program", The New York Times, January 31, 1934
^ "Electrification History to 1948".
Electrification. www.railsandtrails.com. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
^ Totals for
Pennsylvania Lines; LIRR and WJ&S/PRSL not included.
Also not included
P&A-BC&A-B&E-OR&W-P&BH-RC-W&W, which added up
to 21 million ton-miles in 1925.
^ Totals for
Pennsylvania Lines; LIRR and WJ&S/PRSL not included.
^ Dubin 1964, pp. 76–77
^ Dubin 1964, p. 82
^ "John B. Thayer (Obituary)". Railway Age Gazette. Chicago:
Simmons-Boardman Publishing Co. 52 (17): 979. April 26, 1912.
Railroad System Information for Employees and the
Public" Philadelphia: The
Railroad Company. Vol. III, No.
24, June 5, 1915. pp. 1-6
^ "The Electrification of the
Railroad from Broad Street
Terminal, Philadelphia, to Paoli". The Electric Journal. Pittsburgh,
PA: The Electric Journal Co., Vol. XII, No. 12, December, 1915 pp.
Railroad 100th Annual Report, 12 Feb 1947, pg. 1
^ Fischer (2002).
^ a b "Roy's Super Toy Shop presents PRR Steam". Roy's Super Toy Shop.
Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
^ a b c d e "PRR Signals".
Technical & Historical Society. Archived from the original on
2007-03-09. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
^ a b c d "February 2006 Meeting". Rivanna Chapter National Railway
Historical Society Charlottesville, Virginia. January 15, 2006.
^ a b "
Railroad Mikados". Steam Locomotive.com. February
8, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved
^ a b "Hello
Pennsylvania — State Symbols". Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 2007-08-30. Retrieved
^ "Williams Grove Railroad". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
^ "FAQ Section - The T1 Trust". The
Railroad T1 Steam
Locomotive Trust. 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
^ James (2010).
^ Schafer, Mike; Brian Solomon (2009) .
Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2930-6.
^ a b "Ztrains The PRR Class GG1". www.ztrains.com. Archived from the
original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
^ "Article "
Pennsylvania Railroad's E8 History"". The Gauge Magazine.
April 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-05-18. Retrieved
^ "C425 Roster". www.trainweb.org.
^ "History of the Altoona
Railroad Shops Chapter 1 Heading 7 The
Railroad Shops After The Civil War Paragraph 10". National
Special History Study. United States National Park
Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
^ "Chapter 4: Significance and Recommendations for Future Research 1.
Significance of Altoona Works". National Park Service
Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved
^ "History of the Altoona
Railroad Shops National Park Service Special
History Study Chapter 1: History of the Altoona railroad shops
(continued)13. Changes after World War II". National Park Service
Special History Study. United States National Park Service.
2004-10-22. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
^ Hall Construction Co., Howell, NJ. "NJ Transit – Newark Penn
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^ Grynbaum (2010).
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Corporate Management". Business History Review. 39 (1): 16–40.
Doubleday, Russell (August 1902). "New York to
Chicago (In) 20 Hours:
A Description Of A Trip On The New Trains That Make The Fastest Long
Run In The World". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. II:
2455–2462. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
Dubin, Arthur D. (1964). Some Classic Trains. Kalmbach Publishing.
pp. 76–95. ISBN 978-0890240113.
Fischer, Ian S. (2002). PRR Color Guide to Freight and Passenger
Equipment (Volume 3). Morning Sun Books.
Grynbaum, Michael M. (2010-10-18). "The Joys and Woes of Penn Station
at 100". New York Times.
Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1990). Royal Blue Line. Sykesville, MD:
Greenberg Publishing. ISBN 0-89778-155-4.
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Railroad MP54 Multiple Unit
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Great Varnish Era. Omaha, NE: Barnhart Press. OCLC 1301983.
Messer, David W. (1999). Triumph II. Baltimore: Barnard, Roberts &
Co. ISBN 0-934118-24-8.
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Alvin F. Staufer. ISBN 978-0944513101. OCLC 31825736.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Railroad Technical and Historical Society
Railroad Museum of
Pennsylvania Strasburg, Pennsylvania
PRR Chronology — in depth
PRR Corporate History
PennsyRR.com — comprehensive PRR facts and history site, comprising
multiple individual websites.
prr.railfan.net — contains significant PRR information, including
diagrams of passenger and freight cars as well as locomotives
1955 system map
Railroad GG-1 p. 1 of 2: Stan's Railpix
1/16/1904;Sectional view Of
Railroad Tunnel Now Under
Construction Beneath the Hudson River
Bridge of the
Pennsylvania Rail Road Company Crossing the Schuylkill
River at Filbert Street, Philadelphia, October, 18, 1890 by D.J.
Kennedy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Railroad System Locomotive rosters at Hagley Museum and
Robert B. Watson Collection of
Railroad (PRR) Company
Documents at Hagley Museum and Library
1973 political cartoon
Named trains of the
Spirit of St. Louis
Main Line (1857)
Northern Central (1861–1976)
Baltimore and Potomac (1867–1902)
Pan Handle (1847–1956)
Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and
New Jersey (1871–1976)
Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore (1836–1902)
Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington (1902–1976)
Class I railroads of North America
CP- D&H, SOO
Railroads in italics meet the revenue specifications for Class I
status, but are not technically Class I railroads due to being
passenger-only railroads with no freight component.
Pennsylvania Transportation Authority)
City Transit Division
Broad Street Line
Subway–Surface Trolley Lines
Trackless trolley routes
City surface routes
Norristown High Speed Line
Routes 101 and 102
Suburban bus routes
Chestnut Hill East
Chestnut Hill West
30th Street Station
69th Street Transportation Center
Darby Transportation Center
Fern Rock Transportation Center
Frankford Transportation Center
Norristown Transportation Center
Olney Transportation Center
Route 6 trolley
Route 23 trolley
Route 50 trolley
Route 53 trolley
Route 56 trolley
Route 60 trolley
Route 103 trolley
Route 104 trolley
Cynwyd-Ivy Ridge service
Elwyn-West Chester service
Fox Chase Rapid Transit Line
Roosevelt Boulevard Subway
SEPTA Transit Police