The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) Wheeling-Pittsburgh Subdivision is a partially abandoned railroad between Wheeling, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Wheeling, Pittsburgh & Baltimore Railroad (WP&B) was incorporated on August 5, 1887 as the successor to the Hempfield and Baltimore & Ohio Short Line railroads.
The origination of the WP&B started at the incorporation of the Hempfield Railroad on May 15, 1850, 4 which was projected to run between Wheeling and Greensburg, Pennsylvania. 5 The railroad was constructed from Wheeling east to Washington, a distance of 32 miles, by 1857. 4 It featured three locomotives, six passenger and freight cars and 11 coal cars. 5 The Hempfield was acquired by the B&O on May 1, 1871 4 and reorganized as the Wheeling, Pittsburg & Baltimore Railroad on May 3. 6 It was to connect with the Pittsburg & Connelsville Railroad at Newton after the reorganization, but this never occurred. The Hempfield was sold at foreclosure in February 1857 and reorganized as the WP&B on January 15, 1872.
The Pittsburgh Southern Railway was formed in March 1879 by the merger of the narrow gauge Pittsburgh Southern Railroad, Pittsburgh Railroad and Washington Railroad. It operated from Washington to Castle Shannon where it connected to the Pittsburgh & Castle Shannon Railroad. An attempt to use the standard gauge Little Saw Mill Run Railroad as an alternate connection to Pittsburgh using dual gauge track led to the Castle Shanon Railroad War of 1878. 3 8
The Pittsburgh Southern was converted to standard gauge in 1883 and purchased by the B&O on November 20, 1884 and reorganized as the Baltimore & Ohio Short Line Railroad.
The Baltimore & Ohio Short Line Railroad, the successor to the Pittsburgh Southern Railway, and a subsidiary of the B&O, was organized on February 25, 1885. 7 It connected from Glenwood Junction to Washington, a distance of 34 miles, and included the construction of the Whitehall Tunnel. The B&OSL was absorbed into the WP&B on August 5, 1887, becoming part of the B&O.
The WP&B had a connection with the Tylerdale Connecting Railroad, which was incorporated on June 8, 1899 and formally organized on June 13. 1 The railroad was conceived by William P. Tyler of Tyler Tube Works to connect both the B&O and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (later Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)) in order to obtain competing shipping rates. 2 It was later taken over by the B&O.
The first segment extended for 1.305 miles from Tylerdale Junction to Woodland Avenue in Tylerdale and was constructed in 1899 and 1900. 1 A branch from Sugar Creek Branch Junction to the Lincoln Gas & Coal Company near Lincoln Hill, at 1.533 miles, was built in 1917.
For much of the 20th century, the B&O from Glenwood Yard in Pittsburgh south to Washington and west to Benwood Yard at Wheeling was operated as the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Subdivision. The route was considered challenging, with multiple tunnels, 3% to 5% grades and sharp curves. Construction projects in the late 1800’s brought many of those grades down to 2%.
The route was extremely congested with traffic from steel mills and coal mines that dotted the region. It was one of the first lines to have CTC implemented to make train movements more efficient.
By the 1970’s, many of the coal mines had closed and by the 1980’s, many of the local steel mills had been idled or abandoned. Instead of a line full of trains, the B&O had just two through movements each way per day and a local switcher that served local industries from Pittsburgh to Washington.
Conrail, PRR’s ultimate successor, ceased operations from its track to the Tylerdale Connecting Track on April 30, 1982. The line was renamed the Canonsburg Industrial Track and Conrail began searching for a buyer in 1994 until ultimately severing the connection. The southern terminus with the B&O remained, however.
In November 1985, the B&O made the decision to abandon the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Subdivision west of Washington to Wheeling. 2 A section was left intact from Taylorstown east to Washington for car storage, and the segment from Washington north to Glenwood Yard was left in daily use. CSX, the B&O’s successor, sold the line to the Allegheny Valley Railroad.