A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
Pennsylvania Railroad
Pittsburgh Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad
Pittsburgh Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Panhandle)

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Pennsy West Speeds

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Speed Capital

Pennsylvania herald

M1a M1a freight
The Pennsylvania Railroad was founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Pennsy was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the US throughout its 20th Century existence and was at one time the largest publicly traded corporation in the world. At its peak, it controlled about 10,000 miles of rail line. During its history, the PRR merged with or had an interest in at least 800 other rail lines and companies. The PRR corporation still holds the record for the longest continuous dividend history: it paid out annual dividends to shareholders for more than 100 years in a row. For many years the President of the PRR was considered more powerful than the President of the United States. The budget for the PRR was larger than that of the U.S. government and the Pennsy employed approximately 250,000 workers.
The Pennsylvania Railroad's corporate symbol was the keystone which is Pennsylvania's state symbol, with the letters PRR intertwined inside. When colored, it was bright red with silver-grey molding and lettering. (wik)
During the 30's and 40's the Pennsy ran many luxurious passenger trains from the Chicago hub, to east coast cities, in competition with it's chief rival for the New York traffic, the New York Central. The Broadway Limited, with its 16 hour schedule was every bit as fine as the Twentieth Century.
The Pennsy also had a new 17 hour coach only train, the Trail Blazer, to compete with the Central's Pacemaker. Two other fine trains the General and Golden Arrow were also on 17 hour schedules to compete with the Commodore Vanderbilt. On the run
December 14, 1938 S1
S1 passenger
to Washington, the B&O was slightly faster with the Capitol Limited and a shorter line, but the Pennsy made up for it with the luxury train, the Liberty Limited, and more trains than the B&O. The Liberty Limited was the favorite for most Chicago to Washington, D.C. train travelers.(rp)
Pennsylvania E6s Atlantic

E6s Atlantic 4-4-2 (pc)
High stepping (80" drivers) very fast passenger locomotive of the 30's and 40's. The Atlantics could haul up to eight cars at speed. Set U.S. steam record of 127.2 mph on the Pennsylvania Racetrack near Crestline, Ohio.

Pennsylvania K4s Pacific

The first Baldwin built Pennsylvania K4s Pacific - 1927 (pc)
The K4s Pacific's with 80" drivers and Belpaire fireboxes, were the passenger hauler of choice on major Pennsy lines during the 30's through the mid-50's, until dieselization took over. They could haul up to eleven cars at speeds in the 90s, and often were double headed on the Pennsy main out of Chicago.

Pennsylvania Map
Map of the Pennsylvania Railroad circa 1930-1940

History of the Pennsylvania Railroad

The growth of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in many respects, closely parallels the movement westward to the growing population centers in the mid-west. The City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania wanted to meet the challenge of New York interests to be the first railroad to the west. In addition, there were many small railroads starting up in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, all trying to serve segments of the path toward the growing cities. The main lines of the Pennsylvania were brought together through charters, mergers, leases and acquisitions to reach from Philadelphia to the major western cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis. In addition, the eastern cities of Washington, Baltimore and New York City were in the sites of the Pennsylvania.

We can best categorize this growth in four primary segments, all four proceeding simultaneously. .
1. Philadelphia to Pittsburgh
2. East Coast Cities - Washington, Baltimore, New York City
3. Pittsburgh to Chicago - Pittsburg Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad (PFW&C)
4. Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, St,Louis and Chicago - Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (PCC&StL- Panhandle Route)

Pennsylvania Railroad History Timeline - Philadelphia to Pittsburgh

1846 - The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was founded.
1846 - Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chartered the PRR to build a rail and canal corridor from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.
1854- Horseshoe Curve completed over Allegheny Ridge. (two tracks)
1854 - Rail service from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh
1857 - PRR purchases the line from State of Pennsylvania.
1900 - Horseshoe Curve expanded to four tracks

Pennsylvania Railroad History Timeline - East Cities

Through a series of mergers and acquisitions the PRR expanded
1861 - Philadelphia to Baltimore
1871 - Jersey City and Trenton
1872 - Washington D. C.
1873 - Some trains New York to Washington D. C. Trains ended northern run at Exchange Place in Jersey City where passengers transferred to a ferry for the ride to Manhattan.
1885 - "Limited" train service New York City to Washington D. C. via Exchange Place.
1901 - Pennsy president Alexander Cassatt announced plans to build two track tunnels under the Hudson River to reach Manhattan directly by train.
1903 - In June tunnel boring began, and also four single track tunnels under the east river to connect Queens and the Long Island Railroad to Manhattan.
1904 - In May ground was broken for the new Penn Station in Manhattan.
1906 - Hudson Rivwer tunnels completed in October.
1908 - East River tunnels completed in March.
1908 - Steam locomotives prohibited in New Yprk City after July 1.
1910 - Tunnells to New York are electrified.
1910 - The Pennsylvania Station in New York City is completed giving the Pennsy access directly to Manhattan.
1928–1938 PRR electrified its New York–Washington main line.
1963-68 - Fenn Station in New York City is demoloshed and replaced by other commercial ventures. The below ground tracks are maintained.

Pennsylvania Railroad History Timeline - Pittsburgh to Chicago - PFW&C

The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway (PFW&C) was a major part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, extending the PRR west from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Fort Wayne, Indiana to Chicago. The PFW&C was the consolidation of many different railroads.
1848 - Ohio & Pennsylvania chartered to build from Pittsburgh to Crestline, Ohio.
1852 - Fort Wayne & Chicago chartered to build west to Chicago
1853 - Line to Crestline completed. (Many Railroads)
1854 - Line to Fort Wayne completed (Ohio and Indiana & Great Western of Ohio)
1856 - PFW&C formed as consolidation of above railroads
1857 - Fort Wayne Bridge over Allegheny River at Pittsburgh completed
1858 - Extension to Chicago completed
1859 - Trains from Philadelphia to Chicago to site of future Union Station
The PFW&C acquired other lines in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana to provide branches to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and other cities.
1869 - Pennsylvania Railroad leases PFW&C.
1871 - PFW&C transferred to Pennsylvania Company.
1918 - PFW&C transferred back to Pennsylvania Railroad

Pennsylvania Railroad History - West lines - the Panhandle - PCC&StL

The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, commonly called the Pan Handle Route (Panhandle Route in later days), was a railroad forming part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. Its common name came from its main line west from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania across the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. The line continued west to Bradford, Ohio, where it split, with one line to Chicago and the other to East St. Louis, Illinois via Indianapolis, Indiana. The PCC&StL was created by mergers, acquisitions and leases of many smaller railroads, too many to repeat in this short dissertation. Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia has an expanded version, if you choose to view it.
1846 - Charter to build from Richmond to New Castle Indiana
1848 - Charter to build west from Steubenville, Ohio
1849 - Charter to build west from Pittsburgh across Virginia panhandle
1853 - Richmond to New Castle, Indiana opened
1855 - Line west to Newark, Ohio completed
1857 - Columbus, Ohio reached
1857 - Cincinnati reached
1857 - Richmond to Logansport
1857 - Line from 12th St. Chicago to La Porte, Indiana started
1861 - Logansport to Valparaiso, Indiana. Connect with PFW&C
1865 - Access to Steubenville from Pittsburgh completed.
1859 - Indianapolis to Columbus available
1862-1865 - Service Richmond to Chicago
1864 - Main line Columbus to Indianapolis consolidated
1865 - Line 12th St. to La Porte completed
1865 - La Porte to Valparaiso discontinued
1868 - Shorter line Columbus to Chicago through Marion completed
1868 - Pan Handle Railroad formed
1869 - Access to Cincinnati leased by PRR from PCC&StL
1870 - Indianapolis to East St. Louis completed
1890 - PCC&SL (Panhandle) completed majority of leases, mergers and acquisitions
1921 - PRR leases PCC&SL

Pennsylvania Railroad in the 20th Century

1902 - Pennsy best limited train the Pennsylvainia Limited, which began running between Chicago and New York City in 1887 is replaced by the Pennsylvania Special.
1905 - E7sa 4-4-2 Atlantic steam locomotive sets steam speed record of 127.2 mph near Crestline, Ohio.
1910 - New York terminal and tunnels are electrified.
1912 - Pennsy crack train the Pennsylvania Special is replaced by the Broadway Limited on a 20 hour schedule.
1914-1928 - Pennsy's premier steam passenger locomotive the K4s 4-6-2 Pacific is produced in volume by Pennsy and other builders.
1915 - PRR electrifies its suburban Philadelphia lines between Central Philadelphia and Paoli.
1916 - PRR adopts new motto, "Standard Railroad of the World". The first I1s "Decapod" locomotive is completed, and switching locomotives of the A5s and B6sb class are introduced.
1918 - PRR stock bottoms at $40¼.
1918 - Locomotive class N1s is introduced for PRR's western lines.
1928–1938 PRR electrified its New York–Washington main line, the Chicago–Philadelphia main line between Harrisburg and Paoli and most other eastern lines.
1929 - Two K5 Pacific locomotives produced but deemed to be not much better than the proven K4s.
1934 - GG1 electric locomotives introduced on eastern electrified lines.
1935 - Broadway Limited schedule time reduced to 16 hours 30 minutes.
1938 - Broadway Limited streamlined behind K4s streamlined 4-6-2 Pacific steam now on a 16 hour schedule beginning in June.
1939 - Pennsy builds experimental 6-4-4-6 duplex steam locomotive hoping to replace aging K4s's.
cir 1940 - Pennsy Florida lightweight streamlined train the "Southland" with Budd built cars.
1942 - Baldwin builds two prototype T1 4-4-4-4 duplex drive steam locomotives for Pennsy fast passenger use.
1946 - Last run of S1. It is too long and too big. It is scrapped in 1949.
1946- 50 more T1's are built, 1/2 by Pennsy at Altoona, and 12 by Baldwin.
1947-50 - Pennsy decides T1's not as satisfactory as diesels and begins large diesel orders (226 units in 1950).
1948 - "Broadway Limited" is refurbished and 200 new passenger cars ordered.
1957 - Pennsy fully dieselized.
1968 Pennsylvania Railroad merges with New York Central to form the Penn Central.
1970 - The Penn Central files for bankruptcy protection on June 21, 1970.
1976 - Conrail takes over much of Penn Central as well as other eastern roads.
1998 - Most of Pennsy's old lines (Conrail) merged into Norfolk Southern (NS). Much of the Chicago-Crestline race track has been abandoned and torn up

Chicago to Pittsburgh - 1940
The Chicago to Pittsburgh competition went all to the Pennsylvania. The B&O, with almost equal mileage to Pittsburgh, was content to travel more leisurely, and the New York Central System, also with about the same mileage, was not truly competitive since it traveled from Cleveland to Youngstown, Ohio on the Erie double track, and finished the run to Pittsburgh on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie. The Erie name trains carried Pullmans and coaches to Pittsburgh, using the P&LE from Youngstown but were not at all in a hurry.

Number - Train Hours Miles
Pennsylvania 468.4
28 - Broadway Limited 7:52
58 - Liberty Limited 8:15
76 - Trail Blazer 8:18
48 - The General 8:18
78 - The Golden Arrow 8:22
54 - Gotham Limited 8:45
62 - Golden Triangle 8:45
22 - Manhattan Limited 9:15
52 - New Yorker 9:53
2 - Pennsylvania Limited 10:00
42 - The Rainbow 10:07
208-908 - The Union 11:27 504.2 (via Columbus)
216-416 - Fort Hayes 11:50 504.2 (via Columbus)
108 - Ohioan 13:40 504.2 (via Columbus)
118 - 118 14:15
Baltimore and Ohio 471.4
6 - Capitol Limited 9:04
10 - Shenandoah 9:39
8 - Fort Pitt Limited 10:09
14 - 14 11:15
72-16-528 13:30
NYC-Erie-P&LE 471.4
88 - 88 9:50
86 - 86 10:15
24 - 24 10:20
Erie-P&LE 491.8
6-626 - Lake Cities 10:10
8-624 - Atlantic Express 12:20
2-688 - Erie Limited 12:40

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Pennsylvania - West - November 2, 1941 -Speeds over 60 mph - All Steam Powered
The fast E6s Atlantic and K4s Pacific locomotives of the Pennsylvania Railroad joined to produce the highest concentration of high speed steam power in the U.S. during the 30's and 40's, or probably since the inception of steam locomotives in America.
Train#From CityTo CityMilesMin.mph
Detroit Arrow 4 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 96 76.9
Chicago Arrow 1 Fort Wayne Gary 123.0 97 76.1
Red Bird 7 Fort Wayne Gary 123.0 97 76.1
Red Bird 8 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 98 75.3
Liberty Limited 58 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 54 71.3
Admiral 70 Valparaiso Plymouth 40.2 34 70.9
Broadway Limited 28 Englewood Fort Wayne 141.0 120 70.5
Admiral 70 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 55 70.0
Trail Blazer 76 Gary Plymouth 58.8 51 69.2
Liberty Limited 59 Fort Wayne Plymouth 64.2 56 68.8
Pittsburgh Express 44 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 56 68.8
Trail Blazer 76 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 56 68.8
Trail Blazer 77 Fort Wayne Plymouth 64.2 56 68.8
Liberty Limited 58 Gary Plymouth 58.8 52 67.8
Liberty Limited 59 Plymouth Gary 58.8 52 67.8
Broadway Limited 29 Fort Wayne Englewood 141.0 125 67.7
General 48 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 57 67.6
General 48 Gary Plymouth 58.8 53 66.6
General 49 Plymouth Gary 58.8 53 66.6
Gotham Lim/Valley Sp 54-354 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 111 66.5
Manhattan Limited 22 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 111 66.5
General 49 Fort Wayne Plymouth 64.2 58 66.4
Pennsylvanian 78 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 58 66.4
Golden Triangle 62 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 112 65.9
Admiral 70 Lima Crestline 72.1 66 65.5
Trail Blazer 77 Crestline Lima 72.1 66 65.5
Mid-City Express 12 Plymouth Fort Wayne 64.2 57 65.3
Pennsylvania Limited 5 Fort Wayne Plymouth 64.2 59 65.3
Pennsylvanian 78 Gary Plymouth 58.8 54 65.3
Trail Blazer 77 Plymouth Gary 58.8 54 65.3
Trail Blazer 76 Lima Crestline 72.1 67 64.6
Trail Blazer 77 Lima Fort Wayne 59.5 56 63.8
Golden Arrow 79 Fort Wayne Warsaw 39.3 37 63.7
Liberty Limited 59 Crestline Fort Wayne 131.6 124 63.7
Rainbow 42 Warsaw Fort Wayne 39.3 37 63.7
General 48 Lima Crestline 72.1 68 63.6
Golden Arrow 79 Crestline Lima 72.1 68 63.6
Mid-City Express 12 Valparaiso Plymouth 40.2 38 63.5
Southland 200 Gary Fort Wayne 123.0 117 63.1
Pittsburgh Express 44 Gary Plymouth 58.8 56 63.0
Broadway Limited 29 Crestline Fort Wayne 131.6 126 62.7
Pittsburgh Express 44 Lima Crestline 72.1 69 62.7
Admiral 70 Gary Valparaiso 18.6 18 62.0
Golden Arrow 79 Plymouth Valparaiso 40.2 39 61.8
Liberty Limited 58 Lima Crestline 72.1 70 61.8
New Yorker 52 Valparaiso Plymouth 40.2 39 61.8
Pennsylvania Limited 2 Valparaiso Plymouth 40.2 39 61.8
Pennsylvanian 78 Lima Crestline 72.1 70 61.8
Pennsylvania Limited 5 Crestline Fort Wayne 131.6 128 61.7
Chicago Arrow 1 Gary Englewood 18.4 18 61.3
Red Bird 7 Gary Englewood 18.4 18 61.3
Broadway Limited 28 Fort Wayne Crestline 131.6 129 61.2
General 48 Fort Wayne Lima 59.5 59 60.5
New Yorker 52 Warsaw Fort Wayne 39.3 39 60.5
Golden Arrow 79 Lima Van Wert 27.1 27 60.2
Manhattan Limited 22 Lima Dunkirk 24.1 24 60.2
General 49 Crestline Lima 72.1 72 60.1
Average Speeds 4162.4 3776 66.1

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Fort Wayne - Speed Capital of Steam
Fort Wayne, Indiana could have been described as the "Speed Capital of the Steam Powered Passenger Trains of the 30's and 40's". In November of 1941, there were no less than 30 daily arrivals or departures from the Fort Wayne Union station, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, with average speeds to or from their next destination of 60 miles per hour or greater. If we add the Wabash Railroad's single 60+ run from Adrian to the Fort Wayne station our total 60+ movements are 31. The above chart shows the Pennsy movements. The track from Englewood to Fort Wayne and Crestline, Ohio could have best been described as a Race Track. It was almost dead straight, with few hills, and was well ballasted with 152# rail, heaviest in use at that time. The Detroit Arrow was the fastest of all with an average speed of 76.9 mph from Gary to Fort Wayne. Seven of these movements were at averages of 70 mph or higher. No other city in the USA matched this raw display of steam train speed.

I once rode from Fort Wayne to Englewood on the Detroit Arrow. It left Fort Wayne 10 minutes late and arrived in Englewood on the advertised. We traveled 141 miles in 105 minutes for an average speed of 80.6 mph. I timed mileposts at 90 mph.

The tragedy is that this superior roadway, the fastest steam stretch in the nation, has been largely abandoned and ripped up in recent years, with only short stretches still remaining in a much more dilapidated condition. So much for progress.
City60+mph stopsTop SpeedAve,SpeedRailroad
Fort Wayne3176.967.2Pennsy(30)Wabash(1)
Toledo2370.964.0New York Central

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Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Pennsy Steam A to T - Paul Carleton (pc) Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-summer 2006
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-summer 2008
Encyclopedia of North American Railroads Aaron E. Klein(aek)
The Encyclopedia of Trains and Locomotives-C.J.Riley(cr)
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, April 30, 2009, revised Sept. 27, 2011