The PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD was one of the 3 major components of the CONRAIL network, which included the ERIE-LACKAWANNA RAILROAD and the NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD. Pennsylvania Railroad operations in Cleveland dated back to 1836, when the Cleveland & Pittsburgh was chartered in response to public interest in building a rail line between the 2 cities. Originally known as the Cleveland, Warren & Pittsburgh, the first charter was set aside until 1845, when interest in building a rail line from Cleveland to the Pennsylvania state line revived. Lack of funding delayed construction in Cleveland and forced the city council to ask for construction support at a public hearing in 1847. The following year Cleveland voters approved a $100,000 stock subscription. By 1852 the track for the Ohio connection with Pittsburgh and Wheeling had been laid from Cleveland through Hudson and Ravenna to Wellsville on the Ohio River. In 1853 the Pennsylvania legislature incorporated the C&P line to connect Pittsburgh with the Ohio company. In 1856 a C&P train departing Cleveland became the first to burn coal in its locomotive engine; a more efficient fuel, coal quickly supplanted wood as the railroads' energy source. In 1871 the C&P was leased for 99 years to the Pennsylvania Railroad. It provided a valuable western connection for both the railroad and Cleveland; at its height in 1908, the line operated 256 miles and carried over 1.8 million passengers.
Several other lines established rail connections in Cleveland that eventually became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1851 the C&P was granted the charter of the Cleveland, Mt. Vernon & Delaware in order to construct a line from Cleveland to Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls, and Akron to connect with a road located between Massillon and Wooster. In 1852 the C&P's Akron branch was organized, and a road was built from Hudson south to Millersburg, which became known as the Cleveland, Zanesville & Cincinnati. Falling on hard times, the CZ&C entered receivership in 1861 and was transferred to the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago, which in turn came under the control of the Pennsylvania in 1869. The same year, the Pennsylvania sold the CZ&C to the Pittsburgh, Mt. Vernon, Columbus & London Railroad, creating a new line, the Cleveland, Mt. Vernon & Delaware Railroad Co., which completed its line from Hudson to Columbus on the C&P tracks. Twelve years later, in 1881, the CMV&D went into default and eventually was sold to the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway Co. By 1899 the Pennsylvania had purchased a majority of its capital stock.
Like its rival, the NYC, the Pennsylvania grew through mergers and absorptions into one of the largest rail systems in the country. By the 1920s it was one of 7 trunk lines that gave Cleveland its reputation for having one of the best transportation systems in the country. At its height, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated over 66 trains daily through Cleveland. It owned a substantial amount of property in the Cleveland area, including UNION DEPOT, 11 acres from E. 9th St. to E. 14th St. along Lakeside Ave., and passenger stations located at Euclid and E. 55th St., Davenport Ave., Harvard Ave., Woodland Ave., and Wason St.
After WORLD WAR II the Pennsylvania gradually reduced its service. A 1955 management reorganization decentralized company operations from a 3-region and 18-division system to one of 9 regions, with Cleveland becoming headquarters for the Lake Region. In 1959 the Pennsylvania eliminated Cleveland service on several commuter routes, including shuttle runs from Alliance. In 1964, the company cut the Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh run, ending service at Youngstown, and the following year the PUCO allowed the railroad to end passenger service to Youngstown, Bedford, Macedonia, Hudson, and Ravenna, after which the Pennsylvania closed its main station at Euclid and E. 55th St. The Pennsylvania merged with the New York Central in 1968 to form the Penn Central Railroad, which in turn was taken over by ConRail in 1976.