The Timeline of U.S. Railway History depends upon the definition of a railway, as follows: A means of conveyance of passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, also known as tracks.
Inspired by the speedy success of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (1825) in England's railway historical record, capitalists in the United States — already embarking upon great public works infrastructure projects to connect the new territories of the United States with the older seaboard cities industries by the canals of America's Canal Age, almost overnight began dreaming up projects using railroads — a technology in its infancy, but one employing steam engines which were rapidly becoming widely known from their successful use on steamboats. American steam engine pioneers were willing to experiment with Heat Engines using higher pressures than the mainly Atmospheric engines still fashionable in Great Britain. The rest of the world lagged the two English speaking nations. Railroads began to be proposed where canals wouldn't do, or would be too costly and with an increase in rolling stock tonnage capacity, locomotive power, and a growing confidence born of experience and new materials in less than three decades, the United States generally would discard canals as the principal design choice in favor of far more capable freight haulage technologies.
During the summer of 1827,a railroad was built from the mines at Summit Hill to Mauch Chunk. With one or two unimportant exceptions, this was the first railroad in the United States.
The resultant Summit Hill & Mauch Chunk Railroad, where mules rode special cars down as well, after the coal hoppers, then returned empties up the nine mile return trip, became the first U.S. railway to carry passengers in the same year of 1827. In less than two years the railway was attracting so many visitors, it began charging fares, and then added and operated special tourism excursions on Sunday as a tourist road — which role it carried into 1932 as the world's acknowledged first roller coaster. In 1847 the cable railway return track was constructed with planes climbing two prominences along Pisgah Ridge, shortening the up trip to twenty minutes from nearly four hours by mule.
Railroads gradually replace canals as the first-choice mode of transportation infrastructure to champion and build, while canals hold a whip hand on economy for decades more, but falter on flexible destinations, speed, and where they suffer seasonal stoppages yet service year round needs. By the 1860s, in any case, where all the important older canals were to be found any canal with functions satisfiable by parallel railways (excepting by definition, ship canals) is eyed by investors to be supplanted by a competing railroad. The idea of a rail network in the US, which is by then showing early signs some areas have overbuilt in the Eastern United States is still not a common business model. Cut throat competitive capitalism, not co-operation are the rule, and the decade kicks off the forty years or so of the robber barons and excesses in capitalism.
Jim Thorpe is a borough and the county seat of Carbon County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is part of Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is historically known as the burial site of Native American sports legend Jim Thorpe.
Wooden railroads, called wagonways, were built in the United States starting from the 1720s. A railroad was reportedly used in the construction of the French fortress at Louisburg, Nova Scotia, in New France in 1720. Between 1762 and 1764, at the close of the French and Indian War (1756–1763), a gravity railroad called Montresor's Tramway was built by British military engineers up the steep riverside terrain near the Niagara River waterfall's escarpment at the Niagara Portage in Lewiston, New York.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad was a railroad built in the Northeastern United States to haul anthracite coal from the Coal Region in Pennsylvania. The railroad was authorized on April 21, 1846, for freight and transportation of passengers, goods, wares, merchandise and minerals in Pennsylvania and the railroad was incorporated and established on September 20, 1847, as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company. On January 7, 1853, the railroad's name was changed to Lehigh Valley Railroad. It was sometimes known as the Route of the Black Diamond, named after the anthracite it transported. At the time, anthracite was transported by boat down the Lehigh River. The railroad ended operations in 1976 and merged into Conrail along with several northeastern railroads that same year.
The Southern Railway was a class 1 railroad based in the Southern United States between 1894 and 1982, when it merged with the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) to form the Norfolk Southern Railway. The railroad was the product of nearly 150 predecessor lines that were combined, reorganized and recombined beginning in the 1830s, formally becoming the Southern Railway in 1894.
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.
This is a list of the earliest railroads in North America, including various railroad-like precursors to the general modern form of a company or government agency operating locomotive-drawn trains on metal tracks.
Rail transportation in the United States consists primarily of freight shipments, with a well integrated network of standard gauge private freight railroads extending into Canada and Mexico. Passenger service is mainly mass transit and commuter rail in major cities. Intercity passenger service, once a large and vital part of the nation's passenger transportation network, plays a limited role as compared to transportation patterns in many other countries due to the advent and widespread popularity of jet airplanes on major U.S. routes, and the completion of the Interstate Highway System, which resulted in the sharp curtailment of passenger service by private railroads. The United States has the largest rail transport network size of any country in the world, at a total of approximately 160,000 miles (260,000 km).
A predecessor to the Class I Delaware and Hudson Railway, the 1820s-built Delaware and Hudson Canal Company Gravity Railroad('D&H Gravity Railroad') was a historic gravity railroad incorporated and chartered in 1826 with land grant rights in the US state of Pennsylvania as a humble subsidiary of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and it proved to contain the first trackage of the later organized Delaware and Hudson Railroad. It began as the second long U.S. gravity railroad built initially to haul coal to canal boats, was the second railway chartered in the United States after the Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road before even, the Baltimore and Ohio. As a long gravity railway, only the Summit Hill and Mauch Chunk Railroad pre-dated its beginning of operations.
The Leiper Railroad was a 'family business–built' horse drawn railroad of 0.75 miles (1.21 km), constructed in 1810 after the quarry owner, Thomas Leiper, failed to obtain a charter with legal rights-of-way to instead build his desired canal along Crum Creek. The quarry man's 'make-do' railroad was the continent's first chartered railway, first operational non-temporary railway, first well-documented railroad, and first constructed railroad also meant to be permanent.
The credit of constructing the first permanent tramway in America may therefore be rightly given to Thomas Leiper. He was the owner of a fine quarry not far from Philadelphia, and was much concerned to find an easy mode of carrying stone to tide-water. That a railway would accomplish this end he seem to have had no doubt. To test the matter, and at the same time afford a public exhibition of the merits of tramways, he built a temporary track in the yard of the Bull's Head Tavern in Philadelphia. The tramway was some sixty feet long, had a grade of one inch and a half to the yard, and up it, to the amazement of the spectators, one horse used to draw a four-wheeled wagon loaded with a weight of ten thousand pounds. This was the summer of 1809. Before autumn laborers were at work building a railway from the quarry to the nearest landing, a distance of three quarters of a mile. In the spring of 1810 the road began to be used and continued in using during eighteen years.
by John Bach McMaster, page 494, A History of the People of the United States, from the Revolution to the Civil War
The Lehigh Canal is a navigable canal that begins at the mouth of Nesquehoning Creek on the Lehigh River in eastern Pennsylvania. It was built in two sections over a span of 20 years beginning in 1818. The lower section spanned the distance between Easton and present-day Jim Thorpe. In Easton, the canal met the Delaware and Morris Canals, which allowed anthracite coal and other goods to be transported further up the U.S. East Coast. At its height, the Lehigh Canal was 72 miles (116 km) long.
The Susquehanna and New York Railroad was a short-line railroad connecting the Lehigh Valley Railroad at Towanda, Pennsylvania, with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Marsh Hill Junction. The railroad carried freight and passengers between Williamsport and Towanda by rail rather than using the Susquehanna River or the Pennsylvania Canal.
The Pennsylvania Canal was a complex system of transportation infrastructure improvements including canals, dams, locks, tow paths, aqueducts, and viaducts. The Canal and Works were constructed and assembled over several decades beginning in 1824, the year of the first enabling act and budget items. It should be understood the first use of any railway in North America was the year 1826, so the newspapers and the Pennsylvania Assembly of 1824 applied the term then to the proposed rights of way mainly for the canals of the Main Line of Public Works to be built across the southern part of Pennsylvania.
The Mauch Chunk and Summit Railroad was a coal-hauling railroad in the mountains of Pennsylvania that operated between 1828 and 1932. It was the first operational railway, in the United States, of any substantial length to carry paying passengers.
The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company was a mining and transportation company headquartered in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, now known as Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The company operated from 1818 until its dissolution in 1964 and played an early and influential role in the rise of the American Industrial Revolution and early U.S. industrialization. The company ultimately encompassed source industries, transport, and manufacturing, making it the first vertically integrated U.S. company.
Ashley Planes was a historic freight cable railroad situated along three separately powered inclined plane sections located between Ashley, Pennsylvania at the foot, and via the Solomon cutting the yard in Mountain Top over 1,000 feet (300 m) above and initially built between 1837-38 by Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company's subsidiary Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad (L&S). One result of the 1837 updates of omnibus transportation bills called the Main Line of Public Works (1824), the legislation was undertaken with an eye to enhance and better connect eastern settlement's business interests with newer mid-western territories rapidly undergoing population explosions in the Pre-Civil War era. But those manufactories needed a source of heat, and the Northern Pennsylvania Coal Region was barely connected to eastern markets except by pack mule, or only through long and arduous routes down the Susquehanna then overland to Philadelphia.
Allentown is a defunct train station in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was constructed by the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) and Reading Railroad from 1888–1889. The station closed in 1967 with the cessation of CNJ passenger service. The station is located one block east of the Lehigh Valley Railroad's Allentown station.
The Lehigh Line is a railroad line in central New Jersey, Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley region of eastern 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 Keystone Division and is part of the Crescent Corridor. As of 2021 the line is freight-only, although there are perennial proposals to restore passenger service over all or part of the line.
The Beaver Meadow Railroad & Coal Company (BMRC) was chartered April 7, 1830, to build a railroad from the mines near Beaver Meadows, Pennsylvania, beyond Broad Mountain along Beaver Creek to Penn Haven and along the Lehigh River through Mauch Chunk to the Lehigh Canal at Parryville, Pennsylvania. The settlement of Beaver Meadows dated to a 1787 land sale to Patrick and Mary Keene, thence to Nathan Beach.
The Room Run Railroad was an early American gravity railroad with self-acting planes. It was built by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to transport coal from the Room Run Mine in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania to landings at Mauch Chunk on the Lehigh River so it could be shipped on the Lehigh Canal to the Delaware River at Easton, Pennsylvania to markets in Philadelphia or New York City via the Delaware or Morris Canals.
During the summer of 1827, a railroad was built from the mines at Summit Hill to Mauch Chunk. With one or two unimportant exceptions, this was the first railroad in the United States.