Saturday, July 27, 2013

Turtle Creek Branch Of The Pennsylvania Railroad and The Lyons Run Spur

The Turtle Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad was chartered by George Westinghouse in 1886 to supply the Murrysville oil fields with supplies. Beginning in Trafford, the rail line  was originally called The Turtle Creek Valley Railroad but was also known as Westinghouse Road. Service began to Murrysville in 1891 and was expanded to Export in 1892. The Pennsylvania Railroad operated the line and eventually purchased it in 1903. 

Passenger Service was first offered in 1894 and continued until 1936 when demand for the service had fallen. 

These photo's are of the original 1891 line. I started at Forbes Road in Trafford and followed the line to Murrysville. I also located the Lyons Run Branch which served the coal mines in Pleasant Valley.

Currently the line is known as Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad and is owned by the Dura-Bond Corporation in Export although it seems like it's been some time since they've used the railroad.

This is the first bridge you come across heading east from Trafford. Turtle Creek is running very high.

This is the condition of the railroad in most areas. It obviously hasn't seen a train in a few years.

I'm not sure if the 1926 on this piece of bracing hardware is the manufacture date. If it is, these rails are pretty old. UPDATE 8/18/14- Somebody wrote in telling me this was a 1926 tie plate manufactured by Bethlehem Steel. Pretty cool.

Two miles out of Trafford.

This is an old Conrail truck trailer sitting beside the last business on the line leaving Trafford. Conrail ran this line later until they abandoned it in the early 80's.

Some wildflowers growing along the rails.

This is the second bridge. It's smaller than the first and I'm not sure if this is over Turtle Creek or over a tributary.

A washed out section of the railroad. There were quite a few areas like this on the way to Murrysville.

On the right is the Lyons Run spur. From what I can tell from old maps, at least a portion of the current turnpike was built on this spur. The section of the turnpike near the Franklin Township Sewage Authority down to near Pleasant Valley is where the line ran. The turnpike bridge over Turtle Creek was originally the site of a railroad bridge for this spur.  The Pennsylvania Railroad filed for abandonment of the nearly four mile branch on 11/7/1949 and this section of the turnpike was completed in 1951.

More Lyons Run Branch.

This was laying in the ground at the juncture of the Turtle Creek and Lyons Run branches. Possibly an old switch?

Underneath the turnpike bridge over Turtle Creek. This is the location of the old Lyons Run bridge. The creek was very high. I was hoping to see some of the stonework from the old bridge but if there is any, it's underwater at the moment.

Allegheny County border sign that should have been on the bridge, not laying on the ground under the bridge.

More Lyons Run Branch.

This is the Turtle Creek Branch bridge that carries the turnpike over the railway. The sewage plant is on the other side.

The third bridge and a big one. This crosses Turtle Creek and comes out at the sewage plant. You can see this bridge from the turnpike.

The stretch of railroad past the sewage plant is pretty rough until you get into Murrysville.

Five miles out of Trafford.

More rough railroad.

Coming into Murrysville. The "Whistle" sign before the Trafford Road crossing.

The fourth bridge at Trafford Road in Murrysville.

The Haymaker Gas Well marker. The reason the rail line was built.

Model oil derick built by the boy scouts at the Haymaker Well site.

This is the section covered in this post. The yellow is the main line of the branch and the red is the Lyons Run branch.

This is a clipping from the August 27, 2014 Delmont Salem News about the final movement of a locomotive on the Turtle Creek Branch of The Pennsylvania Railroad. 122 years of rail history effectively ended on Monday, August 25 2014. Thankfully the railway will be saved as a trail, preventing it from development or destruction.

Another nice write up from 9/16/2015 in the Delmont Salem News.