Timeline of United States railway history

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Steam locomotives of the Chicago and North Western Railway in the roundhouse at the Chicago, Illinois rail yards, 1942

The Timeline of U.S.A Railway History is as follows:


  • 1810s-–1830s: Various inventors and entrepreneurs make suggestions about building model railways in the United States; In 1825 John Stevens (inventor) builds a test track and runs a locomotive around it in his summer home estate, Hoboken, New Jersey.
  • 1820s and 1830s: The Baltimore and Ohio is incorporated in 1827 and officially opens in 1830.[1]:21 Other railroads soon follow, including the Camden and Amboy by 1832.
  • August 8, 1829: The Stourbridge Lion, first steam locomotive in the US, is tested along tracks built by the Delaware and Hudson company.
  • 1830s–1860s: Enormous railway building booms in the United States. Railroads replace canals as a primary mode of transportation.
  • 1850s-1860s: Railroads begin using the electric telegraph to control train movements through the use of train orders. This practice reduces train collisions and improves efficiency.




  • 1970s: Era of deregulation. [10]
  • March 22, 1970: The California Zephyr, on its last run, arrives in Oakland, California from Chicago; the train name will soon be resurrected by Amtrak on a train travelling almost the same route as the original train.
  • June 21 1970 the Penn Central files for chapter 7 Bankruptcy,becoming the largest corporate failure up to that time in US history.[11]
  • 1971: Amtrak created by act of Congress to assume and operate National network of passenger trains from private railroads after years of dropping ridership and massive deficits force railroads to drop passenger service And ask for Government help. *March 1972.the Gulf Mobile & Ohio is merged into the Illinois Central,forming the Illinois Central Gulf.
  • 1970s: Conrail,is created from the remains of the bankrupt Penn Central,Erie Lackawanna,Central of New Jersey,Reading and Lehigh Valley Railroads in the Northeastern US, Beginning operations April 1st 1976.
  • 1970s and 1980s: Amtrak introduces double-deck Superliner rolling stock. Auto-Train Corporation begins running as independent line (1971), but fails in 1981; In 1983, Amtrak revives service and runs slightly renamed "Auto Train" as one of its more-heavily-promoted lines.
  • 1977 Amtrak carried 19.2 million passengers an average of 226 miles.[12]
  • 1980: Railroads deregulated by Congress by Staggers Rail Act of 1980.[13]
  • March 1 1980,The Rock Island ceases Operations after bankruptcy liquidation.
  • September 15, 1981: The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when it runs under its own power inside Washington, DC.
  • 1981: Union Pacific 3985 is restored to operating condition, making it the largest operable steam locomotive in the world.
  • July 1 1982, Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway merge to form Norfolk Southern.
  • January 1, 1986: The Milwaukee Road is merged into the Soo Line Railroad in the largest railroad bankruptcy proceedings to date .
  • July 1 1986, Seaboard System and Chessie System merge to form CSX Transportation corp.[14]
  • 1990s: Amtrak funding comes under heavier scrutiny by Congress, while Amtrak creates new trains such as the Talgo and the Acela Express.
  • 1995: ICC abolished; Congress creates Surface Transportation Board to assume the remaining regulatory functions.[15]
  • 1997–99: Conrail assets sold to Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation.
  • September 11, 2001: Terrorists destroy World Trade Center in New York and destroy part of the PATH system in the process. Full PATH service resumed November 23, 2003.
  • 2015. Total rail traffic declined 2.5 percent to 28 million carloads. Call remains the largest volume, at 5.1 million carloads. Cold volume fell 12 percent in 2015, as natural gas replaces coal and electricity plants. The lower volume allowed better service and faster speed, but low Fuel prices are giving an advantage to trucking. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1979). Impossible Challenge: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Barnard, Roberts. ISBN 0-934118-17-5. 
  2. ^ "Ceremony at "Wedding of the Rails," May 10, 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah". World Digital Library. 1869-05-10. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  3. ^ Blaise, Clark (2000). Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time. Random House Digital. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-375-72752-8. 
  4. ^ Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, ch. 104, 24 Stat. 379, approved 1887-02-04.
  5. ^ Act of Mar. 2, 1893, 27 Stat. 531, recodified, as amended, 49 U.S.C. § 20302.
  6. ^ "The USRA Era, 1900-1916, Part I". N.P. Ry. Tell Tale Extra. PW2.Netcom.com. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  7. ^ Presidential Proclamation 1419, December 26, 1917, under authority of the Army Appropriation Act, 39 Stat. 45, August 29, 1916.
  8. ^ Esch–Cummins Act, Pub.L. 66-152, 41 Stat. 456. Approved 1920-02-28.
  9. ^ Railway Labor Act, May 20, 1926, ch. 347, 44 Stat. 577. 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.
  10. ^ William E. Thoms, "Clear Track for Deregulation American Railroads, 1970-1980." Transportation Law Journal 12 (1981): 183+.
  11. ^ Joseph R. Daughen, and Peter Binzen, The wreck of the Penn Central (1999).
  12. ^ Steven A. Morrison, "The Value of Amtrak." Journal of Law and economics 33 (1990): 361+
  13. ^ Clifford Winston, "The Success of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980" (AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, 2005) online.
  14. ^ Brian Solomon, CSX (Voyageur Press, 2005).
  15. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, Pub.L. 104–88, 109 Stat. 803; 1995-12-29.
  16. ^ Laura Stevens, "Railroads face more tough track, Wall Street Journal 11 January, 2016

Further reading[edit]

  • Chandler, Alfred D., ed. (1981). The Railroads: The Nation's First Big Business - Sources and Readings. Arno Press. ISBN 9780405137686.
  • Churella, Albert J. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1: Building an Empire, 1846-1917 (2012) excerpt and text search; 976pp
  • Deverell, William (1994). Railroad Crossing: Californians and the Railroad, 1850–1910. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press). ISBN 9780520205055.
  • Ducker, James H. (1982). Men of the steel rails: Workers on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, 1869-1900.
  • Fish, Carl Russell (1917). "The Northern Railroads, April, 1861," The American Historical Review, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Jul., 1917), pp. 778–793 JSTOR 1836240; old but still valuable
  • Frey, Robert J. (1988). Railroads of the Nineteenth Century. Volume 2 of "Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography." (New York: Facts on File). 490pp. ISBN 9780816020126.
  • Gallamore, Robert E.; Meyer, John R. (2014). American Railroads: Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674725645. 
  • Grant, H. Roger. Railroads and the American People (2012) excerpt and text search
  • Hayes, Derek. Historical atlas of the North American railroad (2010); 400 historical maps
  • Hubbard, Freeman H. (1981). Encyclopedia of North American railroading: 150 years of railroading in the United States and Canada. (New York: McGraw-Hill). ISBN 9780070308282.
  • Jenks, Leland H. (1944). "Railroads as an Economic Force in American Development," The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 4, No. 1 (May, 1944), 1-20. JSTOR 2113700.
  • Kirkland, Edward Chase (1948). Men, Cities and Transportation, A Study of New England History 1820-1900. (2 vol.) Harvard University Press.
  • Klein, Maury (1997). The Life and Legend of Jay Gould Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801857713.
  • Klein, Maury (2000). The Life & Legend of E. H. Harriman (2000) University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2517-4. Online edition.
  • Marrs, Aaron W. Railroads in the Old South: Pursuing Progress in a Slave Society (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Martin, Albro. James J. Hill and the Opening of the Northwest (1990) excerpt and text search
  • Martin, Albro. Railroads Triumphant: The Growth, Rejection, and Rebirth of a Vital American Force (1992) excerpt and text search; wide ranging overview
  • Meyer, Balthasar H. History of Transportation in the United States before 1860 (1917) online
  • Middleton, William D. ed. (2007). Encyclopedia of North American Railroads. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253349163.
  • Miner, Craig. A Most Magnificent Machine: America Adopts the Railroad, 1825-1862 (University Press of Kansas; 2010) 325 pages; Documents the enthusiasm that accompanied the advent of the railroad system
  • Nice, David C. Amtrak: The History and Politics of a National Railroad (1998) online edition
  • Nock, O.S., ed. Encyclopedia of Railways (London, 1977), worldwide coverage, heavily illustrated
  • Riegel, Robert Edgar. The Story of the Western Railroads 1926 online edition
  • Riley, C. J. The Encyclopedia of Trains & Locomotives (2002)
  • Saunders, Richard. Main lines: Rebirth of the North American railroads, 1970-2002 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2003).
  • Stover, John. The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American Railroads (2001)
  • Stover, John. History of the Illinois Central Railroad (1975)
  • Stover, John. Iron Road to the West: American Railroads in the 1850s (1978)
  • Turner, George E. Victory rode the rails: the strategic place of the railroads in the Civil War (1953)
  • Ward, James Arthur. J. Edgar Thomson: master of the Pennsylvania (1980) 265 pages
  • Ward, James A. "Power and Accountability on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1846-1878." Business History Review 1975 49(1): 37-59. in JSTOR
  • White, Richard. Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (2011) excerpt and text search
  • Wolmar, Christian. The Great Railroad Revolution: The History of Trains in America (2012), survey to 2012; emphasis on 19th century; 448pp excerpt and text search


  • Railroads in U.S. History (1830-2010) (2010), set of 4 DVDs, directed by Ron Meyer; #1, "Railroads come to America (1830 - 1840);" #2, "The First Great Railroad Boom (1841- 1860)"; #3, "A New Era in American Railroading (1861 - 1870)," #4, "The Second Great Railroad Boom (1871 - 2010)" link

External links[edit]