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Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company Photographs, 1886-1972, AIS.1982.23.PH
Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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What’s online

The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company online collection contains 2,055 images from 1886 through 1971 showing various branch lines that were controlled by the New York Central from 1883 through 1968, and then by Penn Central. The images also document many non-railroad activities and scenes in urban and rural areas of Western Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Lawrence, and Washington counties, as well as in some of the bordering counties of West Virginia and Ohio.

Images were selected that depict railroad equipment, such as rail cars and engines, as well as the stations, the industry, and the small towns through which the railroad passed. On January 18, 2013, over 350 images were added to the online collection.

What’s in the entire collection

The collection, held by the Archives Service Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh, comprises 16,400 images taken between 1883 and 1970. The bulk of these images exist as negatives, but the collection also includes a number of prints, the most recent of which are the work of nationally known photo-documentarian David Plowden.

The collection also includes over two thousand feet of 16mm motion picture film, which depicts railroad work crews in the 1930s, various construction projects, and a parade of boats on the Monongahela River, as well as historical documents and business records, including both annual and monthly reports of operation and statistics for the railroad. There are sixty-six volumes of records from the Transportation Department which include employee records, a Grade Qualifications Book, an Engineers Record Book, a suspended Discipline Book, and a Foreign (crew) Record Book.

About the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company

The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company began operations in 1879, financed in part by the Harmony Society, a communal religious sect located just north of Pittsburgh in Economy, Pennsylvania. The railroad began its affiliation with the New York Central System in 1883 and was one of the principal rail routes in the eastern United States. In 1976, following the Penn Central System bankruptcy in 1970, the railroad obtained trackage rights over former Penn Central lines to Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, on Lake Erie and through Sharon to Shenango, Pennsylvania. The railroad has been privately owned since 1979, and continues to serve the heavily industrialized areas of Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Ohio.

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