Little remains of the vast network of passenger and freight railroad lines that once crisscrossed much of eastern and midwestern America. But in 1946, the steam locomotive was king, the automobile was just beginning to emerge from wartime restrictions, passenger trains still made stops in nearly every town and freight trains carried most of the nation's intercity commerce. In A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946 , Richard C. Carpenter provides a record of this t-so-distant time, when travelling out of town meant, for most Americans, taking the train. The first volume of this multi-volume series covers the mid-Atlantic states and includes detailed maps of every passenger railroad line in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The complete series provides a comprehensive atlas of the US railroad system at its post-World War II high point - a transportation network that many considered the finest railroad passenger system in the world. Rich in detail, these hand-drawn colour maps reveal - at a scale of 1 inch to 4 miles (or 1:250,000) - the various main and branch railroad passenger and freight lines that served thousands of American towns. The maps also include such features as long-since-demolished steam locomotive and manual signal tower installations, towns that functioned solely as places where crews changed over, track pans, coaling stations and other rail-specific sites.
Richard C. Carpenter is the retired executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency in Connecticut.