Western portal with 1924 date
Piney Fork Tunnel
South Park Twp (Snowden)
USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Glassport - Zone 17; 0587 4458
-- PRR Peters Creek Branch (abandoned)
-- Snowden Rd
CSX [B&O RR W&P subdivision]
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION / DESIGN:
vertical wall horseshoe profile, filled concrete arch, through filled embankment
175 ft est
16 ft wide
12 ft est to spring line of arch
20 ft est to top of arch rise
YEAR OPENED / ENGINEER:
Metal gates across eastern portal. Used for public works salt storage.
The Pittsburgh, Virginia & Charleston Railroad began building a branch line (1.23 miles) up the left bank Peters Creek from the Monongahela River in 1893. In the following years the line was extended by the PVC (1.35 mi - 1895; 2.33 mi - 1901; 0.42 mi - 1902; 2.33 mi - 1903) and further by the Pennsylvania Railroad when it took over the branch line in 1905. The Peters Creek Branch served coal mines being developed in the valley toward the towns of Large and Snowden: Bertha Consumers Coal Co and the Knothole Mine.
Above the top of the arch, this tunnel shows the date 1924 molded into the concrete. It allowed the PRR to pass under the Baltimore & Ohio W&P subdivision which ran south from Glenwood on the Monongahela River.
In 1918, the Montour Railroad built a two-mile segment eastward from Library toward the site of Pittsburgh Coal Company's Montour Mine #10. In 1929, this line was extended 3 miles: 2.33 miles of new construction and 0.82 miles of trackage rights on the PRR Peters Creek Branch. The interchange was called Pennmont [Pennsylvania-Montour]. From Pennmont, the Montour extension also created an interchange with the Baltimore & Ohio W&P subdivision.
Montour Mine #10 was idle between 1957 and 1970. When the mine reopened, the Montour RR Library Branch had deteriorated to a condition which required slow operations and included frequent minor derailments. The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RR took over operations of the Montour and in 1978 ended operations on the Library Branch. The line was abandoned in 1979.
West of Snowden Rd, the railroad follows Piney Run, a tributary of Peters Creek. Adjacent to this PRR tunnel, Piney Fork Road and Piney Run share a tunnel underpass through the B&O embankment.
The PRR Peters Creek Branch was abandoned in 1962. It has been slated for conversion as part of the Montour Trail in the Rails-to-Trails program. Parts of the right of way between Snowden Rd and PA51 [Clairton Rd] at Large are now used as roads. The section between Snowden Rd and Gill Hall Rd is a paved road which includes a paved bike path adjacent. Between Gill Hall Rd and PA51 the PRR right of way is a barely passable dirt road.
According to local legend, this tunnel is also known as "Greenman's Tunnel"; the adjacent auto tunnel is known as "Corvette Tunnel." One account of the haunting: "A man from West Mifflin or Dravosburg was working on power lines at the top of the tunnel. He received a severe electric shock and his skin was tinged green as a result. Some reports state he lived for some time afterward; others state he died that day. It is said that if someone goes to the tunnel at night, turn off the car headlights, and call for him -- he will appear and come toward your car. His face may appear in the car window or he try to place his hands on your car window. Also, because of the electrical charge, you may have difficulty restarting the car."
"Corporate History of the PRR," Valuation Reports Vol. 22 pp 278-301, 358-365, Interstate Commerce Commission, January 1929 (transcribed by Robert Netzlof); " The Montour Railroad," Gene P. Schaeffer
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