Original Document
Original Document
The Building of the South Penn Railroad, 1886.

As a Western Outlet of the Reading Railroad,
Provided the Injunction Proceedings are Sustained.
"Will the South Penn ever be built?"

This is a question that agitates the minds of a great many of our neighbors in the adjoining counties as well as some of our own citizens. The road has been abandoned and hope is dead in many a breast, yet now comes a startling rumor to the effect that certain contingencies will set the work to going again and complete it sure enough. In reply to the question embodied in the opening paragraph, Robert H. Sayre, the president of the South Pennsylvania road, said last week: "Yes, Gowen will build it. The compact between the members of the syndicate is such that Gowen can compel them all to pay their assessments to the amount of stock they subscribed. The compact is a peculiar one and with the exception of Bagley, who failed, the entire crowd can be made come to time. A lawyer with the ability and energy of Gowen can build the road independently of the suit that was brought against the Pennsylvania by the attorney general. Gowen must get hold of the American Construction Company, after that he will have smooth sailing."


John F. Herndon, a large contractor on the road, assured a Pittsburg reporter last week that the road would be built, provided Gowen was elected president of the Reading and the Pennsy people were prohibited by the courts from gobbling the road. Since then, Gowen has been elected. There remains now but the one contingency. Said Contractor Herndon: "If Franklin B.Gowen is elected president of the Reading at its next election, the South Pennsylvania will be completed. The Reading must have a western outlet, and the South Pennsylvania was projected partly with that end in view. If Judge Simonton, of Harrisburg, before whom the South Pennsylvania case is now pending, decides that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company cannot become the purchaser and controller of the South Pennsylvania, it will have this effect. The Vanderbilts have a majority of the $6,000,000 already invested in the line. They cannot afford to lose their interest on their money, and must complete it in order to realize."


The local advantages to accrue to anybody from the building of the South Pennsylvania are small. Until it strikes the western base of the Allegheny mountains, the proposed road runs through a country poor in agricultural and mineral resources, and the local traffic would be of no account at all. Through Bedford and Somerset counties the local trade would be somewhat larger, but not of any great account. It is in the fact that it would make the Reading road a trunk line, with a good western outlet, that the advantages of the road consist together with the fact that it would enter into direct competition with the Pennsylvania road as a through line east and west. That the South Pennsylvania will be built by the Reading there is no reason to doubt for it has always been that the policy of Franklin B. Gowen to make the Reading a trunk line. The fight was made upon him for the presidency of that road by the opposers of that scheme.


Dr. Hostetter, Mark W. Watson, Ralph Bagaley and H. C. Frick, all members of the original South Pennsylvania syndicate, are quoted as saying that the road will now be completed with the assistance of Gowen and the Reading road. Hostetter and Watson attended the first meeting of the new Reading board at Philadelphia Wednesday to arrange the details. President Gowen submitted a detailed plan for the completion of the road and it was favorably considered. It is intimated that the visit of William K. Vanderbilt to Pittsburg this week, ostensibly to attend the Lake Erie elections, was really to assure the Pittsburg stockholders of the South Pennsylvania that the Vanderbilt interest would act with Franklin B. Gowen for the completion of the road. If this be the case, all the parties to the syndicate will have to do will be to pay in their assessments and the work will go on.

Credit: The Keystone Courier, Connellsville, PA, Friday, January 15, 1886.
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