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Vintage Crossover Long Island - Penn Central Railroad Switch Lock & Key Set
This interesting "set" is comprised of a Penn Central Railroad switch lock with a Long Island Railroad key. Collectors know that many locks and keys of the Pennsylvania, Penn Central and Pennsylvania-controlled roads will work with each other. Here is a fine example!
This set dates from between 1968 and 1976. The Long Island Railroad, under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was included in the forced merger that created the Penn Central (see below). Finding a LIRR key that will work in a PCRR switch lock is not easy!! It's "mid-century" but this set deserves historical recognition.
THE KEY is stamped LIRR on one side of its bow and SLAYMAKER on the other. IT shows little use, and is darkening nicely. It fits and works well with its "cousin" a Penn Central lock.
THE LOCK is stamped PCRR on the back of the body. It is in excellent condition, mostly bright and shiny with a little surface grunge here and thre. ADLAKE appears in raised letters down the dust cover, which resists being slid away from the key hole and then snaps shut sharply when released. It has what must be the original chain attached. We are not sure what the 85 that is stamped on the shackle pin means because the PC went out in 1976. The lock does operate a little stiffly (probably from lack of use) but we do NOT clean or repair any of our locks and keys!
BACKGROUND: Two railroad companies that were entangled for years!
PENN CENTRAL: The Pennsylvania and New York Central Transportation Company (usually referred to as "Penn Central") operated between 1968 and 1976. It was formed pursuant to a government directed merger of the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad in February, 1968, to which the New York New Haven & Hartford Railroad was added in 1969. After only two years of operation, the Penn Central declared bankruptcy. The line continued to operate under bankruptcy court protection until April, 1976 when the federal government nationalized the railroad, merged it with five other lines and in created the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
THE LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD COMPANY was chartered in 1834 to provide a daily service between New York and Boston via a ferry connection between its Greenport, New York, terminal on Long Island's North Fork and Stonington, Connecticut. This service was superseded in 1849 by the land route through Connecticut that became part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The LIRR refocused its attentions towards serving Long Island, in competition with other railroads on the island. In the 1870s railroad president Conrad Poppenhusen and his successor Austin Corbin acquired all the railroads and consolidated them into the LIRR.
The LIRR was unprofitable for much of its history. In 1900, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) bought a controlling interest as part of its plan for direct access to Manhattan which began on September 8, 1910. The wealthy PRR subsidized the LIRR during the first half of the new century, allowing expansion and modernization.
After the Second World War, the railroad industry's downturn and dwindling profits caused the PRR to stop subsidizing the LIRR, and the LIRR went into receivership in 1949. The State of New York, realizing how important the railroad was to Long Island's future, began to subsidize the railroad in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, New York State bought the railroad's controlling stock from the PRR and put it under the newly formed Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (renamed Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968). With MTA subsidies the LIRR modernized further, continuing to be the busiest commuter railroad in the United States.
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