Montour Railroad

Montour Railroad


Bridges and Tunnels







Working on the Montour

Schaeffer Stories

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101

Library Branch
The Library Branch of the Montour Railroad served the Montour #10 mine as well as establishing a connection with the Pennsylvania and B & O Railroads. More pictures of the branch are located here.
Milepost 0
A view of the  switch directing trains to the Library Branch.

I first became interested in the Montour in late 1982. A little before Christmas that year, the tunnels that the Montour crossed on the Northern part of the Bethel Park spur were daylighted (AKA: removed). These would be the three tunnels that carried Baptist Road, Route 88, and Brightwood Road under the Montour. In addition the bridge that carried Broughton Road over the Montour had been removed and filled in. (Horning Road crossed the Montour at grade level.) Before that I did not know that much of the Montour had been abandoned.

Sources at that time indicated a portion of the Montour near Coraopolis was still in use. I naively thought that the line in Peters Township was still in use. So on a March 1983 weekend, I parked in Bethel Park, hopped onto the abandon tracks, and set out on my mission to find Library Junction. I was almost like the boys in the movie "Stand by Me" except I was following an abandon rail line and my mission was not to find a dead body but a live Railroad line.

At that time only the tracks between Salida and the trestle over West Library Avenue had been removed; the tracks southwest of the Bethel Municipal building were intact but noticeably abandon. Needless to say, when I reached Library Junction I found the main line to the west to be as dead as the Bethel Spur, and the Library Line even more so.

Notice in this picture that the old switch is positioned to direct a train from Bethel towards Coraopolis and not Library. Also, the spur to Library on the left side is even more vegetated than the track to Coraopolis that goes straight. This suggests the Library line was out of use longer at least in this location.
picture and text 
2007, Larry Woods, used with permission

bp1.jpg (287614 bytes)For 24 years after the snapping of these pictures, I was unable to pinpoint the precise location of this picture. In 2007 I was finally able to determine the spot -- thanks a bit to my memories, but thanks so much more to being able to compare the picture to aerial images provided by that 21st century gem: the internet.

This shot is facing North on the Bethel spur from just above the Library Junction. The North switching point of the Junction would be just behind me in this picture. Ahead and to the left, just around the curve in the picture, would be the old bridge that carried Brush Run Road over the Montour. That overpass was removed in 1984 or 85, and the old RR right of way was filled in there.

The condition of the track is noticeably poor: the rails are rusted and the ties are rotting. Yet this Bethel spur is in better condition than the Library spur in the other pictures.

Today I wish I had taken a shot of the main track heading west from the Junction towards Coraopolis. For whatever reason I didn't do it then. Yet I remember this main track being in a state of condition comparable to the Bethel spur and definitely better than the condition of the Library spur. Text and Picture Co. 2007, Larry Woods; used with permission

bp2.jpg (266947 bytes)This is the Fifth and final picture I took that weekend in March '83. Only recently, thanks to the use of aerial images from and Google Earth (map), did I pinpoint the precise location where I took it at: I was just about directly underneath of, though a bit to the north of, the old Brush Run Rd overpass, which was removed around 1985.

For one thing, the immediate area in the picture has a darker, shadowy look, while in the distance it is sunnier. Also, there is the descending embankment on the left side of the track. Another key indicator is the straight stretch of track for the foreseeable distance in the picture.

After departing Library Junction, Montour trains bound for Bethel Park swung around a curve to the left, seen in my previous picture, then ducked under Brush Run Road. After passing under that old overpass, the tracks straightened and followed a straight line for more than a third of a mile, running at a Northwest angle directly parallel to the County line, which is a bit under 600 feet to the northeast of the right of way. After paralleling the County line for about 2,100 feet, the trains bound for Bethel then began a sweeping curve to the right, which took them across the line into Allegheny County.

Today this location is much different. Since the Brush Run Rd overpass was removed, and the old Rail Road right of way filled in there, the Montour trail crosses Brush Run Rd at an elevation several feet higher than the Rail Road did. And the grade on both sides of the road has been filled in so trail users do not have to climb too steep of a slope.

At the time I took these pix, the Montour's infrastructure -- the tracks, bridges, and tunnels --  was still intact as far north as the old trestle over West Library Road and the Trolley Tracks. From there to Salida, the infrastructure had already been removed.  The tunnels over Brightwood Rd, Rte 88, and Baptist Rd near the Salida Junction, had been removed in early December 1982. The tracks there may have been removed at the same time or they may have been removed earlier.

The tracks from the West Library trestle to Library Junction were removed in 1984. Yet much of the other infrastructure, such as the tunnel over Logan Road, was intact in 1985. Picture and text Co. 2007, Larry Woods; used with permission

Looking East Brush Run Road Bridge East of Library Junction July 1948.
Photograph courtesy of Nick Jarina. If you look closely, about half way up the tangent On the left, the Yard Limit Board for Library Junction. And no power lines. - Gene P. Schaeffer

Here is the same location as the above picture, but from the reverse direction. The Library spur is on the right, the main line to the left, and the Bethel spur straight ahead. Just as in Picture One, the Library spur is more rusted and more vegetated than the Bethel and main line. picture and text 2007, Larry Woods, used with permission
This picture from the same day in March 1983 is of the Library spur. The track on the left came from the Bethel spur and the one on the right from the main line. Both are well rusted and vegetated, much more so than the Main line and Bethel spur seen in the first two pictures.

Straight ahead is the Library spur that led to Snowden. It quickly disappears behind heavy vegetation. These three pictures indicate that, at least at this location, the Library spur had been out of use longer than the Main line and Bethel spur.

I have seen sources that say the Library spur was last used in 1978. If so, my guess is that it was likely accessed from the B & O line in Snowden and not from this location.
text and picture 
2007, Larry Woods, used with permission
Milepost 1.8 The Viaduct
This is the location of the trainman's shanty. It lies just outside of the viaduct on the west side 
Here's another gauge rod that was used to hold the track to the correct gauge. A lot of these were used in the Montour to try and keep the tracks usable.
Old ties still lie strewn about the roadbed. 
An old piece of rail lies rusting in the snow.
 Look at the roadbed from the viaduct.
 This is the remains of a train derailment. The train was carrying a load of ballast and derailed accordion style. Much of the ballast was cleaned up but some still remain
Milepost 2.0 The Freight House
 This is the old Montour Freight house located along the branch near the Montour #10 mine. It is currently vacated and doesn't look like it's been used since the last days of the Montour. The freight house is located just off of Pleasant Street
This is a connection for the telegraph that used to be used for communicating with the trains. It was discontinued after the Montour began to use radios in the 70's.
Here's a shot from around 1975, you can see how the Montour #10 machine shop looked along with the spur track that served the machine shop and the freight station.

The freight station had a wooden door and curtains.  The office interior had 2 wooden desks, filing cabinets and chairs to match and waybills, tariff books, officials guides and other car movement related material.

The  freight room had bundled and boxed old (1930's and up )  car billing documents.  This is where I found my first #40 and #41 timetables along with some switch locks and keys dated 1936.   There were some M o W tools and track components stored there also.  I recall a few other old desks and chairs stored there too.
- Tim Sposato
This is a view was looking eastbound towards the #10 Tipple, the Viaduct was around the curve behind me. - Tim Sposato

Here is a picture taken the same day that I took the freight house shot above (1975). This was the overpass the Montour crossed in Library. The freight house was to the right. A lot of graffiti, some of the worst was painted over by the Township. - Tim Sposato

Milepost 4 - Washing Machine Lake
Washingmachine Lake got it's name from the Montour Railroaders. It was a swampy area that was and probably still is a dumping ground for old washing machines and tires. You won't find it on any map. From the location where these pictures were taken is where the trash is thrown over the hill into the lake. The water level is not as high as it used to be.