If you lived in Castle Shannon,
Fairhaven or West Liberty in the late-19th century and you needed to
travel to downtown Pittsburgh, one way to get there, without a horse
and buggey, was to take a ride on the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
railroad. A short ride on the P&CS RR and a trip down the
850-foot Mount Washington Coal
Incline would put
travelers on Carson Street near the Smithfield Street Bridge.
The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon
Railroad was a narrow gauge line from Pittsburgh to Castle Shannon.
The P&CS RR began as the Coal Hill Coal Railroad, established in 1861
and extending one and a half miles from Pittsburgh to mines along Saw
Mill Run in Fairhaven (Overbrook). The coal railroad, along with the
coal incline, was purchased from the Pittsburgh Coal Company in 1871.
The railroad line was extended along the Library Road corridor to Castle
Shannon. The coal incline was renamed the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon
Railroad Locomotive #7.
The railroad used the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
Tunnel, a converted
coal mine that extended all the way through Coal Hill, to get to
the north face of Mount Washington. The tunnel was 1,741 feet in length
and located on the hillside above the present Port Authority Transit
Tunnel. There was another P&CS RR tunnel on the north side of Mount
Washington, 1,766 feet long, running parallel to Grandview Avenue that
was used for coal only.
In 1874, the tunnel from north to
south was increased in height. Passenger and freight traffic could
now proceed through the natural divide of Coal Hill directly to
downtown Pittsburgh. On the opposite end of the 3 1/2 mile line was
the southernmost location, called Arlington Station, near what
is now The Lebanon Shops on Mount Lebanon Boulevard.
This is a view of Haberman Street, heading
from the Warrington Loop up towards Bailey Street.
This was the location of the Castle Shannon South Incline, which operated
from 1874 to 1914.
The Pittsburgh Southern
The Pittsburgh Southern Railway was a
narrow gauge railroad, formed in March 1879 by the merger of the Pittsburgh
Southern Railroad (which was named the Pittsburgh, Castle Shannon and Washington
Railroad from July 1877 to April 1878), the Pittsburgh Railroad, and the
Washington Railroad. It was operated by the Milton Hayes, the owner of the Pittsburgh
and Castle Shannon Railroad. The line ran from Washington PA to Castle Shannon,
where it connected to the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad.
A locomotive of the Pittsburgh Southern
The railway was converted to standard gauge
in 1883, and purchased by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on November 20, 1884.
It was reorganized as the Baltimore & Ohio Short Line Railroad.
A Boon To Castle Shannon
The first passengers cars were
converted box cars. These were later replaced with two coaches. In
1880, due to safety concerns, passenger traffic no longer used the
tunnel. The railroad constructed an incline, called the Castle Shannon
South, along Haberman Street that carried passengers and freight up the
southern side of Mount Washington to the coal incline at Bailey Street.
In 1890 the railroad constructed the adjacent Castle Shannon Incline for passengers and freight only. Coal
shipments continued to use the train tunnel and the old coal incline until
The Castle Shannon Incline was the final
part of Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad trip from the southern communities
to Pittsburgh. The incline itself continued operating until 1964.
With the economic benefit to the coal
mining ventures in the South Hills, and the ease of access to the city for
passengers and freight shipments, the P&CS RR had a dramatic effect on some
rural areas south of Pittsburgh, like the Boroughs of Overbrook and Castle
Shannon. Both areas saw increases in commercial and residential development.
The main benefactor was Castle Shannon.
The railroad owned much of the land
in these areas. Attractive ridership promotions spurred property sales and
development. In Castle Shannon, the railroad built an amusement grove in 1873,
called "The Linden Grove". A second grove was built at Wildwood, and a
zoological garden was constructed near Arch Street and Poplar Avenue. Other
camp grounds followed, making the southern suburbs a more attractive place
for visitors and home buyers.
P&CSRR Falls On Hard
Despite these successes, the P&CS RR
fell on hard financial times. The Pittsburgh Coal Company purchased the railroad
in 1900. In 1905, the railroad was leased by the new Pittsburgh Railways Company.
At that time there were three locomotives, five passenger cars, three
combinations, ten flat cars, and 275 coal cars.
With the construction, in 1904, of the
Mount Washington Transit Tunnel from Carson Street to the South Hills Junction,
trolley service was extended into the southern suburbs. The Shannon-Drake and Shannon-Library routes shared the same
right-of-way as the P&CS RR locomotives. In 1908, double-gauge lines were
laid to accommodate both forms of transportation. Trolleys ran during daylight
hours and the trains ran at night.
P&CS RR locomotive near Fairhaven (left) and
a stretch of track near the same area.
The railroad discontinued day-to-day
operations in May, 1912. Steam passenger service officially ended in 1915. The
last train on the P&CS RR made the final ceremonial run in 1919. The company
and remaining assets were purchased, in 1950, by the Pittsburgh Railways
Bridges, Mines and
The P&CS RR maintained four bridges
along its route with a total length of 1,530 feet. It had fourteen stations
along the 3 1/2 mile track. The Castle Shannon station was located on
Willow Avenue. The main service yard and car barn were located in Castle
Shannon at the corner of Willow Avenue and Castle Shannon Boulevard, near
the old Borough building.
The P&CS RR McKinley bridge at
Bausman Street (left) and the Reflectorville bridge at Nobles Lane and
Whited Street. Both bridges remained in service with the Port Authority
until the 1980s and have since been replaced.
The P&CS RR also operated two coal
mine locations, one located at West Liberty Hill and the other at Fairhaven.
The Fairhaven mines, called Oak Mine #1 and #2, were located near Overbrook
One of the many striking features of
the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad was the Horseshoe Curve, located
on the south side of Mount Washington. Trains would proceed along Warrington
Avenue then make a sharp horseshoe turn, then head along the hillside to
the southern portal of the railroad tunnel. When passenger and freight traffic
through the tunnel ended in 1880, the horseshoe turn was where the unloading
station was located.
An outbound P&CS RR train
on the hillside above the South Hills Junction. After emerging
from the tunnel,
the train navigated the Horseshoe Curve to Warrington Avenue, then headed
south along Saw Mill Run.
The Pittsburgh Railways
Company and the "T"
In the century following the end of
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad operations, the railway right-of-way
along the Saw Mill Run Corridor, from the South Hills Junction to Castle
Shannon, was in continuous use by the trolleys of the Pittsburgh
Railways Company, and subsequently the Port Authority of Allegheny County,
until 1993. The old railroad route has since been completely renovated for
use by the modern light-rail system.
The Bausman Street Bridge (left) and the
McKinley Bridge (right) were originally wooden spans used by
the P&CSRR. They were rebuilt and used by the Pittsburgh Railways Company
until the 1990s.
Both spans have since been rebuilt a third time for use by the current
Light Rail System.
Left - The old streetcar bridge over
Bausman Street; Right - A modern light-rail
car along Castle Shannon Boulevard, near
the old P&CSRR maintenance shop.
Click on images
for larger pictures
Related Link: Pittsburgh's
Maps Showing The P&CS RR
Route Through Mount Washington
A map of the P&CS RR route from 1886 and a
current map of Mount Washington, 2011.
Map from 1910 showing
the route of the P&CS RR along Warrington Avenue to the
Horseshoe Curve, then through the tunnel to Pittsburgh. This map
shows the inclines used by the railroad to ferry passengers
Photos of the Pittsburgh
and Castle Shannon Railroad
P&CS Railroad's Castle Shannon
Station. A box car sits idle on the side rails.
The PCSRR horseshoe curve at Warrington Avenue (left),
running under the trolley ramp, in 1915
and the same location after the removal of the railroad line in the 1930s.
Glenbury Avenue (1895) approaching
the Saw Mill Run/Library Road intersection, in Fairhaven, showing the
railroad tracks and passenger station. An 1895 drawing (right)
showing the Horning Farm, in Fairhaven, and a P&CS RR
A P&CS RR locomotive at the Castle
Shannon maintenance and repair shop in 1901 (left) and a train moving
through Fairhaven, present-day Overbrook, in 1902.
Left - Glenbury Street, 1909; Right -
Railroad freight and passenger station located at Glenbury Street in 1917.
The Fairhaven Hotel on Library Road was
a popular resting spot for passengers on the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
Railroad. P&CS RR train schedules were available at the hotel.
Library Road approaching Elwyn Street (McNeilly
Road) and the bridge leading to the entrance to the South Hills Coal Company (right).
The P&CS RR tracks followed the hugged the hillside, crossing the tressel in
front of the tunnel.
The intersection of Willow Avenue and Castle
Shannon Boulevard (left) and the Castle Shannon Hotel (right), another popular
stop for P&CS RR passengers. A the railroad crossing sign stands in the
Railroad tracks along Willow Avenue,
1910, and a P&CS RR train passing the Castle Shannon
The P&CS RR Maintenance and Repair Shop in
Castle between Willow Avenue and Castle Shannon Boulevard.