"The Unique Railroad of the World: Why the Pennsylvania Railroad was Different from all of the Others" was the title of the lecture delivered by Albert Churella on November 15, 2012 at Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware. The lecture marked publication of Churella’s book, "The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1: Building an Empire, 1846-1917." His eventual multi-volume account from the University of Pennsylvania Press (based on exhaustive research at Hagley and other libraries) is certain to become the authoritative history of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The lecture by Churella (who teaches at Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia) focused on the recently-published and richly-illustrated first volume. The book opens with the development of the Main Line of Public Works in the 1820s that foreshadowed the establishment of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1846. Churella then charts the railroad’s growth over the next fifty years through the Civil War, industrial expansion, and labor unrest, as well as competition with rival railroads and disputes with such figures as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. The dawn of the twentieth century brought a measure of stability to the railroad industry, enabling the creation of such architectural monuments as Pennsylvania Station in New York City. The volume closes at the threshold of American involvement in World War I.
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Banner image, Pennsylvania Railroad Exhibit at World's Columbian Exposition, 1893.