[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Railroad Builders

John Moody

in the
Chronicles of America series,
Yale University Press,
New Haven, 1921

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 3

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p20 Chapter II
The New York Central

A story was told many years ago of Commodore Vanderbilt which, while perhaps not strictly true, was pointed enough to warrant its constant repetition for more than two generations. Back in the sixties, when this grizzled railroad chieftain was the chief factor in the rapidly growing New York Central railroad system, whose backbone then consisted of a continuous one-track line connecting Albany with the Great Lakes, the president of a small cross-country road approached him one day and requested an exchange of annual passes.

"Why, my dear sir," schemed the Commodore, "my railroad is more than three hundred miles long, while yours is only seventeen miles."

"That may all be so," replied the other, "but my railroad is just as wide as yours."

This statement is true. Practically no railroad, even as late as the sixties, was wider than p21 another. They were all single-tracked lines. Even the New York Central system in 1866 was practically a single-track road; and the Commodore could not claim to any particular superiority over his neighbors and rivals in this particular. Instead of sneering at his "seventeen-mile" colleague, Vanderbilt might have remembered that his own fine system had grown up in less than two generations from a modest narrow-gage track running from "nothing to nowhere." The Vanderbilt lines, which today with their controlled and affiliated systems comprise more than 13,000 miles of railroad — a large portion of which is double-tracked, no mean amount being laid with third and fourth tracks — is the outgrowth of a little seventeen-mile line, first chartered in 1826, and finished for traffic in 1831. This little railroad was known as the Mohawk and Hudson, and it extended from Albany to Schenectady. It was the second continuous section of railroad line operated by steam in the United States, and on it the third locomotive built in America, the De Witt Clinton, made a satisfactory trial trip in August, 1831.

The success of this experiment created a sensation far and wide and led to rapid railroad building in other parts of the country in the years p22 immediately following. The experiences of a participant in this trial trip are described about forty years later in a letter written by Judge J. L. Gillis of Philadelphia:

In the early part of the month of August of that year [1831], I left Philadelphia for Canandaigua, New York, traveling by stages and steamboats to Albany and stopping at the latter place. I learned that a locomotive had arrived there and that it would make its first trip over the road to Schenectady the next day. I concluded to lie over and gratify my curiosity with a first ride after a locomotive.

That locomotive, the train of cars, together with the incidents of the day, made a very vivid impression on my mind. I can now look back from one of Pullman's Palace cars, over a period of forty years, and see that train together with all the improvements that have been made in railroad travel since that time. . . . I am not machinist enough to give a description of the locomotive that drew us over the road that day, but I recollect distinctly the general make-up of the train. The train was composed of coach bodies, mostly from Thorpe and Sprague's stage coaches, placed upon trucks. The trucks were coupled together with chains, leaving from two to three feet slack, and when the locomotive started it took up the slack by jerks, with sufficient force to jerk the passengers who sat on seats across the tops of the coaches, out from under their hats, and in stopping, came together with such force as to send them flying from their seats.

p23 They used dry pitch for fuel, and there being no smoke or spark catcher to the chimney or smoke-stack, a volume of black smoke, strongly impregnated with sparks, coals, and cinders, came pouring back the whole length of the train. Each of the tossed passengers who had an umbrella raised it as a protection against the smoke and fire. They were found to be but a momentary protection, for I think in the first mile the last umbrella went overboard, all having their covers burnt off from the flames, when a general mêlée took place among the deck passengers, each whipping his neighbor to put out the fire. They presented a very motley appearance on arriving at the first station. Then rails were secured and lashed between the trucks, taking the slack out of the coupling chains, thereby affording us a more steady run to the top of the inclined plane at Schenectady.

The incidents off the train were quite as striking as those on the train. A general notice of the contemplated trip had excited not only the curiosity of those living along the line of the road, but those living remote from it, causing a large collection of people at all the intersecting roads along the route. Everybody, together with his wife and all his children, came from a distance with all kinds of conveyances, being as ignorant of what was coming as their horses, and drove up to the road as near as they could get, only looking for the best position to get a view of the train. As it approached the horses took fright and wheeled, upsetting buggies, carriages, and wagons, and leaving for parts unknown to the passengers if not to their owners, and it is not now positively known if some of them have stopped yet. p24Such is a hasty sketch of my recollection of my first ride after a locomotive.

The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was originally constructed with inclined planes worked by stationary engines near each terminus, the inclinations being one foot in eighteen. The rail used was a flat bar laid upon longitudinal sills. This type of rail came into general use at this period and continued in use in parts of the country even as late as the Civil War.

The roads that now make up the New York Central were built piecemeal from 1831 to 1853; and the organization of this company in the latter year, to consolidate eleven independent roads extending from Albany to Buffalo, finally put an end to the long debate between canals and railroads. The founding of this company definitely meant that transportation in the United States henceforth would follow the steel route and not the water ditch and the towpath. Canals might indeed linger for a time as feeders, even, as in the case of the Erie and a few others, as more or less important transportation routes, but every one now realized that the railroad was to be the great agency which would give plausibility to the industrial organization of the United States and develop its great territory.

p25 Besides the pioneer Mohawk and Hudson, this consolidation included the Utica and Schenectady, which had been opened in 1836 and which had operated profitably for many years, always paying large dividends. The Tonawanda Railroad, opened in 1837, and the Buffalo and Niagara Falls, also finished in the same year, were operated with profit until they were absorbed by the new system. In 1838 the Auburn and Syracuse and the Hudson and Berkshire Railroads were opened. The former after being merged in 1850 with the Rochester and Syracuse Railway, became a part of the consolidation. The Syracuse and Attica Railroad, opened in 1839, the Attica and Buffalo, opened in 1842, the Schenectady and Troy, opened in the same year, and several other small lines, some of which had undergone various changes in name and ownership, were all merged into the New York Central Railroad. This great property now comprised five hundred and sixty miles of railroad, the main stem extending from Albany to Buffalo. Though it had as yet no connection with the Hudson River Railroad, the New York Central Railroad at this period was the most substantial and important of American railroad systems. It developed a large and healthy through traffic to the Great Lakes and p26was practically free from railroad competition. The Erie Railway, which for many years had been struggling under great difficulties to reach the Great Lakes and had gone through nearly a generation of financial vicissitudes, was just getting its through line actively under way. The Pennsylvania Railroad was just pushing through to the waters of the Ohio and was not likely for many years to compete with the New York Central for the lake traffic. The Baltimore and Ohio, while remotely a competitor, was, like the Pennsylvania, looking more for the traffic of the Ohio Valley than for that of the Lakes.

The period of six years following the consolidation of 1853 was one of great prosperity for the New York Central system, and, notwithstanding the setbacks to business caused by the panic of 1857, large dividends were continuously paid on the capital stock. In the year 1859 — before the Vanderbilt régime opened — the management embraced what to modern men of affairs are famous names. Erastus Corning was president, Dean Richmond was vice-president, and John V. L. Pruyn, Nathaniel Thayer, Isaac Townsend, and Chauncey Vibbard were directors. The headquarters of the company were at Albany, and the stock was owned mainly by residents of that city.

p27 Meanwhile the building of railroads in other parts of the State and under other leadership was going forward rapidly. As far back as 1832 the first mile of the New York and Harlem Railroad was opened for traffic. This single mile remained for some time the only property of the company. It extended through what is now a thriving part of down-town New York. Its original terminus was at Prince Street, but the line was afterwards extended southward to the City Hall and later to the Astor House. It was not until 1837 that the road reached northward to Harlem and not until 1842 that Williamsbridge became the northern terminus. The line was looked upon as a worthless piece of property until 1852, when it was extended north to Chatham, to connect with the Albany and Stockbridge Railroad, and thus give a through line from New York City to Albany.

Another property built in these days and destined to become eventually an important part of the Vanderbilt lines was the Hudson River Railroad. This company was chartered in 1846, but for many years was frowned on as an unsound business venture, because of the belief that it would be in direct competition with the river traffic and therefore could never be made to pay. p28 Nevertheless the promoters went ahead and by 1850 the road had been opened to Poughkeepsie. The entire line of one hundred and forty-four miles was completed to East Albany in 1851. At the same time the Troy and Greenbush Railroad, extending six miles to Troy, was leased, thus giving the new Hudson River Railroad an entry into the city of Troy. The Hudson River Railroad was entirely independent of the New York Central enterprise and was controlled in those early days by a group of New Yorkers, prominent among whom was Samuel Sloan.

As we enter the Civil War period, we find the three important properties which were afterwards to make up the Vanderbilt system all developing rapidly and logically into the strategical relationship which would make ultimate consolidation inevitable. The completion of the Erie Railway and its gradual development as the only through line across the State from New York to the Great Lakes; the opening, expansion, and general solidification of the Pennsylvania lines and their aggressive policy of reaching out to the lake region on the west and across New Jersey on the east; the extension of the Erie interests into the New England field, and the possibility that the latter might gain p29 control of the Harlem or the Hudson River Railroad — all these considerations naturally aroused in the New York Central interests a desire to insure the future by obtaining for themselves control of the lines that would connect their own system with New York City and the Eastern seaboard.

During the Civil War, however, no progress was made in this direction. It was not until 1869, four years after the closing of the war, that any radical change took place. But in the years that had intervened, a new and commanding figure in the railroad world had come upon the scene. This man had grown to be the dominating genius, not only in the field of railway expansion but in the world of finance as well. Born in 1794 in very humble circumstances, he had received little or no education, and as a youth had eked out a living by ferrying passengers and garden produce from Staten Island to New York. He had painfully saved a few hundred dollars within a year or two after his marriage, and with this capital he began his career in the transportation business. From his first ferrying project he engaged in other undertakings and laid the foundation of his subsequent fortune in steamboat navigation. About 1860, at an age when most p30men are beginning to retire from active affairs, the "Commodore" — as he was called on account of his numerous fleet — entered actively into the field of railway development, management, and consolidation. The extraordinary character and genius of the man are well depicted by the events of the years that followed.

Before the opening of the Civil War and until immediately after its end, the New York Central and the Erie systems were controlled by bitterly antagonistic interests. These interests were beginning to foresee the day when extremely aggressive competition would call into play their greatest energies. Vanderbilt, wiser than his generation, foresaw more than this. His vision took in the vast future values of the properties as developed trunk lines, and the greater possibilities of their control and operation as a consolidated whole. He was in a very real sense the forerunner or pioneer of the great consolidation period of a half century later. He was the Harriman and the Hill of his day.

The Erie had its own approach to New York City, but the New York Central was connected with the metropolis only by the river and the two independent roads — the Harlem Railroad p31 and the Hudson River Railroad. To get the latter two roads under his complete control was Vanderbilt's first object. He would then have unimpeded access to New York and so become independent of the river.

He began his ambitious plans by making himself the master of the Harlem property, and in so doing got his first experience in railroad stock manipulation and at the same time picked up a moderate fortune. It was comparatively easy to buy the control of the Harlem Railroad. The Company had never paid a dividend, and, in 1863, when the Commodore quietly began his work, the stock was selling below thirty dollars a share. Before the close of this year he had manipulated the stock until it had reached ninety-two, and by a corner, in August of that year, he raised it to 79. On this deal Vanderbilt reaped a nice little fortune — but evidently not enough to enable him to carry through the ambitious plans which were in the back of his head, for in 1864 we find him manipulating another corner and this time running the price of the stock up to 285. In this wise the Commodore not only added millions to his already growing fortune but also made himself a power in the financial world. Financiers began to fear him, p32 and he found it comparatively easy later to buy up the control of the Hudson River Railroad, which he did by paying about 100 for the stock. Then he began speculating again, sent Hudson River up to 180, and incidentally reaped another fortune for himself.

By this time Vanderbilt had achieved a great reputation as a man who created values, earned dividends, and invented wealth as if by magic; other railroad managers now began to lay their properties at his feet and ask him to do with them what he had done with the Harlem and the Hudson River. For under the Commodore's magic touch the Harlem Railroad for the first time in its long history began to pay dividends at a high rate, and in four years the earnings of the Hudson River property had nearly doubled.

One of the first properties to be placed at Vanderbilt's feet was the New York Central, and the control passed into his hands in the winter of 1866‑67. He was now in a powerful position and immediately began to lay his plans for obtaining control of the Erie Railroad in the following year. In the latter effort he did not succeed, however, and after a protracted and dramatic contest he was defeated by his great adversary, "Uncle" p33 Daniel Drew. The story of this contest need not be detailed here, as it is given in full in the chapter on the Erie railroad.

In the fall of 1869 the Commodore, having secured everything in the railroad field he had sought except the Erie, put through his scheme for consolidation. The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad was incorporated. It included the old New York Central and also the Hudson River Railroad but not the Harlem. The capital of the consolidated company was placed at ninety million dollars, a figure of such magnitude in those days that the world was startled. The system embraced in all nearly 850 miles of railroad lines. A few years later the Harlem Railroad was leased to the property at a high valuation and a large dividend was guaranteed on the stock, the ownership of which was retained by the Vanderbilt family.

The Vanderbilt system as it is now understood really began with these transactions. From this time on, its history has been similar in many respects to that of other large systems which were the outgrowth of merger or manipulation in these early days. During the remarkable period of commercial and industrial development in this country from 1870 onward, when thousands of miles of p34new lines were built every year, when the growth of population was beginning to make the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois centers of wealth and production, and when the wonderful Northwestern country embracing the States of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, was so rapidly opened up and brought nearer to the Eastern markets, the Vanderbilt railroad interests were not idle. The original genius, Cornelius Vanderbilt, was soon gathered to his fathers, but his son, William H. Vanderbilt, was in many ways a worthy successor.

By 1885 the Vanderbilt lines had grown in extent and importance far beyond any point of which the elder Vanderbilt had ever dreamed. Long before this year the system included many smaller lines within the State of New York, and it had also acquired close control of the great Lake Shore and Michigan Southern system, with its splendid line from Buffalo to Chicago, consisting of more than 500 miles of railroad; the Michigan Central, owning lines from Detroit to Chicago, with many branches in Michigan and Illinois; the Canada Southern Railway, extending from Detroit to Toronto; and in addition to all these about 800 miles of other lines in the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

p35 In this same year 1885, another event of importance took place. The New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railroad, which after strenuous efforts extending over many years had constructed a new trunk line from Weehawken along the west shore of the Hudson to Albany and thence to Buffalo, came under the control of the New York Central. The great system in the Middle West, now known as the "Big Four," or Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis — embracing 750 miles of lines westward from Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, to Indianapolis, Springfield, and Cincinnati, and having traffic connections with St. Louis — was also a Vanderbilt property at this time, although not under the formal control of these interests. Another important competing line secured in this period was the New York, Chicago and St. Louis, built to parallel the Lake Shore and known as the "Nickel Plate" route. This road extended from Buffalo to Chicago, and, like the West Shore, had been constructed with the hope of ultimately selling out to its competitor.

The development of railroad properties under the Vanderbilt influence was not confined to the territory east of Chicago and the Mississippi Valley. As early as 1859 a large system of roads had p36 been merged in the section extending westward from Chicago to Omaha and radiating throughout Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, and other States. This company was known as the Chicago and North Western Railroad, and its property, which was one of large and growing value, by 1886 embraced a system of over 3500 miles of road. Although neither controlled by the New York Central nor directly affiliated therewith, it was classed as a Vanderbilt property.

While for many years after the death of the Commodore the Vanderbilt family remained in direct financial and operating control of the New York Central and its myriad of subsidiary lines and their genius as railroad builders and operators was distinctly evident, yet the brains and resources of the Vanderbilts were not alone responsible for the brilliant career of the system down to recent times. William H. Vanderbilt, though a man of unusual ability, did not possess the breadth of view or the sagacity of his father, and in the course of a few years he found himself exposed to a cyclone of public criticism. He had let it be widely known that he was personally the owner of over eighty-seven per cent of the hundred million capital of the company. In 1879 the New York Legislature, p37 backed by the force of the popular anger and surprise at the accumulation of a hundred million dollar fortune by one man in ten years, was investigating the management of the New York Central with a view to curtailing its power; the rate wars were on between the seaboard and Chicago; and Jay Gould was threatening to divert all the traffic of his Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific lines from the New York Central and turn it over to other Eastern connections unless Vanderbilt would give him a vital interest in the Vanderbilt lines.

Vanderbilt was harassed beyond endurance and, being of softer material than his father, was fearful of the outcome public opinion, notwithstanding the fact that in a moment of anger — according to the statement of a newspaper reporter whose veracity Vanderbilt denied to his dying day — he had used the familiar expression, "The public be damned!" There were intimations that the Legislature was planning to impose heavy taxes on the property, solely because Vanderbilt held this gigantic personal ownership in the property. This prospect frightened him and he consulted friends whose judgment he respected. They urged him to sell a considerable part of his holdings in order to p38distribute the ownership of the property among a large number of people.

This plan could not be carried out, however, in the ordinary way, because large sales of stock by the Vanderbilt interests, if the speculating and investing public learned that he was making them, would greatly depreciate the price and might create general demoralization and a panic, while they would certainly injure the credit of the New York Central property. But a way out of the dilemma had to be found. It was at this juncture that a new personality, later to be closely identified with the Vanderbilt lines for a long series of years, appeared upon the scene. Vanderbilt was advised to consult J. Pierpont Morgan, of the banking house of Drexel, Morgan and Co. At that time the name of J. P. Morgan was just beginning to come prominently to the front in banking circles in New York. The Drexels had been conspicuous in business in Philadelphia for many years and in a sense were the fiscal agents of the great Pennsylvania Railroad Company. But the speculator success of the House of Morgan a few years before in marketing the French government loan in England had added largely to its prestige. And so Vanderbilt concluded that, if any man could show p39 him a way out in his difficult problem, Pierpont Morgan was that man.

The upshot of the matter was that Morgan devised a plan for the sale of a large amount of Vanderbilt's stock holdings through private sale in England, and in such a way that the knowledge of such sale would not become public in America. A confidential syndicate was formed which undertook to take the stock in a block and pass it on to English investors at approximately its current market price of about $130 per share. The sale was promptly accomplished; the stock went into the hands of unknown interests abroad; Vanderbilt received more than $25,000,000 in cash, which he largely reinvested in United States government bonds, and the Morgan syndicate reaped a profit of about $3,000,000. Five months after the closing of the syndicate public announcement was made of the sale and of the syndicate profit. The striking success of this transaction naturally added greatly to the prestige of J. P. Morgan as a financier of very large caliber, and it had the satisfactory effect of curtailing the legislative attacks on Vanderbilt.

From that date forward, the history of the Vanderbilt railroads has been closely identified with p40 the House of Morgan. J. P. Morgan and his business associates became the company's financial agents, and thereafter all plans of expansion or consolidation were handled directly by them. In the board of directors Morgan banking interests had full representation, which they have held until this day.

The subsequent history of the Vanderbilt lines is chiefly a story of business expansion and growth. From 1885 to 1893, the great panic year, the New York Central each year added to its mileage, either by merger of smaller lines or by construction. All this time it was consolidating the system, eliminating the weaker links, and strengthening the stronger. Its lines penetrated all the best Eastern railroad territory outside of New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and no other railroad system in the country, with the single exception of the Pennsylvania, covered anything like the same amount of rich and settled territory, or reached so many cities and towns of importance. New York, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis — these are a few of the great traffic centers which were included in the Vanderbilt preserves. The population of all these cities, as well as that that of the hundreds of smaller p41places and the countryside in general, was growing by leaps and bounds. Furthermore the Northwest, beyond the Great Lakes and through to the Pacific coast, saw the beginnings of its great development at this time; and the wheat fields of the far western country became a factor of profound importance in the national development. Consequently when the period of depression arrived with the panic of 1893, the Vanderbilt properties were, as a whole, in a strong position to meet the changed situation and, like the great Pennsylvania property, they all passed through the time of advent of the new industrial era without the defaulting of a bond or the passing of a dividend. The remarkable character of this achievement is evident in view of the fact that in the period from 1893 to 1898 more than sixty-five per cent of all the railroad mileage in the United States went into the hands of receivers.

After the close of this era of panic, the Vanderbilt lines began expanding again, though on a much smaller scale than in their more active time. In 1898 William K. Vanderbilt, then president, made the announcement that the New York Central had leased the Boston and Albany Railroad, at that time a lucrative line running from Albany across Massachusetts into Boston. This gave the p42system an entry into the New England field, which it has continuously held since. A few years later this New England interest was increased by the acquisition of the Rutland Railroad in Vermont, thus making connection with the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain, a line running across the northern part of New York State, which had also come under Vanderbilt control.

When business revived in the closing years of the nineteenth century, the history of American railroads began a new chapter. Federal railroad regulation, which started in a moderate way with the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, had steadily increased through the years; the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, passed in 1890, had been interpreted broadly as affecting the railroads of the country as well as the industrial and other combinations. These influences had thus greatly curtailed the consolidation of competing lines which had gone on so rapidly during the decades following the Civil War. Railroad managers and financiers therefore began to face a very serious problem. Competition of a more or less serious nature was still rampant, rates were cut, and traffic was pretty freely diverted by dubious means. Consequently many large railroad systems of heavy capitalization p43bid fair to run into difficulties on the first serious falling off in general business.

Great men are usually the product of their times and one of the men developed by these times takes rank with the greatest railroad leaders in history. Edward H. Harriman had risen in ten years from comparative obscurity and was now the president of the Union Pacific Railroad, which he had, in conjunction with the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb and Company, reorganized and taken out of bankruptcy. Harriman was one of the originators of the "community of interest" idea, a device for the partial control of one railroad system by another. For instance, although the law forbade any railroad system from acquiring a complete control of a competing line by purchasing a majority of its capital stock or by leasing it, nothing was said about one railroad having a minority interest in another. A minority investment, even though it be as low as ten or twenty per cent, usually constitutes a dominating influence if held by a single interest, for in most cases the majority of the shares will be owned in small blocks by thousands of investors who never combine for a definite, practical purpose. Thus the interest which has the one large block of stock usually controls p44the voting power, and runs little risk of losing it unless a contest develops with other powerful interests — and this is a contingency which it almost never has to meet.

Carrying out this policy of promoting harmony among competing lines, the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad early in 1900 acquired a working control of the Reading Company, which in turn controlled the New Jersey Central and dominated the anthracite coal traffic. Later the Baltimore and Ohio shared this Reading interest with the Lake Shore of the New York Central system. The New York Central and the Pennsylvania acquired a working control of the same kind in the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which was an important element in the soft coal fields and was reaching out to grasp soft coal properties in Ohio and Indiana.

These and other purchases, and the consequent voice acquired in their management, established comparative harmony among Eastern railroads for a long time; they stabilized rates and enabled formerly competing roads to parcel out territory equitably among the different interests. Later, Harriman, and to some extent Morgan, carried the community of interest idea some steps further. p45Morgan caused the New York Central to acquire stock interests in certain "feeder" lines such as the New York, New Haven and Hartford and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, as well as in competing lines; and Harriman caused the Union Pacific not only to dominate the Southern Pacific Company by minority control but also to acquire interests in the Illinois Central, the Baltimore and Ohio, the New York Central, and other eastern properties. The fact was that Harriman had plans for acquiring actual control of the New York Central for the Union Pacific and thus, with the Illinois Central, of creating a continuous transcontinental line from ocean to ocean.

In the past decade few unusual or startling events have marked the history of the Vanderbilt line. The Vanderbilt family no longer possesses a majority interest in the stock, or anything which approaches it, and the New York Central system and its subsidiaries have come to be known more and more as Morgan properties. The system has grown up with the country. Many of its former controlled roads have now been merged into the main corporation and many new lines have been added to it. Hundreds of millions of dollars of new capital have been spent on the main lines and p46terminals since 1900. In 1919 the entire property, including controlled lines, embraced more than 13,000 miles of main track, besides about 5000 miles of extra tracks; over 200,000 freight cars are in use on the system, and every year upwards of 200,000,000 tons of freight are transported. The gross annual revenues of the entire system now aggregate more than $400,000,000, while the total capitalization in stocks and bonds exceeds a billion dollars. It is indeed a far cry from that day in August, 1831, when the De Witt Clinton locomotive made its trial trip over the primitive rails of the seventeen-mile Mohawk and Hudson road — a far cry even from that other day, thirty-eight years later, when the sagacious Commodore startled the financial world by his New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, with a capital of ninety million dollars.

[image ALT: A railroad map of the United States.]

The New York Central, Santa Fé and Great Northern Railway Systems
A scan large enough to be fully readable (1.6 MB) is also available.
If your browser gives you an error page claiming the file doesn't exist:
keep that window open — but reload. (A browser error beyond my control)

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 8 Nov 09