3 votes

Staple Bend Tunnel


Street Views 


The FIRST railroad tunnel in the USA.

The Staple Bend Tunnel, one of the least known, yet most important American railroad sites, was constructed between 1828 and 1834. It is proclaimed to be the first railroad tunnel in the United States and is located between Inclined Plane Nos. 1 and 2 of the Allegheny Portage Railroad on the so-called "Long Level". Measuring 901' in length, the tunnel was built by lining the first 150' at each end with cut stone. The 600' in the middle was cut through solid rock. Each opening was surrounded by a classical facade consisting of four Tuscan pilasters supporting a full entablature of ashlar sandstone. Unfortunately, only the southern portal remains intact. The cost of construction for the tunnel amounted to $37,498. When the Portage Railroad fell into decline after the completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the tunnel was abandoned. It is currently owned by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and is sealed at both ends with concrete-block infill and steel plates. (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/master/pnp/habshaer/pa/pa0200/pa0223/data/pa0223data.pdf)

In 1994 the National Park Service took control and in 2000-2001 the tunnel was carefully restored by Graciano Corporation. (http://www.graciano.com/project_detail.asp?pID=23)

It is now open to pedestrians and bicyclists.


Tunnel on Rail Trail
Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Open to pedestrians only
Built 1831-33
- James and E. Appleton
- Allegheny Portage Railroad
Total length: 901.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 29, 1962
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.35939, -78.85501   (decimal degrees)
40°21'34" N, 78°51'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/682138/4469855 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 66000648 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 58285 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 30, 2018: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • December 29, 2018: New photos from Josh Schmid
  • November 29, 2014: Updated by Clark Vance: History and trail update
  • November 29, 2014: HAER photos posted by Dave King
  • October 4, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Noted that this tunnel was the FIRST railroad tunnel in the US.
  • October 4, 2013: Updated by Joshua Collins: Added category "Rail-to-trail"


  • Joshua Collins - Bigjc1979 [at] aol [dot] com
  • Luke
  • HAER PA-240 - Allegheny Portage Railroad, Staple Bend Tunnel, Conemaugh Borough, East of Conrail Bridge, Geistown, Cambria County, PA
  • Clark Vance - cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com
  • Transalleghenytrails.com - Trail description
  • Josh Schmid
  • Dana and Kay Klein


Staple Bend Tunnel
Posted March 18, 2019, by George Oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I just read today in my local paper the Reading Eagle that this tunnel was completed on this date in 1834.Don't know if this is true but I'm putting this information on here.

Staple Bend Tunnel
Posted December 30, 2018, by George Oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com )

Thanks,Daniel.Alot of help was given identifying the bridges I asked about.

Staple Bend Tunnel
Posted December 30, 2018, by Daniel

George, https://bridgehunter.com/pa/cambria/bh83902/ I believe that's the truss you speak of and https://bridgehunter.com/pa/cambria/bh83903/ is the deck truss.

I haven't found a great way to search by location here. There is a way, though: go to "add bridge", go to the location, click "go", and on the right a list of what's there will show up: county, state, road, river, railroad, and bridges (both in the BH and NBI databases).

I wish there was a search by location option in the general search menu, but if there is I haven't been able to find it.

Staple Bend Tunnel
Posted December 30, 2018, by George Oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com )

While looking at satellite view of the tunnel I noticed A truss and I think a deck truss bridge crossing railroad tracks and the Conemaugh river west of the tunnel opening.They both are railroad bridges and I don't think they're on Bridgehunters.