Railroads: The Little Lines That Could

Many of the nation's great railroads owe their size to the fusing of shorter lines over the years. The New York Central grew out of 400 independently constructed and operated lines, and the mighty Pennsylvania was forged out of 600 separate lines. But many of the short lines stayed short—and today they play a little known but important role in the shadow of the giants. The U.S. now has about 450 short-line railroads, whose trackage varies in length from less than a mile to 200 miles. Far from dying out, the short lines...

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