Staple Bend Tunnel
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.
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)
- 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
- 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