Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company


SKU: 7283
Product Details

Nicely engraved antique bond certificate from the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company dating back to the 1880's. This document, which has been signed by the company President and Treasurer, was printed by the American Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 10 1/2" (w) by 16 1/2" (h).


This certificate features a great vignette of a train crossing a steel bridge. A second train crossing an arched bridge can be seen in the background.

You will receive the exact certificate pictured.

    Historical Context

    This railroad was chartered in 1833 to provide low-cost transportation from the Schuylkill and Mahanoy anthracite coal fields in eastern Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. The Main line from Philadelphia to Pottsville opened in 1842.

    The Reading expanded by acquiring other railroads, and by 1869 had monopoly of coal traffic from Schuylkill anthracite region. Expansion accelerated when Franklin B. Gowen became president (1869) and attempted to dominate entire anthracite trade. The company purchased Schuylkill Canal (1870) to eliminate competition for coal trade; then organized the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company in 1871 to purchase and operate coal mines. In doing so, the company secured over 40 percent of U.S. anthracite reserves, but the debt incurred led railroad to bankruptcy and receivership in 1880.

    Gowen's reckless style drove the Reading into second receivership in 1886, and he was forced to resign. Gowen's Successor, Archibald A. McLeod, tried to increase company control over anthracite trade (1892-1893), then control of several New England railroads. The Reading went bankrupt again and McLeod was ousted.

    In an 1896 reorganization, the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad and the Coal & Iron Company became properties of the Reading Company, a holding company. Later additions to system were infrequent and largely confined to short branches and improvements inalignment. Due to anti-trust proceedings, company divested mining subsidiary in 1923 and merged wholly owned railroad companies into an operating company.

    The reading went bankrupt in early 1970s, and conveyed portions of its lines to Conrail in 1976.

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