Snapshot of the Month: Railroad Track in the United States in 1859

At the beginning of 1859 there were 26,752 miles of railway track in United States.  Ohio led the way with 3,337 miles of track, followed by Illinois with 2,854.  In both states, recent growth had been remarkable and was ongoing. The older states of New York and Pennsylvania followed with 2,850 and 2,317 miles respectively, while the states with least amount of track were Delaware with 93 miles, Arkansas with the 39 miles of the Memphis and Little Railroad, and California, with 22 miles in the Sacramento Valley.  The leading railway companies in terms of track mileage in 1859 were the New York Central with 556 miles of track and an annual profit of more than three million dollars, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Ohio Railroad with 465 miles, the New York and Erie with 465 miles of track, the Baltimore and Ohio with 386 miles.  The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad was the biggest company in Illinois in 1859 with 310 miles of track constructed at a cost of just over eight million dollars.  In the South, the leading railroad in track distance in 1859 was the Memphis and Charleston Company in Tennessee with 287 miles of track making a tidy $335,000 profit each year.  (By John Osborne)
Source Citation
The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge for the Year 1860 (Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Company, 1860), 221-225. 
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