By 1882, the Pennsylvania Railroad had become the largest railroad (by traffic and revenue), the largest transportation enterprise, and the largest corporation in the world. Its budget was second only to the U.S. government.The corporation still holds the record for the longest continuous dividend history: it paid out annual dividends to shareholders for more than 100 consecutive years.
Over the years, it acquired, merged with or owned part of at least 800 other rail lines and companies.At the end of 1926, it operated 11,640.66 miles (18,733.83 kilometers) of rail line;in the 1920s, it carried nearly three times the traffic as other railroads of comparable length, such as theUnion PacificandAtchison, Topeka & Santa Ferailroads. Its only formidable rival was theNew York Central(NYC), which carried around three-quarters of the Pennsy's ton-miles.
Bankruptcy continued and on April 1, 1976, the railroad gave up its railroad assets, along with the assets of several other failing northeastern railroads, to a new railroad namedConsolidated Rail Corporation, or Conrail for short. Conrail was itself purchased and split up in 1999 with 58 percent of the system going to the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS), including nearly all of the remaining former Pennsylvania Railroad. US passenger carrier Amtrak received the electrified segment of theMain Lineeast of Harrisburg.