Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Police Badge, Mining

Old Coal & Iron Police badge from the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Co.

The Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Co. was organized in order to ensure its parent company, the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, a dominant position in the transportation of anthracite coal from the Schuylkill fields of eastern Pennsylvania. For thirty years after its incorporation in 1833, the Philadelphia & Reading had been the main carrier of coal from this region, shipping anthracite coal from independently owned mines to Philadelphia. By the mid-1860s, however, the company faced increasing competition from other railroads as well as interruptions in supply due to miners' strikes. In response, Franklin B. Gowen, President of the Philadelphia & Reading, decided to gain control of enough coal acreage to ensure the company's survival. However, since it was illegal for railroads to directly own coal fields or operate mines in Pennsylvania, the company had to organize a separate company for the purpose. Accordingly, the Laurel Run Improvement Company was incorporated in May 1871. By taking advantage of a loophole in the Laurel Run company's charter, the Philadelphia & Reading purchased it in November 1871, and thus circumvented the legal restrictions on railroad ownership of coal lands. The newly-acquired company
... read more