Archiver > PAALLEGH > 2003-08 > 1060550220

From: "adamslab" <>
Subject: [ALL] Emigration route NY - Pittsburgh 1853/54?
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 17:18:23 -0400

Hi Listers-
Does anyone have reliable data about the most common emigration route and
means of transportation from NY to Pittsburgh in the winter of 1853-84?

I'm trying to write up a "Coming To America" chapter in my Erdlen family
history, so that I can share it with my mother and her sister, who are
elderly enough that they likely won't be alive by the time I complete the
whole history :^)

My 19 yr. old Erdlen ancestor arrived in NY City in Oct. 1853. I've spent a
good deal of time understanding the logistics of immigrant arrival in NY
pre-Castle Garden, pre-Ellis Island; so I've finally gotten them landed on
some nameless wharf in Manhattan.

According to: Labath, Cathy Joynt, trans. "Emigration to North America,"
1852 Vere Foster's Penny Emigrant Guide. Retrieved 03 Aug 2003 from -

"There are two principal routes into the interior from New York; the one by
steamboat to Albany, and by railroad on to Buffalo on Lake Erie, and the
other by the New York and Erie Railway to Dunkirk, also on Lake Erie, the
fare either way being at present 4 dollars, - time 33 hours. The canal
boats from Albany to Buffalo take so long that there is no saving of expense
in going by them. A third principal route to the west is by way of
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the fare being to Philadelphia 1 1/2 dollars,
and on to Pittsburgh 3 to 5 dollars more."

So far, so good. I have tried to identify by what means one would take this
"third route" - most particularly the Philadelphia to Pittsburgh leg. I
thought I was on track when I read about the "Main Line"
canal/railroad/portage railroad network, built across PA to rival
[unsuccessfully] the Erie Canal. But that network was sold off in 1844 -
because the difficulties of getting over the mountains prevented the route
from ever being as efficient as the Erie Canal was. The articles I found
about the failure of the Main Line state that the Pennsylvania railroad then
[1844] undertook to tunnel through the mountains, and connect Philadelphia
and Pittsburgh by rail.

But the closest map I can find to the time period in question is 1850; and
on that map, the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in only about
2/3 of the way completed. There also is no railroad connecting Pittsburgh to
any of the Erie Canal destinations mentioned above.

So, assuming that my Erdlens traveled NY - Philadelphia by rail, and then by
rail as far across PA as they could - by what transportation means would
they have completed their journey to Pittsburgh?

I appreciate any solid informaton, and apologize if the answer should be
obvious to me.


This thread: