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Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad May 23, 2010

by Chris Guenzler

Randy and I got up at the Super 8 and after breakfast drove north to Scottsdale for the last time.

A Brief History

Below is a history of the lines that we will ride today.

Everson to Connellsville

This is known as the Bullskin Branch which was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline. In 2007 the Westmoreland County Industial Development received $196,700 to continue the upgrading on the Bullskin Branch of the SWP.

Radebaugh to Everson

The Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad was incorporated March 16, 1871. It was authorized to build from the Pennsylvania Railroad connection at Greensburg by way of Connellsville to Uniontown and on south to the Pennsylvania/West Virginia state line. In 1875 the line had reached Connellsville as far as Mount Braddock and in the fall of 1876 was opened as far as Uniontown. The Uniontown and West Virginia Railroad Company who started building the line further south. Before they could finish building the line, it was sold to the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad who completed the line from Uniontown to Fairchance. The old Pennsylvania Southwest Secondary Branch is active between Greenburg, Youngwood, Scottsdale and Bullskin Tipple Company near Connellsville. When Conrail left the area, they abandoned the parallel portions of the Southwest Branch next to the B&O "FM&P" branch. The reminder of the line and bridge over the Youghiogheny River was removed in the 1980's. The original mainline went via Greensburg. The track between County Home Junction and Radebaugh was part of the Hempfield Branch. Besides what is today the mainline, the branch split and ran southwest though the rich coal fields around Arona, then curved back north to the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline at Irwin. This part of the railroad is now abandoned. During the 1940's and 1950's, this line was part of the PRR Monongahela Division. The junctions at Greensburg and Redebaugh were operated by the Pittsburgh Division.

County Home Junction to Greenburg

What is today the Greenburg Industrial track was the original mainline of the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad incorporated March 16, 1871. By the 1940's the line was a double track railroad with a north and south mainline.

Hunker to Waltz Mills

This line has been known as the Yukon Branch over the years was once over 12 miles long extending from Hunker to Cowansburg on the Youghiogheny Branch which itself extended between Gratztown on the Youghiogheny River and Shafton on the PRR mainline. The Pennsylvania Railroad was built to serve coal mines in the area and to provide additional routes for moving coal and coke to the factories in the Pittsburgh area.

Our trip

The RDC ready to start another day of rare mileage trips. This morning we will start by traveling down the former Pennsylvania Railroad line to Connellsville. The RDC left Scottsdale right on time.

We started the southbound run by heading for Everson.

The RDC made a Zig Zag move to get onto the Bullskin Branch to head to Connellsville.

The route we took yesterday can be seen down the hill.

This large industry in Everson.

Trees along our route.

This loading facility is made out of gondola cars. The RDC took us to the end of Track at Narrows Road in Connellsville. We got off for posed pictures.

The End of Track.

The RDC at the end of track.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Trestle across Narrows Road.

Our group reboards the RDC.

Branches caught in the RDC's horn. We all reboarded for the trip back north towards Scottsdale.

Leaving the end of track behind.

The Bullskin Loadout.

The loading dock.

A P&LE Gondola was used to make the loading dock.

The switch for the siding at Bullskin.

Crossing the stream.

Crossing the stream again.

One more time crossing the stream.

Purple flowers.

Views looking behind.

The view ahead.

Milepost 22.

Milepost 21.

B&O Service Directions in the cab of the RDC.

A barn on a hill.

Milepost 20.

View behind our RDC.

The horn got filled with leaves and branches and they had to climb up on the roof to clear it so the horn could work again.

Milepost 18.

The Everson Zig Zag move.

Crossing the creek.

We are passing through Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Station.

We left Scottsdale behind and now we continue north to Radebaugh.

Click here for Part 5 of this story