Railroads: Birth of the Penn Central

For nearly a century the first and third largest U.S. railroads—the Pennsylvania and the New York Central—have battled each other with wary, and sometimes hostile, respect. Last week, in a dramatic communique carefully withheld until the New York Stock Exchange had closed for the weekend, the boards of directors of the two longtime rivals announced plans to merge them into one giant enterprise: the Pennsylvania New York Central Transportation Co.

Out of the proposed merger would come a massive rail network with 20,372 miles of track crisscrossing the big industrial areas from Boston...

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