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Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad May 22, 2010

by Chris Guenzler

Randy and I woke up at the Super 8 at Uniontown and following breakfast at the motel, we drove into downtown Uniontown and found the train.

Our Train

The RDC-1 9913 was the fourth Rail Diesel Car ordered by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad which was originally B&O 1903. It rolled out of the Budd Corporation's Red Lion Plant in Philadelphia on April 15, 1953 and joined the Pittsburgh commuter pool for the Pittsburgh to Versailles service. On February 1, 1975 the Port Authority of Allegheny County took over the commuter service leasing the 9913 until 1981. After it was no longer needed in Pittsburgh, it was leased to the Maryland Department of Transportation for use in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area. MARC then purchased the 9913 in 1991 and it was retired on January 8, 1993. Throughout all of these different operations the 9913 carried its B&O lettering. CSXT then loaned the 9913 to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore and worked the Mount Claire Express on weekends. It was later donated to the B&O Railroad Museum. The Fayette Central Railroad then leased the 9913 from the B&O Railroad Museum and restored the inside of the car to its original paint scheme inside.

A Brief History

This will cover the lines we will ride over today.

Greene Junction to Smithfield

This is the former Fairmont, Morgantown and Pittsburgh also known as the "Sheepskin". The line begins at Greene Junction and ran southwest to Fairmont. This was a major coal route for both the Baltimore & Ohio and Western Maryland who had trackage rights. The entire FM&P was made up out of five railroads. The first was the Fayette County Railroad which had its goal to build to Uniontown and across the Younghiogheny River to connect with the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad. The line was completed on July 5, 1859 but went into foreclosure on September 5, 1862 and was reorganized into the Fayette County Railroad in October 1862. On November 1, 1864 the road was leased by the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad for 99 years. In December 1875 the line was leased to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This part of the railroad was built with double track. The second part of the line was the State Line Railroad designed to reach the Pennsylvania/West Virginia border. It reached Redstone in 1888, Hutchinson in 1889, Smithfield in 1892 and the state line in 1894. To reach more coal a line was built as the Smithfield and Masontown in 1900 as a branch northward from S&M Junction near Smithfield. A line from Fairmont to Morgantown was completed in 1886 and an extension to the State Line Railroad was opened April 12, 1894. In 1915, all lines except the Fayette County were merged into the Fairmont, Morgantown and Pittsburg. B&O reported that this railroad was a historic maintenance nightmare with numerous slips, slides and rock falls, a total of 55 serious ones in a 1920 report. Additionally the line had three severe grades requiring helpers over much of the line. The last scheduled passenger run occurred on September 25, 1953. By the way the name "Sheepskin" came about by sheep scattered by the railroad soon after it was built. The farmer whose heard was disturbed was quoted as referring to the line as "the sheep skinning railroad" and thus the name.

Hogsett to Cluss - Ex PRR Uniontown Industrial Track

The Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad Uniontown Industrial is the last remaining of Pennsylvania Railroad south of Connesville. The line into Uniontown was opened by Fall 1876. The PRR trackage south of Uniontown was originally started by the Uniontown and West Virginia Railroad Company started in 1868. However due to financial problems, the line wasn't completed and was sold to the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad Company who completed the line from Uniontown to Fairchance. The line was used to serve numerous coal mines and connect to the Pittsburgh, Virginia & Charleston, a PRR property operating between Pittsburgh and the coal fields near Brownsville along the west bank of the Monongahela River. The line for Connellsville south was abandoned when Conrail left the area, removing the last of the line and the bridge over the Youghiogheny River in the 1980's.

Broadford to Westmoreland

The Mount Pleasant and Broad Ford Railroad was incorporated April 6, 1870 and was opened on February 18, 1871. The line was leased to the Pittsburgh and Connellesville Railroad on January 2, 1871 and then through the P&C to the Baltimore & Ohio. The line became the Mount Pleasant Branch of the B&O Railroad. The state built a 9 mile extension from Mount Pleasant towards New Stanton to a location known as Westmoreland. This line was built with high standards with a number of grade separated crossings. In 1995 the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation acquired the spur. Today it is the Mount Pleasant Subdivision of the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad.

Today's Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad

The Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad operates over the former Pennsylvania and B&O Railroads branches in Pennsylvania southeast of Pittsburgh. The mainline of the SWP starts at Radebaugh, west of Greenburg, where the SWP interchanges with the Norfolk Southern. From Radebaugh the line runs south to Scottsdale, the operations center of the SWP. Branches connect southwest Greenburg and Yukon. From Scottsdale a branch runs to New Stanton. From Scottsdale a branch runs to Bullskin coal loader near Connellsville. From Scottsdale continues south through Owensdale where a new connection was installed in 2001 with Wheeling Lake & Erie Railroad at Everson. South of Owensdale at Broadford the SWP connects with the CSX and runs into Connellsville to interchange with CSX. The trackage rights on CSX continues east a few miles to Greene Junction where the SWP heads south.

Our Trip

The train left right on time and headed south to Fairchance for the first photos of the trip. These would be stills. The Fire Department brought out their antique fire trucks for use in our photo scene.

Views of our train at Fairchance. We continued down the track to Smithfield where we ran to the end of track before we all got off for a Photo Runby as it started to rain.

The B&O RDC at Smithfield.

The back up move.

The Photo Runby at Smithfield. We all reboarded and our RDC headed back towards Uniontown.

View on the way back to Uniontown.

View inside of the B&O RDC.

The window in the bathroom. The RDC ran to Hogsett where we switched to the Uniontown Industrial Line.

Building in Uniontown before we ran down Beeson Avenue.

This picture is right after we ran down Beeson Avenue in Uniontown.

Views of our route in Uniontown.

The RDC has reached the end of track on the Uniontown Industrial Line.

Two views of the end of track. The RDC reversed and dropped us off in a driving rainstorm to do a photo walking down the street runby through downtown Uniontown as the RDC made its way back down Beeson Avenue.

Views as the B&O RDC made it way down Beeson Avenue in Uniontown. Those of us who braved the rain reboarded and the RDC made its way down the near Hogsett for the next standing pictures of the B&O RDC and friends.

PL&E Caboose 504.

Conrail Caboose 18086

B&O 9061.

B&O 9061 and train. The RDC was the moved to be posed with the B&O 9061.

The B&O RDC 9913 and B&O 9061. We reboarded and the RDC took us north.

Pipe in a field.

Southwest Pennsylvania Scenery.

Click here for Part 2 of this story