Railroads of Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP) is working to provide a website that chronicles the railroad history of Pennsylvania. Our objective is to provide information and avenues of research that will help researchers in their efforts to document these resources.


Research Need Page
Overview of the growth and development of railroads in Pennsylvania Developmental History
Pennsylvania and the Rail Industry: History in the Making (Part 1), Our Future in the Making (Part 2) Videos
How to get started in researching a railroad resource Research Tools
BHP guidance for determining significance of a railroad resource Guidelines for Documenting and Evaluating Railroads
Various avenues of primary research including Manuscripts and Maps Primary Research
Various avenues of secondary resources including National Register nominations, PA Historic Resource Survey Forms and Web Links Secondary Research


Linear Resources in CRGIS

BHP is in the process of mapping historic railroad lines in the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS). Users will notice long linear resources on the maps that may overlap shorter segments. In the AskReGIS database search, you may see the same key number for many entries in different counties and/or municipalities. When you view the details for these features, their historic name will include the words "Aggregate File."

The Aggregate Files are intended to help file/database users better understand the history and significance of individual railroad lines. They do not represent historic resource surveys and we do not have paper files for these Aggregate File key numbers. Aggregate files are digital files that were created as a means of bringing together - and displaying in the CRGIS - any previously surveyed components of a particular railroad line, noted in the details report as "Associated Resources." The historic paths of the lines are also mapped in the CRGIS, and a listing of each county and municipality that the rail line traveled through is provided. This will allow surveyors to quickly identify any previously surveyed resources in our files that are related to rail properties they are researching. Brief railroad histories and lineage files have also been created from various sources, and will appear as a .pdf document within the CRGIS Aggregate File report display to further assist the user.

BHP has also created a Naming Standardization Guide (PDF) for railroad resources that have been entered into CRGIS, this allows for better searching capabilities and provides uniformity in naming conventions.

Reading Company #118. Courtesy of the PA State Archives MG219SubFileTranBox25#5291 Berks County Map 1895