Saturday, July 30, 2011

1889 Conemaugh Viaduct

This is the rebuilt 1889 viaduct constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad to replace the 1833 viaduct destroyed by the flood caused by the burst South Fork dam. Note the scoured bedrock of the west bank caused by the energy of the water.

Jacob J. Hauser in 1964 was the curator of the Baker Mansion Museum owned by the Blair County Historical Society at Altoona, PA.  Hauser described how he was 16 when he hired onto the reconstruction train rebuilding the destroyed railroad. He described how a timber viaduct was quickly built to bridge the gap. Once the timber structure was completed, the reconstruction of a stone viaduct began. When the wooden structure was completed, he was on board the first PRR train into the destroyed Conemaugh Valley to Johnstown. At 90 years, his voice trailed and his eyes were distant as he described the scoured landscape and the silence.

 Here is a recent photograph of the 1889 Conemaugh Viaduct with an eastbound freight train of the NS Norfolk Southern near Mineral Point at milepost 267.2 (40.368422N79.819044W). Here the NS has a 35 mph limit for freight service and 40 mph for passenger service. (Source:, photo ID 327264, "Minerla Pont" by Scooter Hovanec.)

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