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Manuscript Group 286 Penn Central Railroad Collection

MG-286 Penn Central Railroad Collection

[ca. 1835-1968]

The bulk of this collection consists of the records of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, [ca. 1847-1968]. The PRR, incorporated on April 13, 1846, became by the turn of the century the "standard railroad of the world" and the largest single employer of men and women in the United States. Sometimes referred to as the world's first modern corporation, the PRR handled more business transactions and raised more capital than any other public or private sector organization of its time.

The Penn Central Transportation Company was formed in 1968 with a merger of the PRR and the New York Central Railroad. It went bankrupt in 1970, and was succceeded by the Penn Central Corporation.

Part of this collection was received at the State Archives as gifts from Consolidated Rail Corporation in 1990, part as deposits with Penn Central Corporation and Conrail in 1986, part through the distribution of 8,000 to 10,000 linear feet of an original 400,000 linear feet of records as part of the Penn Central Records Project, 1984-1986, a federally-funded effort involving eight major libraries, part from the Altoona Public Library, and part through the Penn Central Auction of 1972.

The collection at the State Archives contains materials relating to business, transportation and labor history. Included in this collection are the administrative and financial records of the PRR Comptroller, Presidents, Secretary (including records of the Board of Directors and PRR Library), Vice President of Finance (including records of the Treasurer), Vice President of Real Estate, other Vice Presidents, Voluntary Relief Department and hundreds of Subsidiary Lines. Also included are over 1,000 cubic ft. of technical and engineering records of the Vice President of Operation, including registers, historical cards and specification books of the Chief of Motive Power and Supervisor of Motive Power Expenditure; mechanical engineering drawings (tracings and blueprints) of the Mechanical Engineer, and architectural drawings of the Chief Engineer. Also included are general correspondence, 1860-1968; presidential correspondence, 1899-1954; minutes of the salary committee, 1874-1881; and record of employees, 1899-1912. (For a complete listing see the extensive Search Room listing in binders).

The photographs are arranged into three series: the General Office Library Photograph File, donated to the State Archives in 1976, which includes a historical reference file of PRR photographs, ca. 1850-1960; Conrail Mechanical Engineering Department Photograph File was acquired by the State Archives in 1981 and includes nearly 2,000 prints, ca. 1930, primarily builders' views of locomotives and rolling stock interior views; the Penn Central Auction Photographs, obtained by the State Archives in 1972 when Penn Central began divesting its holdings, includes: PRR locomotives, snow and ice conditions, suburban views, and Johnstown Flood of 1889 views, among others.

To view the series descriptions and container listings (where available) for the Penn Central Railroad Collection, please follow the sub-group links listed below. To view the full list of series titles on one page (text only, no links), please follow this link