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In Depth Detailed Info About The PENN CENTRAL:

WHAT Was The Whole PC Exactly?

The Penn Central Company was the proper name of the whole conglomerate, and was made an official American-made company as a result of combining the New York Central (NYC) and Pennsylvania (PRR) railroads on February 1, 1968, and later merged the New Haven RR in the beginning of 1969. The PC was the nation's largest corporate merger in US history at that time, worth about $4.5 billion, and starting with 94,453 employees, increasing later, and with an annual payroll of $1 billion.

Additional departments and companies also made up and were owned (fully or partially) by the Penn Central Company (186 total companies during the merger, yet most of these companies could not be actually named!) -oil pipe lines (Buckeye Pipe Line Co.), an air fleet, amusement parks, a hotel fleet of five (Realty Hotels, Inc.), some smaller railroad subsidiaries [the Peoria & Eastern (P&E), Pittsburg & Lake Erie (P&LE), Detroit, Toledo, & Ironton (DT&I), Michigan Central, Canada Southern, and others], the Great Southwest Corp., the Aruida Corp., trucking companies, and real estate in CA and FL (even had some ownership in Madison Square Garden and 2 NY based sports teams of all things), to name a FEW.

By 1970 (before Amtrak), the Penn Central operated 35% of the nation's railroad passenger service (and 2/3's in the eastern U.S.). The PC had railroad track thru 16 US states and 2 Canadian Provinces (Ontario and Quebec), with about 20,570 miles total (with the least miles in KY, and the most miles in PA). PC also had as much railroad rolling stock, that if lined up all together, would have extended halfway across the country, believe it or not. PC ran in these states: Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maryland, Mass., Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.


The New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads had discussed some times in 1957 of a possible merger together, in order to help modernize the passenger and freight services and lines of Eastern America. Both railroads were being pressured to merge, because most railroads at this time began having financial troubles, and merging was the best route to take. Also in order to keep up with other possible future merger plans to come with other American railroads (such as the NKP & Wabash merging into the N&W in 1964, the C&O Chessie with the B&O, the Erie and Lackawanna merging to form Erie-Lackawanna, the GN, CB&Q, NP merging to form BN in 1970, etc.). Therefore, the NYC and PRR, along with ICC permission, agreed in 1966 to the future merger, with also the agreement of merging with the New Haven Railroad in 1969, as stated by the ICC.

The NYC however was reluctant to merge with the PRR because of many reasons, such as, both the NYC and PRR operated in much different ways from each other, similar locations of tracks, etc. Yet others (especially those of the PRR) thought the merger would be best because of similar customer locations both railroads had at the time. The NYC tried to convince such railroads as the C&O, or the N&W to merge with them instead, but both railroads weren't interested. The N&W decided to merge with the Virginian Railroad, NKP, and Wabash (leased), and the C&O and B&O both agreed to merge. So basically the NYC had no choice left but to merge with the PRR, or go under. This is why some people say the NYC was "left out in the cold" and was forced to merge with the PRR. And in actuality, one of the agreements with the PC merger was that the NYC would basically go out of business while absorbed into the PRR to make Penn Central.

The New Haven Railroad was looking to merge with someone as well, and both the PRR and NYC were reluctant of merging with the NH, because the NH was almost bankrupt at the time. They suggested to the ICC that the NH merge with some of the other Eastern railroads, such as the Boston & Maine (B&M), but the PC's suggestions were not accepted. The NH merger into the PC was forced upon by the ICC, per agreement that the whole PC merger would happen in the 1st place.

The Penn Central Company was made official on February 1, 1968 as a result of combining the NYC and PRR, and the NH (in 1969). survived for about 8 years (until 1976), with filing for bankruptcy on June 21, 1970 (to protect the PC from its creditors). Unprofessional management practices, low government funding (as with most U.S. railroads during the start of the 70s era), the merging of 3 railroads that were already in financial trouble, the PC investing most of their funds into the other departments of the company instead of the railroad, and other factors, led to the downfall of the PC by 1970. A lot of money that went "down the tubes" in just 2 years. The railroad department of the company had suffered the most (tracks & equipment were not maintained well, equipment became missing, etc.).

After the 1970 bankruptcy, The United States Congress was asked to loan money to the PC, in order to help them get their financial situation re-organized, but they actually never passed the bill to allow this. Yet the PC Railroad continued to operate until 1976. This is because of a court order that was signed in 1970 allowing the PC to continue to run their trains, to retain possession, and to conduct other normal business.

On April 1, 1976, Conrail (Consolidated Rail-CR) was formed by the US Government Agency (United States Railway Association), to help take over the PC and various other Eastern US railroads in financial trouble at the time (L. Valley (LV), Reading (RDG), etc. CR became famous for being another unique railroad with their paint schemes--their blue locomotives and cabooses for one example. CR then became an independent railroad company in the 1990's (and in mid 1990's was split up by the CSX (with ex-CR equipment now CSX owned being marked with "NYC") and NS unfortunately (NS equip. that is ex-CR being marked as "PRR"). It should have been the CR taking over 1 of these railroads instead, but being the N&W which was controlled by the PRR, and taken over by NS, it's like the PRR being connected with the N&W cousin all over again thru NS. And the CSX (as ex-B&O/C&O) taking over the NYC sides-although not 100% true, because for example, NS got control of the ex-NYC branch that runs along the north coast from Chicago, IL thru Cleveland, OH), etc. So some people see the NS & CSX split up of CR as how the PC merger should have happened in the 1st place (by NYC Pearlman's ideas before the PC merger-being the NYC merge with the C&O/B&O, and the PRR merging with N&W, NKP, etc.)

The PC still exists today under a different company name (which was 1st changed in the 1990s, and changed again recently), but no longer is in the railroading business, and only in the insurance business (they were in the real estate business also until the 1990s or so).

After The CR Merger:

Following the CR merger in '76, one could still see many reminiscences of the PC, NYC, NH, and PRR (and even P&E and P&LE-based things), such as many painted equipment of the taken over railroads. Especially in the mid-late 1980's, one could always see a fully painted NYC, PRR, PC (and not as common but also NH) freight car somewhere in the mix of a CR train, or stored somewhere along the system. Even a few PC-painted (and even a PRR and NYC locomotive with their original markings showing thru or never fully painted) locomotives could still be found somewhere around the CR-controlled system (in the early 1980s a PC-marked GP7 or 9 was spotted switching cars at a small siding or yard in Orville, OH). Or even at museums, with private owners, etc., (such as in Scranton, PA-a PC GG-1 locomotive, etc.) original-painted equipment could also be still found.

Equipment generally wasn't re-painted unless it absolutely needed it, or only when they were shopped for repairs. In the early 1990s, a string of empty stored box cars (in NYC, PRR, PC, EL, CR paint) were spotted in the ex-NYC Grogan Yard with trees and weeds growing up all around them, near the ex-PRR/N&W Joyce Avenue Yard in Columbus, OH. Even today in the 21st century, though not as common, one can find an original-painted NYC, NH, PC, or PRR piece of equipment. Also today, original PC-painted or ex-PC equipment (along with original-painted NYC, NH, PRR) can still be discovered throughout museums and with private owners throughout the country. And of course equipment restored back to original PC (and NYC, NH, PRR), but repainted by private owners/organizations can also be found around the country.

Some thoughts.....

Even though the PC was/is put down as a railroad, it still d i d play a part (good and bad) in US railroad & corporate history, and it d i d exist. Some people forget what made up the PC when they talk about "just PC"--the NYC, PRR, & NH all together. Some blame the PRR for the main reason of the PC's financial problems and corruption, and that the PRR had more control over the PC. Others blame the financial problems of the NYC and the NH. And then others blame the contrasts between the NYC & PRR -the "green" and the "red" (with their signal, computer, operational differences, etc.). But with all 3 railroads' problems, the country's low-funded railroad industry condition, lawmakers, and nature (when in 1969 a very cold winter in the East literally froze the railroad's profits-track switches froze, etc.) all at that time contributed to the downfall. The company just unfortunately had many bad reasons come into play at the worse time.

PC critics also must consider those good people (in the lower and higher employment levels of the company, from the merged railroads, or hired on as new), who worked hard from the beginning, on thru the problems, and until the end of the PC. They knew that they still had jobs to do, and continued to help keep the railroad running trains! As in ANY business-big or small, problems do exist-even in the best maintained companies.


1) They had MANY types of diesel locomotives

2) A well-planned loco roster numbering system (1st adopted by the NYC & PRR before the actual merger, around 1966)

3) The unique colors used on equipment (despite some critics, the black engines still looked good with the PC logos!-SIMPLICITY without all the fancy stripes and too many different colors, CAN BE BEAUTIFUL & INTERESTING TOO! When things are simple-like PC's paint schemes-, people tend to remember and recognize the company name easier and longer--that shows the PC had a good promotional tactic)

4) The PC's unique green colors used on equipment were neat as well (better than boring common equipment colors! Again, no other or hardly any other railroads at that time-besides the old NYC-were using such colors on equipment and other property, and made the PC STAND OUT-another good business tactic.)

5) The many types of freight cars, cabooses, passenger cars, MofW equipment the PC had.

6) PC's timeless lettering font styles and logo.

7) They were running trains when they could.

8) The many paint scheme variations PC used on all of their equipment (variations can "spice up" the SIMPLE standard paint scheme-for those who are bored of "simplicity").

9) The PC can be EASY to model too (one can find just about every locomotive model the PC had, can be found from affordable model railroad brands, to the brands (that make up the majority out there) no one can afford....; one can also find basic black paint (almost anywhere that isn't outrageously over-priced); PC decals are available (although some decal companies need to have more of a variety of decals available, such as font colors and sizes, without over-charging); many of the greens can be closely matched by adding some yellows to standard dark or teal greens using standard permanent art paints (besides the typical outrageously-priced model paints).

Not-So-Good Points About the PC:

-Financial ruin and/or some corruption (yes, but it can happen to THE best company, from whatever reasons. Please read in what company, big or small, today doesn't have some form of that going on, which people don't necessarily (or want to) know about! (That statement was posted here way before we all heard about the Enron scenario in the news and everywhere else. Look at the news recently, and you'll notice how many big-time US companies are now coming forward, showing all types of illegal business practices and corruption, and/or financial ruin, and following into bankruptcy. Recently (in 2002), United Airlines went bankrupt with a loss of $4 billion within 2 years. Kmart (as of 2002-03) also has gone bankrupt, and is trying to make up by closing stores across the nation. And most recent (as of January 2003), per the news), AOL-TW recorded a LOSS of $45 billion in a 3 months time-frame(and they also stated a $54 billion loss in the 1st quarter-so far the biggest quarterly loss in USA business history! They had a total loss of $98 billion for '2002). These examples are a lot worse in financial (and other) failure(s), compared to what the Penn Central went thru.); -many derailments (what railroads--mainly eastern-weren't having derailments during that era though, because of bad tracks, from the lack of profit and gov. funding? They ALL had bad tracks then! Yes, the PC did little to help keep their tracks maintained properly, but also where did the bad track come from in the 1st place? -->The PC inherited the bad tracks from the previous PRR, NH, and NYC, again critics seem to forget.); -clashes with the merged railroads (again, what business merger doesn't have some clashes-even personality clashes).

The PC RR had to do what they had to do, and the PC was trying it's best in some cases, and could have survived; but most of the negative factors that played a part into its downfall all happened to come together and eventually destroy the company-and they sure didn't receive the proper help either. It happens. It still was a good railroad. Again, critics seem to forget that actually most of the PC's main problems were inherited from all 3 pred. railroads from the beginning of the new merger-the bad track, bad management, bad equipment, and financial problems, and the PC did it's best to survive under all of this. True, they could have improved some of the inherited methods, but with all of the combined inner and outer problems the merged railroads had, no wonder the PC went under when it did. OK enough of the political gossipy part of the PC, and now on with the more interesting info about it....

The Late 60s/Early 70s Railroad Era and PC:

Those who remembered most Eastern US railroads during that time-frame can remember the shape those railroads were in. At that time, US government funding for the railroads was very low. As a result, tracks and roadbeds of the railroads were maintained poorly (or were never really fixed in the 1st place). When you would see a freight or passenger train run on any of these Eastern railroads, witnessing the engines and cars swaying and twisting in any direction was typical. It could be so bad that you'd think the whole train would derail! Plus many trains ran on slow orders because of poorly-maintained tracks by the railroads.

Another characteristic you most likely would have noticed was oil, dirt, weeds, grass, mud, standing water, old railroad ties, poles, rail sections, and/or junk around the yards and mainlines in a lot of places. Back then the environmental agencies weren't as strict with their laws. The oil came from leaking equipment (engines, etc.) or dumping, and instead of disposing of their old ties, the railroads would just throw them in the ditches along side the road beds to save money. All were signs of small funding by the government. Just some info for the modelers for that era, and to show how things have changed compared to how today's railroads look and operate.

For more information about the Penn Central Company/Transportation Company, there are a few good books (out of print or still in print) out in the market that are available. Even some encyclopedias contain information about the PC.

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More Info About PC's Predecessor/Parent (NYC, NH, PRR)And Subsidiary RR's (PRSL, DT&I, P&E, P&LE, IHB, CASO, etc.)

PC Paint Schemes Info

The PC Logo Information

PC Locomotive Info

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2001-2009-2016 pcrrusa; All Rights Reserved. This site has no affiliation to the real Penn Central Company (now has a different name), but is intended to help preserve the history of the PC (mainly the railroad). All info was gathered from webmaster's own extensive research and time.