Research Tools

Railroads have been a fascination for young and old alike since they rolled onto the scene.

Over the centuries, much has been written of their impact on our economy, environment and way of life, and photographs, emphemera, and papers have been gathered and placed in archives, libraries, historical societies and now on the Internet.

The BHP Research Tool pages attempts to gather only some of the multitude of resources available to researchers.

The Research Tools main page highlights some short films that chronicle the importance of the railroad countrywide. Check out the bottom of the page for the lyrics of "Old Reading Blues."

The Guidelines for Documenting and Evaluating Railroads page gives advice for researching railroads when completing a Historic Resource Survey Form (HRSF) for BHP to review and determine if a resource is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Primary Research page focuses on manuscripts, maps and other resources available on-line that relate to the history of railroads in Pennsylvania.

The Secondary Research page presents National Register nominations (countrywide), HRSFs (Pennsylvania) and weblinks pertaining to railroads.

Start here on your adventure on the rails!



At This Moment

At This Moment StillframeAt This Moment, sponsored by Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1954 showcases the importance of railroads to 1950s America.


Mainline U.S.A.

Mainline USA: StillframeMainline U.S.A. produced by Dudley Pictures Corporation and sponsored by the Association of American Railroads in 1957 details the importance of railroads in the U.S. economy and has many shots of classic first-generation diesels and streamliners.


The Passenger Train

The Passenger Train: Stillframe The Passenger Train, produced by ERPI in 1940 describes a journey from a large city to the country on a streamline train.


Big Trains Rolling

Big Trains Rolling: StillframeBig Trains Rolling, produced by Dudley Pictures Coporation and sponsored by the Association of American Railroads in 1955 tells the story of how railroads keep the U.S. economy rolling.


Space Age Railroad

Space Age Railroad: StillframeSpace Age Railroad, produced in 1969 by the U.S. Department of Defense tells the story of high speed test track (a research and development facility at Holloman AFB, NM. The movie highlights advancements since the first track run in 1950 and illustrates monorail runs and explains principal braking systems.



Old Reading Blues

Rusting rails of cold, hard steel,
Time can't change the way I feel.
I love the sight of railroad track,
'Bout Reading Lines in gold and black.

Boiler primed and tender full,
a T-1 climbs the Gordon pull;
A million tons of coal a day,
Black diamonds stretching all the way.

From Williamsport to old Cape May,
The King of Coal has had his day;
Steam whistles echoed through the hills,
Nothin' left but these sad rills.

By Hiester's Lane at culvert's crown,
The Blandon line just North of town;
I start and sigh as engines grind,
To put the lowgrade well behind.

Reading Lines why can't I lose,
Those sorrowful old Reading Blues;
I dream of days when rail was prime,
I should have lived another time.

And now the station so great and grand,
Where Presidents heard the railroad band;
All is lost to villan's flame,
Only tracks to mark its' fame.

The smell of coal and creosote,
Hissing steam, a long, high note,
Time take me back now to the day;
When Reading ruled the Right of Way.

The swinging bridge, the platforms long,
The sheds, the tower, the tank and lawn;
What a shame we didn't see,
Before it slipped our memory.

On a cold, brisk morn that chills the spine,
I long to hear the hooter's whine;
A hundred cars and red caboose,
a 4-8-4 is on the loose.

Old Reading Blues by Ron Eschleman.
Used with permission


Philadelphia Record's Investigating the Railroad cartoon from 1906
"Investigating the Railroad" cartoon
Philadelphia Record February 19, 1906
Courtesy of PA State Archives; MG 286 Penn Central Records (PRR); Historical Image File, ca. 1840-1960; Photograph File; Series 1-0986 Box 2

Drawing of the Reading Railroad Port Richmond yard
Reading Railroad Port Richmond Yard drawing
Courtesy of PA State Archives; MG 199 Reading Railroad Drawings;
Box 50, # 26.