Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American railroad existing 1846–1968, after which it merged into Penn Central Transportation. Commonly referred to as the Pennsy, the company was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company's symbol was a keystone (Pennsylvania's symbol) with the letters PRR overlapping inside it. When colored, it was bright red with silver-grey edges and lettering.
The PRR was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the US throughout its 20th century existence and for a long while was the largest publicly traded corporation in the world. The corporation still holds the record for the longest continual dividend history, over 100 years of never missing an annual shareholder payment.
Standard Railroad of the World
For a long time the PRR called itself the Standard Railroad of the World, meaning that it was the standard to which all other railroads aspired, the "gold standard". For a long time that was literally true; the railroad had an impressive lists of firsts, greatests, biggests and longests. The PRR was the first railroad to rid itself of wooden-bodied passenger cars in favor of the much safer steel-bodied cars. It led the way in many safety and efficiency improvements over the years. This advantage lessened as the years progressed, and the PRR eventually abandoned the use of the phrase.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was standard in another way, too - it was an early proponent of standardization. While other railroads used whatever was to hand or available, the Pennsylvania tested and experimented with solutions until they could decide on one, and then made it standard across the whole company. Other railroads bought locomotives and railroad cars in small lots, taking whatever was available from manufacturers at the time. The PRR produced huge numbers of standardised designs. This gave the railroad a feel of uniformity and greatly reduced costs. The PRR was also an early adopter of standard liveries and color schemes.
- 1916 PRR adopts new motto, "Standard Railroad of the World".
- 1916 First I1s 2-10-0 "Decapod" locomotive completed.
- 1916 A5s 0-4-0 and B6sb switching locomotives introduced.
- 1918 PRR stock bottoms at $40¼ due largely to Federal railroad control, lowest since 1877.
- 1918 Emergency freight routed through New York's Penn Station and the Hudson tunnels at night by the USRA to relieve congestion.
- 1918 N1s 2-10-2 locomotives introduced for Lines West.
- 1968-02-01 Pennsylvania Railroad absorbs New York Central to form the Penn Central.
Penn Central merger
On February 1, 1968 the PRR merged with arch-rival New York Central to form the Penn Central Transportation. The ICC required that ailing New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad be added in 1969. Penn Central declared bankruptcy in June, 1970.
Penn Central rail lines were split between Amtrak (Northeast Corridor) and Conrail in the 1970s. After the breakup of Conrail in 1999, the portion which had formerly been PRR territory largely became part of Norfolk Southern Corporation.
PRR equipment colors and painting
- Main article: PRR equipment colors and painting.
PRR colors and paint schemes were very standardised. Locomotives were painted in a shade of green so dark as to be almost black, called DGLE (Dark Green Locomotive Enamel) but often called Brunswick Green. Underparts were painted true black. Passenger cars were painted Tuscan red, a brick-red shade. Lettering and lining was originally real gold leaf on passenger locomotives and cars, but in the post World War II period became Buff, a light yellow shade of paint. Some electric locomotives and most passenger-hauling diesel locomotives were painted in Tuscan also. Freight cars were painted Freight Car Color, an iron-oxide red.
For most of its existence, the PRR pursued a motive power policy of conservatism and standardisation. Almost uniquely among American railroads, the Pennsylvania designed most of its steam locomotive classes itself and built a fair proportion of them in its own Altoona Works - in fact, the PRR is believed to have been the 4th greatest builder of steam locomotives in the United States, after the three largest commercial builders.
Outside builders were, of course, used - the sheer numbers of locomotives the PRR ordered were far greater than its own works could produce. Unlike most roads who left the majority of the decision-making and design to the locomotive builder, giving only a broad specification, the PRR generally used a commercial builder as a subcontractor, building exact replicas of an existing PRR design.
When it needed to use a commercial locomotive builder, the Pennsy favored Philadelphia's Baldwin Locomotive Works over all others. Baldwin was a big PRR customer, for one thing -- its raw materials were delivered by the PRR, and its finished products were shipped over PRR metals also. That the two companies were headquartered in the same city certainly had a bearing - PRR and Baldwin management and engineers knew each other well. The second preference, when both the PRR and Baldwin shops were at capacity, was the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. Only at a last resort, it seems, would the PRR use Alco, the American Locomotive Company, based in Schenectady, New York - serviced by and favorite locomotive supplier to the Pennsy's arch rival, the New York Central Railroad.
The PRR had a definite style that it favored in its locomotives. The square-shouldered Belpaire firebox was a PRR trademark that otherwise found little favor in the United States; almost every PRR locomotive had it. It traded more difficult construction for a greater heating surface and simpler firebox staying. The PRR used track pans extensively to pick up water on the move, so 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. The PRR was wary of gadgets and its locomotives were not generally festooned with devices; the PRR also favored a neat mounting of such devices when necessary, leaving the lines of the locomotive comparatively clean. Smokebox fronts bore a round locomotive numberboard (freight) or keystone numberboard (passenger) and were otherwise uncluttered except for a headlamp mounted at the top, with 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.
The PRR, until its final years, preferred a philosophy of smaller locomotives rather than buying the biggest.
Each class of steam locomotive was assigned a class designation. Early on, this was simply an alphabetical letter, but when these began to run out, the scheme was changed so that each wheel arrangement had its own letter, and different types of the same arrangement were defined by a subsequent number. Subtypes were in turn indicated by a lower-case letter; superheating was designated by a "s" until the mid 1920s, by which time all new locomotives were superheated. Thus, for example, a 'K4sa' class was a 4-6-2 "Pacific" type (K) and of the fourth class of Pacifics ordered by the PRR. It was superheated (s) and was of the first variant type (a) after the original (unlettered). See PRR locomotive classification for details.
Union Station, Washington DC
Union Station (Washington, DC) served as a hub for PRR passenger services, with connections to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and Southern Railway. The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad provided a link to Richmond, Virginia, about 100 miles to the south, where major north-south lines of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railroad provided service to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.
Presidents of the Pennsylvania Railroad:
- Samuel V. Merrick (1847–1849)
- William C. Patterson (1849–1852)
- J. Edgar Thomson (1852–1874)
- Thomas A. Scott (1874–1880)
- George B. Roberts (1880–1896)
- Frank Thomson (1897–1899)
- Alexander J. Cassatt (1899–1906)
- James McCrea (1907–1912)
- Samuel Rea (1913–1925)
- William W. Atterbury (1925–1935)
- Martin W. Clement (1935–1948)
- Walter S. Franklin (1948–1954)
- James M. Symes (1954–1960)
- Allen J. Greenough (1960–1968)
Chief Executive Officers of the Pennsylvania Railroad:
- New York Central Railroad - long time adversary, eventual merger partner
- Penn Central Transportation - successor to the PRR and NYC in 1968
- Conrail - successor to Penn Central
- Norfolk Southern - successor to Conrail in former PRR territory
- Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad
- Little Miami Railroad -- acquired by the Pennsy in 1870
- Pennsylvania Station -- the PRR's grand New York City station
- List of Pennsylvania Railroad Passenger Trains
- Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society
- PRR Chronology - in depth
- PennsyRR.com - comprehensive PRR facts and history site, comprising multiple individual websites.
- prr.railfan.net - contains a lot of Pennsy information, including equipment diagrams, freight car info.
- Keystone Crossing: Hobo's Guide to the Pennsy
- Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum (2000), General Atterbury. Retrieved February 21 2005.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2005), RPI: Alumni hall of fame: Alexander J. Cassatt. Retrieved February 22 2005.
- President and Fellows of Harvard College (2004), 20th century great American business leaders - Martin W. Clement. Retrieved February 23 2005.
- White, John H., Jr. (Spring 1986), America's most noteworthy railroaders, Railroad History, Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, 154, p. 9-15.
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