Chapter XX

Traveling And Transportation.


in anger clambered over the tender, and demanded why his signal to stop had not been obeyed. "I'm in charge of this train, and will stop when I think best at any point not a regular station," replied the engineer. This put Wolf to his mettle, and it result finally in the train being stopped, and, in the presence of the passengers, the conductor and engineer fought until the latter was completely conquered. Never after that time was Wolf's signal disregarded, and the connecting cord was found to work so advantageously that it was adopted on all the railroads in the United States.

After the completion of the road, the consolidated companies, now the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company, found that while their capital was two and a quarter millions, the cost of the road and equipping it had amounted to nearly four and a half millions of dollars. The original subscribers to the stock, which promised such a golden harvest, soon found that the day when a dividend would be paid was uncertain, while creditors were clamorous for payment, and to liquidate these pressing claims two mortgages, amounting to three millions, had to be given. The sturdy farmers who had placed a few hundred dollars in the stock of the company began to grow uneasy of waiting for dividends which never came, and by degrees their holding passed into the market, where they were purchased as investments by wealthy capitalists of the Eastern cities. In 1851, Samuel M. Felton was elected president of the road, and during his administration the track, rolling stock, and landed estate of the company, which had deteriorated in the endeavor to relieve the road of its heavy debt, was relaid, increased, and improved. The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad was put into a position to meet the great demand which came upon it ten years later in forwarding troops to the national capital. So admirable was Mr. Felton's management that the stock paid heavy dividends, and as a consequence it was rarely seen in the market, and if so, it was quickly purchased at a premium. In 1865, Mr. Felton resigned the presidency of the road, and as a testimonial of the great service he had rendered to the company a present of one hundred thousand dollars was made to him on his retiring from the position he had so admirably filled.

Isaac Hinkley was elected to fill the place made vacant by Mr. Felton's retiracy, and during the latter's presidency the improved line of railway was laid from Gray's Ferry through Darby, Sharon Hill, Prospect Park, Norwood, Ridley Park, Crum Lynne, and other stations which have been located on the line of the new road, now dotted along almost its entire length by handsome villas and country residences. Ground was broken on Nov. 11, 1870, an the first train passed over the Darby improvement, as it was popularly known, early in 1873. In the late spring of 1881 the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad passed into the hands of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, H. F. Kenney, the superintendent of the former road, having been retained in charge of the Delaware and Southern Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which includes the old Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, the Chester Creek, the Baltimore Central, and the Philadelphia and West Chester Railroads, besides other roads in the State of Delaware.

The West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad was incorporated April 11, 1848, and on Jan. 17, 1852, the contract for building the road, except laying the rails, entered into with Gonder, Clark & Co., who were to receive three hundred thousand dollars in cash and two hundred thousand dollars in stock of the road for the work. On Monday, July 16, 1855, the middle span of the railroad bridge, then being constructed over Ridley Creek, gave way, precipitating five men to the earth, one hundred and nine feet below, and three were instantly killed. In the autumn of that year the road had been completed, and trains were running to Media; at the close of 1856 the road had extended from Rockdale to Lenni, and by Jan. 1, 1857, to Grubb's bridge, the present Wawa. The road was an expensive one to build, due to the deep valleys and many streams it crossed, so that at one time its stock had fallen to almost nominal value. In the latter half of the year 1858 the road was pushed onward with remarkable rapidity, the rails being laid from Wawa to West Chester, so that the first train of cars from Philadelphia by the direct road reached West Chester on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1858, and on the following Thursday a celebration was held in the borough in honor of the event. In May, 1880, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company purchased the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad, and on the subsequent transfer of the former road to the Pennsylvania Central, the West Chester road was included.

The Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad was incorporated March 17, 1853, and by act of April 6, 1854, was authorized to form a union with a corporation chartered by the State of Maryland. On Jan. 3, 1855, ground was broken for the road on the farm of Darwin Painter, in Birmingham, Delaware Co., Dr. Frank Taylor, the president of the road, turning the first sod between Chad's Ford and Grubb's bridge. On Monday, June 1, 1857, the laying of the track from Grubb's bridge was begun, but it was not completed to Chad's Ford for public travel until some time in the year 1858, when trains ran as far as that point. The road, which became the property of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company, passed with the transfer made by the latter corporation to the Pennsylvania Central Railroad, already mentioned.

The Chester and Delaware River Railroad Company was incorporated in 1872 by letters patent under the free railroad law of Pennsylvania. Its terminal


« Previous Page (Page 198)    Next Page (Page 200) »
Ashmead's "History of Delaware County" Homepage
Delaware County History Homepage