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NS - Gallitzin Tunnel


West Portal

Photo taken by Jodi Christman on 7/22/2011


BH Photo #208569


At its peak of success, three parallel tunnels carried the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) mainline through the Allegheny Mountain summit. Construction had barely startedon the first, known as the Allegheny Tunnel, when PRR began running trains between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 1852. For almost two years, the Allegheny Portage Railroad's inclined planes (a leftover from the Pennsylvania Canal) carried trains over the summit. PRR and the state-owned Portage Railroad raced to eliminate this slow and awkward connection, both tunneling through the summit between Blair and Cambria counties. PRR began using its two-track Allegheny Tunnel in February 1854. More than a year passed before the state finished its New Portage Tunnel, which PRR subsequently acquired but used only briefly. PRR added a third tunnel through the summit, called the Gallitzin Tunnel, during a flurry of construction in the early twentieth century. Under the leadership of President Alexander J. Cassatt, the railroad spent record amounts tunneling under the Hudson River into New York City, separating passenger and freight traffic in eastern Pennsylvania, and upgrading its main line to four tracks across the state. In order to cross the Allegheny Mountain summit with four tracks, PRR installed two eastbound tracks in the long-abandoned New Portage Tunnel in 1903. The railroad used the Allegheny Tunnel's two tracks for westbound traffic until the Gallitzin Tunnel was completed the following year. The Allegheny Tunnel was then converted to single-track operation. Although there was no net gain in the number of tracks, the new tunnel did improve throughput via increased clearances and faster operation through separate tubes. The Gallitzin Tunnel was also intended to serve as a bypass so that the Allegheny Tunnel could be closed for repairs.

PRR engineering staff designed the Gallitzin Tunnel, under the supervision of Chief Engineer William H. Brown. Assistant Chief Engineer William A. Prattalso receives credit on a plaque near the west portal, as does C.S. d'Invilliers, who supervised construction. The contractor was P. F. Brendlinger, who began work in July 1902 and finished in May 1904. An article in Engineering News remarked on the rapid pace of excavation, about 50'-0" per week, accomplished without intermediate vertical shafts. Pneumatic drills, superior explosives, and a locomotive-driven "muck" train were responsible for this rate of progress, which was more than triple that of the Allegheny Tunnel project half a century before. [HAER]


Tunnel under Tunnel under Allegheny Mountains on Norfolk Southern Railway (formerly PRR) on Norfolk Southern Railway (formerly PRR)
Gallitzin, Blair County, Pennsylvania, and Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Closed to all traffic
Constructed 1902-1904, Subsequent work 1905, 1912, 1920, Closed 1995
- C.S. d'Invilliers (Construction Supervisor)
- P.F. Brendlinger of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Contractor)
- William A. Pratt (Assistant Chief Engineer)
- William H. Brown (Chief Engineer)
- Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)
Total length: 3,612.0 ft. (0.7 mi.)
Deck width: 15.6 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 19.7 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.48158, -78.55067   (decimal degrees)
40°28'54" N, 78°33'02" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/707608/4484092 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
2167 ft. above sea level
Inventory numbers
BH 49339 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 11, 2019: New photo from Chester Gehman
  • March 10, 2019: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • November 20, 2012: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added category "Railroad"
  • August 14, 2011: Added by Jodi Christman