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Summary Article: Pennsylvania Railroad
from The Industrial Revolution: Key Themes and Documents

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PR) was perhaps the nation's most important transportation system during the decades of the Industrial Revolution. First chartered by the state legislature in 1846, the PR by 1854 connected Philadelphia with Pittsburgh. Subsequent additions to the line extended the PR's reach from Harrisburg north to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York; south to Baltimore, Maryland; and northeast to Jersey City, New Jersey, and to New York City. Through purchase and leasing arrangements, the PR expanded even further, and by 1900, it consisted of 265,000 employees working on more than 10,000 miles of track stretching through thirteen states. Until World War II, it enjoyed a reputation as one of the country's most financially stable lines. The PR was also the key railroad through industrial America. It was connected to the coal mines of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio; the steel mills of Ohio and western Pennsylvania; and the Great Lakes barge traffic. The iron ore and coal pouring into Andrew Carnegie's steel mills, as well as the finished steel coming out, traveled via the PR.

Copyright 2014 by James S. Olson with Shannon L. Kenny

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