Oldest railroads in North America

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Several railroads have been called the oldest in North America.

Early experimental railroads[edit]

The Granite, Coal and Cotton Railroads[edit]

Historical Marker of the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, incorporated in 1826 and opened in 1831.
U.S. railroads in 1835.

Common carriers[edit]

NameCharteredStateOpenedNotes
Union Canal Company of PennsylvaniaMarch 3, 1826Pennsylvania1830Chartered on May 30, 1811 to build a canal; authorized to build a railroad on March 3, 1826
Granite RailwayMarch 4, 1826MassachusettsOctober 7, 1826Only authorized to carry freight until April 16, 1846
Delaware and Hudson Canal CompanyApril 5, 1826PennsylvaniaOctober 9, 1829Chartered on March 13, 1823 to build a canal; authorized to build a railroad on April 5, 1826
Danville and Pottsville RailroadApril 8, 1826PennsylvaniaSeptember 24, 1834
Mohawk and Hudson RailroadApril 17, 1826New YorkSeptember 24, 1831
Baltimore and Ohio RailroadFebruary 28, 1827MarylandJanuary 7, 1830Carried passengers from opening
South Carolina Canal and Railroad CompanyDecember 19, 1827South CarolinaDecember 1830Carried passengers from opening
Ithaca and Owego RailroadJanuary 28, 1828New YorkApril 1, 1834
Mill Creek and Mine Hill Navigation and Railroad CompanyFebruary 7, 1828PennsylvaniaNovember 3, 1829
Tioga Navigation CompanyFebruary 7, 1828Pennsylvania1839Chartered on February 20, 1826 to build a canal or slack-water navigation; authorized to build a railroad on February 7, 1828
Baltimore and Susquehanna RailroadFebruary 13, 1828MarylandJuly 4, 1831
Chesterfield RailroadFebruary 27, 1828VirginiaJuly 1831
New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Railroad CompanyMarch 14, 1828MarylandFebruary 28, 1832Chartered on January 6, 1810 as the New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike Company to build a turnpike; renamed and authorized to build a railroad on March 14, 1828
Philadelphia and Columbia RailroadMarch 24, 1828PennsylvaniaOctober 18, 1832Part of the state-owned Main Line of Public Works
Schuylkill Valley Navigation CompanyApril 14, 1828Pennsylvania1830Chartered on March 20, 1827 to build a canal; authorized to build a railroad on April 14, 1828; renamed Schuylkill Valley Navigation and Railroad Company on January 15, 1829
Schuylkill East Branch Navigation CompanyApril 14, 1828PennsylvaniaNovember 18, 1831Chartered on February 20, 1826 to build a lock navigation; authorized to build a railroad on April 14, 1828; renamed Little Schuylkill Navigation, Railroad and Coal Company on April 23, 1829
New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Railroad CompanyFebruary 7, 1829DelawareFebruary 28, 1832Chartered on January 24, 1809 as the New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike Company to build a turnpike; renamed and authorized to build a railroad on February 7, 1829
New Castle Turnpike and Railroad CompanyFebruary 7, 1829DelawareFebruary 28, 1832Chartered on January 30, 1811 as the New Castle Turnpike Company to build a turnpike; renamed and authorized to build a railroad on February 7, 1829; merged into the New Castle Turnpike and Railroad Company on March 31, 1830
Mine Hill and Schuylkill Haven RailroadApril 15, 1829PennsylvaniaApril 1831
Northern Liberties and Penn Township RailroadApril 23, 1829PennsylvaniaApril 1834
Mount Carbon RailroadJuly 15, 1829Pennsylvania1831
Tuscumbia RailwayJanuary 15, 1830AlabamaJune 12, 1832
Pontchartrain RailroadJanuary 20, 1830LouisianaApril 23, 1831
Lexington and Ohio RailroadJanuary 27, 1830KentuckyAugust 15, 1832
Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation CompanyFebruary 4, 1830New JerseyOctober 1, 1832When the Camden and Amboy imported, assembled, and placed into service the locomotive John Bull, it was the first time that a steam locomotive had ever run on a North American railroad (earlier railroads used animal traction).
Petersburg RailroadFebruary 10, 1830VirginiaOctober 1832
Lykens Valley Railroad and Coal CompanyApril 7, 1830PennsylvaniaApril 1834
Beaver Meadow Railroad and Coal CompanyApril 7, 1830PennsylvaniaNovember 5, 1836
Canajoharie and Catskill RailroadApril 19, 1830New York1839
Boston and Lowell RailroadJune 5, 1830MassachusettsJune 24, 1835
Petersburg RailroadJanuary 1, 1831North Carolina1833
Paterson and Hudson River RailroadJanuary 31, 1831New Jersey1834
Elizabethtown and Somerville RailroadFebruary 9, 1831New JerseyAugust 13, 1836
Saratoga and Schenectady RailroadFebruary 16, 1831New YorkJuly 12, 1832
West Chester RailroadFebruary 18, 1831PennsylvaniaOctober 1, 1832
West Feliciana RailroadMarch 5, 1831LouisianaJanuary 1835
Philadelphia and Columbia RailroadMarch 21, 1831PennsylvaniaMarch 18, 1834Part of the state-owned Main Line of Public Works
Southwark RailroadApril 2, 1831Pennsylvania1835
Cumberland Valley RailroadApril 2, 1831PennsylvaniaAugust 16, 1837
Philadelphia and Delaware County RailroadApril 2, 1831PennsylvaniaJanuary 17, 1838Renamed Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad on March 14, 1836
Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown RailroadApril 5, 1831PennsylvaniaJune 6, 1832
Winchester and Potomac RailroadApril 8, 1831Virginia (now partially West Virginia)March 1836
New York and Harlem RailroadApril 25, 1831New YorkNovember 26, 1832
Boston and Providence RailroadJuly 22, 1831MassachusettsJuly 28, 1835
Boston and Worcester RailroadJune 23, 1831MassachusettsApril 16, 1834
Clinton and Vicksburg RailroadDecember 19, 1831Mississippi1838Reorganized as the Commercial and Railroad Bank of Vicksburg on December 25, 1833
Mad River and Lake Erie RailroadJanuary 5, 1832Ohio1838
Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur RailroadJanuary 13, 1832AlabamaAugust 20, 1833
Wilmington and Susquehanna RailroadJanuary 18, 1832DelawareJuly 14, 1837
Lawrenceburg and Indianapolis RailroadFebruary 2, 1832IndianaJuly 4, 1834
Ohio and Indianapolis RailroadFebruary 3, 1832Indiana1851Renamed Jeffersonville Railroad on February 3, 1849
Calais RailwayFebruary 17, 1832Maine1832
Philadelphia and Trenton RailroadFebruary 23, 1832PennsylvaniaNovember 14, 1833
Baltimore and Port Deposit RailroadMarch 5, 1832MarylandJuly 6, 1837
New Jersey Railroad and Transportation CompanyMarch 7, 1832New JerseySeptember 15, 1834
Portsmouth and Roanoke RailroadMarch 8, 1832VirginiaJuly 27, 1834
New Jersey, Hudson and Delaware RailroadMarch 8, 1832New Jersey1872Merged into the New Jersey Midland Railway on April 26, 1870
Franklin RailroadMarch 12, 1832PennsylvaniaSeptember 10, 1839
Delaware and Maryland RailroadMarch 14, 1832MarylandJuly 14, 1837Merged into the Wilmington and Susquehanna Railroad on April 18, 1836
York and Maryland Line RailroadMarch 14, 1832PennsylvaniaAugust 23, 1838
Liggett's Gap RailroadApril 7, 1832PennsylvaniaOctober 20, 1851Renamed Lackawanna and Western Railroad on April 14, 1851
Rensselaer and Saratoga RailroadApril 14, 1832New YorkApril 19, 1836
Saratoga and Fort Edward RailroadApril 17, 1832New YorkOctober 15, 1848Reorganized as the Saratoga and Washington Railroad on May 2, 1834
New York and Albany RailroadApril 17, 1832New YorkDecember 31, 1848Sold to the New York and Harlem Railroad on March 9, 1846
Watertown and Rome RailroadApril 17, 1832New YorkOctober 1849
Tonawanda RailroadApril 24, 1832New YorkMay 1837
New York and Erie RailroadApril 24, 1832New YorkSeptember 23, 1841
Brooklyn and Jamaica RailroadApril 25, 1832New YorkApril 18, 1836Leased by the Long Island Rail Road from opening
Hudson and Berkshire RailroadApril 26, 1832New YorkSeptember 26, 1838
Boston, Norwich and New London RailroadMay 1, 1832Connecticut1840Merged into the Norwich and Worcester Railroad on June 22, 1836
New York and Stonington RailroadMay 14, 1832ConnecticutNovember 17, 1837Merged into the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad on July 1, 1833
Portsmouth and Lancaster RailroadJune 9, 1832PennsylvaniaSeptember 16, 1836Renamed Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mountjoy and Lancaster Railroad on March 11, 1835
Williamsport and Elmira RailroadJune 9, 1832PennsylvaniaJanuary 12, 1837
Strasburg Rail RoadJune 9, 1832Pennsylvania1837
New York, Providence and Boston RailroadJune 23, 1832Rhode IslandNovember 17, 1837
Detroit and St. Joseph RailroadJune 29, 1832MichiganFebruary 3, 1838Sold to the Central Railroad of Michigan on April 22, 1837
New Orleans & Carrollton Rail-Road in 1835

Selected railroads chartered since 1832:

Tunnels and Bridges[edit]

The expanded Park Avenue Tunnel in 1941

West of the Mississippi River[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Robert R. (October 1949). Canada's Earliest Railway Lines. Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin #78. 
  2. ^ Whitehill, Walter Muir (1959). Boston - A Topographical History. Harvard University Press. p. 62. 
  3. ^ Dunbar, Seymour. A History of Travel in America. pp. 876–7. 
  4. ^ Dunbar. quoting Thomas McKibben of Baltimore in the American Engineer, 1886. pp. 878–9. 
  5. ^ a b Dunbar. p. 880.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 85 [1]
  7. ^ American Railroading Began Here cited 15 October 2009.
  8. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), pages 415,537 [2]
  9. ^ a b Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 415 [3]
  10. ^ in The Transfer of Pioneering British Railroad Technology to North America by Frederick C. Gamst, University of Massachusetts, Boston [4]
  11. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 459 [5]
  12. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 501 [6]
  13. ^ Welcome to Tuscumbia, Alabama - You Should See Us Now!!
  14. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 462 [7]
  15. ^ Railroads and Canals of the United States of America by Henry V. Poor (New York: John H. Schultz & Co, 1860), page 460 [8]
  16. ^ a b Development of Early Transportation Systems in the United States by J.L. Ringwalt (Philadelphia: Railway World Office, 1888), (RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION FROM 1830 TO 1840)[9]
  17. ^ ExplorePAHistory.com Historical Marker Allegheny Portage Railroad
  18. ^ ExplorePAHistory.com Historical Marker Service began on wooden rails.
  19. ^ Red River Railroad

External links[edit]

Specific railroads[edit]