Mystery railroad grade in Washington PA area

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Mystery railroad grade in Washington PA area

Postby salminkarkku » Fri May 11, 2007 2:01 pm

I've just received this query:

"If you look at the USGS maps of the area of Washington on Topozone you will see a clear “old RR grade” running all the way from Van Emmans on the PRR past Eighty Four on the BO and down to rejoin the PRR near Marianna.
This looks to be fairly well defined and includes a lengthy tunnel, it also shows up on the Virtual Earth images of the area.
This begs the question: Was this line largely built as the "Chartiers Southern" but not used by the MGA (USGS shows no continuation south of Marianna), or was it actually a PRR line that might have been operated?
I can’t find any evidence but do you have any thoughts?"

I spotted this route on an old map, and thought that it was the original scheme of the "Chartiers Southern" a century ago, which ended up being built from Mather PRR to Waynesville in the late 1920's as part of the MGA.
A short connection from Van Emmans would have linked it to the "Montour RR".
I think it was a dud grade, but has anyone got any better info?"
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Postby RussNelson » Sat May 12, 2007 1:00 am

Here's the line, drawn on Google Maps: http://rutlandtrail.org/gmap.cgi?van-em ... a.pa.track
It doesn't show up on the 190x topo maps. Neither does the PRR line in Marianna, but then again, East Marianna doesn't exist at all.
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Postby pumpers » Sat May 12, 2007 7:06 pm

Also not on in my Steam Powered Video map book
(although they are missing a few other lines too).
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Re: Mystery railroad grade in Washington PA area

Postby jrevans » Tue May 15, 2007 11:34 pm

salminkarkku wrote:I've just received this query:

"If you look at the USGS maps of the area of Washington on Topozone you will see a clear “old RR grade” running all the way from Van Emmans on the PRR past Eighty Four on the BO and down to rejoin the PRR near Marianna.
This looks to be fairly well defined and includes a lengthy tunnel, it also shows up on the Virtual Earth images of the area.
This begs the question: Was this line largely built as the "Chartiers Southern" but not used by the MGA (USGS shows no continuation south of Marianna), or was it actually a PRR line that might have been operated?
I can’t find any evidence but do you have any thoughts?"

I spotted this route on an old map, and thought that it was the original scheme of the "Chartiers Southern" a century ago, which ended up being built from Mather PRR to Waynesville in the late 1920's as part of the MGA.
A short connection from Van Emmans would have linked it to the "Montour RR".
I think it was a dud grade, but has anyone got any better info?"


I have the answer, because I have a great book titled "The Feet on the Panhandle" (about the Waynesburg and Washington Railroad) and it has a nice little section on local rail history.

The line in question was indeed the "Chartiers Southern" with an alignment from starting at VanEman (on the former Chartiers Valley RR) through Eighty Four, to Glyde (where the tunnel is) down to the PRR Marianna Branch.

The book states that the B&O was supposed to have owned, and maybe built the Chartiers Southern from Eighty Four to Marianna, even though no physical connection existed in between the two railroads. The book says that the line was started South from VanEman in 1908.

I grew up in Washington and remember driving along side of the ROW on Route 519, from I-70 down to Route 40 where the grade was quite evident. The bridge abutments were even put in, but the track was never laid. I ventured close to the portal on the South side, but never saw anything. There was a pond there at the South portal and rumor has it that the tunnel had caved in and was partially flooded.

As stated in the book, this unfinished ROW was sold to the Monongahela Railroad on Feb 28, 1929 (along with the other C.S. lines). I wonder if this ROW was passed to Conrail and now owned by NS? That'd be interesting....
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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Wed May 16, 2007 12:48 pm

That was very interesting Jim. I have been for about three years now, I have been working on a book. The book is called. Railroads of Pennsylvania That Would Have Been. It's for all the railroads in Pennsylvania that were chartered but never laid. So for I have five Counties covered in this book. This one will also be listed Thanks all for helping with out even knowing.

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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Wed May 16, 2007 12:56 pm

I did a search on Yahoo and came up with this website.

http://www.chartiers.com/jeff/2000-Mar/charvrr.html

It talks about the history of this line.

Take care,
Len.
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CV != CS

Postby jrevans » Wed May 16, 2007 10:02 pm

Schuylkill Valley wrote: I did a search on Yahoo and came up with this website.

http://www.chartiers.com/jeff/2000-Mar/charvrr.html

It talks about the history of this line.

Take care,
Len.


Mr. Shaner,

The Chartiers Valley railroad described in that article, is not the Chartiers Southern that we were talking about. Different railroads.

There is very little information available on the web about the Chartiers Southern.

Your book sounds interesting. Pennsylvania has a lot of railroad history.
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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Thu May 17, 2007 10:34 am

I came across this information it might help some.


From the Monongahela Railroad's incorporation in 1900, the line was equally owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the P&LE Railroad, both of which already had branches extending south along the Monongahela River to Brownsville, Pennsylvania, with the P&LE (black) on the east bank and the PRR (hazel) on the west.

Construction began on the MRR (red) in 1901 and two years later a twenty seven mile line was opened south of Brownsville, PA, on the east bank of the Monongahela River. The Monongahela expanded a short time later by leasing the Connesllville and Monongahela Railway (purple) which tapped the mines located to the south of Brownsville along Dunlap Creek.

On July 1st of 1915, the Monongahela Railway was formed following the consolidation of the Monongahela Railroad with the Buckhannon & Northern Railroad (orange), a line that extended south along the Mon River to several branches around Fairmont, WV, and a connection with the B&O at Rivesville Junction.

The Monongahela Railway (MRY) gained more trackage in 1925 by leasing the Scotts Run Railway (brown), a shortline that reached across Mon County from Randall, WV, to Brave, PA. A year later in 1926, the seeds which would ultimately doom the railroad were sown when the B&O Railroad gained a 1/3 partnership in the MRY with the P&LE and the PRR. As part of this deal, the Monongahela gained the following sections of railroad from the involved companies: the Indian Creek and Northern Railroad (indigo) at Lowsville, WV, which served several mines along Indian Creek; the Chartiers Southern RR (green), which owned two short branches on the west side of the Mon River - one located between Besco, PA, and Mather, PA, with the second between Nemacolin, PA, and Cruicble, PA. The PRR also leased two branches (yellow) to the company: the Ten Mile Run Branch located between the connection with the C.S. RR's Besco branch and Millsboro; the Cruicble Branch which connected with the other section of the Chartier Southern.

The Pennsylvania Railroad also extended trackage rights (maroon) to the Monongahela Railway, connecting the original line with the new additions gained by the transaction: 1) the Redstone Branch between Brownsville and West Brownsville; 2) South from West Brownsville along the west side of the river to Ten Mile Run Jct at Millsboro. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad extended trackage rights to the MRY from Rivesville Junction up the Paw Paw Branch to the Grant Town mine, although B&O crews worked the mine and brought trains down the Paw Paw or the RC&P to Rivesville Junction for interchange.

Still not content with the riverbank, the Monongahela expanded the Chartiers Southern's Besco Branch, later the Ten Mile Run Branch, to Waynesburg in 1930 (gray), ending the consolidation and building blitz of the first third of the 20th century. During the next three decades the Monongahela Railway was primarily centered on its East Division between Brownsville and Fairmont, with the company's main shops located just south of the former.

Coal remained the name of the game through this time period with most outbound coal destined for interchange at Brownsville with the P&LE or West Brownsville with the PRR. However, this began to change in the years following World War II, when many of the mines located on the East Division began switching to barge transportation, while others were simply worked out and abandoned, resulting in a drastic decline of coal traffic on the railroad.
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Postby CarterB » Thu May 17, 2007 11:28 am

Looking at the various posts.....were there two "divisions" of the Chartiers Southern? One on the W bank of the Monongahela and the other between Van Emmans and Marianna??? Anyone know how much of the VE to M ROW is 'walkable'?
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Walkable?

Postby jrevans » Thu May 17, 2007 9:12 pm

CarterB wrote:Looking at the various posts.....were there two "divisions" of the Chartiers Southern? One on the W bank of the Monongahela and the other between Van Emmans and Marianna??? Anyone know how much of the VE to M ROW is 'walkable'?


I don't know if any of it is walkable, but the section between I-70 and Route 40 was quite open and visible up until the early 90's when I moved away.

And yes, Lenny I too googled "Chartiers Southern" and found that link:

http://www.wvrail.railfan.net/mga_past.html

The Chartiers Southern had two other sections of line that were actually built and operated, unlike the part from VanEman to Mariana. As I alluded to in the earlier posting, CS built a line from Besco to Mather in 1919 and a line from Crucible to Nemacolin in 1920. Those are the lines that the Monongahela Railroad bought in 1929, along with the never built VE to M line.
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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Thu May 17, 2007 11:15 pm

Well can't say I'm not trying. If I put this " Chartiers Southern" in my book I have to find out if it was never laid. Because that's what the book is about , " Railroads of Pennsylvania that would Have Been"

Up at Reading & Northern's HQ they have a map hanging on the wall that shows all rail lines of Pennsylvania that were ever chartered. Next week I'll take a trip up and find out if the Chartiers Southern is on that map.

I'm from Chester County, and in 1890 there was a railroad chartered from the Delaware River to Lancaster,Pa. it was named "Delaware River and Lancaster Railroad, " Sow Belly" This line was built, but only between Kimberton and St. Peter's Village. or better know as Falls of French Creek. I have found news papers from the 1880's talking about building of this line. So if there is any information on the Chartiers Southern out there , I'll find it.

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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Fri May 18, 2007 4:46 pm

I wrote an e-mail to the Washington County Historical Society. They sent me this information on the line.
This was writen by Mr. Earl Farrest in 1926

" About 1908 the Chartiers Southern Railroad was started from the Pennsylvania at a point in Vanemon Station. This line was surveyed directly across Washington County to Greene County, the intention being to open up large coal fields in both counties.

The railroad was constructed, trestles built, cuts made and large concrete piers put in during the course of the next few years, Rails were laid for a distance from the junction just before the World War broke out, when construction was stopped on account of the scarcity of labor, and the work was never resumed.

The road goes up the little Chartiers Valley, crosses the Monongahela Pike at Eightyfour and goes under the National Pike through a long trestle near Odell. It is doubtful if a road ever will be built, due to the advent of the automobile as a means of Transportation."

I told you all, I would get the information if it was out there. I'm still going to take that ride up to Reading & Northern to look at that map.

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But....

Postby jrevans » Fri May 18, 2007 11:06 pm

Schuylkill Valley wrote: Hi all, I wrote an e-mail to the Washington County Historical Sco. They sent me this information on the line.

This was written by Mr. Earl Farrest in 1926

The road goes up the little Chartiers Valley, crosses the Monongahela Pike at Eightyfour and goes under the National Pike through a long trestle near Odell.


I told you all, I would get the information if it was out there. I'm still going to take that ride up to Reading & Northern to look at that map.

Len.


Good idea about contacting the historical society.

Unfortunately, they gave you some odd information. I am 100% certain that it goes under the National Pike in a long tunnel, not a long trestle.
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Postby lukerice » Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:50 pm

I have made a hobby out of photographing abandoned railroad tunnels, and the one on this line has been on my hitlist for awhile now. Actually this thread was about all that showed up on a google search about that line that had any information on it whatsoever.

So far, I have visited 3 tunnels (Vang and Grahm on the Donora branch of the P&WV, and Simpson on the Dunlap branch of the Monongahela Railway), and they were all in relatively fair condition, you could walk through them, if you didn't mind getting your feet wet that is.

I did get down to where this tunnel should be not long ago and approached the northern portal from the south, but I didn't get down into the cut, was running out of daylight. Somebody had mentioned that rumor had it it had collapsed, well I did notice a lot of ground subsidance on top of it, so that's highly possible.

When I get down there again, I can post the pictures in here if anyone is interested, if there's anything at all left of it that is.

- Luke
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Postby dyardmaster1 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:23 pm

The ROW in question is the remains of the Ohio & Baltimore Short Line. A full explaination of the line and it's history is in the book 'Sand Patch, Clash of the Titans' by Roberts.
If you look all the way to Connellsville, you will see the piers of the original bridge at Green Jct head towards Dunbar, and not Pittsburgh. There are the remains of an elaborate stone arch bridge at Wheeler that took the line over the PRR's Southwest Branch and Dunbar Creek. The line went as far as Leisenring #1. It would have continued through Fayette County, coming out on the Monongahela River near California. In fact there is a pier on the east side of the Mon River, across from Coal Center. But the bulk of the line was built inWashington County. From Marianna towards Eighty Four. The grade is quite visible, along with numerous bridge abutments.
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