Wednesday, April 25, 2012

53.6 Blairsville

The realignment shown would allow 80 mph. The new line leaves the exisiting line at milepost CL 7.8. A compound 2 degree curve shown in blue joins the proposed realignment of the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line at 40.421119N79.212064W. The existing Conemaugh Line is in yellow. The existing Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Line is in orange.

53.5 Conemaugh Dam

The proposed realignment would permit 80 mph. The realignment is in yelloww. The existing line is in blue.

53.4 Conemaugh Line Saltsburg

The proposed line relocation near Avonmore and Saltsburg will allow 80 mph with curvature lessened to 2 degrees.

53.3 Conemaugh Line Vandergrift

Proposed in blue is further realignment of the Conemaugh Line in the vicinity of Vandergrift, PA.  Vandergrift was a town named for Jacob J. Vandergrift, a major investor in the Apollo Iron Manufacturing Company located there. Vandergrift owned the steamboat Red Fox which was the first to serve the world's first oilfield loading crude petroleum at Oil City in 1861. His enterprises later included pipelines and a refinery at Oil City. The 6 degree curve through Vandergrift requires a 35 mph limitation. The proposed realignment would permit 110 mph.

53.2 Conemaugh Line Leechburg - Hyde

The Conemaugh Line at Leechburg, PA confronts severe curvature and worse at Hyde, PA. Shown is suggested realignment capable of 110 mph. The original curve built at Hyde, PA is a tight 7 degree curve requiring a 30 mph speed. As the line was built in 1865, it logically followed the Conemaugh River as a path of least resistance. There is only so much that could be done with manpower, horsepower and blasting powder. In 1865 the Pennsylvania Canal was on the north side of the Conemaugh River so the railroad followed the south side of the River.The existing line is in yellow and the proposed new alignment is in blue. CL indicates milepost designations on the Conemaugh Line.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

53.1 Conemaugh Line Freeport to Bolivar

The severe curvature in the vicinity of Freeport, PA on the Conemaugh Line could be reduced to 2 degree curvature allowing a maximum 80 mph speed. Reducing curvature and restoring the second track would allow for future freight capacity. It would eliminate the slow and circuitous routing of freight over the Port Perry Branch to the Mon Branch. Increasing speed and track capacity on the Conemaugh Line would overcome the conflict between increased passenger service and the crossing of slower freight trains to and from the mainline at Milepost 339.5 in the vicinity of Wildmerding for access to the Port Perry Branch. The Conemaugh Line has a favorable ruling grade.
The existing line in yellow supports a 30 mph freight speed. The curvature approaching Freeport and through Kiski Junction to milepost 46.6 varies from 4 to 3.5 degrees. Rebuilding the line in blue would be the equivalent to a 2 degree curve capable of 80 mph.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

53. Conemaugh Line Pittsburgh Northside to Bolivar

This blog has addressed the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line  that was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad as its mainline in the 1850's. There is an alternative line from Pittsburgh's Northside that  follows the the Allegheny River Valley to the Kiskiminetas River Valley to the Conemaugh River Valley ultimately joining the mainline in the vicinity of Bolivar, PA. The line was then known as the Western Pennsylvania Railroad and was operational in 1865. (See: Page 106 and 110 of "Centennial History of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company.")

Later the line became absorbed into the Pennsylvania Railroad and  became known as the Conemaugh line. It became an alternative freight line to Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Railroad operated no scheduled passenger service on the line east of Freeport. If a passenger were operated across the line it would have been a special excursion. Or, the passenger train may have been a special operation routed over the Conemaugh Line in order to avoid an operational problem on the mainline such as a rerailment. There was no scheduled passenger service over the line.

The Conemaugh line has a ruling grade of only .04 per cent. From that standpoint, it has a more favorable ruling grade than the mainline from Pittsburgh to Bolivar, PA.

Access to the Conemaugh line was once possible from Pittsburgh on the east side of the Allegheny River over the Allegheny Valley Railroad built to Oil City, Pennsylvania. When the Pennsylvania Railroad gained control and ownership of the Allegheny Valley Railroad the line became know as the Allegheny Branch. The access from the Allegheny Branch was made at Kiski Junction on the east bank of the Allegheny River across the River from Freeport, PA.

As the former Allegheny Branch is now a truncated independent short line company, the Conemaugh Line can be reached from the Pittsburgh Amtrak Station (milepost 353) using the "Brilliant" Branch that crosses  the Allegheny River reaching the Conemaugh Line at Aspinwall  (milepost 71 - Conemaugh Line) on the west side of the Allegheny River. The Brilliant Branch's connection with the mainline is at milepost 347.8

The Conemaugh Line follows the Allegheny River to Freeport, PA. At Freeport the Allegheny is bridged to the Kiski Junction described and from there the Conemaugh Line proceeds east along the Kiskiminetas River upstream to its formation at the confluence of the Loyalhanna River and the Conemaugh River at Saltsburg, PA.

The length of the Conemaugh Line from its connection with the mainline at the Northside of Pittsburgh at Federal Street to Bolivar is 78 miles. The distance from the Pittsburgh Amtrak Station to Bolivar is 59 miles.

Shown is the connection with the mainline in blue with the Conemaugh Line ( yellow) at federal Street on the Northside of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Amtrak Station (MP 353) is in the lower right hand corner.

The Pittsburgh Amtrak Station at MP 353 is in the lower left corner. The Brilliant Branch (red) connects the mainline to the Conemaugh Line at MP 71 on the Conemaugh Line at Aspinwall, PA.

The Aspinwall, PA connection with the Conemaugh Line in greater detail:

 Shown is the Conemaugh Line (yellow) crossing the Allegheny River at Freeport to the once active Kiski Junction as it proceeds up the Kiskiminetas River.