Reading Company

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Reading Company
Reading Herald.png
1923 Reading.png
Reading Railroad system map, 1923
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Terminal, Philadelphia, PA 1893.jpg
Reading Terminal, circa 1893
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Reporting mark RDG
Locale Delaware
New Jersey
Dates of operation18331976
Successor Conrail (now Norfolk Southern and CSX)
Reading International (cinemas and real estate)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length1,460 miles (2,350 kilometres) [1]

The Reading Company ( /ˈrɛdɪŋ/ RED-ing) was a company that was involved in the railroad industry in southeast Pennsylvania and neighboring states from 1924 until 1976.


Commonly called the Reading Railroad and logotyped as Reading Lines, the Reading Company was a railroad holding company for the majority of its existence and was a (single) railroad during its later years. It was a successor to the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company founded in 1833. Until the decline in anthracite loadings in the Coal Region after World War II, it was one of the most prosperous corporations in the United States.

Competition with the modern trucking industry that used the Interstate highway system for short distance transportation of goods, also known as short hauls, compounded the company's problems, forcing it into bankruptcy in the 1970s. Its railroad operations were merged into Conrail in 1976, but the corporation lasted into 2000, disposing of valuable real estate holdings.


Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road: 1833–1893

Original Philadelphia & Reading logo Philadelphia and Reading Railway logo.gif
Original Philadelphia & Reading logo

The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (P&R) was one of the first railroads in the United States. Along with the Little Schuylkill, a horse-drawn railroad in the Schuylkill River Valley, it formed the earliest components of what became the Reading Company. Primarily, the P&R was constructed to haul anthracite coal from the mines in northeastern Pennsylvania's Coal Region to Philadelphia. [2]

Philadelphia and Reading Railroad daily passenger train time table, 1854 Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Schedule 1854.jpeg
Philadelphia and Reading Railroad daily passenger train time table, 1854

The original P&R mainline extended south from the mining town of Pottsville to Reading and then onward to Philadelphia, following the gently graded banks of the Schuylkill River for nearly all of the 93-mile journey. [2] [3] The line contained double track upon its completion in 1843.

The P&R became profitable almost immediately. Energy-dense coal had been replacing increasingly scarce wood as fuel in businesses and homes since the 1810s, and P&R-delivered coal was one of the first alternatives to the near-monopoly held by Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company since the 1820s. Soon the P&R bought or leased many of the railroads in the Schuylkill River Valley and extended westward and north along the Susquehanna into the southern end of the Coal Region.

In Philadelphia, the Reading also built Port Richmond, the self-proclaimed "Largest privately owned railroad tidewater terminal in the world", [3] which burnished the P&R's bottom lines by allowing coal to be loaded onto ships and barges for export. In 1871, the Reading established a subsidiary called the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, which set about buying anthracite coal mines in the Coal Region.

This vertical expansion gave the P&R almost full control of coal from mining through to market, allowing it to compete successfully with like-organized competitors such as Lehigh Coal & Navigation and the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company.

The heavy investment in coal paid off quickly. By 1871, the Reading was the largest company in the world, with $170,000,000 in gross value, [4] and may have been the first conglomerate in the world. In 1879, the Reading gained control of the North Pennsylvania Railroad and gained access to the burgeoning steel industry in the Lehigh Valley. [3]

The Reading further expanded its coal empire by reaching New York City by gaining control of the Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad in 1879, and building the Port Reading Railroad in 1892 with a line from Port Reading Junction to the Port Reading on the Arthur Kill. This allowed direct delivery of coal to industries in the Port of New York and New Jersey in northeastern New Jersey and New York City by rail and barge instead of the longer trip by ships from Port Richmond around Cape May.

Instead of broadening its rail network, the Reading invested its vast wealth in anthracite and its transport in the mid-19th century. This led to financial trouble in the 1870s.[ clarification needed ] In 1890, Reading president Archibald A. McLeod saw that more riches could be earned by expanding its rail network and becoming a trunk railroad.

McLeod went about trying to control neighboring railroads in 1891. He was able to gain control of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the Boston and Maine Railroad. The Reading almost achieved its goal of becoming a trunk road, but the deal was scuttled by J.P.Morgan and other rail barons, who did not want more competition in the northeastern railroad business. [2] [5] The Reading was relegated to a regional railroad for the rest of its history.

1833–73: Expansion

The Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road was chartered April 4, 1833, to build a line between Philadelphia and Reading, along the Schuylkill River. The portion from Reading to Norristown opened July 16, 1838, the full line December 9, 1839. Its Philadelphia terminus was at the state-owned Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad (P&C) on the west side of the Schuylkill River, from which it ran east on the P&C over the Columbia Bridge and onto the city-owned City Railroad to a depot at the southeast corner of Broad and Cherry Streets.

Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road route map (1873) 1873 Reading.jpg
Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road route map (1873)

An extension northwest from Reading to Mount Carbon, also on the Schuylkill River, opened on January 13, 1842, allowing the railroad to compete with the Schuylkill Canal. At Mount Carbon, it connected with the earlier Mount Carbon Railroad, continuing through Pottsville to several mines, and would eventually be extended to Williamsport. [6] [7] [ when? ] On May 17, 1842, a freight branch from West Falls to Port Richmond on the Delaware River north of downtown Philadelphia opened. Port Richmond later became a very large coal terminal.

On January 1, 1851, the Belmont Plane on the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, just west of the Reading's connection, was abandoned in favor of a new bypass, and the portion of the line east of it was sold to the Reading, the only company that continued using the old route.

The Lebanon Valley Railroad was chartered in 1836 to build from Reading west to Harrisburg. Reading financed the construction of the Rutherford Yard to compete with the PRR's nearby Enola Yard. The Reading took it over and began construction in 1854, opening the line in 1856. This gave the Reading a route from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, for the first time competing directly with the Pennsylvania Railroad, which became its major rival. In 1859 the Reading leased the Chester Valley Railroad, providing a branch from Bridgeport west to Downingtown. It had formerly been operated by the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad.

A new Philadelphia terminal opened on December 24, 1859, at Broad and Callowhill Streets, north of the old one at Cherry Street. The Reading and Columbia Railroad was chartered in 1857 to build from Reading southwest to Columbia on the Susquehanna River. It opened in 1864, using the Lebanon Valley Railroad from Sinking Spring east to Reading. The Reading leased it in 1870.

The early Philadelphia and Reading Railroad named all of their locomotives with names such as Winona or Jefferson, as did most American railroads following in the British precedent, but in December 1871 the P&R replaced all the names with numbers. [8] The Port Kennedy Railroad, a short branch to quarries at Port Kennedy, was leased in 1870. Also that year, the Reading leased the Pickering Valley Railroad, a branch running west from Phoenixville to Byers, which opened in 1871.

1873: Chester Branch

In 1873, the P&R extended its reach southward by leasing 10.2 miles of track from the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Dubbed the Philadelphia & Chester Branch, the line extended from the Gray's Ferry Bridge across the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia to Ridley Creek in Ridley Park in Delaware County. [9] The segment included 4.9 miles of double track and 16.7 miles of single track, including sidings and turnouts. [10]

The segment was part of the original 1838 line of the PW&B, which in 1872 opened a new stretch of track further inland to serve more populated areas and reduce flooding. On July 1, 1873, the PW&B agreed to lease the freight rights to the P&R for "$350,000 payable at the time the lease was made and $1 a year thereafter" [9] for a term of 999 years with the stipulation that no passenger trains would use it. [11] The Reading dubbed the line, along with some connecting track, its Philadelphia and Chester Branch; [12] southbound trains reached it via the Junction Railroad, jointly controlled by PW&B, Reading, and PRR, and continued on to the connecting Chester and Delaware River Railroad.

1875–93: Competition

During 1875, four members of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad board of directors resigned to build a second railroad from Camden, New Jersey, to Atlantic City by way of Clementon. Led by Samual Richards, an officer of the C&A for 24 years, they established the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway (P&AC) on March 24, 1876. A 3-foot-6-inch narrow gauge was selected because it would lower track laying and operating costs. Work began in April 1877, and the track work was completed in a remarkable 90 days.

On July 7, 1877, the final spike was driven and the 54.67 miles (87.98 km) line was opened in time for summer tourism season. However, on July 12, 1878, the P&AC Railway slipped into bankruptcy; on September 20, 1883, it was jointly acquired by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) and the Philadelphia and Reading Railway for $1 million. The name was changed to Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railroad on December 4, 1883. The first major task was to convert all track to standard gauge, which was completed on October 5, 1884. The Philadelphia and Reading Railway acquired full control on December 4, 1885.

1884 map of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading and Lehigh Valley Railroads, soon after the Reading jointly acquired the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway with the Central Railroad of New Jersey 1884 PRR RDG LVRR.jpg
1884 map of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Reading and Lehigh Valley Railroads, soon after the Reading jointly acquired the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway with the Central Railroad of New Jersey

The Reading leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad on May 14, 1879. This gave it a line from Philadelphia north to Bethlehem, and also the valuable Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad, the descendant of the National Railway project, providing a route to New York City in direct competition with the Pennsylvania Railroad's United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. At the New York end it used the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Jersey City Terminal from which passengers could board ferries to Liberty Street Ferry Terminal, Whitehall Terminal, and West 23rd Street in lower Manhattan. [13]

The Reading Terminal opened in Philadelphia in 1893. On May 29 the Reading leased the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The Reading eventually bought a majority of the CNJ's stock in 1901.

Effective April 1, 1889, the Philadelphia and Reading Railway consolidated the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway, Williamstown & Delaware River Railroad, Glassboro Railroad, Camden, Gloucester and Mt. Ephraim Railway, and the Kaighn's Point Terminal Railroad in southern New Jersey into The Atlantic City Railroad. The Port Reading Railroad was chartered in 1890 and opened in 1892, running east from a junction from the New York main line near Bound Brook to the new port of Port Reading, on the Arthur Kill near Perth Amboy.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad was leased on December 1, 1891 under the presidency of Archibald A. McLeod, but that lease was canceled on August 8, 1893 when the Reading went into receivership, an event associated with the Panic of 1893. The Reading also relinquished control of the Central New England Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad. Amid the turmoil of the Panic of 1893, Joseph Smith Harris was elected president. Under his leadership, the Reading Company was formed and the P&R was absorbed into it on November 30. [14] Also in 1893, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad built its most famous structure, Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. Reading Terminal served as the terminus for most of the Reading's Philadelphia bound trains, as well as the headquarters for the Company. [5]

Philadelphia and Reading Railway: 1896–1923

Gold Bond of the Reading Company, issued 19. June 1902 Reading Company 1902.jpg
Gold Bond of the Reading Company, issued 19. June 1902

After the Panic of 1893, and the failure of Archibald A. McLeod's efforts to turn the Reading into a major trunk line, the Reading was forced to reorganize under suspicions of monopoly. The Reading Company was created to serve as a holding company for the Reading's rail and coal subsidiaries: the Philadelphia and Reading Railway, and the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, respectively. [15] However, in 1906, with the support of the Roosevelt Administration, the Hepburn Act was passed. This required all railroads to disinvest themselves of all mining properties and operations, and so the Reading Company was forced to sell the P&R Coal and Iron Company. [2]

Even though moving and mining of coal was its primary business, the P&R eventually became more diversified through the development of many on-line industries, averaging almost five industries per mile of main line at one point, and the expanding role of the Reading as a bridge route.

This included its important role on the Alphabet Route, from Boston and New York to Chicago, with traffic from the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Jersey Central entering the Reading System in Allentown, traveling over the East Penn Branch to Reading, where trains then traveled west over the Lebanon Valley Branch to Harrisburg, and then onward over the Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburg branch, or PH&P to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. There trains connected with the Western Maryland Railroad to continue westward. This route became known as the “Crossline” and became very important. Therefore, the Reading started to pool locomotive power between its connecting railroads to provide a more seamless transfer of freight and passengers. [5]

Vauclain compound Atlantic engaged in "the fastest regular service in the world", circa 1907. Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 4-4-2 Vauclain compound locomotive, 4002 (Howden, Boys' Book of Locomotives, 1907).jpg
Vauclain compound Atlantic engaged in "the fastest regular service in the world", circa 1907.

Even though the Reading was never again to regain its powerful position of the 1870s, it still was a very profitable and important railroad. From the turn of the 20th century to the outbreak of World War I, the Reading was among the most modern and efficient railroads. In keeping with the standards of much larger railroads, The Reading embarked on many improvement projects which typically were not attempted by smaller railroads. This included triple and quadruple tracking many of its major routes, improving signaling and track quality, as well as expanding system capacity and station facilities. [5]

The Reading invested in the construction of new cut-offs, bypasses, and connections, much like the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Low-grade" lines and the Lackawanna Cut-off. The completion of the Reading belt line in 1902, a 7.2 mile long westerly bypass of downtown Reading, alleviated the heavy rail congestion in the busy city. [2] [16]

In Bridgeport, a new bridge was constructed over the Schuylkill River in 1903. The bridge connected the P&R main line on the west (south) bank of the river with the Manayunk/Norristown Line on the opposite side, allowing passenger service to Norristown, and a bypass of the old main line, known as the West Side Freight line. [2]

The Ninth Street Branch—the main thoroughfare into Reading Terminal—was also improved. Between 1907–1914 the old double track and street level route was replaced by an elevated quadruple track route that offered greater capacity and safety. [3] In 1901, the Reading gained a controlling interest in the Central Railroad of New Jersey, allowing the Reading to offer seamless, one-seat rides from Reading Terminal in Philadelphia to the CNJ's Jersey City Communipaw Terminal by way of Bound Brook onto the CNJ mainline. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was also looking for access to the New York market, and in 1903 the B&O gained control over the Reading and thus ensured its trains track rights over the Reading and CNJ to Jersey City. [17]

To the north, the New York Short Line was completed in 1906, and was a cut-off for New York Bound through freights and the B&Os Royal Blue. [5]

Reading Shops

A 1914 picture of Reading Class M1sa showing the cab behind the wide Wootten Firebox, a first for the Reading Reading 2-8-2 M1 1704.jpg
A 1914 picture of Reading Class M1sa showing the cab behind the wide Wootten Firebox, a first for the Reading
Reading Railway 2-10-2 no. 3000 Reading 2-10-2 locomotive.jpg
Reading Railway 2-10-2 no. 3000

In 1900, the Reading Shops began construction along the Reading yards and North 6th Street, facilitating the maintenance and construction of a greater locomotive and rolling stock fleet. The shops were completed four years later, with their imposing brick architecture, they were the largest railroad shops in America, and unlike most railroads, allowed the Reading to make its own engines. They still stand today in non RR use. [2]

Larger steam locomotives were introduced to haul the increasing traffic, including the massive N1 class 2-8-8-2 (Chesapeake) Mallet, and Reading made one M1 class 2-8-2 freight hauler, Baldwin Locomotive Works built the rest. Big freight haulers were the massive K-1 2-10-2 locomotives, some were built in Reading, Pennsylvania from the Mallets, others were built by Baldwin. The G1 class 4-6-2 were passenger locomotives. These classes were an important break of tradition of the Readings motive power fleet.

The M1s were the first Reading locomotives to include a trailing truck, and the first engine with the cab behind the Wootten firebox. Engines with the name "lessor" in its title meant some steam power was owned by a second party and leased to the P&R. The G1s were the first Reading passenger locomotives with three coupled driving wheels. [2]

In 1945–47 the company took 30 class I-10 2-8-0 locomotives and rebuilt them at the 6th Street facility into the modern T1 class 4-8-4 locomotives at a cost of 6 million dollars. This was a move to offset the fact that EMD FT diesel locomotives (first choice of Reading management) were very hard to obtain, and in order to have faster, up to date modern power. The steamers never ran long enough to pay back this major investment, and had some major problems, but it did keep men employed. The Reading built or bought numerous smaller 4-4-0s, 2-8-0s and switchers for its fleet. [18]

Passenger Operations

A Reading train departs Reading Terminal, September 1964 Reading 905 at Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, September 1964 (23602998230).jpg
A Reading train departs Reading Terminal, September 1964

The Reading Company did not operate extensive long distance passenger train service, but it did field a number of named trains, most famous of which was the streamlined Crusader , which connected Philadelphia and Jersey City.

Other trains in the fleet included the Harrisburg Special (between Jersey City and Harrisburg), King Coal (between Philadelphia and Shamokin, Pennsylvania), North Penn (between Philadelphia and Bethlehem), Queen of the Valley (between Jersey City and Harrisburg), Schuylkill (between Philadelphia and Pottsville), and Wall Street (between Philadelphia and Jersey City). [2] The Reading participated in the joint operation of The Interstate Express with the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, with service between Philadelphia and Syracuse, New York. [19]

Reading also offered through passenger car service with the Lehigh Valley Railroad via their connection at Bethlehem. Like most railroads the Reading had contracts with the US Post Office to haul and sort mail en route. After the Second World War the Reading looked at dropping the mail and in 1961 notified the Govt. that it intended to stop mail service on their passenger trains. On July 1, 1963, the Post Office let them out of the contracts (valued at $2,137,000), and the railroad switched to Budd RDC self-propelled cars, instead of locomotive hauled passenger trains, to save money. [20]

A Reading electric at Reading Terminal, Philadelphia in September 1964 Reading 852, Philadelphia in September 1964 (22420351256).jpg
A Reading electric at Reading Terminal, Philadelphia in September 1964

The Reading operated an extensive commuter network out of Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. In the late 1920s most of the suburban system was electrified (the first lines electrified were the Ninth Street Branch, New Hope Branch, the Bethlehem Branch as far as Lansdale, the Doylestown Branch, and the New York Branch to West Trenton). [21] Reading ordered 150 electric multiple units from Bethlehem Steel which were supplemented by twenty unpowered coach trailers converted from existing coaches [22] and electrified services began on July 26, 1931. [21]

Reading Company: 1924–1976

Reading ALCO C424 5202 at Rutherford Yard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1970 Reading 5202 (C424) Rutherford Yard, Harrisburg, PA on May 10, 1970 (21829140763).jpg
Reading ALCO C424 5202 at Rutherford Yard in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1970

After the first World War, and the return of the Reading from government control, the Reading decided to streamline their corporate structure. For twenty years the Reading Company, the holding company created for the P&R and the P&R Coal and Iron Company, only controlled the P&R after the sale of the P&R Coal and Iron Company. To simplify corporate structure the P&R ceased operation in 1924 and the Reading Company took over operating the Railroad. [23]

The period just after World War I may have been the Reading Company's best, with traffic on the Reading at its peacetime high. Annual volume was about 15 million tons of Anthracite, 25 million tons of Bituminous Coal, with a further 30 million tons of industrial traffic. [3] The Reading had taken great strides to wean itself of anthracite dependency but it still relied heavily on coal revenue, and Pennsylvania anthracite production had peaked in 1917 with 99.7 million tons produced. [24]

Revenue Freight Ton-Miles (Millions)
19333,9433(incl in RDG)
19704,329(incl in RDG)
Revenue Passenger-Miles (Millions)
19331500.01(incl in RDG)
1970195(incl in RDG)

The 1925 "Reading" totals above include all the subsidiaries (C&F, G&H, P&CV etc.) that were operating roads in 1925 but whose totals were included in Reading's after 1929. None of the totals include Atlantic City RR or PRSL.

Commuter lines

In the 1920s, the Reading operated a dense network of commuter lines branching off of the Ninth Street Branch mostly powered by small 4-4-0s, 4-4-2s and 4-6-0 camelbacks.

Bankruptcy protection

The Reading Company was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 1971. [25] The bankruptcy was a result of dwindling coal shipping revenues, freight being diverted to highways by trucking companies, and strict government regulations that denied railroads the ability to set prices, required fair taxes, and forced the railroads to continue to operate money-losing lines as a common carrier.[ citation needed ]


Electrified Reading commuter train led by Silverliner II 9002 in Philadelphia in 1964 Reading 9002 in Philadelpha in September 1964 (22450278775).jpg
Electrified Reading commuter train led by Silverliner II 9002 in Philadelphia in 1964

The railroad also had an extensive commuter operation centered around Philadelphia, the hub of which was Reading Terminal. The following suburban lines were electrified during the onset of the Great Depression:

Reading electric commuter trains at Reading Terminal, September 1964 Reading 364 in Philadelphia in September 1964 (22259525429).jpg
Reading electric commuter trains at Reading Terminal, September 1964

The notable exception was the Fox Chase/Newtown branch. With the aid of public funding from the city of Philadelphia, the line was electrified as far as Fox Chase (the last station within city limits) in September 1966. [26]

Electrification was to be completed through to Newtown in the 1970s, but government subsidies were not readily available, leaving the Fox Chase-Newtown section as the lone non-electrified suburban commuter route on the Reading system. Passenger service between Fox Chase and Newtown was terminated on January 14, 1983 under the auspices of SEPTA.

To further complicate matters, the Reading was forced to continue paying its debts to the Penn Central Railroad, however, Penn Central (also in bankruptcy at the time) was not required to pay its debts to the Reading Company.

Post-railroad: 1976–present

Reading International
Traded as NASDAQ:  RDI (Non-Voting Class A)
Russell 2000 Index component
Founded1924  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Subsidiaries Reading Cinemas
Consolidated Theatres

On April 1, 1976, the Reading Company sold its current railroad interests to the newly formed Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail), leaving it with 650 real estate assets, some coal properties, and 52 abandoned rights-of-way. As of 1999, most former Reading lines are now part of Norfolk Southern Railway (NS), as a result of the Conrail split between NS and CSX Transportation. It had sold 350 of the real estate tracts by the time it left bankruptcy in 1980.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1980s a Los Angeles-based lawyer named James Cotter gained control of the corporation through his holding company, the Craig Corporation, and used its assets to finance his movie theater chains in Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand. The company sold one of its last railroad-related assets, the Reading Terminal Headhouse, in 1991. In 1996, Cotter reorganized the company as Reading Entertainment. On December 31,2001, both Reading Entertainment and Craig Corporation merged into and with Citadel Holding Corporation, another Cotter company. [27]

The successor company was renamed Reading International Inc with two classes of stock Non-Voting Class A shares (NASDAQ: RDI) and Voting Class B shares (NASDAQ: RDIB) [28] . Reading International still owns 317 acres of former railroad property, mostly in upper Pennsylvania, along with the Reading Railroad publicity files of approximately 300–600 lin. feet (as of 2011).[ citation needed ]

Major named passenger trains

Company officers

The presidents of the Reading were:

Elihu Chauncey 1834–1842
William F. Emlen 1842–1843
John Cryder 1843–1844
John Tucker1844–1856
Robert D. Cullen 1856–1860
Asa Whitney 1860–1861
Charles E. Smith 1861–1869
Franklin B. Gowen 1869–1884
Frank S. Bond 1881–1882 (elected when Gowen's leadership was contested)
George DeBenneville Keim 1884–1887
Austin Corbin 1887–1890
Archibald A. McLeod 1890–1893
Joseph Smith Harris 1893–1901
George Frederick Baer 1901–1914
Theodore Voorhees 1914–1916
Agnew Dice 1916–1932
Charles H. Ewing 1932–1935
Edward W. Scheer 1935–1944
Revelle W. Brown 1944–1952
Joseph A. Fisher 1952–1960
E. Paul Gangewere 1960–1964
Charles E. Bertrand 1964–1976

Heritage Unit

As a part of Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary in 2012, the company painted 20 new locomotives into predecessor schemes. NS #1067, an EMD SD70ACe locomotive, was painted into the Bee Line Service paint scheme of the Reading.

See also


  1. Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 275–277. ISBN   0-89024-072-8.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Plant (1996).
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Pennypacker (2002), p. 38.
  4. Reading Railroad
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Plant (1998).
  6. Williamsport is located at 41°14′40″N77°1′7″W / 41.24444°N 77.01861°W (41.244428, −77.018738), "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011. and is bordered by the West Branch Susquehanna River to the south... As the crow flies, Williamsport in Lycoming County is about 130 miles (209 km) northwest of Philadelphia and 165 miles (266 km) east-northeast of Pittsburgh.
  7. "2007 General Highway Map Lycoming County Pennsylvania" (PDF) (Map). 1:65,000. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Research, Geographic Information Division. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  8. Bernhart (2006), p. 3.
  9. 1 2 Basalik, Kenneth J. & Philip Ruth (March 2, 2015). "Philadelphia & Reading Railroad: Chester Branch" (PDF). Historic Resource Survey Form. PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL AND MUSEUM COMMISSION, Bureau for Historic Preservation. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  10. "Report of the Operations of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. and the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Co". Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. 1881. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  11. Morlok, Edward K., University of Pennsylvania (2005). "First Permanent Railroad in the U.S. and Its Connection to the University of Pennsylvania." Archived April 2, 2005, at the Wayback Machine Transportation Data. Accessed April 23, 2013.
  12. "The Railway World". United States Railroad and Mining Register Company. January 1, 1880 via Google Books.
  13. Railroad Ferries of the Hudson: And Stories of a Deckhand, by, Raymond J. Baxter, Arthur G. Adams, pg. 45–60 ,1999, Fordham University Press, 978-0823219544
  14. Holton (1989), p. 339.
  15. Archived September 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. Reading Eagle Quote: “1902: Reading Belt Line, which runs through West Reading and bypasses the city, is dedicated, 1900: Construction of new rail shops in Reading begins” ret>6/17/09
  17. "Philadelphia NRHS – Reading". Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  18. "Reading Steam roster". Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  19. Greenberg, Jr., William T. "The Interstate Express" Railroad Model Craftsman, August 2003: pp. 86–97.
  20. READING EAGLE NEWSPAPER thurs.2-13-63. "The Erie-Lackawanna Limited". Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  21. 1 2 Williams 1998 , p. 47
  22. Coates 1990 , p. 23
  23. Alecknavage II, Albert (June 12, 2002). "Reading Company History". Philadelphia PA: The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Retrieved July 17, 2009. After World War One, it became desirable for the P&R to simplify its corporate structure. The Reading Company, which had existed earlier as a holding company, became an operating company in 1923. Many previously-leased railroads which the Philadelphia & Reading RR had taken over—as well as the original P&R itself—were now providing service as the Reading Company.
  24. Waston, Kathie (September 16, 1997). "The Use of Historical Production Data to Predict Future Coal Production Rates". USGS. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 70-year long period of rapid growth until 1917, when annual production reached 99.7 million tons during World War I
  25. Treese, Lorett (2003). Railroads of Pennsylvania: fragments of the past in the Keystone landscape. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 114. ISBN   978-0-8117-2622-1. OCLC   50228411.
  26. "Light Rail". Light Rail Retrieved July 29, 2010.

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Central Railroad of New Jersey former Class I railroad

The Central Railroad of New Jersey, also known as the Jersey Central or Jersey Central Lines, was a Class I railroad with origins in the 1830s. It filed for bankruptcy three times; in 1939, 1947 and on March 22, 1967, the CNJ filed for bankruptcy for the final time. It foreshadowed the rest of New Jersey's railroads, but not by much. It then pulled out of Pennsylvania completely in 1972. While most of the passenger services, structures and equipment were picked up by the State of New Jersey, later NJ Transit, it was absorbed into Conrail in April 1976 along with several other prominent bankrupt railroads of the northeastern United States. Only two of the railroad's steam locomotives were preserved: CNJ No. 592 & CNJ No. 113; the latter is the only one that is still operational.

Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines railroad that operated in southern New Jersey

The Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines was a railroad that operated in southern New Jersey in the 20th century. It was created in 1933 as a joint consolidation venture between two competing railroads in the region.

Delaware and Hudson Railway company

The Delaware and Hudson Railway (D&H) is a railroad that operates in the Northeastern United States. In 1991, after more than 150 years as an independent railroad, the D&H was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). CP operates D&H under its subsidiary Soo Line Corporation which also operates Soo Line Railroad.

History of rail transport in Philadelphia

Philadelphia was an early railroad hub, with lines from all over meeting in Philadelphia. The first railroad in Philadelphia was the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad, opened in 1832 north to Germantown. At the end of 1833, the state-built Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, part of the Main Line of Public Works, opened for travel to the west, built to avoid loss of travel through Pennsylvania due to projects such as the Erie Canal. At the same time, the north-south leg of the Philadelphia City Railroad opened, running south along Broad Street from the Philadelphia and Columbia.

Lehigh and New England Railroad

The Lehigh & New England Railroad was a Class I railroad located in Northeastern United States that acted as a bridge line. It was the second notable U.S. railroad to file for abandonment in its entirety, the first being the New York, Ontario & Western Railway.

The Schuylkill Valley Metro (SVM) was a proposal for a 62-mile railway system that would link Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the city of Reading, Pennsylvania in central Berks County, using the SEPTA Manayunk/Norristown Line and Cynwyd Line, plus two Norfolk Southern Railway freight-only lines. The proposal was rejected by the Federal Transit Administration; there are no plans to move forward with the project.

Schuylkill Canal historic canal along the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania

The Schuylkill Canal, or Schuylkill Navigation, was a system of interconnected canals and slack-water pools along the Schuylkill River in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, built as a commercial waterway in the early 19th-century. Chartered in 1815, the navigation opened in 1825 to provide transportation and water power. At the time, the river was the least expensive and most efficient method of transporting bulk cargo, and the eastern seaboard cities of the U.S. were experiencing an energy crisis due to deforestation. It fostered the mining of anthracite coal as the major source of industry between Pottsville and eastern markets. Along the tow-paths, mules pulled barges of coal from Port Carbon through the water gaps to Pottsville; locally to the port and markets of Philadelphia; and some then by ship or through additional New Jersey waterways, to New York City markets.

The North Pennsylvania Railroad was a railroad company which served Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Bucks County and Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It was formed in 1852 and began operation in 1855. The Philadelphia and Reading Railway, predecessor to the Reading Company, leased the North Pennsylvania in 1879. Its tracks were transferred to Conrail and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in 1976.

Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad

The Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad, sometimes shortened to Reading and Northern Railroad, is a regional railroad operating in eastern Pennsylvania, with headquarters located in Port Clinton. The RBMN provides freight service on 300 miles (480 km) of track, with its mainline consisting of the Reading Division between Reading and Packerton and the Lehigh Division between Lehighton and Dupont. In addition to freight service, passenger excursions also run along the RBMN system. The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (LGSR) is a tourist railroad that operates passenger excursions along the RBMN between Jim Thorpe and Lehigh Gorge State Park. The RBMN also operates passenger excursions from Reading and Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe.

The Allentown Railroad was a rail line proposed in the 1850s to connect the Central Railroad of New Jersey at Allentown with the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line across the Allegheny Mountains. Though grading was almost entirely finished, the project was halted by the Panic of 1857, and the completion of the East Pennsylvania Railroad in 1859 made the Allentown Railroad's proposed line largely redundant. As a result, track was never laid on most of the line. The small portion that did became a branchline of the Reading Company from Topton to Kutztown, and was nominally owned by the Allentown Railroad until the Reading dissolved it in 1945 to simplify corporate bookkeeping. Other Reading subsidiaries also laid track on parts of the right-of-way elsewhere along the route.

Harrisburg Line Norfolk Southern rail line

The Harrisburg Line is a rail line owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in the U.S. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The line runs from Philadelphia west to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Schuylkill Branch

The Schuylkill Branch was a rail line owned and operated by the former Pennsylvania Railroad in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The line ran from the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line at 52nd Street in Philadelphia north via Norristown, Reading, and Pottsville to Delano Junction. From Delano Junction, the PRR had trackage rights over the Lehigh Valley Railroad's Hazleton Branch and Tomhicken Branch to Tomhicken, where the PRR's Catawissa Branch began. In conjunction with the Catawissa Branch, Nescopeck Branch, and Wilkes-Barre Branch, the Schuylkill Branch gave the PRR a direct line from Philadelphia to Wilkes-Barre.

The Little Schuylkill Navigation, Railroad and Coal Company (LSRR) was a railway company in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania in the 19th century. The main line ran from Port Clinton to Tamanend, for a total of 28 miles (45 km).

Catawissa Railroad

The Catawissa Railroad was a railroad that operated in Pennsylvania between 1860 and 1953. For most of its lifespan it was leased by the Reading Company, and was subsequently merged into the Reading.

Allentown station (Central Railroad of New Jersey)

Allentown was a train station in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was constructed by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) and Reading Railroad in 1888–1889. The station closed in 1967 with the cessation of CNJ passenger service. The station was located one block east of the Lehigh Valley Railroad's Allentown station.

Lehigh Line (Norfolk Southern) Norfolk Southern rail line in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

The Lehigh Line is a railroad line in central New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania. It is owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway. The line runs west from the vicinity of the Port of New York and New Jersey (via Conrail's Lehigh Line to the Susquehanna River valley at the south end of the Wyoming Valley Coal Region. Administratively it is part of Norfolk Southern's Harrisburg Division and is also part of the Crescent Corridor. As of 2016 the line is freight-only, although there are perennial proposals to restore passenger service over all or part of the line.


Further reading