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Amtrak Wilmington Shops (Pennsylvania Railroad)

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Pennsylvania Railroad
1902–1904. East of Todds Ln.
  • Amtrak Wilmington Shops (HAER)
  • Amtrak Wilmington Shops (Pennsylvania Railroad) (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • Amtrak Wilmington Shops (Pennsylvania Railroad) (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

The Pennsylvania Railroad enjoyed 78 percent growth in net earnings between 1897 and 1902 and invested heavily in new facilities. At Todd's Cut near Wilmington it gathered major repair facilities on a single site. A Mammoth-type steam shovel helped bury a wetland under ten feet of fill, on which twenty-seven buildings were erected in a plan carefully devised for efficiency. Tracks generally entered one side of the structure, exited the other. A forty-four-stall roundhouse of 363-foot diameter was the most notable feature (mostly demolished by 1976). Main Locomotive Shop, 500 feet long, had an erecting shop running down the middle, with a machine shop in one aisle, a boiler shop in the other. All were served by giant overhead cranes and lit by skylights. The zigzag roof outlines of the adjacent Car Paint Shop (to the west) and Car Erecting Shop (east) are still landmarks as seen from the windows of commuter trains zipping by. These were the only buildings on the site with wooden-truss roofs, not steel. Each was 300 feet long and skylit. Wilmington Shops was the scene of a bitter strike in 1922–1923. Amtrak took over in 1976 and considered moving its maintenance facilities to Boston, but Delaware Senator Joseph Biden successfully protested. At that time, 734 workers were employed, only half the number as in the 1920s.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard


What's Nearby


W. Barksdale Maynard, "Amtrak Wilmington Shops (Pennsylvania Railroad)", [Wilmington, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 126-127.

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