Displaying items by tag: railroads

Thursday, 25 August 2022 18:51

Reading Railroad

Today a research question sent me looking through our railroad collection. When I saw the pamphlet pictured below from 1966, I was reminded of the current project to reopen a passenger rail line connecting Reading and Philadelphia, which would pass through Montgomery County. 


Commuter Pamphlet, 1966

HSMC has a number of items connected to railroads, including several items from the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (also known as the P & R). In addition to pamphlets, we also have time tables, photographs, old tickets, and lanterns from the P & R. One of these lanterns is currently on display in our gallery until March 2023. 


P&R Lantern

The P & R was first chartered in 1833 and became known as the Reading Railroad in 1924. The company used coal fields in the Pottstown area to power their train service from Reading to Philadelphia. Over time, they acquired other shorter railroads in the area, helping to connect people and freight service throughout Southern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.

Reading Railroads Penllyn station in Lower Gwynedd

Reading Railroad's Penllyn Station in Lower Gwynedd

By the mid 1900s, cars and airplanes became fierce competitors for all railroad companies. The decline of local coal mining and manufacturing furthered the strain on the Reading Railroad. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1971 and was absorbed by Conrail in 1976. The railroad connection to Reading has not been used by passengers for several years. However, plans to reopen this connection between Reading and Philadelphia have received much support in recent years.


Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 03 September 2020 20:19

The Philadelphia and Western


Recently, the Historical Society of Montgomery County received a great postcard showing a P&W train crossing the Bridgeport Viaduct over the Schuylkill.

time table

The Philadelphia and Western Railroad was a commuter railroad started in 1902 (as the Philadelphia and Western Railway). It was originally planned to connect to the Western Maryland Railroad at York, but those plans fell through. Trains began running in 1907, and the Norristown line opened in 1912.

Photo081 watermark

The trestle bridge of the P&W was a landmark in Norristown for many years. Sometimes called the “clock bridge,” it was an easy to find place to meet up with people. However, the decline of railroads and trolleys, in the wake of the post-war car boom, led to buses replacing Norristown’s trolleys in 1951. The bridge over Main Street was torn down in 1955.

red arrow

The bridge in the postcard is still in use, however. In 1954, the company was sold to the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, and it became known as the Red Arrow Line. Eventually, it became part of SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line.

Published in Found in Collection