More detail photos
Jeffrey Town Tunnel
USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Oakdale - Zone 17; 0565 4478
Montour Trail recreational trail [former Montour RR], trail mile 7.2-7.3
-- Cliff Mine Rd
-- FIve Points, Enlow
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION / DESIGN:
vertical wall horseshoe profile, concrete lining, bored through rock
558 ft (also noted at 576 ft)
31.5 ft est to arch
20 ft est to spring line
26.6 ft est wide
YEAR OPENED / ENGINEER:
The Montour Railroad was organized September 10, 1877, primarily to provide transportation system for the Imperial Coal Company with their almost 1,200 acres of coal. The original 12 mile line ran from the Ohio River near Coraopolis to a point near US22 in Findlay Twp. Coal shipments began in June, 1879, and passenger service started in October of the same year, serving 15 stations with a connection to the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie at Montour Junction near Coraopolis.
By 1904 managers of the Montour RR realized once the coal fields were depleted the road would lose its purpose. Plans and surveys were begun to extend the Montour in a 35 mile arc through the southern part of Allegheny County, passing briefly in Washington County. The extension would provide interchanges with the other major railroads of the region, including the Panhandle Division of the PRR; the Pittsburgh, Chartiers and Youghiogheny RR; the B&O; and the Wabash-Pittsburgh Terminal RR with its West Side Belt RR. In 1912 an agreement with the Bessemer & Lake Erie allowed for the extension to provide connections to the Union RR at Mifflin Junction. The last three miles to the URR were made by trackage rights with the West Side Belt RR.
The North Star and Mifflin Extension provided transportation for the Pittsburgh Coal Company which was formed in 1899 to buy 75 other mining operations with about 75,000 acres of coal lands. The Pittsburgh Coal Company acquired all of the shares of capital stock in the Montour RR. The extension was completed between 1915 and 1921.
The original 1879 route of the Montour RR closely followed Montour Run and as such included many sharp curves up 16 degrees in curvature. In the1920s, the section between Montour Junction at the Ohio River and Imperial was realigned and shortened by about one mile. Most of the bridges along this section have McClintic-Marshall builder plates showing the 1926 date. The first phase of construction was performed by Ferguson & Edmondson Company of Pittsburgh. The second phase between Cliff Mine and Imperial was awarded to John F. Casey Company of Pittsburgh. (Casey was later involved in the Penn-Lincoln Parkway construction, including the concrete spans crossing the highway in Edgewood and carrying the Pennsylvania RR.) Part of this second phase of realignment was the construction of the Jeffrey Town Tunnel, aka Enlow Tunnel.
The Pittsburgh Coal Company merged with the Consolidation Coal Company in 1945 to form the company which would become known as the Consolidation Coal Company in 1958 (Consol). As part of the 1945 merger, the company decided to focus on mining operations and sold it railroad assets to the P&LE and the PRR. In 1976 all of the lines were purchased by the P&LE from the Penn Central RR.
Once the Montour RR was wholly under the control of the P&LE, various interchanges and sections began to be closed with traffic moved to other P&LE lines along the Monongahela River.
On November 7, 1981, a demonstration intended to show the potential of using existing rail lines for commuter use provided the final passenger train to travel the Montour RR. County Commissioner William R. Hunt and 400 public officials boarded a nine car excursion of the short-lived PATrain. Beginning at the B&O Grant St terminal, the route followed the Monongahela River to Glenwood, up the B&O along Streets Run through Option Tunnel to Bruceton, back toward downtown and through Junction Hollow between Oakland and Schenley Park to cross the Allegheny River at 33rd St. It transfered to Conrail at Blawnox and followed that line through the North Side, across the Ohio Connecting RR at Brunot's Island, continued on to Esplen to connect with the PC&Y at McKees Rocks. The excursion traveled along the Ohio River to Montour Junction at Coraopolis, then followed the Montour RR to a siding near the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The trip turned back toward downtown and concluded on the P&LE at Station Square.
The petition to abandon the final section of the Montour RR was filed in 1985 and approved in 1986. The Montour Trail Council was organized in 1989 to acquire the abandoned right-of-way for conversion to a recreational trail. Portions within Allegheny County were purchased by the county while sections in Washington County were purchased directly by the MTC. The system includes 54.4 miles with 46.5 miles of mainline. The route connects from Coraopolis on the Ohio River to Clairton on the Monongahela. The first segment was completed in 1991. Large sections of the trail are open, most surfaced with packed crushed limestone.
In 2000, Findlay Twp. and Duquesne Light provided safety lighting inside the tunnel. Above the Five Points portal the outside of the tunnel lining may be seen; it appears to be about 20 inches thick at the top of the arch rise. Within the tunnel, there are several recessed safety bays which would have been used for railroad employees working in the tunnel to escape and oncoming train.
fieldcheck, Gene P. Schaeffer, "Montour RR"; Shaw & Weil "Freewheeling Easy in W. PA"
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