The later part of the Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era, from about 310 to 280 million years ago, is given the name "Pennsylvanian" in North America. European geologists do not make this distinction.

By about 310 million years ago, a range of mountains about where the Appalachian Mountains are today had mostly eroded away. A shallow tropical sea to the west1 of these mountains was mostly filled in by the debris. Frequent changes in sea level, alternately submerged and exposed the land, creating much thinner limestone and shale deposits than in the previous "Mississippian" period.

As the sea advanced and retreated, large tropical swamps migrated back and forth across the continent. Dead vegetation piled up in tremendous amounts, and the bottoms of the swamps were too anoxic to decay. Thus, the coal beds of North America and Europe were laid down. The lack of coal in the early Carboniferous and the abundance of coal in the late Carboniferous is the key motivation for American geologists' giving these two periods their own names.

By 280 million years ago, the supercontinent of Gondwana approached and collided with Laurasia, forming Pangaea and taking the Earth into the Permian period.


1 To the east of the mountains, there was also a shallow sea covering what is now Great Britain and Northern Europe. The coal beds of Europe were laid down at about the same time as the ones in North America, during the "Pennsylvanian" Period.

Serving Chicago, South Bend, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and intermediate points

Amtrak train numbers: 46 and 47, then 43 and 44

Predecessor railroad train numbers: None

To make up for the cancellation of the National Limited in 1979, the state of Pennsylvania partially funded operation of a new train, the Pennsylvanian, supplementing the schedule of the Broadway Limited between New York and Pittsburgh, which began running on April 27, 1980.

The train remained an unremarkable daytime corridor train, with only coaches and a cafe car, until November 7, 1998, when it was extended west past Pittsburgh through Cleveland and Toledo to Chicago over the same route used by the Capitol Limited, and the eastern terminus was simultaneously cut back to Philadelphia.

However, it continued to run with the same equipment; the main reason for the extension was to better serve Amtrak's freight customers, with daytime service through Indiana and Ohio. Since there's no overnight portion of the trip (although it's a long day), sleeping cars are supposedly unnecessary, but there is no full dining car and no checked baggage.

Condensed historical timetables:

       READ DOWN                                  READ UP
(1983)  (1990)  (2002)                    (2002)  (1990)  (1983)
 -----   -----   6:00A Dp Chicago      Ar 12:26A   -----   -----
 -----   -----   8:30A    South Bend      10:47P   -----   -----
 -----   -----   1:15P    Cleveland        6:07P   -----   -----
 9:45A   9:45A   4:28P    Pittsburgh       2:36P   4:59P   4:18P
 5:00P   5:20P  12:52A    Philadelphia     6:35A   9:45A   9:25A
 6:37P   7:05P   ----- Ar New York     Dp  -----   7:45A   7:30A

The Amtrak Train Names Project

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