Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad








Working on the Montour

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101



Milepost 27 National - Hendersonville
More pictures can be found in the gallery  
Gene probably remembers when he took these photos and what it sounded like.  We're at the east end of National Tunnel, Milepost 27 as a westbound coal train pops out of the tunnel.  Actually, crawls out might be more appropriate given the grade and the tonnage.
Folks, this is what it was all about: Heavy coal trains with 1,200 horsepower four-axle switchers pulling for all they're worth; drawbars banging together; wheels clicking over rail joints; a cabin car on the back with the windows closed to keep out the heat and smoke; and a dedicated photographer waiting to capture the action.
Thanks for the memories, Gene.  The new Westland Branch will never replace them. - Bob Ciminel
P&LE SW-1500's 1559-1561-1553 are now stopped at the East Portal of National Tunnel after pulling through the tunnel with 82 empty stored P&LE box Cars and 1 empty gondola. In this scene, the locomotives have pulled by the Muse Junction main track switch far enough to allow a reverse movement to couple into the caboose. Sanded rail illustrates the locomotives were working pretty hard in pulling the lengthy and heavy 83 car train off the Muse Branch and up the hill into National Tunnel. This of course will be the last Montour RR train movements through National Tunnel. September 9, 1983. Gene P. Schaeffer At National Crossing, on the east side of the tunnel I wanted to photograph the abandoned concrete overpass leading off the main track to the former National #2 Mine. National #2 Mine was opened in 1916 and closed in 1928. Still visible is this concrete overpass on the west end near the tunnel. On the east end, at Papp Road overpass, you can still see the steel seats for the bridge leading off the main track, crossing Papp Road in the direction of National Tunnel.
If you hike through the woods between these 2 points, you can see where the loaded yard trackage was located. Looking closely to the ground, lots of coal are scattered about.

Gene P. Schaeffer
This is the east portal of the National tunnel. The tunnel is 623' long and curves so that you can not see the west portal from the east. You can go through the tunnel but it has not been 'refurbished' like the Enlow tunnel. The tunnel is located at MP 26 Here is a look from the inside of the tunnel looking out the east portal. Looking into the tunnel from the east portal. You can see the bend in the tunnel where the outside light is shining on the walls.
I found these two iron rails sticking out of the ground very near MP 27. There was also a lot of coke on the ground near these two iron posts. Does anyone know the history here?

At a guess, the 2 steel beams near MP 27... Depending on their precise location, may be from Nationals Mine located on the main track East of National Tunnel.
- Gene P. Schaeffer
These are pictures of the bridge that crosses over Papp Rd. From the bridge support you can see that it used to be larger to carry two sets of tracks. Another photo of Papp Rd Bridge. On the left of the phot is an access road from Papp Rd up to the tracks. I don't know if this was used as part of the railroad. There is an iron gate restricting access from Papp Rd currently.
Those pictures reminded me of a story about National tunnel . . . years ago, when steam still ruled the Montour, my grandfather worked on the track gang out of Southview. During the colder months, a task they had to perform was to knock down the gargantuan icicles that formed on that tunnel's ceiling.  Turns out that if this wasn't done, those frozen columns of water would blow out the windows of
caboose cupolas.

Another kind of interesting task he had to perform was to make sure that the switch-stand lamps had enough oil in them...

Just another little story from Western Pennsylvania's rich
railroading heritage.

-Chris Walker
National Tunnel is one of my favorite places. Center of the tunnel was on a curve at the crest of a grade (both ways, I
think). Steam engines couldn't shut off. Talk about smoke and heat! I remember being awfully glad to get out of that one. Bandanna soaked in water held over the mouth and holding your breath didn't get you very far
into the tunnel, let alone through it!
- Bill Bigler
Not only were caboose windows knocked out, but the locomotives themselves were in harms way. I remember a report one winters morning as a #4 crew reported Engine 78 took a hit from ice inside National Tunnel.

Engine 78 was a middle unit inside the 4 unit consist. If I remember correctly, striking ice hanging down was not the problem, but the vibration from the locomotives loosened a chunk as the westbound locomotives were still working hauling the train up over the vertical curve. Down came the
chunk of ice and through the locomotive cab window.

Another danger with ice build up was the threat of a derailment. Ice is extremely hard and if not removed from inside the gauge, flanges could climb the rail and onto the ties they go and being part of the tunnel was curved, this problem could not be ignored
- Gene P. Schaeffer


Typical ice build up in the tunnel.