View downstream from Aspinwall Marina
Elevation drawing looking downstream
1939 postcard, view downstream
More detail photos
Brilliant Branch RR Bridge
Pittsburgh - Aspinwall
USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Pittsburgh East - Zone 17; 0592 4482
not in use; Brilliant Branch of PRR
-- former Conemaugh Divison, PRR, (Aspinwall) on right descending bank of Allegheny River
-- former Pittsburgh Division, PRR, (Pittsburgh) on left descending bank of Allegheny River
-- Allegheny River at mile 7.1
TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION / DESIGN:
Steel Parker (Pratt) through truss
LENGTH OF MAIN SPAN:
396 ft channel span
TOTAL LENGTH (including longest elevated ramp):
HEIGHT OF DECK:
56.5 ft clearance
Lock and Dam No. 2, Highland Park, normal pool level 721.0 ft
YEAR ERECTED / ENGINEER:
1904, Pennsylvania Railroad
Starting 1853, the Allegheny Valley Railroad once extended from Pittsburgh's Strip District to Buffalo, NY. It became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1910. A succession of railroads have continued to use the tracks on the downstream right bank of the river: The Conemaugh Division. The tracks on the opposite bank, the Brilliant Branch, are part of a "T" shaped layout. The bottom of the "T" begins at Homewood on the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia mainline and extends northward above Washington Blvd, then crossing Allegheny River Blvd and over the Brilliant Branch Bridge to connect with the Conemaugh Division. This line, completed in 1904, carried a substantial portion of the freight traffic bypassing the congestion of downtown Pittsburgh and the passenger traffic at Union Station.
The crossbar of the "T" brought traffic from the PRR yards in the Strip District along the Allegheny River, through Verona, Oakmont and into New Kensington. This line was the PRR Allegheny Division. In the 1960s, Conway Yard replaced the facilities in Pitcairn as the PRR's main classification yard leading to diminished traffic on the Allegheny Division. Ultimately the lines were closed completely.
In the fall of 1995, Russell Peterson and Dennis Larson purchased the Brilliant Branch: 22 miles of track plus running rights on the seven miles from Homewood to the Island Av Yard. The AVRR also has running rights on the CSX line between the Strip and Glenwood. The purchase did not include the Brilliant Bridge which needs refurbishment to be usable. The owner-operated AVRR runs a pair of maroon locomotives seven days a week.
USACE Allegheny River Nav. Charts; Kobus and Consoli, "The Pennsy in The Steel City"; Patrick Rieger web article on AVRR
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