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West Penn Trail - Conemaugh River Bridge

Photos 

Photo taken by Greg Hall

Enlarge

BH Photo #148763

Map 

Description 

According to the Indiana County Parks website, this bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad during a re-alignment in 1907

Facts 

Overview
Stone arch bridge over Conemaugh River on West Penn Trail
Location
Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Status
Open to pedestrians only
History
Built 1907
Railroads
- Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)
- Rail-to-trail
Design
5-span stone arch bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.46151, -79.36830   (decimal degrees)
40°27'41" N, 79°22'06" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/638342/4480260 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Blairsville
Elevation
927 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 43085 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 30, 2020: New photos from Brian Manville
  • October 25, 2013: New photo from Luke Harden
  • May 28, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Moved pin from the overhead deck truss to the arch.
  • November 20, 2012: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added category "Railroad"
  • November 21, 2010: Updated by Greg Hall: added build date and source
  • February 27, 2010: Updated by Greg Hall: added Westmoreland county as it sits in two counties
  • July 29, 2009: Added by Greg Hall

Sources 

  • Greg Hall - cyclebay [at] aol [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Todd Wilson
  • Brian Manville

Comments 

Conemaugh River Rail Bridge
Posted July 31, 2009, by Rick Mattioni (rickmattioni [at] aol [dot] com)

The "1936" marker shows the high water mark of the St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936, which caused major damage and loss of life throughout the Conemaugh and Allegheny River valleys.

Conemaugh River Rail Bridge
Posted July 30, 2009, by Greg Hall (cyclebay [at] aol [dot] com)

Park photo posted near this bridge indicates that it was built in 1864, which would have been the final year of operation of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal System whose aqueduct sits beside this bridge and passed under it.

Photo may be unreadable when downsized but states "The Problem: in 1852 there was no railroad bridge across the Allegheny River in Pittsburg. Passengers and freight had to be transferred across the river by steamboat to Allegheny City where a train from Chicago was supposed to be waiting.

The Solution:Frustrated by the self interest of the businessmen in Pittsburg, the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. decided to bypass Pittsburg and begin construction of the Northwest Railroad. This route left the mainline track near Blairsville and follwed the Conemaugh River Valley, passing through Freeport, Butler and Cleveland. Construction of a railroad bridge was opposed by hotel keepers, freight handlers, and ferry boat operators. They feared that they would have lost captive business if a bridge were built to allow trains to pass through town without unloading passengers and cargo. Realizing that trains would not be bringing their town, Pittsburg City Fathers reluctantly agreed to a bridge across the Allegheny. In 1866, the North West Railroad reorganized as the West Penn R.R. It was redirected down the west bank of the Allegheny to Allegheny City. The railroad continues to on that route today, on the high steel bridge that passes over this 1864 bridge."

This leaves the question of "what does the 1936 sign indicate?"

Webmaster's note: The photo that was here has been incorporated into the main site.

Conemaugh River Rail Bridge
Posted July 29, 2009, by Greg Hall (cyclebay [at] aol [dot] com)

Abandoned by railroad, it appears to be in current useage by the Tunnelton Mining Company with no access for non-company business related vehicles. We witnessed several autos and a utility vehicle passing across while there, so it seems busy. There is likely a tunnel in the hillside where it meets the hill, but it cannot be seen from the ground. There seems to be a road that turns sharply north at the East end of the bridge. Photo's were taken in the State Park.

Photo 1- Looking North

Photo 2- Looking North/East

Photo 3- State sign, build date? Seems that rock structures would have not been the prefered method by then?

Photo 4- Looking South/East

Photo 5- Looking South at span over road

Photo 6- Underneath of span over road

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.