Reading Railroad sold to Conrail – On this Day 1976

Reading Railroad History
It now belongs to Conrail – Freight cars fill the yard at the Reading Co., which today was taken over by the Consolidated Rail Corp. (ConRail). In the background are the freight car shops. The Reading Co. started in 1838.

On this day in 1976, the ownership of the monopoly-board famous Reading Railroad was changed to ConRail. They purchased Reading Co. and other seven other rail lines which were in bankruptcy. At the time of sale, Reading Co. operated on 66% of Pennsylvania’s tracks.

A brief History on the Reading Railroad

The Reading Co. was founded on April 4th, 1833. It was the result of our state’s legislature passing the enabling act for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. This immediately brought competition for contracts to haul anthracite to Philly with canal operators. On May 1st, 1838 the first locomotive left Reading. Passenger rail service to Philadelphia began in 1839.

Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century the Reading merged with other regional lines but kept the Reading name. By the 1970s, planes, buses and automobiles were putting the passenger lines out of business completely. The last passenger train would leave Reading for Philly six years later in 1982. Freight business also now was heavily competing with trucks. These ultimately led to the demise of the Reading Railroad.

Reading Railroad History
In the shops – Stripped-down Budd Co. passenger cars await over-haul in the former Reading Co. car shop, left. In the right photo John Hollingshead, foreground: Charles Brendle, standing; and William Frank, right, work in the upholstery shop. Reading Railroad History

There has recently been talks of passenger service coming back to Reading/Philly in the coming decade after 40 years hiatus.

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

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Jim Ahrens (Fort Worth, Tx)
Jim Ahrens (Fort Worth, Tx)
1 month ago

In the Army when I as stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey, I would take a bus to Philly to catch the train back to Reading. I loved the ride. It was so peaceful and the clickity-clack sound was soothing.

JEFFREY ANDERSON
JEFFREY ANDERSON
1 month ago

My Grandfather worked at the Reading Railroad for 50 years, we rode the trains very often. And when I was stationed at the Phila Navy yard while in the USMC I would often travel to Reading by train!

Victoria E Biolsi
Victoria E Biolsi
1 month ago

I lived on Cleveland Ave with my grandparents (West Wyomissing) begining 1950. I could hear the train going by and rode the railroad occasionally. I dont hear a train without thinking of the Reading Railroad and the footbridge we walked to cross the tracks.

Franklin Starkey
Franklin Starkey
1 month ago

Any body else remember the steam train excursions to Hershey?

Jim Ahrens
Jim Ahrens
1 month ago
BERKS NOSTALGIA