The Pennsylvania Railroad began in 1846 and grew into the largest
railroad in the world. By the time it was 100 years old, the Pennsy had 10,690
main line miles of track with total trackage being 26,109 miles traversing
thirteen states. The railroad reached out to the cities of New York, Washington
DC, Buffalo,Cleveland, Chicago, St Louis and all those in between.

Of the nearly 25,000 steam locomotives on the roster, 10,000 of these were
constructed by the railroad in its Altoona shops. Altoona was the worlds
largest railroad shop,employing over 13,000 people. Opening in 1850,Altoona
consisted of four units - Twelfth Street Car shop, Altoona Car Shop,Juniata
Shops and South Altoona Foundries. The facility consisted of yards covering
218 acres and 122 buildings covering 37 acres of floor space. The total shop
installation was over 3 miles long. Within this complex were 4500 machine
tools and 94 overhead cranes.

The Pennsylvania Railroad was the first to use standardization which led it to
be known as "The Standard Railroad of the World". Interchangeable parts for
their locomotives allowed for more timely repairs and more economical
production costs. Pennsy adopted the slogan " DO IT YOURSELF" and it was
done to the success of 10,000 engines designed and built at the Altoona
Facility. The Pennsy Men were proud employees and rightfully so, for no other
railroad could match the sheer magnitude of the Pennsy. The Pennsy was often
referred to as conservative but in viewing its ingenuity, this appears to be a
contradiction. It was the first to use steel passenger cars, pioneered in-cab
signals, established the train phone, used the heaviest rail (152#), was the first
to scoop water on the fly, pioneered position light signalization and developed
classification hump yards. Though it may have been conservative in its day to
day operations, the Pennsy learned early on that development and progression
was key to success.

As the railroad grew, it bought up smaller railroads, purchased financial
interests in competitors and pursued ever expanding markets. This all led to an
infrastructure unmatched to this day. The companies four track mains on its
New York Division had the greatest traffic density in the world. The company's
Enola Yard near Harrisburg consisted of 145 miles of track and had a car
capacity of 9,900. An average day at Enola involved clearing over 16,000
cars. In 1957, the Pennsy opened its Conway Yard just north of Pittsburgh.
The facility cost the Pennsy just under $35,000,000.00. The cost was justified
since Conway produced a capacity of 12,000 cars. The railroad had many
other classification, transfer and passenger yards throughout its domain which
were of mammoth proportions, but the intent of this page is to highlight the
major points of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Another landmark engineering feat
was the design and construction of Horse Shoe Curve on the east slope ascent
of the Allegheny Mountains five miles west of Altoona. This extraordinary
engineering allowed the Pennsy to cross the Alleghenies and progress
westward. The Horse Shoe Curve climbs 1,015 feet in eleven miles and carries
an average gradient of 1.8 percent. Without the imagination of the railroad to
create a mammoth U-shaped curve, the only alternative to cross the
Alleghenies would have been an impossible grade exceeding 8%. During the
1940's, late night traffic on the curve was tremendous. Between 10:42 PM and
3:41 AM, twenty-eight Blue Ribbon passenger trains used Horse Shoe Curve in
each direction. This is in addition to the countless freight trains.

From the early 1900's to 1957 was known as the golden years for the Pennsy.
The Great Depression along with World War 11 were tough years for the
railroad as it was for all industries, but the Pennsy pulled through. The fifties
brought the onset of the Interstate Highway System along with increased air
travel. Both of these were strong competition for rail. The Pennsy watched
passenger service diminish as people traveled more and more by automobile
and airlines. Ever increasing freight shipments were being handled by the
trucking industry. This change in shipping and travel began to effect the
Pennsy's revenue and brought the once great railroad into financial instability.
In early 1968 the Pennsylvania Railroad and The New York Central, one of
Pennsy's biggest competitors, Merged to form the Penn Central Railroad. After
over 120 years, The Standard Railroad of The World was gone. Ultimately, The
Penn Central became insolvent during the early 1970's and emerged as
Conrail. Now The Pennsylvania Railroad only exists through historical
societies, museums and many model railroads.