Some gauges in 1867:¹
|Albany & Susquehanna||NY||6′|
|Alabama & Florida||AL||5′|
|Atlantic and Great Western||NY, PA, O||6′|
|Belvidere & Delaware||NJ, PA||4′10″|
|Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton||OH||4′10″; 6′
(used 4 rails)
|Cumberland Valley||PA, MD||4′8″|
|Delaware & Hudson||PA||4′3″|
|Delaware, Lackawanna & Western||PA, NY, NJ||6′|
|Galveston, Houston & Henderson||TX||5′6″|
|Hackensack & New York||NJ||6′|
|Houston & Texas Central||TX||5′6″|
|Lackawanna & Bloomsberg||PA||4′8½″; 6′
(used 3 rails)
|Lake Erie & Louisville||OH, IN||4′9¼″|
|Northern Railroad of New Jersey||NY, NJ||6′|
|Ohio & Mississippi||O, IN, IL||6′|
|Pacific & Missouri||MO, KS||5′6″|
|Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago||PA, OH, IN, IL||4′10″|
|Sandusky, Mansfield & Newark||OH||4′9½″|
|Sycamore & Cortland||IL||4′8″|
|Tyrone & Clearfield||PA||4′5½″|
|Virginia & Tennessee||VA, TN||5′|
The act of 1862 that provided for the construction of the transcontinental railway gave the President the power to determine its gauge. After studying the matter (including an entire cabinet meeting), Lincoln issued a proclamation setting the gauge at 5 feet. This did not please the railroads with other gauges, and the matter was thrown back into Congress. In March of 1863 Congress passed a law setting the gauge of the transcontinental railroad at 4 feet 8½ inches. The usefulness of being able to transfer rolling stock to the transcontinental line gradually lead to standardization at its gauge.
1. Ashcroft's Railway Directory for 1867.
New York: J. Ashcroft, 1867.
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Last revised: 1 January 2003.