200 201 THE AMERICAN SHORT LINE AND REGIONAL RAILROAD ASSOCIATION AMERICAN SHORT LINE AND REGIONAL RAILROAD ASSOCIATION THE SMALL CUSTOMERS AND NOT-SO-SMALL CUSTOMERS TO SMALL RAILROADS A ll railroads in America began as short lines. From the first com- mercial railroad, the Granite Railway, built in 1826, to haul gran- ite blocks from Quincy, Massachusetts to the Neponset River for trans-shipment to Boston, these independent, short line opera- tions were financed and built by 19th-century, entrepreneurial risk takers, within the communities they served, in order to move freight and people in local commerce. As the nation grew, and by the time the century had ended, more and more short lines were consolidated into regional systems that served ever wid- ening areas of the country. These large railroads were owned by a coterie of wealthy industrialists (sometimes known as barons), and their shareholders. Those independent railway lines that either were not subsumed into these systems, or over time, became marginal and unprofitable branches for the major lines that did own them, became the core of today’s short line railroad industry.