Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania (Paperback)

Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania By Robert J. Kapsch Cover Image


Between 1826 and 1858 the state of Pennsylvania built and operated the largest and most technologically advanced system of canals and railroads in North America–almost one thousand miles of transport that stretched from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and beyond. The construction of this ambitious transportation system was accompanied by great euphoria. It was widely believed that the revenue created from these canals and railroads would eliminate the need for all taxes on state citizens. Yet with the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis much like boom and bust cycle that ended in 2008, a deep recession fell across the country.By 1858, Pennsylvania had sold all canals and railroads to private companies, often for pennies-on-the-dollar. Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads of Pennsylvania is the definitive history of the state of Pennsylvania’s incredible canal and railroad system. Although often condemned as a colossal failure, this construction effort remains an innovative, magnificent feat that ushered in modern transportation to Pennsylvania and the entire country. With extensive primary research, over one hundred illustrations, newspapers clippings, and charts and graphs, Over the Alleghenies examines and dissects the infrastructure project that bankrupted the wealthiest state in the Union. 

About the Author

Robert J. Kapsch, PhD, Hon. AIA, ASCE, spent fifteen years as the Chief of Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, the U.S. government’s premier documentation program, and has served as project engineer for many historic restoration and rehabilitation projects along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and other parks. He is the author of several books and articles on historic architecture and engineering, including The Potomac Canal: George Washington and the Waterway West; Historic Canals and Waterways of South Carolina; and CANALS, the Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebook in Architecture, Design and Engineering. He and his wife, Perry, live on a farm in Poolesville, Maryland, along with their three dogs, three horses, four donkeys and other assorted animals.

Praise For…

 “Over the Alleghenies: Early Canals and Railroads in Pennsylvania is an insightful book about one of Pennsylvania’s greatest public works efforts. Kapsch weaves together the era’s politics, engineering, financing, and boosterism to reveal the history of nineteenth-century transportation in Pennsylvania.  Over the Alleghenies is extremely well researched, crisply written, and richly illustrated, and fits nicely into the Kapsch’s  “ever-growing” body of work on transportation systems.”Sam Tamburro, Historian, National Park Service, Intermountain Regional Office


 “Robert Kapsch has done it again, with yet another fine book describing and explaining America’s nineteenth century transportation systems. Over the Alleghenies is a lavishly illustrated, thoroughly researched, and clearly written essay that tells the complex story of Pennsylvania’s publically-funded response to New York’s Erie Canal.”
Patrick Martin, Professor of Archaeology and Department Chair, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University

Product Details
ISBN: 9781933202693
ISBN-10: 1933202696
Publisher: West Virginia University Press
Publication Date: November 1st, 2013
Language: English