Perry County Politics and Rails The Perry County Railroad Extension vs. The Newport and Sherman's Valley Railroad and The County Seat Debate

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Rebecca Colyer Smith


abstract: The county seat debate in Perry County took more than seventy years to be finalized. Out of desire to use the railroads to secure the county seat, two railroad companies were formed in the late 1880s: one primarily supported by Newport businessmen and the other by those from New Bloomfield. In 1891 both companies were building in the same area, and before an agreement could be reached regarding right of way, the Perry County Railroad Extension, a narrow-gauge rail system, created a grade crossing over the Newport and Sherman’s Valley Railroad, a standardgauge rail system. The different gauges made transfer or sharing of rails challenging. The subsequent lawsuit between these two entities reached the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. This is one of only a few cases in which a narrow-gauge railroad won right of way in a suit against a standard gauge.

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