Due to its remote location, Curtin had always faced hurdles to move its iron to markets and to import goods impossible to produce at home. Although canals were a major improvement in the transportation system, railroads were the next tidal wave of change.
The Civil War (1861-1865) slowed construction of railroads, but did not stop it. A map of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and its connecting networks in 1857 shows only the Main Line between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with a spur from Harrisburg to Baltimore (Ref 1). The Sunbury & Erie Railroad completed laying track from Sunbury to Lock Haven by 1859, and also aimed east from Erie, but then encountered financial difficulties. The company was taken over by the PRR and its project was subsumed into the larger undertaking of connecting Philadelphia to Erie. The PRR had money, and the entire route between the latter two cities was completed in 1865, War or No War.
At the same time as the Philadelphia to Erie Line was being completed, construction had been started by the Tyrone & Lock Haven Railroad. This company also ran into economic barriers and was morphed into the Bald Eagle Valley Railroad, a subsidiary of the PRR. The rail line from Tyrone passed through Curtin and reached Lock Haven in 1865, in time to link to the Philadelphia-Erie Line. A later map of the PRR shows how the railroad connections now afforded easy transport from Curtin to the Great Lakes at Erie; to Harrisburg and points West – Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo (Detroit), Chicago, and onward – as well as points to the East: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and beyond (Ref 2).
By the time the War had run its course, Curtin had easy, direct transportation routes for freight and passengers to and from major cities, in spite of its geographic isolation.
1 – [Map of] Pennsylvania Rail Road and its Connections. Office of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Philadelphia, Nov 3rd, 1857.
Digital ID http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/rbpe.15603000
2 – Map of Pennsylvania Railroad and its Connections, 1889:
Digital ID http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3701p.rr005190
Jerry is a retired general surgeon and a new Board Member of the Roland Curtin Foundation. He has Curtin roots extending back to 1831, through four previous generations.