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History of The Pennsylvania Railroad
through Ohio

The following newspaper article written in 1949
newspaper not indicated (possibly Columbus)


1849-1949

Roots that are deep in Columbus, central and western Ohio...roots that go back to the days when rails were oak with strap iron covers...when trains went 10 miles per hour...when horses were hitched to trains to help them up the hills...that's the Pennsylvania Railroad, which has grown figuratively from a tiny acorn to a mighty oak tree that is one of the communities largest, oldest and most steadfast industries.

This month, the Pennsylvania Railroad celebrates its first centenary, which the carrier firm has labeled" One Hundred years of transportation progress. Specifically, the centennial started Saturday, April 13, just 100 years after the Pennsylvania Railroad was incorporated by an act passed by the legislature of the state from which the carrier took its name.

The beginning of the railroad was a line stretching 249 miles from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, a line that eventually grew into a system that is now 26,000 miles long. There was, at a time, a railroad line connecting Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and it was the only natural that the PRR's initial purchase and expansion was this road.

The first section opened Sept. 1, 1849, a total of 61 miles, from Harrisburg to Lewistown. Soon after, the company invested substantially in the Ohio and Pennsylvania railroad (Pittsburgh to Cestline, Ohio); then in the Ohio and Indiana Railroad (Crestline to Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and subsequently, in the Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railroad.

Columbus and Central Ohio's first introduction to the Pennsylvania Railroad came in May 1868. Subsidiary lines that were purchased by the "Pennsy" at that time had been in Ohio long before that - -since 1832, in fact. That dates marked the consolidation of the Pennsylvania with the Pan-Handle Railroad company of Pennsylvania; the Holliday's Cove railroad, of West Virginia, and the Steubenville & Indiana Railroad Co. which was amalgamated into the Pittsburgh Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad.

Trips through Ohio must have been lengthy affairs, with the threshing machine-like engine puffing along a break-neck speed of 40 miles per hour, and stopping at every cow crossing. Here's the number of stops between Newark, Ohio and Columbus: Newark, Lockport, Granville, Siding, Union Station, Kirksville Station, Pataskala Station, Columbus Center, Summit Station, Black Lick Station, Alum Creek Station, Caldwell Station, Arsenal Station (Ft. Hayes) and Columbus Union Depot. That of course, was before the days of dining cars, and trains stopped at Dennison, Ohio to allow passengers to eat. The Harvey Restaurants didn't function along the Pennsylvania lines, all of the eating places being under private ownership.

In addition to the through line of the Pennsylvania, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad, the company leased, owned or operated these branch systems: The Charters Railroad (Mansfield, Ohio to Washington, Pa) Cincinnati and Muskingum Valley Railroad; (Dresden Junction to Morrow, Ohio), the Little Miami Railroad (Columbus to Cincinnati); the Columbus, Chicago, Indianapolis Central Railroad (Columbus to Indianapolis)..which also had a direct west branch which connected to Fort Wayne, Ind.,through Piqua and Bradford, Ohio; the Pittsburgh, Wheeling and Kenton railroad, and a line from Xenia to Springfield, a railroad from Xenia to Richmond, Ind., three Indiana and one Illinois systems.

Its total mileage was 1172 miles. Of course, all of the subsidiary lines listed above didn't have the new-fangled Pullman sleeping cars (the Pullman Co. was incorporated in 1867) but the main line did, and boasted mightily about the service.

That's the story of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Ohio. Through its services the owner of the rich valley lands of the Ohio Valley were enabled to ship their produce to the eastern seaboard by a short East-West route, and likewise they could obtain agriculture equipment made in the East. Local industries along the Ohio were able to expand through ease of access to many markets and availability of raw materials.

In its service, the Pennsylvania Railroad has more than fulfilled the purpose and visions of the Columbus men who were essential in the plans that brought this mighty rail link through the capital city of the Buckeye State.


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