In the 1850s, the trains that ran through Erie threatened to devastate the city's economy. To fight back, Mayor Alfred King organized a guerrilla mob called the Rippers. Comprising “the most respectable and law-abiding of [Erie’s] citizens,” the Rippers waged war against the railroad — tearing up tracks, terrorizing travelers, and kidnapping the federal agents who arrived to intervene. Their increasingly violent campaign came to be known as the Gauge War, and for two years, it put Erie at odds with a country careening toward civil war.
– Ryan Rydzewski, M.F.A.
Ryan Rydzewski, M.F.A., is a writer based in Pittsburgh, where he covers everything from food to philanthropy to education. His work has appeared in Pittsburgh Magazine, NEXTpittsburgh, Hippocampus, and elsewhere. After earning his B.A. in English at the University of Pittsburgh, he enrolled in Chatham University's M.F.A. program, where his narrative nonfiction account of the Erie Gauge War won the university's best thesis award in 2015.