Sunday, November 10, 2013

Turtle Creek Branch of The Pennsylvania Railroad- Ringertown to Slickville.

This section of the Turtle Creek branch was built between 1915 and 1917. This line supported the expansion of the coal fields through the two patch towns of Ringertown and Dunningtown, crossed under Rt. 66 through a now gone tunnel, traveled north of Delmont and branched off to support the mines at Trees Mills.  The main line continued over a land dam through Beaver Run, serviced the Edwards Mines and continued onto the mines at Slickville. Eventually this section continued to Saltsburg, servicing numerous mines, before joining the West Penn Railroad.

This rail line also offered passenger service to the rural coal towns located along it's path. In 1936, due to lack of business, the passenger service was discontinued. At it's height, five passenger trains ran the line daily and on Saturdays passenger service was offered to Pittsburgh. The Saturday Pittsburgh trips became so popular that an average of 1,000 tickets were sold each weekend.

In 1972, The Pennsylvania Railroad filed for abandonment on the entire line east of Export.

Today the Westmoreland Heritage Trail runs from the point north of Delmont, at Athena Drive to Saltsburg. Eventually, the plan is to develop the entire line into a rail-trail linking Saltsburg with Trafford. 

In July I walked/biked the section between Trafford and Murrysville. Photos are available on this blog in the July 2013 index.

Above Ringertown.
This is the bridge between Ringertown and Dunningtown over Morosini Farm Court.

Pennsylvania Railroad stamps on this railing support on the bridge.

Leaving Dunningtown headed back towards the Delmont Gas No. 2 Mine. There are two posts about this mine in the January, 2013 index of this blog.
This is where it gets difficult. Rt. 66 is in the background. A tunnel was here at one time but has since been removed or filled in. Regardless, it's gone. I went through on another trail to Ringertown Road and crossed Rt. 66. I believe Industrial Drive in the Industrial Park on the other side of Rt. 66 was part of the old rail line. I took that through the park and into the woods again.

This is the ruins of an old stone house. According to the 1876 map of Salem Township this house is listed as the N. King residence. When I was a kid I used to come back here and the house was still pretty much intact. It was known around Delmont as Old Man Kings house.

This is the last intact window frame in the house. The back of it shows signs of fire damage. It could have been a fire that led to the houses abandonment.

One of the four remaining corners of the house.

The old chimney.

Looking out the window toward the abandoned rail line. Notice the burnt wood of the window frame.

The wood that wasn't burned suffered from severe termite damage.

Singed bricks and stone of the chimney.

A view from the northwestern corner of the house. Notice the rail grade in the background.

The eastern wall of the house.

It's amazing how tight the corners of the stone are still to this day.

This is a spring adjoining the house.

Some of the wood from the second floor beams remains.

This is the top of the window frame.
After leaving the old King house you come across this old stone wall. Possible barn foundation.
The rail line gets a little rough after this. There's still plenty of old railroad ties.
It got hard to follow at times. The slight cut and occasional railroad tie kept me going in the right direction.
This just got too grown in. From here the rail line would have passed over Athena Drive on an old bridge that is now gone. Also near this area was a branch that went up to the old Lauffer Mine. The grade can still be followed along Lauffer Mine Road. At this point I had to climb down a steep hill and get on the current rail-trail.
This is the branch that went to the Trees Mills mines. There was also a passenger station located on the other side of Beaver Run near Trees Mills Road.

The old Trees Mills branch grade.

This seems like an old sealed mine before the bridge crossing Beaver Run. According to old maps there was a mine in this area but it isn't named on the maps.

The old bridge footers in Beaver Run.

This is where the bridge would have passed over Beaver Run.

These are a couple pictures inside the sealed up mine.

Geese swimming in Beaver Run.

This is looking off the bridge after Beaver Run at the old Bailey Road. This section is now on water company property and is no longer a public road. There is a portion of the road still open off of Athena Drive.

Old tipple bases of the old Edwards No. 3 Mine. The signs around here are pretty straight forward about trespassing on water company property so I couldn't explore above it.

Coming in to Slickville you come across the old company store.

You know you're in Slickville when....  Hollywood style sign on the slate dump.

This is the area covered from the 1941 county map. The yellow is the main line of the Turtle Creek branch. The red is the approximate location of the Trees Mills spur and the blue is the Lauffer Mine spur.

This is the N. King house marked on the 1876 Salem Township map.

Cliff Jobe's- Slickville Blues

A nice write up from the Delmont Salem News about the old railway. 9/16/2015




  1. I rode the new bike trail through Slickville/Trees Mills its nice I cannot wait til the Delmont one is done I heard they are deciding what 2 do on 66

    1. It is a nice trail. I'm curious to see how they're going to handle 66 too. I'm sure that's their huge obstacle.

    2. Hey did you read the paper that they Dura Bond sold the Railroad to Westmoreland Heritage Trail? I also saw in export on Old Wm. Penn Hwy That the caboose was painted white. And in White Valley just before it crossed Old Wm. Penn the tracks are now gone. And now I think they are gonna do it further in Export like by Dura Bond. I hope its done soon But my Dad says they still don't know about 66

    3. Yeah, that's what they're doing. They've been raising money for a while now and they're pretty close to getting it. I think the boy scouts are restoring the caboose. I would imagine the white is just the primer but I could be wrong. I think it's going to a while until they have it connected. Your dad's right, Route 66 is a pretty big obstacle. I'm very curious to see what they come up with. There used to be a tunnel there when 66 was only two lanes. I was told that the tunnel got buried whenever they widened the road. What I don't understand is the other side of 66. There must have been soon sort of cut that graded down to get to the tunnel because right now the elevation is even with the road. They must have filled it in but when you go to the end of the buildings on Industry Drive you can still find railroad ties on the ground so the grade would have to been pretty steep.

  2. Mike, if anyone is interested in a autographed recording of the Slickville Blues by Cliff Jobe, I sell them for !0.00 (ten dollars) plus postage if mailed.( audio or video). All proceeds will be donated to the Westmorland Heritage Trail project.
    Contact me at