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1854 - First Rail-Only Route Between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Established

Map showing the lines and connections of the Pennsylvania Railroad (c 1893). Source: LOC

Map showing the lines and connections of the Pennsylvania Railroad (c 1893). Source: Library of Congress

The first connections between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were established in 1836, called “The Pennsylvania Route of 1836.” This route was a combination of canals and rail travel, and took between three and four days to make a one way trip. It was ultimately rendered obsolete with the completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s first railroad line in 1854, which connected Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in only 13 hours. The establishment of the railway line made travel and commerce between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia easier than ever before, greatly decreasing the amount of time required for long distance transit, and making it more accessible to Pittsburgh residents.

The President of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, or the PRR, was J. Edgar Thomson, who remained at its helm until his death in 1874. Thomson invested in Andrew Carnegie’s initial steelworks projects, ultimately becoming the namesake of the Edgar Thomson steel mill in Braddock. The PRR went on to become one of the most prominent railroad companies on the east coast, through a combination of new constructions and acquisitions of existing companies. To learn more about the PRR, go here.