Pittsburgh PCC's in the 1960's

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Pittsburgh PCC's in the 1960's
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:04 PM

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, August 31, 2017 7:54 PM

Not a lot of separation between the tracks in the double track sections.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, August 31, 2017 8:04 PM

MidlandMike

Not a lot of separation between the tracks in the double track sections.

 

Except where needed for curve clearance Pittsburgh Railways used a four foot "devil strip" between tracks.  It looks narrower than in other cities because the tracks themseves are 62.5" gauge.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, August 31, 2017 11:01 PM

Pittsburgh had a fantastic system with many varied routes, considerable private ROW, and frequent service. Remember in the late 50's while working on the PRR, going to Pittsburgh and taking an all day tour going out to Wilmerding one way using a middle of a divided street and returning another that went through a steel mill district with sparks and fire, riding the Fineview line, the Drake and Library lines, the Mt. Washington line, and many others. As you see in the video, the frequency of cars going to and from the South Hills tunnel was one after another. The only current intense street car city that makes me think of Pittsburgh is Toronto where you can see ten streetcars at an intersection coming and going in four directions. And while there was some slow running, they would get out on the P-ROW and go. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 01, 2017 12:15 AM

Agree with all your comments.   Also rode Charleroi-Rosco and the Denora shuttle and Wasington local cars.   Really terrific system.  West Penn still had some lines when you were in Pittsburgh.  Did you take that opportunity?  A really unique system.

Excuse me, lat 50s,  possibly all West Penn had gone by then.   Also Charleroi and Denora.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, September 02, 2017 8:12 PM

Does the present Pittsburgh light rail system follow the ROWs of any of he old lines on the video?

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, September 02, 2017 9:52 PM

Yes, It is almost all where the PCC's ran except in downtown where the PCC's crossed the river on the Smithfield bridge, the light rail makes a sharp right turn as they exit the South Hills tunnel and after making a stop at a new station (Station Square) climb up to the old PRR ROW and go East a few blocks to the PRR's bridge (over the Monongahela) and thence into the old PRR tunnel that originally carried trains from Colunbus Ohio into Pittsburg's PRR Station. But the light rail goes into new tunnels that go to downtown (and more recently) to the North side of the Allegheny river to two stops by the stadiums. The PCC's ran on the steets downtown, 

Current light rail service through the South Hills Tunnel map. http://www.portauthority.org/paac/apps/maps/TLines.pdf

Current Port Authority System Map. http://www.portauthority.org/PAAC/Apps/maps/SystemMap.pdf

The last time I was there, a light rail route that doesn't show on the above maps used the downtown tunnel and the PRR bridge but turned East after crossing the river and then went up Arlington Street but It looks like it may have been converted to Bus since then. You can see the tracks in this Google view: 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pittsburgh,+PA/@40.4295562,-79.9987801,270m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x8834f16f48068503:0x8df915a15aa21b34!8m2!3d40.4406248!4d-79.9958864

If someone can inform me why & when that route was changed from light rail, I would appreciate it. 

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, September 02, 2017 10:02 PM

In Pittsburgh itself, no.  The subway and the use of the old PRR Panhandle-Vandalia bridge is new.  The Mount Washington Tunnel yes, although now shared with buses, was not so then.  South Hills Junction yes, and then only the outer ends of both routes have been relocated, the South Hills Village terminal is new.  Much of the trackage on both routes between South Hills Junction and Castle Shannon has been extensively rebuilt, the route via Overbrook has been realigned in certain places for better ground stability.  I think part of it has also received pavement like the tunnel for joint bus operation.  The street trackage in Dormont is much the same as it was.  In the old days, all interurbans, including those going only as far as Drake or Library went via Overbrook, and Dormont was a local, but heavy, PCC line with a shuttle, one PCC, on single track between Dormont (Mt. Lebanon?) and Castle Shannon.  This is now one of the two through routes.   About four or five other PCC routes also used the Mt. Washington tunnel, now bus lines.  And there were two double-end old-car shuttles that came to the P&LE station from the north and the south along the riverbank.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 03, 2017 8:52 AM

Deleted because of accidental duplicate post

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:11 AM

Memory gave me some more information to share.  The route via Overbrook was originally a steam narrow-gauge suburban railroad that connected with Pittshburgh horsecars at the P&LE station and the original Smithfield Street Bridge, IF it built the Mt. Wshington transit tunnel.  My memory is not clear on that, possibly it connected at South Hills Junction with the horsecar line that ran over the mountain.  When Pittsburgh Railways or its predicessor bought the line, they converted it to Pittsburgh trolley gauge, and extended it as interurbans to Rosco (just beyond Charleroi) and Washington. It remained largely single-track.  Despite reasonably heavy service, it remained single-track with many passing sidings and a signal system that I remember more railroad-like than the Nachod trolley-contactor type, until Port Authority takeover and a thorough rebuilding.  In fact, it was closed for about a year or more and all service was routed via Dormont and Mount Lebanon during that period.

That route consists of parts of two routes and the whole of another.  In the classic age of PCCs there was no through service to Castle Shannon via Dormont and Mount Lebanon.  There were both a Mt. Lebanon and a Dormont line, both using the tunnel and the Smithfield Street Bridge and sharing the same downtown loop that did not go to the PRR station.  The Mt. Lebanon line used Mt. Lebanon Ave. all the way from South Hills Junction to Mt. Lebanon, street trackage, lanes shared with general traffic.  It passed through Dormont and had a double-track connection at the end of the Dormont line.  The Dormont line was large reserved track or PRoW.   Both lines had loops at ends for reversing PCCs.  Both were double-track.  At the end of the Mt. Lebanon line a single-track through-the-woods shuttle that used one PCC ran between there and Castle Shannon connecting to the interurbans there.   So the current line uses the old Dormont line tracks as far Dormont, the street tracks on Mt. Lebanon Avenue to Mt. Lebanon, and the shuttle line rebuilt (I think now double-track) to Castlel Shannon and the junction with the line via Overbrook.

The interurbans all used a loop that ran by the PRR station, and one could by interurban tickets at station ticket office.  I did.

The tracks over the mountain are emergency tracks in case there is a problem in the tunnel.  For a while, light rail service was provided, with long headways and not much business, and it may have been named the Arlington line.  It had been a regular PCC line running downtown loop only to South Hills Junction, with a running time, also in the subway-light-rail days, much longer that a trip through the tunnel.  The Port Authority decided in its infinite wisdom that it would be more economical to simply reroute the least-trafficed bus route that used the tunnel to take care of this over-the-mountain service, and patrons that objected to the much longer running time could simply transfer to and from light rail or a tunnel busline at South Hills Junction.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, September 04, 2017 1:28 PM

From memory, despite the intensive service, the route through the Mt. Washington Tunnel was not necessarily the most heavily used streetcar trackage in Pittsburgh.  Possibly the street running on Forbes Avenue was even more heavily used by several lines to the eastern suburbs.

My first visit to the area was in June 1949, when my parents gave me the money for a two day-visit to western PA as a graduation (from high-school) present.  With Bill Watson and John Stern, we rode overnight in coach to Greensburg, spent the day riding regular service on West Penn first west to Irwin then back through Greensburg and through Connolsville to Uniontown and the last-day operation to Mason City, which for some reason was not be be covered in the following day's fantrip, which did cover Brownsville and Fairchance, also being bussed that day.  We returned to Greensburg, using the "back line" between Uniontown and Connolsville, and detouring to ride the Cinncinnati Curveside, the only air-brake passenger operation on West Penn, Connolsville - South Connolsville and return, and spent the night at a suprisingly inepensive hotel in Greensburg.  The next day we joined a fan trip that coverd the parts of the system we had not ridden the day before.  A fourth friend from New York, Georg Reitz, showed up on that trip.  Because of money saved, and my friend's offer to use his Pittsburgh hotel room while he spent the next night at his girlfriend's apartment, I figure I could expand my two days to four and cover some Pittsburgh Railways lines, which were the plans of all three friends. The PRR took us to Pittsburgh, and I had the key to George's hotel room, with no questions asked at the hotel.  The next day we gathered at the car stop at the PRR station, rode first Castle Shannon, then the shuttle to Mt. Lebanon, and back to South Hill Junction with a change to the Dormont line.  From the Junction we went all the way to Roscoe beyond Charleroi, returning with a side-trip to Donorra.  By the time we got back to Pittsburgh it was dark, and a very tired Dave Klepper enjoyed George's gift of a free hotel room.  The next day we enjoyed Carneigie, other west lines including an old-car shuttle, and Fineview, possibly Etna if I did not cover that on a later trip.

The next trip to Pittsburgh was in the winter of 1952-1953, for interview for a possible job at Westinhouse's acoustics lab.  By that time good friend Harold Geissenheimer had graduated and was now running Harmony Shortlines bus company which ran from Pittsburgh north to Butler with through buses to Buffalo.  With him, and a weekened tacked on to my interview trip, we got to Trafford and a PRR to Greensburg and a revisit to some of the remaining West Penn system, and the next day a trip to Washington, PA, and rides on the local lines there.  I stayed at Harold's Dormont apartment, midway between the Mount Lebanona and Dormont car lines, allowing use of either for connection to the rest of the system.  This was usual; Harold was always a good host, and I did not need a hotel in Pittsburgh once he moved there.

In 1958, I began making regular trips to Pittsburgh on acoustical consulting projects, with my last trip there around 1990.  During this period, Harold moved from Harmony to the Port Authority and was responsible for implementing, not promolgating but implementing, the general conversion to buses.  Each trip meant riding those lines expected to be converted in the near future.

In addition to business trips, and two times as part of the business trips, I rode private cars Mountain View and LV 353 to and from Pittsburgh.  Toward the end of this period, the only remaining trolley lines were the South Hills lines.  I also helped run an ERA Pittsburgh Convention nicely timed for the changeover period from PCCs to light rail cars, and we used both during the convention, as well as visiting the Arden museum and enjoying a steamboat ride.

I always went by train to and from Pittsburgh and experienced a variety of accomodations.  The all-sleeper Steel City had Creek single-bedrooms, which I prefered, but also often used a roomette.  In the Amtrak days coach on the Pennsylvanian alternated with the Broadway Limited, the latter despite poor timing in Pittsburgh.

On one of my earlier business trips, Harold and I went with his car east to Altoona and rode that system just before it was bussed.  Johnstown was covered later with a bus-based excursion feom New York of the Electric Railroaders Association, which also included a visit to Horseshoe Curve.  At that time, the K-4 displayed there had not yet been replaced by the GP-9. 

 

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Posted by JPS1 on Monday, September 04, 2017 9:58 PM

......"the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway Company's last trolley ran on August 7, 1954."

The company attempted to make a go of it with buses, but it was unsuccessful, and it filed an application to cease operations on March 31, 1957.  

"On May 27, 1958, Altoona and Logan Township voted to create the first public transportation authority in ......Pennsylvania, Transportation & Motor Buses for Public Use Authority. .....it took over the public bus operation from Logan Valley on November 1, 1959. From 1958 through 1977, the authority was generally known as the Altoona & Logan Valley Bus Authority."

K4s 1361 was moved to the Horseshoe Curve on June 8, 1957.  My brother was a member of the Altoona High School Band, which participated in the dedication ceremonies.  I missed it because I was enjoying the summer as a recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 12:19 AM

Well then, it was not on one of my business trips, but must have been when I went to Pittsburgh for the job interview with Westinghouse in the winter of 1952-1953.  I know I only had one visit to the system, and it was only because Harold Geissenheimer used his car to and from Pittsburgh.  And the visit to Horseshoe must have taken place later.  It was part of the ERA bus trip to Johnstown.  That also would have been logical.  I think the Johnstown streetcars lasted until 1959 or 1960.

The Altoona system ran typical lighweight double-truck double-end safety cars plus maybe ten Osgood Brandley "automotive" cars, competitive with Brill Master Units, and duplicates of similar cars in Scranton and in New Bedford, the latter the cars that were the last used on Queensboro Bridge.  Who else beside these three systems (4 counting Q-BRidge) used these cars?

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 2:31 AM

West Penn was a contrast to Pittsburgh Railways regarding rolling stock, but similar with regard to the interurban lines.  Lots of hills, curves, high speed , single-track.

Below is a typical West Penn car coming from Larobe and about to enter Hecla Junction, where the branch to Latrobe met the Greenburg - Connolsville main line with a wye.

I believe these cars were built in 92, as center-door two-man cars.  The front entrance was added much later to make them one-man cars, and then the center door was used only in the major towns at the off-street stations, Greensburg, Connolsville, Uniontown, and possibly Latrobe.

And this is probably at the end of the Fairchance line:

The cars had regberative-dynamic, magnetic-track, and hand-brakes, no air.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 1:15 PM

Dave, 

Unfortunatly, I never got to ride the Johnstown, or West Penn lines. But am I correct in my understanding that the West Penn line cars did not use air brakes, just a hand brake?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 6:25 PM

Lived in the Pittsburgh area on two occasions - 2nd grade in a house on Bethel Church Road - trolleys on the Drake Line ran just beyond a small stream at the back end of the property.  In the 3rd grade we moved to a different house in Bethel Park and had to walk across the Library Line track when going to the school.  When I was working train order operator positions on the B&O's P&W sub division I lived in a house on a bluff above the Beagle stop on the Library line.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 4:01 AM

[quote user="Electroliner 1935"]

Dave, 

Unfortunatly, I never got to ride the Johnstown, or West Penn lines. But am I correct in my understanding that the West Penn line cars did not use air brakes, just a hand brake?

[/quote above]

Hand brakes, quite conventional with a large hand lever, not a wheel, were used for the final stop.  The cars were the first on trolley-operated properties to have regenerative-dynamic braking, which provided the majority of the braking effort.  Power would be returned to the line if the line could absorb it; otherwise a magnet contactor would switch the current output to the heating grid resistors.  These were arranged as on PCCs so that they would heat incoming air when heat was wanted and outgoing air in warm weather.  In addition, the cars had magnetic track brakes, very much like those used on PCCs 23 years later and on most modern light-rail cars.  All would be used regularly, not as in most PCC operations reserving the magnetic track brakes for emergencies.  The interurban cars were run fast.

The two curved-sides saved from the Alleghainy Division had the usual one-man-car air-brake safety features.  The big interurbans did not.  Even the front door was hand-operated by a large lever.  Not sure how the center door was opened and closed.  It definitely was not a treadle-operated exit door, and was only used at the off-street terminals in large towns.

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