B&O - Wheeling, West Virginia

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B&O - Wheeling, West Virginia
Posted by rchgck on Friday, October 08, 2010 12:47 PM

I have been researching the B&O Wheeling Pittsburgh Sub for the past few years.

Photos of Wheeling are hard to come by but there is one person who documented the steam era.

His name is JJ Young as many of you probably already know.

After his death in 2004, railroad enthusiast and photographer J. J. Young’s sizeable collection of negatives came to the West Virginia State Archives. The collection consists of more than 2,000 images, most of the B&O Railroad in northern West Virginia, principally the Wheeling area. This collection was processed during the year and contact prints were made. Young’s negatives came without image-level identification, but a group of B&O experts have identified some of the images and plan a return visit for further examination and identification.




Railfan.net Forums - Ol' Wheeling

Ohio County Public Library Programming: May 11: The B. & O. Railroad in Wheeling

Check page 5 of this link:


This is probably the best you will find online at the moment.

Along the Right of Way ...: J.J. Young Photo Display

Some great reading regarding Wheeling.


Look for:
Recollections, Mentors; and Present
By Byrne Waterman . . .

If anyone comes across anything else please post it.

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  • From: Allentown, PA
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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, October 08, 2010 1:56 PM

These aren't particular interests of mine, but nevertheless - Thank You ! for the time, effort, and thoughtfulness of stringing all that info together and posting it here, for those who are interested.

- Paul North. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by GP40-2 on Friday, October 08, 2010 8:30 PM

The Wheeling-Pittsburgh Subdivision (aka "The Pike"), was considered the most challenging stretch on the B&O to move a train over. It ran for 68 miles from Glenwood yard in Pittsburgh, southwest to Washington, PA, then on on Benwood yard in Wheeling. The W&P was built through a geological formation called the Waynesburg Hills, a rugged section of the Allegheny Plateau where the local relief can approach 1000 feet in elevation from the valleys up to the hill tops. The W&P had a multitude of tunnels and 2% helper grades, along with sharp curvature. When first built, many of these grades were between 3% to 5% (!), but a rebuilding project in the 1880's brought them down to a more manageable level.

At the time of WW2, the W&P was in the heart of Big Steel & Coal country, and carried non-stop freight and passenger traffic between Pittsburgh, Washington PA, and Wheeling. When I started on Chessie in the 1970's, many of the older engineers would tell me  horror stories of getting heavy trains over the W&P, along with spectacular derailments when a train would get out of control on one of the many hills. The W&P was so busy they said, that every passing siding from Pittsburgh to Wheeling would have a freight waiting in it. It was one on the first locations of CTC in the country to improve train movement. By the 1970's we were down to 4 trains (two each way) and a local switcher that serviced industries from Pittsburgh to Washington PA.

Big power was a way of life on the W&P. In the steam era, passenger trains were often double headed, freights had multiple EL Class simple articulates assigned to them. In the '70s we often had 4 GP40-2s on the point, with another 2 to 4 units pushing on the rear to get 6,000 to 8,000 tons from Pittsburgh to Wheeling. 

When Big Steel collapsed in the mid 1980's, the W&P traffic base simply dried up, and CSX made the decision to pull up the W&P west of Washington PA. The stretch from Pittsburgh to Washington is serviced by the Allegheny Valley Railroad, but even that section is a shadow of its former self.

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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, October 08, 2010 9:23 PM

GP40-2.....That area is an interest of mine.  We have been traveling thru that area east / west for more than 48 years.  I like to try to sort out ROW's that were, and of course the routes that are still current as we drive along I-70.

That was an interesting "rundown" of the activity "that was" thru that area back "in the days"....Perhaps, especially during WWII.


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Posted by GP40-2 on Saturday, October 09, 2010 8:40 AM


GP40-2.....That area is an interest of mine.  We have been traveling thru that area east / west for more than 48 years.  I like to try to sort out ROW's that were, and of course the routes that are still current as we drive along I-70.

That was an interesting "rundown" of the activity "that was" thru that area back "in the days"....Perhaps, especially during WWII.

The W&P is gone along I-70 west of Taylorstown, PA. Rail traffic stops just west of downtown Washington PA. There are still a few industries left in the West End area of town. The B&O Station in Washington was recently renovated and looks good. The Washington County Tourism Agency is located in the building.

Most people not familiar with the area simply can not imagine the level of industrial and rail activity in that area "back in the day". The area around Pittsburgh was truly the heart of the B&O. Glenwood yard, located in the Monongahela River Valley ("The Steel Valley") was wall-to-wall steel mills that at one point employed over 250,000 people. The Wheeling area around Benwood yard also had many big steel mills. Washington PA had 3 specialty Steel Mills and at one point 20 glass factories. The glass industry alone employed 40,000 people in the Washington area. Washington also sits on top of the Pittsburgh Coal Vein, and is the hub of the current Marcellus Shale natural gas bonanza. 

Big Steel and Glass are totally gone now. I believe only one of the speciality steel mills is still working in Washington.  Coal and gas remain important industries, but gas has little to offer rail traffic, and most of the coal is taken out of portals through the line that runs up the Mon Valley.

As you know, many of the mill towns in the river valleys suffered total economic and social collapse. Washington PA faired much better due to the highways, and the area from Washington north to Pittsburgh is now Mini-Mansion Central, with all the people (mostly professionals) who moved from congested Allegheny County out to the "country". 

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Posted by Modelcar on Saturday, October 09, 2010 9:04 PM


If I remember correctly, at Washington, Pa., is where we pass under the former B&O RR bridge with it's B&O Icon still visible to I-70 traveliers.  {The Wash D C Capitol dome, etc..}.


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Posted by GP40-2 on Sunday, October 10, 2010 3:47 PM

Yes, that is correct. That bridge carries the W&P over I-70. You can still make out the B&O Capital Dome icon, but they are getting faded from age. There are some industries just east of the bridge that still receive rail shipments. Actually, the rail line that runs down to the factories was called the Tylerdale Connecting Railroad (That section of the city of Washington is called Tylerdale). It connected the B&O line to the PRR line that served Washington, and both railroads shared the large steel mills and glass factories that were in that area. The ex-PRR line stops a few miles north of there now, so the factories are serviced only from the CSX side.

Rail traffic stops at that point, but tracks are still in place (well, at least were still in place the last time I was down there) out to Taylorstown, which is a few miles west of Washington. From that point west, the ROW is gone, and in some places, buildings have been built over it.

The higher ups at CSX don't like to admit it, but they are sorry now that they severed the W&P and some of the connecting lines out of Wheeling. Now,  they wish they had some secondary through lines with the increase in traffic on the mains.

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Posted by rchgck on Sunday, October 10, 2010 6:29 PM


Thanks for all the great reply's to my original post.

I tried to photograph the capitol dome on the bridge that was referred to before they faded too badly. There is also one CPL still standing near the Wade Ave siding. Other than that, there's not much left.

I grew up in Tylerdale and well remember trains from both the B&O/Chessie side from Tylerdale Junction and the Penn Central/Conrail side shuffling cars and picking up from the Brockway Glass houses, Jessop Steel, Washington Steel, etc.

The Tylerdale connecting began as an idea in the late 1800s by W. P. Tyler, and industrialist who opened a carbon tube mill in Washington. The valley quickly opened up as the industrial base of Washington PA due to the discovery of cheap natural gas and proximity of Chartiers creek which ran through the corridor.

Tyler (Tylerdale ward was named after W.P.Tyler) decided to build a connecting line to open up competition between the two railroads (then PRR and B&O) and get the best rates for his mill and the other industry that had developed.


GP40-2, I wonder if you can speak a bit to some of the trains that the B&O ran through Washington. They Loader, The Tyler Turn, The Southwest Steel Special.

Conrail ceased operations west of Tylerdale (MP 21.8) and on the Tylerdale Connecting on April 30, 1982. The line was renamed the Canonsburg Industrial Track, and Conrail began looking for a buyer in 1994, as it tried to divest itself of industrial lines.


The old W&P indeed still extends to Taylorstown, although as you mentioned, some of the ROW now has structures on it.

I have trampled nearly every mile of the W&P as I mentioned in the first post regarding research.

There are some related photos on my Flickr site here.


Also, some video of what is probably the last action the remaining Tylerdale Connecting will ever see when the Allegheny Valley Railroad used the tracks as far as the old Brockway plant to store covered hoppers and trans load plastic pellets via truck. This area was also used a off load site for a lumber car about once a week for  Al Lorenzi lumber. The line is severed just beyond this point at Wylie Ave.


(I cannot get the links to work as hot links so you will have to copy and paste them into your browser if you are interested)




The AVR was also using the old Tylerdale Connecting a while back as a storage and remediation site for contaminated soil from the old Molycorp plant.


(I cannot get the links to work as hot links so you will have to copy and paste them into your browser if you are interested)







I won't bore everyone with a milliion links.

There are several videos on my youtube account for both the AVR-3 and the P&OC which now runs on the former Chartiers Branch. Both can be found by searching AVR-3 or P&OC in the search box from one of the above links.

I really wish I would have had a camera or video recorder handy back when the Tylerdale Connecting was still somewhat busy before all the industry left Washington.

I can still see those long trains with 4 and sometimes 5 Chessie units stringing all the way through town.

On a last note, here is a trip through Wheeling Tunnel #1 on the former W&P heading East.



(I cannot get the links to work as hot links so you will have to copy and paste them into your browser if you are interested)

Hope we can keep the conversation going!




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Posted by glenn68 on Monday, November 01, 2010 9:36 PM


Your video's are really good.

 I would really like to find more about the W&P branch and mainly the Chesse system era. However learning more on the history would be great. It seamed that I would cross the line on Valley view road in Venetia Pa, the rails were always shiny but I never had seen any train movements.

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Posted by chase305 on Friday, February 17, 2012 7:31 AM

I grew up in washington pa next to the B&O tracks and vividly remember the heavy freights that rattled the windows in our house. The 1970s was a time of frequent freights and a yearly special passanger train. The freights crossed Maiden street trusle or sat on the siding behind Maiden street waiting for the east bound frieght to pass. The 1970s was a good time to grow up if you loved trains in Washington. All types of locomotives under B&O, Chessie System name plates rumbled the rails.

A rail siding between Wade ave. and Bradys tunnel was a great spot for an up close encounter. The west bound freight would wait for the east bound to pass before heading the Wheeling WV. As a young boy, I would walk up behind the Snowy White car wash to look at the waiting engines sitting on the siding. Many time the crew would call over to me and ask if I would run to the local store (The little general) and buy cokes and chips. Usually upon my return they would allow me to climb up in the cab and look around until the on cominf train approached.

Over the years now I have spoken to a few conductors and engineers whom all spoke of what a challenging stretch of track the pc between Washington and Wheeling. Pulling against the grades and the drag of the numerous tight curves in addition to braking on the down grades.

This is why they said it had numerous accidents.

I talk with a local pastor of a church years ago whom told of an accident in taylorstown pa in mid 40's. The pastor stated that during a baptism service along a creek next to a car tunnel under the tracks on a hot summer day. He heard the steam locomotive approaching and rolling by and then a hellaous crashings and banging of rail cars.  He climbed up the hill side to the tracks and ran towards the direction the train was traveling. He found twisted cars and leaking gasoline tank cars. He then came across the steam locomotive on its side down off the tracks mangled and hissing. He stated that the stoker was seriously injured laying in the weeds, and the engineer was crushed to death. The brake man from the caboose approached visibly shaken, and aided to the stoker. The crew was taken by local cars to the hospital.

He noted that due to the war, The FBI came and interviewed him for his account of the accident. The accident report stated that prior to the accident an east bound frieght pasted with no issue. And moments lated this accident occured. The caused was listed as warped rail.

When I travel thru Washington and see the trusles of snowy white car wash, I can still visualize the long freights roaring thru town.





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Posted by p26dhIII on Tuesday, September 02, 2014 11:03 PM

I was wondering if you tell me about the abondened tunnel # 3 in Claysville Pa. and point me in the right direction on when this tunnel was abondened and line taken up and a good online sorce about this lines history etc my son discovered it recently and is worring me to death about it. he knows that me and his grandfather have a one track mind and I think he may be getting the fever. Me and his granfather are both Engineers my dad having retired off the KCS in 97 and I am still employed by the UP in Houston. 


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 10:14 AM

I visited Washington, PA, June 1949, coming with Bill "Giggles" Watson and John Stern from Pittsburgh, Roscoe/Charleroi, and Donnora, on the Pittsburgh Ry.'s PCC interurban.  We rode the East-West local streetcar, deck-roof, low-floor (relatively) center-exit-double-end lightweight, like all Washington local cars, had a good meal and went back to Pittsburgh.  Real railroads?  Well, wouldn't they always be with us?  

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