PITTSBURGH & CASTLE SHANNON
NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD

1871 TO 1950

The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon a 40 inch narrow gauge railroad from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Castle Shannon Pa. Established 9-1-1871 to run 17 miles from Pittsburgh to Finleyville Pa. But never got beyond the 6.5 mile run to Castle Shannon. The railroad opened 11-1-1871 as a passenger carrier and coal hauler. The line from Pittsburgh to Fair Haven, (present-day Overbrook) was finished in 1871. Then on to Castle Shannon in 1872 where it ended at Arlington Station, near what is now The Lebanon Shops.

According to John Baxter, in a 1952 article, "the Pittsburgh side of the railroad began at the 1,741 ft. coal tunnel on the hillside above the present Mt. Washington streetcar tunnel. The city end of the old coal tunnel was connected with an incline 850 ft. in length rising from Carson Street. Tracks in a horse shoe curve connected the tunnel, with the line coming in from Castle Shannon." The first passengers cars were converted box cars. These were later changed to two coaches, one a combination baggage and smoker. The tunnel was widened and improved at a cost of $25,000. There was a second tunnel 1,766 ft. long that paralleled Grandview Avenue, to an incline near a mill.

In the same article according to John Baxter, "in the1880's the railroad leased a strip east of the southern approach to its tunnel and constructed an incline of varying degrees of assent, parallel with Haberman Avenue, up the *back* side of Mt. Washington. The top of this incline adjoined another steeper and longer *front* incline (known as the Castle Shannon Incline) which was built to drop city-bound riders to Carson Street.

Passengers and freight in the 1890's then used the steam train into Warrington and Haberman Avenues, transferred to ride up onto Mt. Washington on the *back* incline, changed at Bailey Street, decended to river level at Carson Street via the Castle Shannon incline. Coal shipments continued to move through the old tunnel".

PITTSBURGH BUSINESS MAN
PROMOTES THE PITTSBURGH & CASTLE SHANNON

The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon was promoted and built by Milton D. Hayes a Pittsburgh business man. Hayes also promoted and built the Pittsburgh Southern Railroad in 1878. The P&CS was not built without great difficulty. There were constant battles between Mr. Hayes and other officials of the P&CS as to what course the company should be heading. As a result of this division, Mr. Hayes resigned as president and general manager in Aug. of 1878.

THE RAILROAD BRINGS AN ECONOMIC BOOM TO CASTLE SHANNON

To promote sales of land the railroad owned in Castle Shannon, it offered free two (2) year passes to anyone who built a home on land purchased from the railroad.

Revenues from the railroad were not what the company directors had hoped for, so it was decided that the railroad would build an amusement grove at Castle Shannon in 1873. The grove known as "The Linden Grove" is still there today. This proved so successful that a second grove was built at Wildwood. Then came the zoological garden in the area of Arch Street and Poplar Avenue, followed by two camp-meeting grounds.

The camp-meeting grounds in Castle Shannon was leased from the railroad by the Methodist Church from 1874 to 1879. In 1880 the church purchased the meeting grounds from the railroad.

The railroad was a major factor in the development and economic boom that took place in Castle Shannon. The railroad proved very profitable for the Castle Shannon businessmen. Noted businessman, James L. McKee, had the foresight to see this. Mr. McKee located to Castle Shannon in 1875, and later became its first Postmaster.

HARD TIMES HIT THE P&CS

On May 1, 1879 to April 1, 1880 the P&CS was placed into receivership and offered for sale. The receivership can be attributed to Mr Hayes and his constant battles with the other members of the board. Thus causing a division among the board members, resulting in the building of the Pittsburgh Castle Shannon & Washington Railroad by Mr. Hayes all the while he was still president of the P&CS.

It was reported that Mr. Hayes transferred $7,000 from the P&CS to the building fund of the PCS&W. Hayes also changed a section of the P&CS track to 36 inch rendering that section of track useless to the P&CS. In doing so, it caused a war between the P&CS and the PCS&W which by that time was renamed the Pittsburgh Southern Railroad.

In an attempt to keep that questionable P&CS section of track at 36 inch, Mr. Hayes promised increased profits for the P&CS via the PS. But the promises were never kept, causing the P&CS to lose money, from the loss of passenger traffic. As a result, Mr. Hayes resignation was asked for by the board of the P&CS and three (3) charges of misconduct were leveled against Mr. Hayes (one for $58,000 of stock in the P&CS that Hayes never paid for). Hayes protested the charges as false and unfounded. That was on Aug. 2, 1878 and on Aug. 16, 1878 Hayes tendered his resignation and the P&CS board withdrew their charges.

PITTSBURGH RAILWAYS TAKES OVER

The Pittsburgh Coal Company, the principal shipper on the line, purchased the P&CS in 1900 and operated it untill 1905 when the Pittsburgh Railways leased the railroad. At the time of the lease there were three (3) locomotives, five (5) passenger cars, three (3) combinations, ten (10) flat and gondolas, and two hundred and seventy five (275) coal cars.

In 1908, during the period of electrification and double gauging, freight, coal and passenger service continued . After electric passenger cars (Streetcars) began running regularly, coal trains were moved on the narrow gauge only at night. Passing sidings consisted of spur or stub switches into which an electric passenger car would pull to let the steam train with a string of coal cars pass. Hauling of coal was discontinued 5-1-1912, and most of the narrow gauge rail was removed except where it was retained as a gard rail on bridges and curves.

Steam passenger service was to officially end in 1915, {that date has been disputed} with one small exception at the"back" incline with only one daily trip being made for franchise purposes until 1919. Although, unofficially there have been confirmed eyewitness reports that the train was still making passenger trips to and from Castle Shannon as late as 1918. Elizabeth McKee, of Castle Shannon, as a child remembers being one of the many passengers to ride the train in 1917.

MAIN SERVICE YARD IN CASTLE SHANNON

The railroad had four bridges with a total length of 1,530 ft. and fourteen (14) stations. The Castle Shannon station was located on Willow Avenue, in front of Beltzhoovers Store. The main service yard and shop was in Castle Shannon, right behind the old Borough Building, at the cornor of Willow Avenue and Castle Shannon Boulevard. The article by John Baxter lists a roundhouse at the main service yard.

THE COAL MINES

The P&CS had two (2) coal mine locations. One at West Liberty Hill, the other at Fair Haven (Overbrook). The West Liberty Hill mines were part of the Baily Coal Road, which was the first land bought by the railroad in 1871. It was serviced by a branch line, 1 & 2/5 miles long, that crossed a bridge high over Saw Mill Run Creek. The Fair Haven mines, called Oak Mine #1 and #2, were located near Overbrook Elementary School. It was serviced by a 1 & 3/4 mile branch line.

The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon remained on the books until 1950 when Pittsburgh Railways bought the railroad from the Pittsburgh Coal Company.





Locomotives of The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon Railroad

Number
Type
Builder
Year
1
N A
National Locomotive
1871
2
0-4-0
National Locomotive
1871
3
0-4-0
National Locomotive
1871
4
4-4-0
Pittsburgh
1871
5
2-6-0
National Locomotive
1871
6
0-4-0
Pittsburgh
1874
7
0-4-4
Pittsburgh
1888
8
2-4-2
Pittsburgh
#8 was rebuilt to 4-4-0 and sold to Pittsburgh & Western #4
See photo below
1892
9
2-4-0
Pittsburgh
1900


The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon Railroad
1879 Schedule

  • Trains leave Pittsburgh for Castle Shannon
    7:20, 9:15, 11:00 am, 2:00, 4:15, 5:15, 6:30, *10:40 pm
  • Trains leave Castle Shannon
    5:45, 6:40, 8:00, 10:20 am, 1:00, 3:00, 5:50, *10:00 pm
  • Sunday Trains leave Pittsburgh
    10:00 am, 12:40 noon, 2:30, 6:00 pm
  • Sunday Trains leave Castle Shannon
    9:15, 12:00 noon, 1:50, 5:15 pm
  • *Wednesday and Saturday only


Imagery of
The Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon Railroad


Imagery revised on Thursday, November 16, 2006




Many thanks to Paul Dudjak, Castle Shannon Historian who contributed much to this page and provided the copy of the request for annual passes from the original document

South Hills Junction & McKinley Trestle photos were purchased from The Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, PA

Free-Web-Counters.net
Free-Web-Counters.net


Copyright © 2006 McNally’s Railroad Collectables