The Penn Incline descends from the Hill
District, over Bigelow Boulevard, to the Strip District below.
Pittsburgh's hills were once dotted
with inclines, made of steel, wood, train rails, cables and vehicles that
scaled the hills surrounding the city. Called Gravity Planes, or Funiculars,
the incline's cars were pulled up, and lowered, using a system of cables and
pulleys, powered by large engines located in the upper station.
The inclines were a convenient way
to get from Mount Washington to Carson Street, from
Knoxville to the South Side, or from the Hill District to the Strip
District, and are forever linked to the history of Pittsburgh.
The Duquesne Incline offers a picturesque
view of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle.
These inclined planes navigated many
hills throughout the city. Some were for coal transport and others serviced
passengers, wagons and freight. Pittsburgh had some of the longest and
steepest inclines in the world. Today, only the historic Monongahela Incline, still the world's steepest, and the Duquesne Incline, owned by the Port Authority, are still in existence.
The Pittsburgh Incline Plane,
known as the Knoxville Incline.
Altogether, there were a total of
twenty-three inclines built on the hillsides of Pittsburgh. Most of the
earliest planes were constructed by the various mining ventures. Ten of inclines
were built and owned by the Monongahela Inclined Plane Company.
neighborhood of Allentown had eight nearby inclines in service at one time:
the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane, Mount Oliver, Monongahela,
Monongahela Freight, Castle Shannon, Castle Shannon South, Knoxville and
Keeling Coal Inclines.
The Monongahela Incline, built in
1870 and still in use
today, it remains the steepest incline in the world.
The adjacent Monongahela Freight Incline was in
operation for 51 years, from 1884 to 1935.
During the first half of the
20th century the inclines were very popular. Some averaged over 2000 riders
a day. As time progressed and transit opportunities increased, their
popularity declined. By the mid-1960s, the coal planes had been dismantled
and financial losses had forced closure of all but two of the passenger and
As for the eight that once operated near
Allentown: The Keeling Coal was dismantled in the early 1900s, the Pittsburgh and
Castle Shannon Plane closed in 1912, Castle Shannon South in 1914, Monongahela
Freight in 1935, Mount Oliver in 1951, Knoxville in 1960 and Castle Shannon in
The lower station of the Castle Shannon Incline
on Carson Street in 1921.
List Of Pittsburgh's
Ormsby Mine Gravity Plane * (1844-1878) - route location near the St. Clair Incline -
St. Patrick Street to South 21nd Street and Quarry Street - connected to narrow gauge
railway - Ormsby (Southside).
Kirk Lewis Coal Incline/Hoist (1854-1870) - Grandview Avenue (formerly High Street) near the
present Duquesne Incline - Duquesne Heights (Mount Washington).
The Cray and Company Coal Incline (pre-1872) - upper station near Junius Street and Camden Street
(formerly Catherine Street and Hill Street - Westwood; lower station at Shaler Street
- West End Valley (Union Borough).
Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline (pre-1872) - located on the hillside below Maple Terrace to West
Carson Street (formerly Washington Turnpike) near the present Station Square -
Jones and Laughlin Coal Incline (pre-1872) - Josephine Street between South 29th Street and South
30th Street to Summer Street - Southside Slopes.
Keeling Coal Incline * (1870-1928) - route similar to lower end of Mount Oliver
and Knoxville inclines, along Southside slope - from narrow guage railroad
exiting Keeling Coal Company mines to station at South 12th Street - Southside
Monongahela Incline (1870-present) - West Carson Street at Smithfield Street Bridge
to eastern end of Grandview Avenue at Wyoming Street - Mount Washington.
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane (1864-1912) - (known as the Mount Washington Coal Incline from 1864-1874)
route similar to Castle Shannon Incline from Neff Street (formerly Nimick Street) below
Bailey Avenue and William Street to East Carson Street at Arlington Avenue (formerly
Pittsburgh and Brownsville Turnpike) - Mount Washington.
Mount Oliver Incline (1872-1951) - officially known as the South Twelfth Street
Inclined Plane - South 12th Street at Freyburg Street to Warrington Avenue - Mount
Duquesne Incline (1877-present) - West Carson Street opposite the Point to Western
End of Grandview Avenue (formerly High Street) between Oneida Street and
Cohassett Street - Duquesne Heights (Mount Washington).
Fort Pitt (1882-1906) - from north end of South Tenth Street Bridge
to Bluff Street - Duquesne University Bluff.
Monongahela Freight (1884-1935) - parallel to the east side of the Monongahela
passenger plane - Mount Washington.
Penn Incline (1884-1953) - over Bigelow Boulevard to Liberty Avenue,
from Ledlie Street to 17th Street - Hill District.
St. Clair Incline (1886-1935) - (also known as South 22nd Street Incline) South
22nd Street and Josephine Street to Salisbury Street between Fernleaf Street and
Sterling Street - St. Clair Village.
Bellevue and Davis Island Incline (1887-1892) - Dilworth Run ravine, from South Starr and West
Bellevue following abandoned course of Oak Street to Ohio River at Davis
Nunnery Hill Incline (1887-1899) - Federal Street at Henderson Street (formerly
Fairmount Street), North Side, to Catoma Street near Meadville Street
(formerly Clyde Street) - The first curved track incline in
Pittsburgh - Fineview.
Troy Hill Incline (1887-1898) - near end of old 30th Street Bridge to Lowrie
Street at Ley Street, west of Lofink Street and Rialto Street (formerly Ravine
Street) - Troy Hill.
Ridgewood Incline (1889-1900) - Charles Street North (formerly Taggart Street)
near Nixon Street to Ridgewood Street at Yale Street - Perry
Clifton Incline (1895-1905) - Strauss Street (formerly Metcalf Street and
Myrtle Street) on North Side to Clifton Park (Chautauqua Street) - Perry
Knoxville Incline (1890-1960) - officially known as the Pittsburgh Incline
Plane - South 11th Street at Bradish Street to Warrington and Arlington
Avenue - The second incline in Pittsburgh with a curved track -
Castle Shannon Incline (1890-1964) - East Carson Street near Arlington Avenue to
Bailey Street - Mount Washington.
Castle Shannon South (1892-1914) - Warrington Avenue to Bailey Street - Mount
Norwood Incline (1901-1923) - Island Avenue near Adrian Street to Desiderio Avenue
between McKinnie Avenue and Highland Avenue - McKees Rocks/Stowe.
* Dates for the Keeling Coal Company inclines are approximate and based on available
maps and data.
Wikipedia: List of Pittsburgh
Bridges and Tunnels of
Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh: Incline List.
A stereoscope image of the Monongahela Freight
and Passenger Inclines in 1905.
Images And Maps Showing
Click on images for
The Knoxville Incline
The Pittsburgh Incline Plane, or Knoxville
Incline, was 2460 feet long, rising of 375 feet. There was a 18 degree
in the middle. It was one of only two curved inclines ever built in
Pittsburgh. It ran for 70 years, from 1890 to 1960.
The incline's upper loading
platform (left), was located on Warrington Avenue. A car (right) leaves the upper
The Knoxville Incline's cars moving along
both sides of the tracks, with the Mount Oliver Incline in the distance. The
Keeling Coal Incline is also visible in the photo on the left, wedged in
between the Knoxville and Mount Oliver planes.
The Knoxville Incline looking up from the
lower station (left), with the Mount Oliver and Keeling Coal Inclines to the left.
A car moves along the curve (right), with the Mount Oliver Incline in the
A vintage color postcard image
showing the Knoxville Incline.
The Knoxville Incline descends to its
lower station at South 11th and Bradish Street in the Southside.
The tracks of the Knoxville Incline (left)
and the upper loading platform.
Looking up and down at the cars
of the Knoxville Incline.
Wikipedia: Knoxville Incline.
The Mount Oliver Incline
The Mount Oliver Incline descends
towards the Freyburg street station and another view from the top.
Built in 1872, the incline was in operation for 79 years, closing in 1951.
The Mount Oliver and Knoxville Incline
cars pass on their way up and down from the hilltop neighborhoods to the flats.
The lower station of the Mount Oliver Incline (right) at Freyburg Street on the
Southside, between 11th and 12th Streets.
Wikipedia: Mount Oliver Incline.
The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane
The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane, shown here in 1888,
was a low guage inclined plane used to transport coal mined
in the South Hills to industries located along the Monongahela riverfront. The Coal Railroad
traveled through the
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Tunnel to platform along the north face of Mount Washington. The
and Castle Shannon Plane was in operation from 1864 to 1912. Two years after this photo
was taken, in
1890, the Castle Shannon Incline was constructed to the left of the coal incline to
wagons and freight. Until then, this traffic was lowered to Carson Street along
the P&CS Plane.
The Castle Shannon Incline
The Castle Shannon Incline and the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane along Mount Washington in 1900.
The Castle Shannon Incline measured 1,350 feet
Originally steam powered, the incline was electrified in 1918.
The tracks of the Castle Shannon Incline pass
under the McCardle Street Bridge, under construction in 1926 (left)
and a car stands at the Carson Street loading station that same year.
The Castle Shannon Incline's upper boarding
station is visible in this August 1928 photo taken from The Bluff.
The Mount Washington Roadway (McArdle Roadway) had opened to traffic only one
The incline passed down the valley beneath the concrete arch bridge.
The Castle Shannon Incline was the final
part of trip for passengers of the
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad traveling north to the city from
1890 to 1912. The incline itself remained in operation until 1964.
The Castle Shannon Incline looking down
towards the McArdle Roadway Bridge and railroad trestle (left)
and looking up towards the Bailey Street Station (right) at the top of the
A postcard image (circa 1940) showing the
Castle Shannon Incline descending Mount Washington.
The Castle Shannon Incline descends
Mount Washington with the City of Pittsburgh and the Civic Arena
in the distance (left) and the Bailey Street Station at the top of the
The Castle Shannon Incline was a popular
transit route from atop Mount Washington for seventy-rour years.
The Castle Shannon Incline, from top to
bottom, passing under the McCardle Roadway bridge, in March 1936.
Along the side of Mount Washington is Pittsburgh's historic Coca-Cola clock.
Looking in both directions along the
rails of the Castle Shannon Incline.
The incline cars at the entrance to
the Bailey Street Station atop Mount Washington.
Vintage Pittsburgh postcards showing the
Castle Shannon Incline.
A postcard image circa-1912 showing the
Castle Shannon Incline (left) and the Pittsburgh and Castle
Shannon Plane (right), which was used to transport coal brought
from South Hills mines by the old
Coal Railroad, and later the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad, from 1864 until 1912.
Wikipedia: Castle Shannon Incline.
Castle Shannon South
The Castle Shannon South descends along Haberman
Street in this undated photo. The incline ran from Bailey Avenue
down to Warrington Avenue, and was in operation from 1892 to 1914. Owned by
the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
Railroad, it transported passengers from Warrington to Bailey. Riders then
transfered to the Castle
Shannon Incline for the trip down the north face of Mount Washington
to Carson Street.
Looking from Warrington Avenue up Haberman
Avenue along the route of the Castle Shannon South Incline (left)
and the P&CSRR Warrington Station and Horseshoe Curve on the lower
end of the incline.
Looking up from near the lower Warrington station
(left) and looking down from near the top of the rise.
Cables along the tracks near the top of the
line (left) and a view towards the Bailey Street upper station.
This is a view of Haberman Avenue in 1915, heading
from the Warrington Loop up the hill towards Bailey Street.
The Castle Shannon South Incline, which operated from 1892 to 1914, ran parallel
to Haberman on the left.
Also visible to the far left are the railroad tracks of the P&CSRR Horseshoe
The Penn Incline
A view of the Penn Incline in operation,
taken from the Strip District (circa 1889). Designed by Samuel Deischer, the
funicular measured 840 feet in length and rose 330 feet. The structure
contained over 750 tons of bridge work with
two ten-foot gauge tracks. The incline was originally built to hoist twenty-ton loads
of coal to the top of the hill.
Although this coal traffic never met expectations passenger and freight traffic
took its place and was enough
to keep the incline profitable. By the end of World War II business had decreased
to only fifty customers
a day paying the ten cent fare. With operations cut to only a few hours a day
during rush hour, the
incline was abandoned by its final owner, the Pittsburgh Railways Company, on
November 30, 1953.
The Penn Incline ferried passengers
and freight from the Strip District to Ridgeway Street on the Hill.
It was possibly the longest inclined plane in the world. Built in 1884, it
operated until 1953.
The Penn Incline descends over Bigelow Boulevard from
atop Polish Hill to the passenger station on Liberty Avenue in 1908.
The lower section of the Penn Incline in 1953
shortly before closing. The incline was in operation for seventy years.
The lower station of the Penn Incline
(left), shown in 1937, was located on Liberty Avenue. In the photo
on the right, taken in 1951, the incline descends over the Pennsylvania
The Penn Incline being dismantled in
The Monongahela Incline
The Monongahela Incline in operation during
the 1880s before the first major renovation.
The Monongahela Incline in 1890.
The Monongahela Freight and Passenger
Inclines in operation in 1905. The freight incline is no longer in service.
The Monongahela Freight and Passenger Incline in 1926 (left)
and the Passenger Incline in 2007.
Crews working on the foundation of the Monongahela Incline
in 1926 (left) and a view of the incline in 1932.
The Monongahela Incline in 1972.
A ride on the Monongahela Incline offers a wonderful view
of the city and the Monongahela River.
A view from the lower station looking up (left)
and the Monongahela Incline comes down over McArdle Roadway.
The Monongahela Incline's thirty-eight percent
grade is the steepest in the world.
The passenger cars were built specifically
for the Monongahela Incline.
The upper station along Grandview Avenue (left)
and the lower station along Carson Street.
The P&LERR Terminal Building and the
The sign at the entrace to the lower station
and the Monongahela Incline at night.
The Monongahela Incline is one of Pittsburgh's
main tourist stops.
The Monongahela Passenger and Freight
Incline scaling the Mount Washington slope in 1908.
Wikipedia: Monongahela Incline.
The Duquesne Incline
The Duquesne Incline, built in 1877 and shown
here in 1908, has been transporting passengers for over 135 years.
The Duquesne Incline celebrates Pittsburgh
Steeler Deee-Fense (left); A view of the entire incline from top to
The brilliant colors of the Duquesne Incline
stand out with a light dusting of snow.
The Duquesne Incline in 1926.
The decorative inside of the Incline car
(left) and a view of the incline rising towards Duquesne Heights.
The lower station along Carson Street from
ground level and from above.
The fully-restored Duquesne Incline rises along
the slopes of Mount Washington.
The Duquesne Incline, like the Monongahela
Incline, is one of Pittsburgh's #1 tourist destinations.
Looking up from the lower station (left)
and a view down towards Carson Street.
The Duquesne Incline provides a stunning view
of the Golden Triangle in this early evening photo from January 2013.
Wikipedia: Duquesne Incline.
The Keeling Coal Incline
The Keeling Coal Incline was built around 1870,
linking mines along the Southside Slopes with the railroads on the flats.
The incline was located between the Mount Oliver and Knoxville Inclines. The plane
was closed around 1928.
Wikipedia: Keeling Coal Company.
The Norwood Incline
The Norwood Incline, shown here in 1908, was located
in McKees Rocks. It operated from 1901 to 1923, and was
referred to as "The Penny Incline," charging passengers one cent to get
from Island Avenue to Norwood Place.
The Fort Pitt Incline
The Fort Pitt Incline can be seen rising from near
the north end of the South Tenth Street Bridge to Bluff Street
in this 1905 photo. Open from 1882 to 1906, the incline was 2,640 feet long
with a vertical climb of 375 feet.
Map from 1890 showing the Fort Pitt Incline.
Wikipedia: Fort Pitt Incline.
The Clifton Incline
From the Allegheny City Historic Gallery:
"The Clifton Incline ... Finally A Look!"
Looking down the Clifton Incline in 1902 (left). The
Clifton extended from Clifton Park in Perry Hilltop to Charles Street
at Sara (Strauss) Street; The two-car system carried passengers in one car and stones
in the other car for balance.
Map from 1901 showing the Clifton Incline, rising from
Myrtle Street to Clifton Park on Perry Hilltop.
Wikipedia: Clifton Incline.
The Nunnery Hill Incline
The Nunnery Hill Incline was the first incline in
Pittsburgh with a curved track, followed later by the Knoxville Incline.
A 1887 photo of the Nunnery Hill Incline showing
designer Samuel Diescher standing near the top.
Map from 1890 showing the Nunnery Hill Incline in Fineview,
the first Pittsburgh Incline with a curved track.
Wikipedia: Nunnery Hill Incline.
The Ridgewood Incline
From the Allegheny City Historic Gallery:
"Uncovering A Lost Incline - The Ridgewood"
Map from 1890 showing the Ridgewood Incline. The
Perry Hilltop incline
burned down after only one year of service.
The Troy Hill Incline
Map from 1890 showing the Troy Hill Incline near the
30th Street Bridge.
Wikipedia: Troy Hill Incline.
The Ormsby Gravity Plane and The St. Clair Incline
The Ormsby Gravity Plane was located along
the Southside Slopes, connecting to a narrow-gauge railroad (left) that
ran along 21st Street to the Jone and Lauglin Steel Mills. The coal incline was built
between in the mid-1800s and
operated until 1878. The Ormsby Gravity Plane was replaced, in 1889, by the
St. Clair Incline, which transported
passengers and freight from St. Clair Village down through the ravine (right) to
a station along Josephine Street.
Map from 1872 showing the Keeling Coal Company's
Ormsby Gravity Plane.
A photo of the lower station of the St. Clair
Incline after a fatal accident in 1909. Two people were
killed when the car on the left plunged from the top station and crashed into
This is the only photo that can presently be found of the Saint Clair
Map from 1890 showing the St. Clair Incline.
Wikipedia: Keeling Coal Company, St. Clair Incline.
Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline
Map from 1872 showing the Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline,
located along Mount Washington, slightly west
of the present-day Wabash Tunnel. It transported coal directly to the Clinton
industries located along the Monongahela riverfront.
Cray And Company Coal Incline
Map from 1872 showing the Cray and Company Coal
Incline on the West End along Saw Mill Run Creek.
The Jones And Laughlin Coal Incline
Map from 1872 showing the Jones and Laughlin Coal
Incline along the South Side Slopes between
29th and 30th Streets. Coal was transported directly to the riverfront mills.