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The Railroad Boom

In the 1830's it was found to be a great decade for projecting future railroads in almost every part of the state. It took time to get the neccessary capital together to undertake a railroad by arousing enough interest to sell the required stock. Philadelphia kept alive a steady agitation for railroad connections to the Susquehanna and beyond, stimulated by its continuing rivalry with Balitmore.
As early as 1829 a drive started for a railroad connecting the Schuylkill at Pottsville with the Susquehanna at Sanbury. It was open by 1838. It was the two-fold idea of carrying anthracite and iron for shipment to Baltimore utilizing the canal along the Susquehanna and in turn diverting products of the upper Susquehana Valley to Pottsville and then to Philadelphia by way of Schuylkill Canal.
A few years later a movement started to build a railroad connecting Sanbury with Erie, and surveys were completed in 1839. A statewide convention was help at Philadelphia in 1852. It was argued that Philadelphia was 81 miles closer to Eria by rail than New York and this made Philadelphia the logical outlet for the farm and industrial products of Northwestern PA. In 1855 a railroad was completed from Philadelphia to Norristown with the trains drawn by "Old Ironsides," the first locomotive built by Matthias Bladwin.
There were some 300 miles of railroad in operation in the state as early as 1836, but all were short lines. By 1838 Baltimore interestshad extended a railroad to New York. The Philadelphia and Reading, charted in 1833 was opened all the way to Reading, on December 5, 1839, when the "Gowan & Marx" another Pennsylvania Locomotive chugged into Philadelphis carrying barrells of flour, pig iron, and whiskey as freight, and 60 passangers.
The Reading also built the first iron railroad bridge in America at Pottstown in 1844. A railroad for the Lehigh Valley region was projected in 1846 and reached Easton and Wilkes-Barre by 1855.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was charted April 13, 1846 and was built to Pittsburgh by 1852, thanks to another great engineers feat in carrying a railroad over the Alleghenies using the famous Horeshow curve just west of Altoona to climb the mountains.
The 1850's saw the railroad fever burning even more strongly in just about every part of the state. Shortlines were projected in every direction, usually to proved a route to another railroad or to a canal as means of stimulating buisnesses. Cities and even entire countries pledged their resources to buy railroad compnay stock and citizens everywhere who had any intereset in a buisness or industry were also subscribing to the support of railroad companies.

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