Railroad Depots of Northwest Pennsylvania by Dan West

Railroad Depots of Northwest Pennsylvania by Dan West Arcadia, 128 pp., paperback $21.95 Two years ago, I was traveling to northwestern Pennsylvania to attend a meeting in Titusville, when I took a slight detour to photograph Union Station in Erie. The one resource that could really have helped me was Dan West’s Railroad Depots of Northwest Pennsylvania. Who knew there were so many stations in a...
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The Giant That Stumbled: Baldwin Locomotive Works Dominated Its Field for a Century, Then Vanished

How could a Philadelphia-based global giant with 20,000 employees and a history of 120 years of operation disappear, leaving little trace? It happened to the Baldwin Locomotive Works (BLW), which perfected the art and science of building steam locomotives for domestic and worldwide markets. Baldwin was so dominant that in 1901, eight smaller builders that were scattered around the East banded...
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Gallantly Saving Railroad History: The Adventures of George M. Hart, Founding Director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Four months before his retirement in 1983 as founding director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, George Michener Hart (1919–2008) received high praise as the state’s premier railroad historian from the Smithsonian Institution’s curator of transportation, John H. White Jr. Addressed to Hart’s boss, Peter C. Welsh, director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s Bureau of...
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Editor’s Letter

In 2016 the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) presented its first Community Initiative Awards to recognize organizations, agencies, municipalities and individuals throughout the commonwealth for their historic preservation successes. The program has become a key component of PA SHPO’s statewide historic preservation plan, #PreservationHappensHere, encouraging...
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Marketing Patriotism: Pennsylvania Railroad Advertising During World War II

During World War II, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) spent lavishly on patriotic magazine advertising. No other railroad put so much effort, money or creative talent into a campaign to boost the war and create favorable public opinion for itself. As the single largest railroad in the United States, the Philadelphia-based “Pennsy” carried 10 percent of all freight in America and 20 percent of all...
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WWII Target: Altoona

The tale of the bold but fizzled 1942 Nazi plot to sabotage the Horseshoe Curve railroad landmark near Altoona, Pennsylvania, has been told in books and articles almost since the day the spy-thriller story began to unfold. First came a juvenile-fiction account in 1944 titled The Long Trains Roll by Stephen W. Meader. It recounts the story of Operation Pastorius, a wry allusion to the theme of...
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Terror and Extortion on the Pennsylvania Railroad

Threats of terrorism and challenges to security are nothing new for railroads; these phenomena have been around for nearly 200 years of railroading in the United States. Safety and security, therefore, have been of the utmost importance for railroad lines from the 19th century to the present, and railroad police have had authority equivalent to state police in many locations. Yet, the amount of...
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Branch Line Empires by Michael Bezilla with Luther Gette

Branch Line Empires The Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroads by Michael Bezilla, with Luther Gette Indiana University Press, 370 pp., cloth $55, e-book $54.99 During my time as a student at Penn State, I saw plenty of railroad tracks in Centre and Clearfield counties. Many of them were weed-grown and disused. I thought, “Somebody built these, but why? And what happened?” Now author...
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Trails to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania opened to the public in 1975 across Route 741 from the Strasburg Rail Road in Strasburg, Lancaster County. The excursion railway’s popularity as well as Lancaster County’s significance as a tourist destination contributed to the selection of Strasburg over Altoona, which was also  in consideration. The museum, renowned for being the first purpose-built...
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The Kinzua Bridge

Once the highest and longest viaduct in the world, the Kinzua Bridge in McKean County was built in 1882 for the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. Designed to carry heavy railroad cars filled with coal, lumber and oil across the deep Kinzua Creek gorge, the bridge was created from more than 3 million pounds of wrought iron by the Phoenix Bridge Co., a subsidiary of the Phoenix Iron Co....
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