e-mail by Frank Mellott about the new South Pennsylvania
The Railroad That Never Was
by Herb Harwood
is a mini review of Herb Harwood's The Railroad That Never Was
Vanderbilt, Morgan and the South Pennsylvania Railroad, Indiana
University Press 2010.
Railroad That Never Was arrived yesterday. I
wasn't expecting much, and wasn't disappointed. It's tough
to write a marketable book about a railroad that basically never
existed. What was I expecting? A Russ
Love like detailed tour of the railroad, lots of excerpts from the
Barnes report and a Charles Roberts like analysis of whether it was
feasible or not.
good bonus would have been finding someone's diary of the Andrew
Carnegie visit to Rays Hill describing the arrangements of getting his
did I order it? It was a Herb Harwood book about the South Penn.
arrived? A Herb Harwood book printed in the US for a change from
Indiana University Press. 165 pages, hardbound with dust
jacket. The first six chapters provide the background and
organization of the syndicate. Chapter 7 discusses the plan and
chapter 8 the construction. Chapter 9 brings in the Beech Creek
and chapters 10 and 11 the Morgan negotiations to stop the war.
The remainder of the book concerns the B&O efforts in the early
1900's to finish it and
origins of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
7 includes a brief discussion of motive power (The South Penn never
ordered locomotives) and on page 62 has a nice grade profile of the SPR
vs PRR. It would be nice if the B&O, Erie, NYC and WM
profiles could have been included for comparison as
possible this material doesn't exist, but I thought the Barnes report
included planned station sites and possibly coal and water stops.
A list of both would have been nice. I doubt if anyone got around
to drawing plans for facilities, but if they did, it would have
been nice if a few samples could have been included.
far as feasibility goes, chapter 7 says it all without meaning
too. It went from now where to no where with nothing in
between. With all the branches going up hill to the
main. I'd like to think as steam engines got bigger the situation
would have improved, but trains would have gotten bigger as
well. I'd like to think if it could have survived until the
diesel appeared it would have been a great land bridge route and
(double stacks coast to coast on SP/SPR in 1979/80?)
I am not sure, even taking in to account that if the South Penn was
built the WM have never built from Cumberland to Pittsburgh and the
W&LE wouldn't have been built east of Pittsburgh if at all, that it
could have survived past World War 1.
All in all, if you want a good single volume history of the
South Penn, this is the best there is. If you really want
to track down the remnants, visit Russ Love's website and acquire his
book and CD's.