Profile America: First State Chartered Railroad


Wednesday, February 28. Although February is the calendar’s shortest month, it looms large in America’s history of railroad development. In 1815, the first state charter for a railroad was issued by New Jersey for a never-completed line between Trenton and New Brunswick. On this date in 1827, the famed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was chartered to carry passengers and freight. And February 1830 saw the first charter for an interstate railroad to serve Virginia and North Carolina.

The peak year for the number of railroads was 1907, with over 1,500 lines in operation, and the greatest extent of track mileage came in 1930 at nearly 430,000 miles. While the iron horse is no longer so singularly vital to transportation, over $22 billion worth of rolling stock is manufactured annually.

Profile America is in its 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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