The ability to reach the latter city came via the PRR's acquisition of the Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mount Joy & Lancaster Railroad (1848) while utilizing the Maine Line of Public Works' Philadelphia & Columbia to Columbia.
From there the HPMt J&L continued westward to the PRR's eastern terminus at Harrisburg.
The Delaware & Hudson Canal Company opened an early gravity railroad as part of its canal system to move anthracite coal in 1829 while the Baltimore & Ohio operated its first train in 1830 and was pushing west towards the Ohio River.
As canal fever caught hold many of these major cities, and their home states, studied the possibility of constructing their own waterway.
This included Pennsylvania and the legislature authorized construction of a canal (officially known as the Pennsylvania Canal) on February 25, 1826 linking Harrisburg with Pittsburgh, running nearly the entire length of the state.
The most notable engineering achievement along this roughly 40-mile stretch was Horseshoe Curve, another noteworthy accomplishment of Mr. With its completion and opening on February 15, 1854 the PRR flourished.
The state came to realize that, much like New York's Erie Canal, its Main Line of Public Works could not compete against the iron horse.