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The Railroads and the Centennial Exhibition of 1876

U.S. Postal Stationary, 1876

With Gov. Stanford’s driving of the “Last Spike” to join the CPRR and UPRR at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, the breadth of the North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific had finally been traversed by rail for the first time. The completion of this “great national enterprise” was not only recognized on that day by this famous ceremony, but also by a simultaneous great national celebration which evidenced itself in every corner of the land. Seven years to the day after that seminal event had joined the country, another “great national celebration” got under way in Philadelphia with the opening on May 10, 1876, of the Centennial Exhibition to recognize the centenary of the signing there of the Declaration of Independence.

The completion of the Pacific Railroad in 1869 made it possible for the first time for countless thousands to travel easily to the farthest corners of America’s western frontier. And in 1876 the nation’s continuously growing railroad system similarly made it possible for any American who wanted to to come to Philadelphia from anywhere to help celebrate the nation’s birthday with a visit to this wondrous world’s fair.

What follows are two contemporary illustrated accounts of the essential role that railroads played in making it possible for millions to travel to Philadelphia during the eight months the Exhibition was open. By extension, however, they also serve to illustrate how essential railroads had become to the social and economic fabric of the country.

The first of these accounts is excerpted from a 48-page pamphlet published just prior to the opening of the Exhibition by the Passenger Department of the Fort Wayne & Pennsylvania Railroad Line. Entitled “The Centennial Exhibition and the Ft. Wayne and Pennsylvania Route,” it was distributed for free by Ticket Agents at all the principal railraod stations in the United States to promote travel to the fair. The second is from James D. McCabe’s massive 918-page “History of the Centennial Exhibition” published by subscription in early 1877. The engravings and maps which illustrate these articles were also taken from these two publications. -BCC

and the
Philadelphia, PA 1876

The completion of the first century of the American Republic finds the preponderance of population west of the Allegheny mountains, where, in 1776, but few localities were settled at all, and where, in the estimation of some of the statesmen of that era, it was doubtful if settlements would ever be planted. The center of population of the United States was, in 1870 nearer Chicago than Philadelphia, and this center has traveled westward at the rate of a hundred miles in every ten years since the first national census was taken in 1790. The original thirteen States have annually sent thousands of their children to people the Great West, the Old World has added to this migration, and so prosperous have the prairies and valleys proved which they, from time to time, wrested from the aborigines, that new States planted amongst them have grown into empires, while some of the old ones left behind have scarcely been able to "hold their own." These children of the East still, however, cherish pleasant memories of the homes they left, and this fact, added to the strong patriotism which animates all citizens of the Great Republic will doubtless make the tide of Centennial travel from the Northwest greater than from any other remote region.

To visitors from this section, CHICAGO will undoubtedly be the most important point of concentration and departure. That city has become so great a center of trade, of enterprise, and of intelligence, that it may justly be said to control the movements of millions of people, while the railway lines interlacing the Upper Mississippi valley necessarily bring to it nearly all travelers toward the East. In itself, too, Chicago is not the least or most uninteresting of the wonders of America. The site it occupies was acquired from the Indians in 1795, but so little value was attached to it that for forty years afterward it remained comparatively unsettled—a small military post, only occasionally occupied, and a few traders, making the total of humanity who cared to dwell at the southern extremity of Lake Michigan, near the mouth of the Chicago river.

In 1827 Congress passed an act granting permission to the State of Illinois to cut a canal through the public lands, connecting the Illinois river with Lake Michigan, and in 1827 granted each alternate section of land, five miles in width, on each side of the proposed canal, to aid in the construction of the work. This concession and grant were the origin of Chicago's life, and in 1830 the town was laid out on one of the sections of land thus granted to the state. When so laid out, the site was only a few feet above the lake, and in wet seasons was covered with water. At first it grew but slowly, containing only 28 voters in 1833, when it was incorporated as a borough. In 1837 it received a city charter, and then had a population of 4,179. For a few years it stopped growing, and in 1844 had only increased to 8,000. Then it fairly started on its career, and ran up to 93,000 in the following thirteen years, when it was overtaken by the panic of 1857, which caused a reduction of 3,000 in its population in the next two years. But in 1860 it had entirely recovered its strength, and sprung forward at the rate of over 20,000 increase each year until 1871, when on the memorable 8th of October, it was laid in ashes.

The memory of that awful calamity is too vivid to be dwelt upon here. In twenty-four hours a city of more than 300,000 inhabitants was virtually swept out of existence, but the energy which had first made it, still remained and in a few months a new city, grander and more beautiful in all respects, was reared upon the ruins. It is this new metropolis that the Centennial visitor will pause to see as he journeys to the nation's birth-place. He will linger for awhile among its streets, lined with palaces, and endeavor to realize the wonder of their growth, before or after he has feasted his gaze on the world's curiosities gathered in the International Exhibition. He will couple with his congratulations at the nation's achievements in a century, the fabulous growth, from a morass, of a city of 400,000 inhabitants—the principal mart in all the world for grain and provisions—in forty-five years.

The great lines of railway which sweep through the populous regions West, Northwest and Southwest of Chicago, and therefore will furnish initial facilities for many thousands of Centennial visitors, are the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Chicago & North-Western; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul; the Illinois Central, and the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis. These lines rank among the greatest in the world, extending into aggregates of mileage that dwarf into insignificance the principal railroads of Europe, and transacting a business annually which in itself epitomizes the immensity of the regions they traverse. All these routes terminate in Chicago, and the Centennial visitors they carry must there find a new channel by which the pilgrimage to the East is to be continued. The intelligent American need scarcely be told that the best, shortest, and only direct route from Chicago to the Centennial City, is the FORT WAYNE & PENNSYLVANIA.

Railroad Map
The Ft. Wayne and Pennsylvania Route

The management of that great route has, from the origin of the International Exhibition, been zealous in advocating it as an event important to the people, and has materially assisted in establishing it on a basis so comprehensive as to reflect credit on the entire nation. Such assistance was perhaps the more willingly rendered, because this management fully appreciated the position their system of highways would occupy toward the Exhibition, and were determined that no omission on their part should mar the perfect success of a commemorative event of unparalleled interest.

From the great extent of their lines, which directly connect all important centers of population in the West and Northwest with the Centennial City, it was certain from the first that a large portion of the travel to the Exhibition would have to reach its destination over them. To this may be added the fact that the location of the Exhibition rendered it impossible for any other route to directly reach the Buildings and Grounds, and as soon, therefore, as the location of the principal edifices was fixed a contiguous and accessible plot was designated by the authorities as the site for a Centennial Depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Blended with these preliminaries was the fact also, that this combination desired to illustrate the degree of excellence attained by the railway transportation system of America. (Great as the nation's achievements in other respects are, it is yet certain that none has reached a higher standard of perfection than its railroads, and as these can only be illustrated by practical workings the necessity of making the principal Centennial route as perfect as possible was plainly apparent. The Fort Wayne & Pennsylvania Route had a good basis for the commencement of its Centennial work. Its location, between Philadelphia and Chicago was conceded to be upon the best line uniting the Atlantic Seaboard with the West and Northwest, while its connecting lines were well known to be as direct as proper consideration for the travel and traffic of the many important centers of population they reach would emit.

Timetable, Chicago to Philadelphia

East of Philadelphia this great route maintains its directness, and, in consequence, New York is reached by it in a distance very considerably less than by any other route—a saving so important that the Ft. Wayne & Pennsylvania Route can carry passengers between the metropolis of the Lakes and that of the Atlantic coast quicker than any other, and yet not run its trains at more than ordinary speed.

This route not only excels in directness as well as in the number of important cities and towns it connects together, but is confessedly superior in construction and equipment. Between Chicago and Pittsburg, 468 miles, the entire track has been re-laid with heavy ties and steel rails, and a large portion r e-ballasted with cinders and broken stones. Between Pittsburg and New York, a distance of 444 miles. the entire line is double track, laid with steel rails weighing 67 pounds to the yard, secured to heavy oak ties averaging 2,600 to the mile of single track, with joints connected between ties by a process that gives the effect of a continuous rail, on which there can be no jarring. All bridges on the line are of iron or stone. Large portions of this distance is provided with a third track, which enables freight trains to keep entirely out of the way of passenger travel, and permits the express trains to run their allotted distances without interruption. This third track has been liberally increased within the last year to provide additional facilities for Centennial travel, and near Philadelphia, and other important terminal points, four tracks have, for considerable distances, been completed.

Block Signal
Block signal on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

An important adjunct to the safe and expeditious running of trains is the Block Signal System. By this system the road is divided into sections between telegraph stations, technically known as "blocks." The telegraph stations are ornamental towers, two stories high — the second story, which is the operating room being surrounded by windows, giving a clear outlook in all directions. The signals, so arranged that the engineer of an approaching train in either direction cannot fail to see them, are three in number; red being the danger signal, blue the caution signal, and white the safety signal. These signals are illuminated at night, and show the same colors as by day. A train approaches the station from either direction, and the engineer sees the white signal displayed. This indicates that the track before him to the next station, be it one mile or ten miles, is clear, and the train dashes on. Instantly the operator lets go the cord (for he is obliged to hold the red or danger signal out of view by hand) and the red disk is displayed again. Immediately on a train passing, the operator telegraphs the fact each way, and enters on a record sheet the train number and the exact time of its passing the station. The train having passed, the block it has left is clear, while that it has entered upon is closed. In a few minutes the click of the telegraph tells that it has passed the next station and that block is also clear, and so on throughout the line.

A freight train approaches. The white signal is again displayed, and the train passes without stopping. Another freight train approaches. The red signal is displayed, and the train stops. In not less than five minutes after the first freight has passed, the red is withdrawn and a blue disk appears in its place. This permits the waiting freight train to enter the block, but it must go with caution so as not to run into the one in advance of it.

Thus train after train reaches and passes the signal station; sometimes brought to a full stop, sometimes sent in under a cautionary signal, sometimes allowed to proceed at full speed. The principle of the system is to let no train into the block in the rear of a passenger train, and to allow other trains to proceed, only with a sufficient time allowance, and under caution to keep a good lookout for signals from the train ahead of them. This system of signals renders it next to impossible for accidents to occur, no matter how many trains maybe moving in the same direction, or at how high a rate of speed they may be run.

As an additional safeguard, all passenger trains on the route are equipped with the Westinghouse Automatic Vacuum Brake, by which the engineer himself can bring his train to a stand-still within the distance of its own length. Track-tanks are also provided along the entire route, from which the locomotive engines of express trains take water as they go, thus being enabled to make runs of a hundred miles, or more, without pause or detention.

Track Tank
"Tank" tracks to provide water to steam locomotives while in motion.

With a roadway thus constructed and arranged, the only desideratum left to be met by the management, to provide for the largest estimate of Centennial travel, was one of locomotive engines and passenger cars. These the facilities possessed readily supplied, and two hundred elegant cars have been built, ready for use when needed, while engines of the highest class have been provided, ample to move all the trains that can, by any possibility, be required. So great are the construction facilities of the Fort Wayne & Pennsylvania Route that both cars and engines can, in the briefest possible time be multiplied almost indefinitely.

As much of the travel to the Centennial must necessarily be from remote points, the Fort Wayne and Pennsylvania management have arranged to increase the number of through express trains, and to run these on such schedules as will make the hours of departure and of arrival most convenient for the public. These trains will (as far as possible) pass over the most interesting portions of the route in daylight thus affording passengers a view of the splendid scenery for which it is so widely and justly celebrated. The hotel and refreshment facilities provided along the route will be equal to the largest demands, and the excellence of these will, in all respects, be up to the high standard established and long maintained upon it.

This great route has, in addition to Chicago, two other important terminal points in the Northwest. The first of these is TOLEDO, a beautiful city on the Maumee river, four miles from Lake Erie, which, in 1870, had a population of 31,584. Here the Toledo, Tiffin & Mansfield Division of the Ft. Wayne road has its terminus, and connects with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Canada Southern, and Flint & Pere Marquette Railroads. The second terminus is at CLEVELAND, the most important city on Lake Erie, and one of the most beautiful and flourishing in the West. Here the Cleveland & Pittsburg branch of the Ft. Wayne route terminates, and here it connects with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroads. Cleveland well merits the attention of tourists, and in summer is one of the most delightful places in the United States, distinguished for its magnificent streets, its splendid edifices, its lake commerce, and its general business and manufacturing thrift. It had a population in 1870 of 92,829

Philadelphia  & Erie RR 1871 Pass
Philadelphia & Erie Railroad Pass, 1871

Next in importance to these termini of the Ft. Wayne & Pennsylvania Route, are its junctions with connecting lines. Starting from Chicago and going eastward, these connections are reached in the following order. First, at WANATAH, where the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railroad unites, to and from Michigan City, Lafayette, and other prominent points in Indiana. Second, at PLYMOUTH, where the Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago Railroad forms connection with Indianapolis and Peru. Third, at Ft. WAYNE, one of the principal cities on the route, population of 17,718, and the location of the shops of the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad, where connection is made with the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad to Sturges, Kendallville, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City with the Cincinnati, Richmond & Ft. Wayne Railroad; to Richmond, Hamilton,and Cincinnati with the Ft. Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad; to Waterloo, Jonesville, and Jackson, and, most important, with the Toledo, Wabash & Western, forming a direct route to and from Hannibal, Quincy, Keokuk, St. Louis, St. Joseph, Kansas City and all points in the Southwest. Fourth, at LIMA, where the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad is met, connecting to Toledo, Sidney, Piqua, Dayton, Hamilton, and Cincinnati; and also the Lake Erie & Louisville Railroad to Findley, Fostoria, and Fremont. Fifth, at FOREST, where the Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad unites, reaching Sandusky, Tiffin, Bellefontaine, Urbana, and Springfield. Sixth, at CRESTLINE where connection is made with the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad to Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and other important places. And seventh at MANSFIELD, where the Toledo division of the route unites, and the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad is intersected, leading to many important cities and towns. In reaching these points of connection, the great through route traverses Indiana and Ohio, forming the most available eastern outlet for the larger portion of their inhabitants, as well as for those of all the States lying West and North of them.

The holders of Centennial Excursion Tickets sold over this route will have the privilege of stopping off at any station, going or returning, can remain as long as they please within the limit of which the tickets are good, and continue their journey by any train. These tickets will also carry excursionists by the best and most reliable routes, enabling them to visit the following points famous for their attractiveness and interest, viz: Pittsburg, Cresson Springs, Altoona, Bedford Springs, Harrisburg, Battlefield of Gettysburg, Baltimore Washington City, Arlington cemetery, Philadelphia, Great Centennial Exposition, Delaware Water Gap, the popular seaside resorts, Atlantic City, Cape May and Long Branch, New York, a daylight ride up the Hudson River, Saratoga Springs, Lake George, Lake Champlain, Montreal and Niagara Falls. An additional daylight express train, making four trains each way daily, will be run over the route, between Chicago and Philadelphia, to accommodate the increased travel, and the best accommodations possible will be provided at Pittsburg at the several hotels contiguous to the depot, where passengers desirous of making the entire trip by daylight can be provided with good beds and board at reasonable rates, and resume their trip, taking the fast day express over the Pennsylvania Railroad next morning, affording an opportunity to view the grand scenery of the Allegheny mountains and the fertile valleys of the Juniata and Susquehanna. Each of these trains will be provided with a number of Pullman's celebrated Drawing Room Sleeping Cars between Chicago and Philadelphia without change.

The facts here given are sufficient to commend the Ft. Wayne & Pennsylvania Route to the favorable consideration of all Western visitors to the Great Centennial Exhibition, as well as to travelers generally. Such visitors will find the rates offered by this route as low as by any other— the route itself the shortest—the time made by it the quickest—and the accommodations provided unequaled for comfort, luxury and safety. They will find careful agents on all trains who will arrange for the prompt and cheap delivery of baggage at hotels, boarding-houses or private residences, and who will, for the low price of fifty cents, sell a seat in a comfortable carriage to any point in Philadelphia. They will find other agents who will, if so desired, direct them to comfortable quarters where their accommodations will be good in quality and reasonable in price; and, above all, these visitors will be landed in the beautiful Centennial Depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at the very doors of the Exhibition, in immediate proximity to large and excellent hotels and restaurants, from which they can, without detention or unnecessary expense, enter the enclosure containing the world's wonders, and from which they may, when their visit is over, depart promptly in through cars to their homes, no matter where those may be; or, should convenience demand, they will be deposited at the regular station in West Philadelphia, from which street cars and other modes of conveyance run to every section of the Centennial City. Should their journey be extended to New York, they will find there an equal consideration for their convenience and comfort, and the same will be the case at Baltimore and Washington. In brief, nothing will be omitted that can render the trip over this route agreeable and enjoyable, and therefore the advice is unhesitatingly and conscientiously given: TAKE THE Ft. WAYNE AND PENNSYLVANIA ROUTE FOR THE CENTENNIAL TRIP.

Expenses of Trip from Chicago to the Centennial Exposition via the FORT WAYNE & PENNSYLVANIA R.R. LINE:

1. Excursion Ticket, Chicago to Philadelphia and return: $32.00
3. Four meals going and four meals returning: $6.00
3. Supper, lodging and breakfast in Philadelphia,1 day: $2.50
4. Street car fare, two trips: 14 cents
5. Admission to Exposition: 50 cents
6. Noon lunch in Centennial Grounds: 50 cents

Total cost of trip and 1 day at Exposition: $40.64
Sleeping Car, double berth, round trip: $10.00
TOTAL: $50.64

Each additional day at Exposition, as per items 3, 4, 5 and 6: $3.64

From the above statement it will seen that a person can go to the Centennial by this line, with first-class accommodations, and remain 10 days at a cost of $73.40, with Sleeping Car $83.40; two persons occupying the double berth, $156.80.

Centennial Exhibition Railroad Depot, 1876

Realizing the importance of providing suitable facilities and accommodations for the immense number of travelers to the Centennial Exhibition over the Pennsylvania Railroad and its connecting lines, the managers of that organization have constructed, immediately contiguous to the main entrance to the Exhibition grounds, a depot for the exclusive use of Centennial visitors. This depot stands opposite the open space separating the Main Exhibition Building from Machinery Hall, facing the principal entrance gate and the Judge's Pavilion, and in close proximity to several immense hotels and restaurants. It is 340 feet in length by 100 in width, two stories high and surmounted has six towers. In design it is tasteful and ornamental, comparing favorably with the many beautiful structures erected for the purposes of the Exhibition.

The first or ground floor contains a general waiting room, 130 by 100 feet, a ladies' waiting room 81 by 100 feet, a baggage room 49 by 100 feet, a ticket office 30 by 40 feet, a package room 10 by 30 feet and a number of retiring rooms. All these rooms are handsomely finished, and provided with every convenience. The rooms on the second floor are for the use of the railroad officials and employees.

Centennial Exposition Grounds

This depot is reached by a circle of three tracks sweeping from the main roadway. The length of these tracks are four-fifths of a mile, and the diameter of the circle they describe is 600 feet. All trains will enter this circle heading west, and depart from the depot heading east. Three trams can be landing or receiving passengers in front of the depot at the same time, the entire tracks being floored over, and no matter in what direction the trains may come or go, they can be moved without confusion, delay or danger.

Seventeen additional sidings have been constructed, connected with this circle, of a length of 1,000 feet each, upon which waiting trains can be run and remain with engines attached, until the time arrives for them to enter upon the circle, receive their passengers, and depart for destination. This arrangement of tracks and sidings is novel, and affords facilities for the transaction, without detention or confusion, of an almost unlimited passenger business.

Centennial Expostion Main Building, 1876
from the
“History of the Centennial Exhibition”
James D. McCabe

As the successful transportation and accommodation of the millions of visitors who were present at the Exhibition, it is justly regarded as one of the greatest triumphs connected with the great undertaking, and as one of the most signal evidences of American executive ability, we propose to devote a few pages to a review of this subject.

The arrangements for transporting visitors from the various parts of the country to Philadelphia were admirable. The bulk of the passenger traffic was controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the most perfect organization of its kind in this country. By its main line visitors were brought from all parts of the West, and were set down at the Exhibition doors. By its New Jersey Division visitors from New York and the Eastern States were brought to the same spot. This company granted the use of the new depot it had erected opposite the Exhibition grounds to the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, by which visitors from the South and Southwest reached the Exhibition. The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company erected a new passenger station within the limits of the Park, at the foot of the hill on which Memorial Hall stands. Passengers from central Pennsylvania and the West could reach the Exhibition gates by this road, without loss of time.

Railroads Entering Philadelphia, 1876

The officials of all the railroads terminating in Philadelphia were busy for months preparing for the increased amount of travel which the Exhibition would draw to that city. Their tracks were overhauled and put in order; new cars were built; and every arrangement was made by which the comfort and safety of large bodies of travelers could be secured. By the arrangements put in force 145,000 visitors could be transported daily from the various points of the Union to Philadelphia.

A few months before the opening of the Exhibition a meeting of the General Ticket Agents of the great trunk lines between Philadelphia and this West was held at Louisville, Kentucky, to consider the question of fares. Nearly every principal road in the Union was represented, one hundred agents being in attendance. They agreed upon a system of excursion tickets from various points to Philadelphia at rates about twenty five per cent below the usual fares. Later in the season the fares were still further reduced in consequence of a `railroad war' between the leading lines of the country.

The Pennsylvania road, the New Line from New York to Philadelphia, the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore, the Philadelphia & Reading, and the North Pennsylvania Railroads also made liberal arrangements for numerous excursion trains from points on their roads to the Exhibition grounds, and made generous reductions in the fares.

The extraordinary arrangements made by the Pennsylvania Railroad for transporting passengers from all parts of the Union to Philadelphia will warrant a brief reference to this great ``American institution" at this point. It was begun in 1846 and completed in 1854. "It was," says Mr. Sipes, in his interesting account of the road, “constructed in a superior manner and with the improvements since made, is undoubtedly the most perfect road in America.”

Notwithstanding it had to overcome the great Allegheny mountains, a barrier which for a quarter of a century had been considered insurmountable by a railroad without inclined planes, yet it was carried across by engineering skill with a facility really astonishing. The road commences a gradual ascent at Harrisburg, where it is 310 feet above tide, and rises regularly. At Lewistown it is 480 feet above tide; at Huntingdon it has ascended to 610 feet; at Tyrone it has climbed to an altitude of 886 feet; and at Altoona, here it reaches the base of the mountain proper, it is at an elevation of 1,168 feet. Up to this point the heaviest gradient per mile has not exceeded twenty-one feet.

Horseshoe Curve, Pennsylvania Railroad, near Altoona, 1876
"Horseshoe Curve" on the Pennsylvania Railroad near Altoona, Pennsylvania.

From a short distance west of Altoona this gradient is increased to ninety-five feet per mile on straight lines, and eighty-two feet per mile on curves. Thus ascending, it reaches its culminating point at the west end of the great tunnel, where its altitude above tide is 2161 feet. Its maximum gradient is twenty-one feet per mile less than the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and is equaled by several railroads in the New England States The highest gradient west of the tunnel is fifty-two and eight-tenths feet per mile, and the average gradient on that end is twenty-six and four-tenths feet per mile. At Johnstown the elevation above tide is 1184 feet; at Greensburg it is 1091 feet; and at Pittsburgh it is 748 feet, being 4138 feet higher at its western terminus than at Harrisburg, where it commences to overcome the barrier presented by the mountains."

Memorial Hall, 1876.
Seen here just before the opening of the Centennial Expostion on May 10, 1876
– the seventh anniversary of the driving of the "Last Spike" to join the CPRR and UPRR –
Memorial Hall is the fair's only surviving building and is still in use today.

Detail of Centennial Photographic Company, Stereoview #566 "Memorial Hall."
Courtesy John Saddy and Jefferson Stereoptics.

The Pennsylvania Railroad extends from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, with a number of branches, giving it a total mileage of 888 miles. By the purchase of the New Jersey, Camden & Amboy, and Philadelphia & Erie Railroads, an additional mileage of 63 miles was gained, making the total number of miles owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1,651, and giving it outlets at New York and upon Lake Erie. A number of branches or feeders had been acquired west of Pittsburgh, by lease and purchase, extending the line of the road to Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Louisville. In order to simplify and render more efficient the management of these western connections, a charter was procured from the Legislature of Pennsylvania incorporating the "Pennsylvania Company," to which all the interests of the Pennsylvania Railroad west of Pittsburgh were transferred on the 1st of March, 1871. The Pennsylvania Railroad retained a controlling interest in the new company. The total number of miles of road owned and controlled by the "Pennsylvania Company" is 1,715. The Pennsylvania Railroad has also a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad, better known as `The Panhandle Route," which with its connections embraces a total of 1,150 miles, and in the St. Louis, Vandalia, Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad, with a mileage of 238 miles.

Thus the total number of miles of railroad owned, operated or controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company is 6,615. It will be seen from this showing that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company is the largest and most powerful corporation in the world. The main line of the Pennsylvania road is in all respects the most splendid piece of railroad engineering in America. The road-bed is perfect and the track is laid with a solidity and care that render a high rate of speed compatible with safety. The discipline is of the most rigid and thorough character, and faithful performance of duty is exacted from every employee:. The rolling stock is mainly constructed at the company's shops at Altoona. The passenger trains are supplied with the "Westinghouse Air-brake," and are lighted with gas. The cars are handsome and are luxuriously upholstered. The sleeping and parlor cars are of the Pullman class, and "Pullman Hotel Cars," in which meals are furnished passengers while the train in motion, have recently been placed on the line. The “Wharton Patent Switch " is used on the entire line, and furnishes a perfect guard against accidents from misplaced switches.

Railroad Parlor Car, 1876

During the six months of the Exhibition the passenger traffic over the Pennsylvania Railroad was enormous. From the Jersey City depot, 22,917 trains were started westward, made up of 127,080 cars and carrying about 7,500,000 passengers for Philadelphia and the West. These figures include the travel in one direction only. The travel in both directions is estimated at between 12,000,000 and 13,000,000 passengers. This immense throng was safely and comfortably transported without an accident, or the injury of a single passenger. The largest number of passengers arriving, at the Centennial Depot of the Pennsylvania road was on the 19th of October, when 33,919 passengers were landed there. On the 26th of October 32,993 passengers arrived at this depot, and on the 28th of September the arrivals numbered 31,563.

Philadelphia Map, 1876
Map of the City of Philadelphia and the grounds of the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 showing also the railroads and other places of principal interest in the city at that time.  (Click on this map to see at full size.)

The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad had a depot in the Exhibition grounds. It had a large and populous section of the State of Pennsylvania to draw from, and also secured through its city lines a large daily local travel. The following is a statement of the passenger traffic by this road from May 10th to November 1st, the figures representing the travel to and from the Exhibition grounds: May, 831,370; June, 981,997; June, 1,142,308; August, 1,113,135; September,1,596,550; October,1,600,000; November, 800,000. Total: 8,065,360. Of this number 2,773,669 were classed as city travel, proportioned as follows: May, 169,296; June, 307,503; July, 306,081; August, 388,970; September, 801,819; October, 800,000. Total: 2,773,669. This total includes about 200,000 passengers which, under a strict construction of the words, might not be classed as city travel, but this amount is made up by the traffic of the last ten days of the Exhibition, not included in the above. Of this large number it is estimated that 1,400,000 were on the Ninth and Green line, 720,000 on Broad street, and 560,000 on the Richmond branch. Deducting the ordinary amount of travel during the same time in other years, 4,500,000, it leaves nearly a million increase in the travel from outside points to Philadelphia. For the accommodation of Centennial travel 110 passenger cars were built, 21 were borrowed, 78 freight, 12 baggage, and 12 gondola cars were impressed into the service. Altogether 324 passenger cars were used in the travel.

The largest number of passengers carried on any single day by the Reading road was 185,000, on September 28th, Pennsylvania Day. Not an accident occurred on this road during the progress of the Exhibition.

Courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collection.

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