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photo of bridge

Western span: view north on Steuben St

More detail photos


West End Circle


USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Pittsburgh West - Zone 17; 0582 4477
Norfolk Southern RR (former PRR)


western span: Steuben St [US19 SB, PA51 SB, PA60 SB]
eastern span: South Main St [US19 NB, PA51 NB, PA60 NB]

Deck riveted steel girder on concrete abutments

western span: 69 ft
eastern span: 85 ft

TOTAL LENGTH (including longest elevated ramp):



This pair of bridges and their surrounding fill are possibly the third structure to carry the railroad in this location.

The Baltimore & Ohio chose a more southerly route for its connections to the west; its mainline bypassed Pittsburgh in favor of Wheeling, WV. Other companies looked to build competitive lines toward Columbus and Cincinnati in Ohio. The Central Ohio RR and Steubenville & Indiana RR were in place by 1855, but were awaiting the construction of the missing link to Pittsburgh. Funding by private investors bypassed attempts by the B&O to block the construction of the new line through the panhandle of (West) Virginia; the Pittsburgh & Steubenville Railroad (aka the Panhandle Route) was completed in 1858. The P&S brought the line to Birmingham on Pittsburgh's South Side. The Pennsylvania Railroad, working to grow westward from its terminus in Pittsburgh, built the 1963 Steubenville Extension which was the roughly mile-long assemblage of the Panhandle Bridge over the Monongahela and the tunnel under Grant's Hill in downtown to link to the PRR's Union Station. The Panhandle Railroad was acquired by the PRR as the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (PCCStL) in 1868.

As the Little Saw Mill Run Railroad in the valley was in place before the Panhandle, it can be presumed that the P&S built a structure to cross over the LSMRR as well as the opening of the Saw Mill Run Valley in the West End. Hopkins plat maps seem to indicate a long wooden trestle spanning the valley, slightly to the river side of the later track position.

The West Side Belt Railroad, a subsidiary of the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway, acquired the LSMRR in 1897.

The portion of the WSB east of Banksville Junction (near western portals of the Fort Pitt Tunnels) was built in 1902 and 1903 -- for the most part with wooden trestles and a few plate girder spans. There are two notable exceptions: two masonry arches -- one carrying the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway (WPT) over Saw Mill Run near the western portal of the Wabash Tunnel through Mount Washington, and the other acting as a tunnel to allow the West Side Belt Railroad to pass under the PCCStL (later PRR, now Norfolk Southern) in the West End.

The WPT was built in 1900-1904 and the similarity of the two masonry arches implies they were both built by the same system.

About this time, it appears that the Pennsylvania Railroad replaced its wooden trestle with a pair of shorter spans over Steuben St and South Main St. The remaining majority of the opening to the West End Valley was crossed on a long fill, with Saw Mill Run passing through a culvert below. Perhaps, the project coincided with the construction of the West Side Belt RR masonry arch which tunnels through the fill.

Allegheny County opened the West End Bridge in 1932. In preparation for the influx of traffic, the West End Circle ramps and bridges were built in 1931. At this time, the Pennsylvania Railroad modified the bridges over Steuben and South Main streets as each street was raised in elevation to meet the ramps connecting to the West End Bridge.

Cutting through the fill between the 1931 bridges, an additional span was built in 2000 as part of the reconfiguration of the West End Bypass and West End Circle.

view page - Origins of Railroads in Allegheny County

view page - Other structures in the West End Valley


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Introduction -- Nearby Structures

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Last modified: 13-Jul-2004

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