Mr. Vanderbilt Invades Pennsylvania Railroad Territory Invasion!!


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Mr. Vanderbilt’s new railroad between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pa. First came to light in June of 1883 as the Harrisburg and Western. Whether this was title used to cause the least alarm to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company is not known. "articles of merger and consolidation of this company with the South Pennsylvania Railroad Co. have been filed at Harrisburg. The two charters were obtained by the same parties and covered the same line of road, the Harrisburg and Western charter having been secured to cover certain changes and omission in the original South Pennsylvania organization. The consolidation, there for, is entirely formal, and does not change the position or purposes of the company, which it is organized to build what is known as the Vanderbilt line, from Harrisburg to a junction with the Pittsburgh, McKeesport, & Youghiogheny road near Pittsburgh."

The original conjectured route of the Harrisburg and Western (south Pennsylvania railroad) as related to the Pittsburgh Telegraph of June 22 1883 by Mr. Oliver W. Barnes, the then chief engineer of the proposed railroad, and recorded in the Railroad Gazette of June 29, 1883, page 435, "that the road leaves Harrisburg where it connects with the Philadelphia and Reading going east, and runs in a direct line 100 miles to Bedford thence to Somerset to near Mt. Pleasant and down the Big Sewickly Valley to its mouth, on the right bank of the Youghiogheny River, where, after crossing the river, ‘it intersects the Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Youghigheny Railroad, 29 miles from Pittsburgh, thus forming a line from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh 229 miles in length. This route is the one chosen, and will be adopted by the board of directors. It is proposed to extend a branch from a point east. Of Mt. Pleasant and thence via Connellsville direct to Wheeling.’ -----‘The only bridge of extraordinary magnitude will be the one at Harrisburg, crossing the Susquehanna. This bridge has not been contracted for, as published, and instead of costing $2,000,000 it will cost but $500,000. It will be iron truss of the latest, improved, pattern, and the contract for its construction will be let in the fall.

Ten tunnels will be constructed, some of them unusually large. The first is the Blue Ridge, 25 miles west of Harrisburg, 4,350 feet long; second, one mile west of the Blue Ridge, the Kittatinny tunnel, 4653 feet; third, Tuscarora tunnel, 5,290 feet; fourth, Sidling Hill tunnel, 6,300 feet; fifth Ray’s Hill tunnel, 3,700 feet; sixth, Allegheny Mountain tunnel, 5900 feet; seventh, Negro Mountain tunnel, 1,800 feet; eight, Quemahoning tunnel, 2,000 feet; ninth Laurel Hill tunnel, 5,300 feet; tenth, Sewickly tunnel, 1,800 feet. The general maximum grade going east is 52 feet to the mile, but a large proportion of the road is on grades 26 feet to the mile. The ascent of the eastern slope of the Allegheny Mountains will be made with a grade of 95 feet to the mile on tangents, reduces to curves in proportion to the rate of the curvature in such manner as to make the curves equivalent to straight lines. The rate of grade is the same as that used on the Pennsylvania Railroad in the ascent from Altoona to the summit of the Alleghenies, and is the same in length, 10 miles. The right of way for nearly the while line has been obtained, and generally by free releases from the land owners. The company has secured a tract of land on the West Side of the Susquehanna, opposite Harrisburg. The road is to be built in the best manner with double track, 70 pound steel rails and every known improvement.

The contracts will be let on Sept. 1 work begun immediately thereafter. Two years will finish the line, and t it expected $100,000 per mile will be expended. The P. McK. And Y. will furnish terminal facilities in this city.

The Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Yougiogheny according to the Railroad Gazette of September 14, 1883, page 614 "was" on September 1, 1883, "formerly transferred to the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Co. and will be operated by that company as its Youghiogheny Division. The road as now completed extends from the junction with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie road in Pittsburgh, south by east to New Haven in the Connellsville coke district, a distance of 58 miles. It follows the course of the Youghiogheny River and is generally parallel and close to the Pittsburgh Division from Baltimore and Ohio. IT IS TO BE USED AS THE PITTSBURGH END OF THE SOUTH PENNSYLVANIA ROAD FROM HARRISBURG TO PITTSBURGH."

The Pittsburgh "Chronicle-Telegraph" of January 8, 1884, states:

"A new location for the western division of the South Pennsylvania railroad west of Mt. Pleasant has been surveyed by which 12 miles in distance is saved. By the new route the road will diverge from the former surveys along the Sewickly beyond Paintersville, and, tending, in a northwestern direction strike to Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Youghiogheny road a point a mile west of McKeesport. This route will probably be adopted." This like change did away with tunnel number 10, or the 1,800 foot Sewickly tunnel, Youghiogheny River bridge and brought the route down Crooked Run along what is now Crooked Run Road and Fifth Avenue Extended crossing the Baltimore and Ohio Railraod main tracks, at graqde and curved westward under what is now the McKeesport-Duquesne Highway Bridge and onto the Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Youghiogheny Railroad tracks for the run down the right bank of the Monogahela River, and over to the left bank at Rankin and on to Pittsburgh.

At any rate making the junction with the Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Youghiogheny railroad 11 miles up the Monongahela river from pittsburgh on the right bank of the river definatly places the end of the proposed South Pennsylvania railroad juncture at Port Perry at the mouth of Turtle Creek. Just which bank of Turtle creek the railroad was going to use to get to a juntion with the P. McK. And Y is not clear. Whatever bank they came along would mean a crossing at the main tracks of the B&O railroad, probably by a bridge. After getting on to Pittsburgh, McKeesport, and Youghiogheny steel and crossing the Monongahela River at Rankin and on to Pittsburgh and Lake Erie rails at west end of the J &l Tunnel and into the latter’s Pittsburgh terminal at the South End of the Smithfield Street Bridge, William H. Vanderbilt has planned for the South Pennsylvania Railroad traffic to be routed onto Chicago vie the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie, to Youngstown Ohio’s; then onto the Erie railroad to Cleveland, and on to Mr. Vanderbilt’s own rails again at Cleveland, namely the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern.

Going east out of Harrisburg, the South Pennsylvania Railroad trains were to use Philadelphia and Reading tracks to Reading, PA., there they were to dived. Strictly New York bound trains were to go on to Allentown PA where the would meet the tracks of the Central railroad of New Jersey and continue on through Bethlehem, Easton and through Bound Brook, NJ. To Elizabeth port and on to the two mile long double tracked swing bridge over the Newark bay and to Communionpaw Terminal at Jersey City.

None of this ever happened.

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