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Railroad Expansion

Railroad Expansion Timeline

Most hand lanterns were made of pressed steel or tinplate. A few, often called "presentation lanterns" because they were retirement or promotion gifts, were of brass. Style-conscious train crews might use a fancy lantern as a snow of pride.
John B. Corns


The Civil War causes unprecedented traffic for northern railroads, destruction of most southern railroads, and new appreciation for railroads' capabilities.



Twelve enginemen form the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the first successful railroad labor organization.


Confederate veteran Eli Janney patents a design for an automatic knuckle coupler, the basis for today's standard couplers.


The Union Pacific Railroad meets the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, forming a continuous railroad line from coast to coast.


Gen. William Jackson Palmer organizes the Denver & Rio Grande Railway.


George Westinghouse perfects the triple valve and the automatic air brake.


On November 18, "The Day of Two Noons," when railroads (and many cities) adopt Standard Railway Time -- the basis for our time zones today.


The Canadian Pacific Railway completes Canada's first transcontinental line.


The Interstate Commerce Act becomes effective, marking the first federal regulation of railroads.

A record total of 12,876 miles of track is laid in the United States; the amount would never be surpassed.


The Railway Safety Appliance Act is signed into law, improving worker safety over the next two decades.

New York Central locomotive 999 sets an unofficial speed record of 112.5 mph-supposedly the first time man exceeded 100 mph.


A strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company spreads nationwide.


General Electric installs the first mainline railroad electrification in America on the B&O in Baltimore.­