South Pennsylvania Railroad Company (Signed by Robert H. Sayre)
Rare antique bond certificate from the South Pennsylvania Railroad Company dating back to the 1880's. This document, which has been signed by the company President and Secretary, was printed by A. L. Weise, Lith. and measures approximately 12" (w) by 10" (h).
Very hard to find piece.
You will receive the exact certificate pictured.
Please note full length tape repair, which is found on almost of the pieces from this issue that have been seen.
The first South Pennsylvania Railroad was originally chartered as the Duncannon, Landisburg and Broad Top Railroad on May 5, 1854. Its intended route began in Duncannon, passed through Landisburg and Burnt Cabins, and ended on the Juniata River via the Broad Top Mountain coalfields. On May 5, 1855, it was renamed the Shermans Valley and Broad Top Railroad, and the planned northern terminus changed to the mouth of Fishing Creek, in Perry County near Marysville. An amendment to the charter on May 12, 1857 allowed it to connect with the Allegheny Portage Railroad and the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad. Around this time, two miles of the proposed route were in fact graded. On March 31, 1859, it was given the grandiose name of Pennsylvania Pacific Railway, with the rights to extend into Maryland and Virginia. On April 1, 1863, it was renamed as the South Pennsylvania Railroad. Despite feverish promotion, including plans for 200 miles of line from Marysville to West Newton (on the Youghiogheny River), no further work was completed. The two miles of grading were sold off in 1872 and the charter became dormant on May 31, 1879.
The unused charter of the defunct South Pennsylvania Railroad was revived in the the following year as a weapon in a growing war between the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad, the two major Eastern railroad systems. William H. Vanderbilt, who controlled the New York Central, learned that the Pennsylvania had obtained control of the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway, a newly built railroad whose line paralleled the route of the New York Central between New York City and Buffalo. Vanderbilt viewed the West Shore project as a Pennsylvania Railroad incursion into prime New York Central territory and a threat to the Central's supremacy in the area.
To retaliate, Vanderbilt allied himself with Pittsburgh capitalists, including Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, who were anxious to break the Pennsylvania Railroad's freight monopoly in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. Vanderbilt, the Pittsburghers, and other investors formed a syndicate to finance and build a new mainline railroad across the Alleghenies that would connect Pittsburgh with Harrisburg, and, working jointly with the Reading Railroad, would form a route to the East Coast. The group used the long-inactive charter of the South Pennsylvania Railroad as their vehicle to begin constructing the railroad.
Rays Hill Tunnel during construction of the railroad tunnel in the late 19th century. Andrew Carnegie is present in the middle of the image. The tunnel was later used by the Turnpike until bypassed in 1968.
The new route for the railroad was surveyed beginning in 1881, and construction began soon after. The alignment, which had first been surveyed forty years earlier by Colonel Charles Schattler of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and then dismissed as a possible route for the Pennsylvania, crossed the spine of the Appalachians in southern Pennsylvania. It connected Harrisburg with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, a Vanderbilt subsidiary, at Port Perry.
The so-called "southern route" of the South Pennsylvania was a treacherous one, as it crossed six mountain ridges, required nine tunnels, and involved numerous curves and steep grades. Construction continued into 1885 with considerable work done in drilling the tunnels and grading the portion of the route through the mountains. But as expenses rose, Vanderbilt began to have second thoughts and began looking for a graceful way out that would protect the investments made by his syndicate partners. He proposed a truce and buyout by the Pennsylvania, but the Pennsylvania's president, George Roberts, refused to meet his price.
Cessation of Work
Banker J. P. Morgan, who was the New York Central's principal banker and a Vanderbilt ally, was also concerned about the financial effects of competition. He brokered an agreement in which the New York Central bought the West Shore Railroad, halted construction on the South Pennsylvania (including a bridge over the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg), and agreed to sell its right-of-way to the Pennsylvania. However, legal action prevented the Pennsylvania from taking control of the line, and the South Pennsylvania remained in limbo for almost 20 years. In the meantime, two short sections, including the Quemahoning Tunnel, were later used for local short line railroads (the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland and Somerset Railroad among them), but the majority of the line, including several unfinished tunnels, remained unused. It eventually came to be known as "Vanderbilt's Folly".
In 1893, the Southern Pennsylvania Railway, a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary which had charter rights along the route, initiated court proceedings to take ownership of part of the South Pennsylvania grade. In 1895, it obtained title to the grade east of Mount Dallas. A little surveying and repair work was done on the route that year, but it was never used, and the grade was sold to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in 1938.
In 1904, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bought the South Pennsylvania grade west of Mount Dallas, organizing it under the name of Fulton, Bedford and Somerset Railroad. No railroad was ever built on the right-of-way, and it was also sold to the turnpike commission.
Pittsburgh was originally a branch line until Carnegie and others intervened and persuaded Vanderbilt to discard the original alignment which was to go to Wheeling via Connellsville and Brownsville. Maps, letters and other documents including tunnel designs are open to the public in the state archives in Harrisburg.
The route was revived during the Great Depression, when plans were made to build a superhighway across Pennsylvania. In 1937 the new Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission bought the old line from the two railroads, and in 1938 construction began between Carlisle and Irwin. Two of the workers from the South Pennsylvania Railroad project (one contractor and one laborer) also worked on the Turnpike despite the 54-year time difference in construction.
The turnpike's original route opened two years later, using six of the railroad's nine tunnels (subsequent route re-alignments have caused some of these tunnels to be abandoned), while the original Allegheny Mountain Tunnel wasn't used due to structural concerns and the Quemahoning Tunnel and Negro Mountain Tunnel were bypassed because advances in engineering allowed for bypasses. The highway engineers did not use most of the railroad's other grading, however, since they could afford steeper grades and shorter alignments. Because of this, relics of the "ghost railroad" may still be found all across the Alleghenies.
Robert H. Sayre
Robert H. Sayre's Signature
Robert Sayre was born on October 13, 1824 to William Heysham Sayre and Elizabeth Kent, his wife, on the Kent family's farm near Bloomsburg in rural Columbia County, Pennsylvania. In 1828, the Sayre family moved to Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania where William worked for the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company as a lockmaster. As a result of observing the locks, young Robert showed an early interest in construction and civil engineering.
Sayre's first significant work in engineering was on the Morris Canal in New Jersey. He also participated in the surveys and construction for the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway.
In 1854, Sayre was named Chief Engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and he led the extension of that railroad northward and westward through Pennsylvania and New York State.
Sayre was one of the founders of Bethlehem Iron Company, precursor of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He was responsible for the design and construction of the company's first iron works during the years 1861 through 1863. He became vice president of Bethlehem Iron Works in 1891.
Sayre built a large house in Bethlehem and lived in it from 1858 until his death in 1907. Currently his house is known as the Sayre Mansion, and is in use as a bed-and-breakfast.
Sayre was a trustee of St. Luke's Hospital and a Charter Trustee of Lehigh University.
Sayre Observatory at Lehigh University was erected in 1868 and was paid for by a gift of $5,000 from Sayre.