In terms of Delaware's route miles throughout the years please refer to the table below. While the B&O's main line to New York City stretched through Delaware (the route operated from Newark to Carrcroft, a distance of just 15.7 miles according the railroad's official timetable) and the Reading operated a branch between Birdsboro, Pennsylvania and Wilmington it was the Pennsylvania Railroad that owned most of the state trackage, sprawling all over the state with a main line that stretched south from Wilmington, Delaware to Cape Charles, Virginia. In any event, as you can see in the below chart, the state's rail system has never been that extensive and today most of the original network remains intact and in use.
As anyone who studies at least a little railroad history is well aware,
the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of the most powerful companies of its
time nearly until its merger with the New York Central in 1968 to form
the Penn Central. While the PRR stretched to Detroit, Buffalo,
northern Michigan, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and a myriad of other
eastern/Midwestern cities it had a high concentration of branch lines
and routes in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.
Its secondary main line between Wilmington and Cape Charles provided
interchanges with southern lines, Norfolk & Western, the original
Norfolk Southern, and Chesapeake & Ohio all of whom served the ports
of Norfolk/Newport News/Virginia Beach.
Additionally, the PRR had several branch lines (five) diverging from this main line through Delaware. Most of these routes served one or more towns in nearby Maryland such as Chestertown, Centreville, Queenstown, Queen Anne, McDaniel, Hurlock, Cambridge, Vienna, Ocean City, and Franklin City. However, a few served locations directly in Delaware such as Smyrna and Rehoboth Beach. Today, many of these branches have since been abandoned. However, the main line to Cape Charles is still fully intact operated by Class I, Norfolk Southern through most of Delaware while CSX Transportation operated the rest through Maryland.
Today, the other remains of the PRR are still very present in the state as is the B&O's main line (operated by CSX). Not only does our country's fastest passenger train, the Acela Express, operate at speeds of 135 mph along the NEC through Wilmington (and reaching Washington, D.C./Baltimore) but also the city is home to three large PRR buildings; Amtrak's current Wilmington Station, the railroad's former Wilmington office building, and its former freight station, today owned and used by Internet banking company INGDirect. Wilmington is also home to Amtrak's Wilmington Maintenance Facility (an original PRR facility), Bear Maintenance Facility, Consolidated National Operations Center, and High-Speed Rail Training Facility.
Along with the current operations of CSX and Norfolk Southern, Delaware is also home
to the remains of the Conrail system, Conrail Shared Assets (a jointly
run railroad between NS and CSX) as well as shortlines, Delaware Coast
Line, East Penn Railway, Wilmington & Western Railroad, and the
Maryland & Delaware Railroad. These small railroads operate the
remains of the PRR's branch line network in the state.
Lastly, Delaware is home to just one tourist railroad (and no railroad
museums), the Wilmington & Western Railroad. This steam-powered line
has been in operation since 1966 (although historically the W&W
name dates back to the 1860s) and offers visitors an incredible journey
along 10.2 miles of what was the B&O's Landenberg Branch between
Greenbank Station and Mt. Cuba. In all Delaware
railroads offer a little of everything for a train lover, whether your
railroading interest(s) might be railfanning, tourist railroads, or
simply sightseeing. Finally, for more information about Delaware's railroad history please visit AbandonedRails.com, a website which regularly adds information
regarding abandoned rail lines from across the country (broken down
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