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picture of bridge

Northern portal

photo of bridge photo of bridge photo of bridge photo of bridge
Northern portal;
North Bessemer Yard from northern portal;
Union RR train at southern portal (Trackside Photos);
Aerial photo

North Bessemer Tunnel

Penn Hills

USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Braddock - Zone 17; 0602 4481
-- Union RR (connecting to Bessemer & Lake Erie RR)

-- Universal Rd
-- North Bessemer RR Yard

Saltsburg Rd [PA380], Tilford Rd

semi-circular horseshoe profile bored through rock
stone portals
brick lining
concrete vent stack at midpoint

3,085 ft est

28 ft est wide at rails;
33 ft est wide at spring line of arch;
29 ft est to top of arch rise

This portion of the railroad was built by the Pittsburgh, Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad. It opened in 1897 with the completion of the high bridge over the Allegheny River in Harmar (replaced 1918). The portion of the rail line from North Bessemer in Penn Hills to East Pittsburgh was leased in 1906 and later sold to the Union Railroad.


The Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad is a route which connected the iron ore and coal docks at Conneaut on Lake Erie to the Mon Valley steel works owned by Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie had been discussing rail transport with other lines, but determined the best way to protect his interests was to control the rail line himself. Several smaller companies had constructed sections of the route. "Bear Creek Railroad (name changed to Shenango and Allegheny Railroad Co.) was incorporated in March 1865 for the purpose of moving coal 21 miles from Pardoe to Shenango for delivery to other railroads and the Erie Extension Canal. By 1883, Shenango and Allegheny had extended north to Greenville, PA and south to Butler, PA. By 1892, the line had extended north to reach the port of Conneaut, OH. The extensions carried their own descriptive corporate names and survived a series of corporate reorganizations to become the Pittsburgh, Shenango and Lake Erie." The rail line had been completed as far as Butler, still 40 miles distant from the Mon Valley.

"The first ore boat arrived in Conneaut in 1892 stimulating the interest of Andrew Carnegie. In April 1896, a tri-party agreement between PS&LE, Union Railroad Company and Carnegie Steel Company called for construction of a line from Butler to East Pittsburgh. The Butler and Pittsburgh Railroad Company incorporated April 8, 1896 and completed, spectacularly, by October 27, 1897 including a long, single track bridge across the Allegheny River. Also in 1897, PS&LE and B&P were consolidated into the Pittsburgh, Bessemer & Lake Erie under majority ownership of Carnegie." "Four years later, Carnegie formed the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad under this exclusive ownership and arranged to lease PS&LE for 999 years. This arrangement stayed in place with the formation of U. S. Steel in 1901, which bought out Carnegie interests." "In 1906, B&LE leased, and later sold, to Union Railroad the portion of line between North Bessemer and East Pittsburgh." "In 1988, the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad became part of Transtar, Inc. Transtar is a privately-held transportation holding company with principal operations in railroad freight transportation, dock operations, Great Lakes shipping, and inland river barging. The Transtar subsidiary companies formed over the years to meet the transportation needs of various steel making facilities that were the predecessors of today's USX Corporation. Prior to 1989, the Transtar companies were wholly owned transportation subsidiaries of USX (formerly United States Steel Corporation). In December 1988, these transportation companies were acquired by a new holding company, Transtar, Inc."

"In 2001, the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad became part of Great Lakes Transportation, a privately-held transportation holding company with principal operations in railroad freight transportation, dock operations and Great Lakes shipping."


"The Union Railroad, as it exists today, has resulted from the union of all or parts of five railroads between the years 1906 and 1915. The first addition occurred in 1906 when a portion of the Pittsburgh, Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, extending from North Bessemer to East Pittsburgh, was leased to the Union Railroad. Later in 1906, the railroad leased the Monongahela Southern Railroad. The next addition involved the St. Clair Terminal Railroad in 1920. All three properties were subsequently merged. The last addition occurred in 1915 with the lease of track from Duquesne to McKeesport via the Penn Central Bridge. The original URR extended from East Pittsburgh to Hays, a distance of six miles, and was constructed in the years 1894-1907. During the same period, 13 branches, with an aggregate length of 14 miles were built. Operations began on June 1, 1896, with 241 employees, 25 steam locomotives and no cars. On October 26, 1897, the first train was interchanged with the Pittsburgh, Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad at East Pittsburgh. This 30-car ore train from North Bessemer was consigned to Edgar Thomson."


B&LE RR website and Union RR website

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Introduction -- Nearby Structures

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Last modified: 15-Oct-2001

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