The Pittsburgh Division

The Pittsburgh Division

The Pennsylvania Railroad Pittsburgh Division was a very busy and diverse operation. Leaving the Altoona Terminal behind, the 12-mile climb to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains traverses the landmark Horse Shoe Curve, one of the earliest examples of the PRR’s engineering accomplishments. From the summit, the western slope descends for 25 miles following the Conemaugh River to the steel producing city of Johnstown.

West of Johnstown the main line split to provide two routes into the Pittsburgh area. The main line follows the Bush and Turtle Creeks while the secondary route known as the Conemaugh Line follows the Conemaugh and Allegheny Rivers. The Conemaugh served as a longer flatter route into Pittsburgh making it ideal for heavier coal and mineral trains while acting as a relief valve in the event of a traffic surge or wreck.

Passenger operations in the Steel City varied. Pennsylvania Station was the city’s gateway to both commuter and long-distance passenger trains. The terminal itself was a grand design by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham complete with train sheds, a grand entry rotunda and interior light court throughout the office tower. Local operations radiated in several directions from the primary terminal in the city center while long distance services were channeled west to Chicago and St Louis via two different divisions that diverged at the station.

There were also several major freight yard facilities in Pittsburgh, sorting general merchandise, while also supporting the almost exclusive access to the area’s mineral reserves and industrial steel customers. Lines radiating from the Pittsburgh area reached into the Monongahela coal regions to the south and provided access to more steel mills and associated industry on the Ohio River in Weirton WV and Mingo Junction OH.

The Pittsburgh Division was the western end of the funnel across the state from Harrisburg. Within the division, access to Fort Wayne via Alliance and St. Louis via Mingo Junction and the Panhandle Route gave PRR access to the western markets. 

 Eastward View from 9th Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 

Eastward View from 9th Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 

 Allegheny Summit, Tunnelhill, Pennsylvania 

Allegheny Summit, Tunnelhill, Pennsylvania 

 Eastbound Distant Signals, Summerhill, Pennsylvania

Eastbound Distant Signals, Summerhill, Pennsylvania

 Village and Mining Waste, Ehrnfield, Pennsylvania

Village and Mining Waste, Ehrnfield, Pennsylvania

 South Fork Creek, Soukesburg, Pennsylvania 

South Fork Creek, Soukesburg, Pennsylvania 

 View From Former Allegheny Portage Railroad, Southfork, Pennsylvania 

View From Former Allegheny Portage Railroad, Southfork, Pennsylvania 

 Valley of the Conemaugh, Mineral Point, Pennsylvania

Valley of the Conemaugh, Mineral Point, Pennsylvania

 Car Wash on Jasper Alley, Franklin, Pennsylvania 

Car Wash on Jasper Alley, Franklin, Pennsylvania 

 View of Mainline, East Conemaugh,Pennsylvania 

View of Mainline, East Conemaugh,Pennsylvania 

 Woodvale Yard, Franklin Boro, Pennsylvania 

Woodvale Yard, Franklin Boro, Pennsylvania 

 Passenger Station, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

Passenger Station, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

 View from West Singer Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

View from West Singer Street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

 Gautier Works, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

Gautier Works, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 

 Conemaugh & Black Lick Interchange, Johnstown, Pennsylvania  

Conemaugh & Black Lick Interchange, Johnstown, Pennsylvania  

 Eastward View from Greensburg Pike,                           Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania 

Eastward View from Greensburg Pike,                           Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania 

 Monongahela Valley, Whitaker, Pennsylvania 

Monongahela Valley, Whitaker, Pennsylvania 

 Rankin Bridge, Braddock, Pennsylvania 

Rankin Bridge, Braddock, Pennsylvania 

 Precision Steel Fabricators, Braddock, Pennsylvania

Precision Steel Fabricators, Braddock, Pennsylvania

 Westbound and Carrie Furnace, Rankin, Pennsylvania 

Westbound and Carrie Furnace, Rankin, Pennsylvania 

 Steel Works, Weirton, West Virginia

Steel Works, Weirton, West Virginia

 Passenger Station, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Passenger Station, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

 Cross Creek Bridge, Mingo Junction, Pennsylvania 

Cross Creek Bridge, Mingo Junction, Pennsylvania