Railroad History

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1810 - The Leiper Railroad

The Leiper Railroad, designed and built between 1809 and 1810 by merchant Thomas Leiper, connected his Stone Saw-Mill and Quarries on Crum Creek to his Landing on Ridley Creek, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Leiper's railway, the first documented railroad in America, was made of wooden wooden rails on wooden ties at 8-foot spacing. Single car trains with flanged iron wheels were pulled by horses on the three-quarter mile track.

The Leiper Railroad remained in service until 1828, when it is replaced by the Leiper Canal. In 1852 the railway reopened to replace the canal, becoming the Crum Creek Branch of the Baltimore and Philadelphia Railroad (part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad) in 1887. 

The owner of the quarry and mill, Thomas Leiper, originally sought permission from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to construct a canal between these two points. But that permission was denied because of objections from another mill- owner who asserted the canal would interfere with his use of the creek’s water for power. So instead, Leiper had a railroad constructed, with wooden tracks. 

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