An Eastern regional Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Reading Railway System

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June 7, 1942
The Reading Company ( RDG), usually called the Reading Railroad System, and earlier known as the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road (P&R) and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway (P&R)until 1924, operated in southeast Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Contrary to its spelling, it is actually pronounced 'redding'. 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. However, the reduced coal traffic, coupled with highway competition and short hauls, forced it into bankruptcy in the 1970s. The Reading Railway System was merged into Conrail in 1976, but the corporation lasted into 2000 disposing of real estate holdings. Since the railroad served Atlantic City, New Jersey, Reading Railroad is also a property in the popular board game Monopoly. (wik)
By the nature of the territory which it served, the P&R fueled the Industrial Revolution which led the United States to economic leadership. With lines reaching out to the North, South, East and West, the P&R served the heart of the most densely industrialized area of the nation and by the 1870s became the largest corporation in the world.(ths) In the 30's and 40's the Reading operated many passenger trains from Philadelphia to New York, in conjunction with the Jersey Central or the B&O, and from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Reading and Allentown, as well as
Reading Diesel
June 2, 1942
Crusader Streamliner
on other branches. It also assisted in providing service to Buffalo, Scranton, Toronto, and Binghamton using connections with the Lehigh Valley, the Lackawanna, CRRof NJ and Canadian National.(rp)
History of the Reading Railway System (RDG)
The Philadelphia and Reading (P&R)
1833 - The Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road (P&R) was chartered to build a line, along the Schuylkill River, between it's namesake cities,
1836 - The Lebanon Valley Railroad (LVR)was chartered to build from Reading west to Harrisburg.
1838 - P&R opened Reading to Norristown.
1839 - P&R full line opened 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.
1842 - An extension northwest from Reading to Mount Carbon, also on the Schuylkill River, opened, allowing the P&R to compete with the Schuylkill Canal, and to connect with the earlier Mount Carbon Railroad, continuing to Pottsville and several mines and would be to Williamsport.
1842 - A 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.
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.
1854-56 - P&R, who had taken over the LVR, finished line, giving P&R line from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, now competing with the Pennsy.
1857 - The Reading and Columbia Railroad was chartered to build from Reading southwest to Columbia on the Susquehanna River.
1859 - The P&R 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.
1859 - A new Philadelphia terminal opened on December 24, at Broad and Callowhill Streets, north of the old one at Cherry Street.
1864 - R&C opened using the Lebanon Valley Railroad from Sinking Spring east to Reading.
1870 - The P&R leased the Port Kennedy Railroad to reach quarries at Port Kennedy.
1870 - The P&R leased the Pickering Valley Railroad, a branch running west from Phoenixville to Byers which opened in 1871.
cir 1870 - P&R established a subsidiary, The P&R Coal and Iron Co. to gain control over the vast anthracite deposits being mined for shipment over its lines. As one of America's first conglomerates, this attracted the infamous “robber barons” of the latter 1800s, such as Carnegie and Vanderbilt. During the company's final spectacular attempt at expansion through control of lines to New England, Canada and the West, the formidable J.P. Morgan pulled the financial rug out from under The Reading, and forced the company to settle into its traditional role as a regional railroad–mainly a carrier of anthracite.
1876 - The Camden and Atlantic City was incorporated to build a second line from Camden, NJ to Atlantic City via Clementon.
1871-77 - The C&AC narrow gauge line to Atlantic City is completed.
1878 - The P&AC is in bankrupcy.
1879 - P&R leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad giving it not only a line from Philadelphia north to Bethlehem but the valuable Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad, the descendant of the National Railway project, giving it a route to New York City in direct competition with the Pennsylvania Railroad's United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. On the New York end it used the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Jersey City terminal.
1883 - The P&R leased the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The P&R eventually bought up a majority of the CNJ's stock as well.
1883 - In December the CNJ and P&R acquired the C&AC and changed its name to Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
1884 - P&AC changed to standard gauge.
1885 - P&R gains full control of P&AC.
1889 - The P&R consolidated the P&AC with four other southern New Jersey railroads to form the Atlantic CityRailroad.
1890 - The Port Reading Railroad was chartered.
1891 - P&R lease Lehigh Valley Railroad.
1892 - The Port Reading opened running east off a junction from the New York mainline near Bound Brook to a new port - Port Reading - on the Arthur Kill near Perth Amboy.
1893 - LV lease expires and P&R goes into receivership, also relinquishing control of the Central New England Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad.
1893 - Reading Terminal is built in Philadelphia.
1893 - P&R’s owners created a new holding company named Reading Company, to own on paper, the P&R Railroad and P&R Coal and Iron Co. Finally, a Supreme Court ruling forced a complete separation of the P&R entities.
The Reading Company (A ho;ding Company)(Reading)(RDG)
1893-1924 - Reading returns to it's core anthracite industry, but ventures into other industries and makes major improvements to its lines including double and more tracks, better track and cutoffs, etc. It works with other railroads to develop an "alphabet" linee linking east to west. It is a very profitable railroad.
1900 - P&R shop complex started to be built.
1901 - P&R gains controlling interest in CofNJ aquiring route fromPhiladelphia to Jersey City.
1902 - P&R completes 7.2 nile belt line around Reading to relieve congestion.
1903 - The B&O gains controlover Reading to insure access to Jersey City.
1903 - P&R Skuykill River bridge at Bridgeport shortens line to Norristown.
1906 - Due to Hepburn act restrictions the RDG was forced to sell its P&R Coal and Iron Company.
1904-1947 - Reading builds (along with Baldwin) many fine steam locomotives in their shop complex; included were the N1 2-8-8-2 mallet, M1 2-8-2, K1 2-10-2, and G1 4-6-2 passenger locomotive, and rolling stock. This was the largest complex in the USA.
1906 - New York Short Line completed expediting freight movement and B&O Royal Blue passenger run.
1924 - The P&R Coal and Iron Co. having been sold the Reading Company (RDG) became the railroad's operating name dropping the P&R railroad name and adopting the Reading Railway System (RDG) name.
1920's - RDG's extensive suburban services off the 9th St. branch was using Camelback Locomotives of the 4-4-0, 4-4-2, and 4-6-0 wheel arrangements, nany made in the Reading shops.
Late 1920's - RDG extensive suurban services are electrified, including following lines; Norristown, Chestnut Hill, Lansdale/Doylestown, West Trenton, and Harbor.
1930-40's - RDG hosts many "name" passenger trains on New York - Philadelphia corridor, as well as connections to Buffalo, Toronto, Binghamton, and Scranton, and on many branches.
post 1945 - Anthracite coal business declines sharply.
1963 - RPO service dropped and passenger trains now using Budd RDC cars>
1964 - Philadelphia - New York passenger service down to 3 trains a day: Suburban services to Pottsville and Bethlehem.
1971 - Reading Company was forced to file for bankruptcy protection, as a result of dwindling coal shipping revenues and strict government regulations that denied railroads the ability to set competitive prices, required high taxes, and forced the railroads to continue to operate money-losing lines. 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.
1974 - Harbor line electrification extended to Warminster
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-ways.
1980 - Reading had sold 350 of the real estate tracts by the time it left bankruptcy in 1980.
early 1980's - Holding company Craig Corporation liquidates balance of Reading assets.
1993 - Reading Terminal is last asset sold.
2001 - A non-railroad related firm emerges, the Reading International.

ReadingMapThe Reading System timetable map - 1942

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- Various editions
Reading Company Technical and Historical Society(ths)
To contact our contributors please make a request by Email to: Richard Parks


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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright © Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised Oct. 6, 2011