United States Railroad Administration

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The United States Railroad Administration was an administrative agency which controlled railroad assets seized by the United States government after President Woodrow Wilson issued Executive Order 1419,[1] nationalizing the railways.

The seizure took place at 12 o'clock noon on the twenty-eight day of December, 1917.[1] The Nationalization ended with the passage of the Esch–Cummins Act, on March 1, 1920.[2]


The need for the utmost utilization of railroad facilities to handle the extraordinary traffic imposed by war conditions was especially applicable to terminals at large cities. Because of the high value of property, and other difficulties, terminal facilities generally have not expanded in the same proportion as other railroad facilities, with the result that the capacities of our railroads are in many cases limited by inadequate terminals.[3]


Under date of December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson issued his proclamation, taking possession and assuming control December 28, 1917, of every system of transportation within the boundaries of the United States, and appointing William G. McAdoo as Director-General of Railroads. The railroads of the United States were first divided into three regions, but this was later changed, and five regions created.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Proclamation 1419 - Government Assumption of Control of Transportation Systems
  2. Esch-Cummins Act
  3. Philadelphia in the world war 1914-1919