Montour Railroad 

Montour Junction

Montour Railroad








Working on the Montour

Schaeffer Stories

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101



Inside the Montour Junction shop.

Montour Junction engine house in 1983.
The attached scene, taken at Montour Junction is looking East. I am standing on the track known as the New Scale. Note the switch point missing on the "live" rail on the scale. The New Scale was probably last used in late 1975 or 1976. On the left is the sloppy looking crossovers of the Main Track. The crossover went from the main track to the "Old Yard". Behind the scale building is the Old Scale, then #1 Fill and #2 Fill. This 35mm black & white negative was scanned in a color settinggiving the image the older appearance. - Gene P. Schaeffer.
Map of Montour Junction in 1917.
Movie of the flooding of Montour Junction from Hurricane Agnes, 1972. Movie courtesy of Donald Obeldobel taken by his grandfather Joseph Placek.

(Gene Schaeffer Collection)
Today (31-Jul-2010) I was given the oppostunity to visit with the family of the late R.D. Scott who was storekeeper at Montour Junction during my short time associated with the Montour Railroad.
The purpose of todays visit was the invitation for to me to pick up for preservation the photograph collection of Don Krater whose father Howard Krater was employed with the Montour, with both families being combined through marriage. I had met Howard and son Don back in 1994 just a day or so after US Air Flight 427 crashed in Hopewell. I had taken along the video camera and recorded the conversations with Howard who had spent his career on the Montour RR as  Lineman.
The Scott Family wanted Don't photograph treasures preserved as best as possible and with his many Montour RR photographs, I was given that opportunity. One of the more striking photographs in Don's collection is a color 11x14 glossy that is strikingly sharp and well exposed looking in on the Enginehouse at Montour Junction.  The photograph is full of detail even in July 3, 1977. To start off with, the walkway on the bridge over Montour Creek, The enginehouse bridge as it was called still carries  its red dress paint, before someone decided P&LE green was the color of the day. The water stand pipe is still standing.
The sand track does not have the tank car used for fuel oil storage after the gigantic storage tank was found leaking and put out of service. Sadly, the original low boy switch targets have the new reflectorized  aluminum ones that came from up river. Several piles of brand new ties are stored off to the left near the car yard. The now preserved X-1 is present and accounted for sitting out the day where she spent most of her off time career.
The "Straight" track between the buildings still looks good after being completly rebuilt with new ties then surfaced that I participated in while still working on the track gang. I remember we jacked the rail up at least a foot or so, removed bad ties and placed new ones, along with alot of  new ballast. The rail head looks like it is sanded as it very well could of been. Often, if flat spots were found on locomotive wheels, abrasive shoes were installed on the locomotives trying to remove the flat spot(s). If you use your imagination you can see the pathways where the hostler helper and train men walked numerous times per day as train crews lined themselves out of, then back into the enginehouse. The new mercury vapor flood light is now mounted high atop one of the telephone poles almost dead center in the photograph.
After leaving the Scott Family residence in Moon Township, I headed over the hill arriving Montour Junction a short time later. I was able to drive around the enginehouse, but as we all know, not much is left to see. The lenghty 300' concrete slabs for the two buildings still remain. Trees and such have claimed much of the land, except the general area where the diesels were fueled.
The 11x14 photograph was a refreshing step back into time.  Its frightening to think this photograph is now 33 years old.
Gene P. Schaeffer
Sandhouse at Montour Junction.

  TB10-P&LE-SW-1500locomotiveNo.jpg (74805 bytes)
SW9's #73 and 84 are at Coraopolis, PA on October 19, 1980. 
The Montour was wholly owned by the P&LE by this time 
(at one time the PC owned 50%).
- Doug Kroll (
Interchange of the Montour with the P&LE

Here are some additional photos of engines in Montour junction from Doug Kroll


This is a panoramic view of Montour Junction looking towards the west. The picture was taken from the large concrete tower located at the end of the yard near the CSX tracks. The items in the pictures below have been identified in the photo.





This is the old foundation for the Montour Railroad shops. Not much remains here but the foundation and the base floor. You can see many of the bricks of the old walls for the building  strewn about.
N 40 30.682
W 80 08.854

Here is a mystery foundation that we found on the way up to the junction buildings. Only scattered building materials and a small wall remain.
N 40 30.593
W 80 08.933
We are at a loss as to what this structure is. It appears to have been moved from it's original location. The concrete near the top of the pier is worn like something picked it up and moved it and the concrete was broken away in the process. The top has what looks like a pulley on the top but it is bolted to the concrete and is immovable despite what appears to be an axle in the center. It also does not have a grove around to keep a belt in place. if it was even used for that. The iron work is quite interesting. Perhaps some strongman can remove the iron wheel and use it as a decoration in the home. The goal post looking thing most likely held a battery of transformers.

Update: The pier was originally located near the coaling dock as the base for the gantry crane that was used to clean out the loco ash pits. The clam shell bucket that was used with it also sat next to the base up until the shops were dismantled, at which time it too was scrapped. The girder works of the crane must have been scrapped years before, I never saw that portion. I was told that they planned to set the crane up in the car repair yard for their use after the steam loco's were gone, but it never happened.
History by Tim Sposato
Here is a concrete structure with imbedded timbers. Perhaps this thing is an altar to the men and women that worked the Montour (not really). The wood that is embedded in the concrete is charred from fire or strong heat. Again, we don't know the use of this. Can someone enlighten us please. The first picture relates the location of the 'Altar' to the pier with the wheel described above. You can see the charred wood in the middle picture. The third picture is from the top of the concrete and shows a small pit located on the top.

The panoramic view of the shop grounds show the concrete foundation that the shop air compressor sat on. It was designed to keep the compressor above the normal flood stage of the Ohio River. This was under the common roof of the backshop building, next to the electrical shop.
History by Tim Sposato

N 40 30.714
W 80 08.832

  There are two bridges that led into the Montour Railroad shops. Both of the bridges are gone. The concrete abutments still exist for both. This is the bridge that is farthest from the beginning of the yard. We think the large pipe was placed after the Montour was dismantled.  
This is the end of Montour Junction and the beginning of the Montour Trail.
N 40 30.020
W 080 08.947
    Here are the pictures of the ruins of the other Montour shop bridges. The picture on the right show erosion caused by Hurricane Ivan flooding 17-Sep-2004.  
All that remains of the track are ties that only tell some of the story of the activity that went on here.
N 40 30.455
W 80 08.807
  Ruins   A Ghost of it's former self. How long before the Montour Junctions remains are completely hidden?
We found some old concrete ties   Here are some old rusting rail tongs   This old bridge was built in 1934 and is still in very good shape. This bridge led to the connection with the P&LE on the east end of Montour Junction.
N40 30.506
W 80 08.942
Here are the remains of and old cinder block trainmen's shanty just below Rt51 and to the left of the bottom of the stairs. This was used in the late days of operation. Not much, just a washroom, lockers, table and chairs. Next to the shanty there used to be two 18" diameter air tanks bout 10' long that were used for air testing cars in the yard. These came off a 2-8-2 type steam locomotives.
History by Tim Sposato

N 40 30.376
W 80 08.846
  This is the remains of the old Fairbanks scale that wasn't used much at the end of operations. There is an area to the RT51 side of the pit that was the scale house. The house was wood construction and had some nice old furnishings still in it into the beginning of the 1980's. The steel beams of the scale were manufactured by USS.
History by Tim Sposato

N40 30.619
W 80 08.962
"This is an old style gauge rod used to hold the correct gauge in the track. These were used a lot where there were bad ties. The yard tracks were full of them."

"I know when I first worked the track gang, I put 100's of them on, most were the rod bar type with a bent hook on one end and the other end threaded. This end would have a cast steel clamp that fit the rail base and was drawn tight with a nut & lock washer. You'll most likely find some of the around the yard also."
by Tim Sposato
  Here is an old shovel and pipe bender.    
Historic Pittsburgh Image of Montour Junction
Here are some photos taken during the 2006 tour of Montour Junction.
 Group Enters the Junction.JPG (833119 bytes)
The gang heads into the junction.
   Early Morning MTJ.JPG (881272 bytes)
Early morning

DSCN0146.JPG (1093607 bytes)

DSCN0154.JPG (1041341 bytes)
Old pit for locomotive repair.

Engine Pit from steam era.JPG (859752 bytes)
DSCN0143.JPG (1049068 bytes)

DSCN0164.JPG (1044460 bytes)
A concrete pad.

Base for Sanding Tower.JPG (1115989 bytes)
Base of a sanding tower. There are 3 of them still standing.

Gene Schaeffer Pete Steele.JPG (924357 bytes)
Gene Schaeffer and Pete Steele

Group.JPG (888675 bytes)
DSCN0155.JPG (1005954 bytes)
DSCN0160.JPG (977525 bytes) Looking back over shop area.JPG (790637 bytes)

Last remaining Bridge 1934.JPG (94104 bytes)
This bridge is the "New Wye" bridge over Montour Creek. Connected to the P&LE at Groveton. Most all empty P&LE hoppers received by the Montour passed over this bridge. It connected to Montour's main track near Route 51 overpass. - Gene P. Schaeffer

Montour Creek.JPG (993294 bytes)
Montour Creek

Montour Junction Dec 2006.JPG (634603 bytes)
Power poles.JPG (840571 bytes)
Utility poles still stand.

Rivits and Spikes.JPG (1073112 bytes)
These spikes and rivets were strewn all about the car repair area.

Shops Engine off rail A.JPG (996334 bytes)Shops Engine Off Rail B.JPG (981383 bytes)
These photos shows the loco wheels cutting into the concrete when pushed to far into the shop

The Alter.JPG (873491 bytes)
The Alter

Ties in the scrap yard.JPG (1015264 bytes)
Train Watchers.JPG (878912 bytes)
Railfans still!

Troy on Gantry.JPG (813766 bytes)
Troy surveys the Junction from the gantry pillar.

MainTrackMontourJct12232006.JPG (211917 bytes)
This photograph was taken during our December 23rd walk. In this view, the scene looks "east". We are about where the main track switch to the engine house was located. The tie's are part of a wall that separated the main track and the New Scale. The New Scale was the concrete foundation in the ground. The tire tracks in the cinders mark the location of the Montour RR Main Track. As time passes, only photographs and memories will mark what once was. Gene P. Schaeffer