“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wallingford in Delaware County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Leiper Railway

Leiper Railway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stephen Nazigian, January 18, 2012
1. Leiper Railway Marker
First permanent tramway in America
Inscription. Built, 1809-10, by Thomas Leiper; surveyed by John Thompson. It was the first railway in Pennsylvania, and the first in America to be surveyed. The railway was used to transport stone from quarries on Crum Creek to the landing on Ridley Creek, a distance of 3/4 mile. It crossed the highway here.
Erected by Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Location. 39° 52.566′ N, 75° 21.466′ W. Marker is in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County. Marker is at the intersection of Bullens Lane and Glen Road, on the right when traveling east on Bullens Lane. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 28 Bullens Lane, Wallingford PA 19086, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. First Friends Meeting (approx. half a mile away); Rochambeau Route (approx. 1.2 miles away); Sun Village War Memorial (approx. 1.2 miles away); Martin Luther King, Jr. (approx. 1.6 miles away); Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company (approx. 1.6 miles away); Colonial Courthouse (approx. 2 miles away); Chester Fire Department (approx. 2 miles away); Swedish Colonists (approx. 2 miles away).
Regarding Leiper Railway. "Leiper" is pronounced as Leap-er. From Wikipedia: The Leiper Railroad was a horse drawn railroad that operated between 1810 and 1828 in what is now Nether Providence Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. It was replaced by the Leiper Canal, remnants of which are still visible. It was the first documented railroad in America.
The credit of constructing the first permanent tramway in America may therefore be rightly given to Thomas Leiper. He was the owner of a fine quarry not far from Philadelphia, and was much concerned to find an easy mode of carrying stone to tide-water. That a railway would accomplish this end he seem to have had no doubt. To test the matter, and at the same time afford a public exhibition of the merits of tramways, he built a temporary track in the yard of the Bull's Head Tavern in Philadelphia. The tramway was some sixty feet long, had a grade of one inch and a half to the yard, and up it, to the amazement of the spectators, one horse used to draw a four-wheeled wagon loaded with a weight of ten thousand pounds. This was the summer of 1809. Before autumn laborers were at work building a railway from the quarry to the nearest landing, a distance of three quarters of a mile. In the spring of 1810 the road began to be used and continued in using during eighteen years.
From page 494 of A History of the People of the United States, from the Revolution to the Civil War by John Bach McMaster. It is now in the public domain and available from Google Books.
Additional keywords. Thomas Leiper, John Thomson, Ridley Creek, Crum Creek
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesRailroads & StreetcarsSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 20, 2012, by Stephen Nazigian of Folsom, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 400 times since then and 3 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on January 20, 2012, by Stephen Nazigian of Folsom, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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