Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Wheeling-Pittsburgh Subdivision






History

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 B&O acquired the Hempfield on May 1, 1871, 4 and reorganized 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 William P. Tyler of Tyler Tube conceived the railroad 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 then 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.

20th Century

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 1800s 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 1970s, many of the coal mines had closed, and by the 1980s, 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 decided 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.







Further Reading


Sources

  1. Interstate Commerce Commission. “Tylerdale Connecting Railroad.” Valuation Reports, vol. 42, Apr. 1933, pp. 683-84.
  2. “B&O- Wheeling Pittsburgh Sub – The Pike.” Trainorders.com, forum.
  3. “A Narrow Gauge War.” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, 13 May 1878, p. 4.
  4. Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the United States, 1887-1878, p. 316.
  5. Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the United States, 1868-1869, p. 255.
  6. Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the United States, 1877-1878, p. 330.
  7. “Baltimore and Ohio Short Line.” Poor’s Directory of Railway Officials. New York: Poor’s Railroad Manual, 1887.
  8. “The Pittsburgh Southern Narrow Gauge Railroad.” Archy’s Train Page, article.

1 Comment

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This line is still listed active between Washington, PA and Taylorstown (Crother’s) Station. It has been in disuse since the rest of the line was filed for abandonment. They planned on using the Taylorstown Station rail yard for car storage but stuctural engineers from CSX/AVR deemed the Finney Tunnel to unsafe to risk running cars through it. To update some history on this line, more current events, the portion of the line east of Claysville, PA at Valley View Rd. to just past the McClellan Tunnel (under the National Rd.) is now part of the Claysville National Pike Trail, an unimproved surface walking, biking, community trail. Plans are to extend this trail into Washington, PA on the eastern side and to the PA/WV state line. Property is currently in the process of purchase/easements. Once CSX works out stuff with the National Pike Trails Council, the process of abandonment, railbanking, and repairs can be made to open the trail on the eastern side. Same goes to the property owners on the western side in which we are working with NiSource Energy to obtain a huge chunk of the property. There are some smaller sections we are still trying to contact ownership and one owner that has just recently built next to the line and is selling the property after getting water/sewerage installed. I will keep you updated on the trail process so you can keep this post up to date. Also, a cave in occurred on the western portal of the West Alexander tunnel this past summer during a long period of rain due to drainage issues. The township is working with Tunnel Ridge Mining Co. to either get it fixed before it threatens homes, historical cemetery, and the township building or hand it over to our trail association so we can get the repairs made before it becomes unfixable. We do not want this historic tunnel to be filled with grout and sealed up so nobody can enjoy it’s rich history.

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