Anthracite Railroad Records at the Pennsylvania State Archives

The Pennsylvania State Archives has extensive holdings on the anthracite railroads of eastern Pennsylvania, but they reside in various distinct collections, as listed below. By definition, an anthracite railroad hauled anthracite coal as one of its primary sources of freight traffic, and/or owned an anthracite mine. The principal carriers included the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Company, the Lehigh Valley, the Delaware & Hudson, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Lehigh & New England, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, the Erie-Lackawanna, the New York, Ontario & Western, the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley, the New York, Susquehanna & Western, the Wilkes Barre & Eastern, and the Lehigh & Hudson River railroads.

Researchers will find the following holdings and related records:

Central Railroad of New Jersey

  • MG-199 Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Collections:
    • Charles B. Schlegel Collection (RR77.102) - (mostly track charts, rule books and miscellaneous CNJ information) - [Holdings]
    • Philips Collection (principally research materials on "camelback"-type anthracite-burning steam locomotives) - [Holdings]
    • A total of (23) boxes of records from the CNJ Office of the Superintendent, Allentown, and (4) cartons of track charts as part of MG-199 currently remains unprocessed. Additional CNJ records are also scattered throughout the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad (MG-311), Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company (MG-311) and Lehigh Valley Railroad holdings (MG-274). Archives staff is not able to do research for non-visiting patrons in this series. No comprehensive finding aid exists for these records.
  • Additional Resources at Other Institutions:

Delaware & Hudson Railroad

Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad

Erie Railroad

Erie-Lackawanna Railway

Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway

Lehigh & Hudson River Railway

Lehigh & New England Railroad

  • MG-311 Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company Records have extensive information on the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad and other LC&N properties leased to the CNJ (includes maps and structural drawings for the Lehigh & New England Railroad tracings).
  • Additional Resources at Other Institutions:

Lehigh Valley Railroad

New York, Ontario & Western Railway

New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway/Wilkes Barre & Eastern Railroad

Pennsylvania Railroad

Philadelphia & Reading Railway/Reading Company

  • MG-199 Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Collections:
    • Walter Fister Collection - Reading Co. Photographs (Fister was the Reading Company Superintendent of Motive Power & Rolling Equipment {#199m.57}.)
    • Robert Phillips draft of unpublished RDG Co. history with rare photographs. (Includes some Reading Railroad tracings) [Holdings]
    • Luther Cummings Collection (Includes photographs and negatives of Reading trains {#199m.30}.)
    • Elwin Mumford Collection (Comprises of a collection of photographs and postcards taken and collected by him of Reading Railroad locomotives, rolling stock and support facilities in the eastern Pennsylvania area, 1890-1974 {#199m.82}.)
    • Reading steam locomotive tracings. In particular, {series #199.88} contains mechanical engineering drawings of Reading steam/diesel locomotives and freight/passenger rolling stock. {Mechanical Drawing Index}. A limited volume of track and right of way drawings [Holdings] are also part of the collection.
  • MG-286 Although the Reading never became a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the State Archives does hold some materials relating to the Reading Railroad in our Manuscript Group 286. We received from the Penn Central a subset of architectural drawings of stations originally built along the Reading Line ({series #286m.254}) [Partial Holdings Part1] [Partial Holdings Part 2].
  • MG-289 George M. Hart Collection (Mostly comprises of 47 photographic prints, 1910-1921, and 1940, of eastern Pennsylvania coal region views along the Philadelphia & Reading printed from original 8 x 10 glass negatives, taken system-wide showing steam locomotives, rolling stock, yards, coal breakers, inclined planes, engine houses, signals, and trackside.)
  • Additional Resources at Other Institutions:
    • The Hagley Museum and Library in Delaware houses the largest collection of Reading documents and photographs held by any research institution, including Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines records.
    • The Athenaeum in Philadelphia holds drawings of Reading RR structures designed by the Wilson Brothers.
    • Some Reading ephemera, negatives, photographs and right-of-way half-mile and quarter-section mile maps are in the MG-199 collections of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Library/Archives, Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pa.. Of note, at Strasburg, is the Reading Co. Public Relations Department file, 10 cu. ft., which includes Reading photographs of locomotives, rolling stock, trains, depots, yards, employees and events. Also, the Robert J. Linden collection, collected by a former Conductor, contains extensive Reading Company material.
    • Additional unprocessed Reading archival materials are in possession of the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society in Hamburg, Pa.
    • The Smithsonian Institution's NMAH Archives houses some P&R Engineering Department records, which are chiefly 19th century Chief Engineer's letterbooks.
    • In addition to the RCT&HS, the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society helps preserve the history of this railroad.

Wilkes Barre & Eastern Railroad

  • See New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway.

Other General Sources of Anthracite Railroad Information

  • RG-12 Department of Highways (Photographs in the series that show railroad details for roads in the anthracite region featuring crossings, towers, various buildings, etc., [ca.1910-1977].)
  • RG-17 Records of the Land Office: Board of Canal Commissioners.
  • MG-11 Map Collection: Section VI: Transportation Maps.
  • MG-199 Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Collection, housed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Library/Archives, Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pa., contains annual reports for most of the anthracite railroad companies, reference and curatorial files containing ephemera, documents and notes, and audio-visual and graphic materials.
  • MG-393 Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company of Butler Records (May contain information on rolling stock built for the anthracite railroads.)
  • MG-218 General Photograph Collections: Transportation Section.
  • MG-219 Philadelphia Commercial Museum Collection (photographs).
  • MG-213 Postcard Collection.
  • Aerial Photograph Collections, including:
    • RG-31 Records of the Dept. of Commerce
    • Aerial Photographs and Index of the 1940 Aerial Survey of Pennsylvania, 1937-1942. {#31.18} * images for these and other years available online via the PennPilot project
    • MG-416 Aero Service Corporation Photographs, [ca. 1926-1948].
    • MG-281 Samuel W. Kuhnert Papers, [ca. 1912-1976].
    • MG-425 Ebasco Environmental Company Aerial Photographs, [ca. 1980-1985]
  • RG-37 Records of the Public Utility Commission: Bureau of Transportation.
    • Annual Reports of Transportation Utilities for Large and Small Carriers.
  • RG-14 Records of the Dept. of Internal Affairs: Various Annual Report Series relating to railroads (some of which may be continued in RG-37).
    • Annual Census Reports of Motor Bus and Electric Transportation Carriers {#14.6}
    • Annual Census Reports of Railroads and Railroad Repair Establishments {#14.7}
    • Annual Reports of Passenger and Street Railway Companies {#14.15}
    • Annual Reports of Railroad and Street Railway Companies to the Auditor General and the Department of Internal Affairs {#14.18}
    • Registers of Steam Railroads, Street Railways, Canals, Telegraph and Telephone Companies {#14.26}
  • RG-52 Records of the Dept. of Transportation: Local and Area Transportation Files
  • Refer to the Interstate Commerce Commission Valuation Records at the National Archives, College Park, MD, which includes maps, photos and inventories of the physical plant of many anthracite railroads.
  • The New York Public Library is believed to have substantial records of the maritime operations of several anthracite railroads.
  • The Mariners Museum and Steamship Historical Society also have some collections on anthracite railroads maritime operations.
  • The University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Albert O. Kuhin Library houses the George Bretz Collection, which contains a rich assemblage of anthracite railroad photographs, some of which have been digitized into a virtual gallery.

If you need further assistance, you may contact a railroad archivist at kubell@pa.gov or ra-statearchives@pa.gov

(Acknowledgements: Chris Baer-Hagley Museum & Library; Craig Orr-National Museum of American History Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Richard Jahn-Anthracite Railroads Historical Society; Rick Bates-Reading Company Technical & Historical Society; Michael Knies-University of Scranton Archives; Patrick McKnight-Steamtown National Historic Site)

If you need further assistance, you may contact an archivist at ra-statearchives@pa.gov