Sunday, January 5, 2014

A walk around Greensburg, PA

It's amazing the things you can find hidden in every day sight. Today I was driving back from the barber shop and had my camera on me. I decided to park and just look around. It's no surprise that a town with such a rich history as Greensburg has a lot to offer as far as glimpses of its industrial past.


Urania Avenue


I have been trying to find out what these are/were for years. Any book or map I've ever looked at contains no information on them. Emails to the Westmoreland County Historical Society and City Council have turned up nothing. So, that being said, if anybody has any information on these please let me know!! There are four different sections. Two seem to be related and two are different. The section closest to MB Bride I'm sure was related to lumber. MB Bride was Greensburg Lumber And Mill Company previously. The other three are a mystery.

Update! A lot of these have been solved! Thanks to everybody for their help and to Bob Chicka for his Sanborn Map links.

I think this one is the most interesting of them all and it appears to be the oldest. The 1915 Sanborn Map has this listed only as "Trestle" and also includes the retaining wall.

I've seen these stone bases at many old mine sites and they're usually tipple bases of some sort. This being right below the tracks would make sense but I can find nothing of any kind of mine ever being here. Definitely railroad related, but what is it? 1915 Sanborn Maps list it as a trestle.

South end.

These are easy to miss in the summer even though they are very close to the street.

The back wall is probably twelve feet tall.

Northern corner.

View from across the street.

This is the first of the two that appear to be related. Located across the street from the Sunset Cafe parking lot. Most of the them are bins of some sort but there are a couple hoppers at the northern end. The 1915 Sanborn Map lists it as "Open 1st Ware House Vacant".

A doorway between the first two.

Other side.

A hopper with its steel door still closed.

Hardware still intact on the hopper next to an old stone retaining wall below the railroad tracks.

This is the section closest to MB Bride and could easily have been for lumber storage. The 1915 Sanborn map lists this as "J. Covode Reed Lumber Yard" and this is listed as "Open Lumber Shed".

A sealed tunnel under the tracks?

This section is across from the Public Works Dept. The 1915 Sanborn Map has this listed as "McFarland Supply Co. Warehouse Coal And Building Material".

A lot of cool old gears and hardware in this hopper.

Another hopper.

More cool hardware.

This hopper has a top section that is fenced off from the tracks.

Big old rusty gear looking up into the top section.

Old wooden retaining wall.

Looking down the street.

Southern end.


View of downtown from Sunset Cafe parking lot.


Greensburg Brewing Company

 From what I can find the brewery operated under many different names and was constructed in five sections over the years starting in 
1874-1888 - John Hagel Brewery
1888-1920 - Greensburg Brewing Company
1920-1933 - Shut down by prohibition
1933-1936 -  Greensburg Brewing Company
1936-1938 - Victor Brewing Company (of Jeannette, PA) 
1940-1941 - Old Reliable Brewing Company
Closed in 1942
This might not be entirely accurate. Some time in its history it was known as Star Brewery. 
Please contact me if you have more reliable information.

Headed down to the brewery. I love this restored house.

Brickwork on one the buildings.

Seems to be three of the buildings. Going off the 1915 Sanborn Maps, the tall building on the left was the cold storage building. The building on the right was the wash house. The tall building in the middle?


Wash House.

I'm thinking this is the oldest building. Going off the 1915 Sanborn Map, this is the Brew House.
Looking up. Laurel Hill Foods is currently using the site.

Strange architecture but it's great the building is still here and still being used.

Cool old door handle on the brew house.

Back of the restored house looking up toward the old hoppers/bins.

 These are a couple old bottle photos I found on the internet.


Great old ghost sign.

Troutman's building.

Closeup of detail on the Troutman's building. I'm not really up on my symbolism but there's something here.


La Rose Shop sign. Five people were killed and an estimated ninety injured in a fire at the La Rose Shop on October 19, 1961.

The old Masonic Temple. I'm pretty sure this is the oldest remaining building in Greensburg. Built in 1872.

Detail above the doorway on the Masonic Temple.

1906-1908 section of the courthouse.

Barclay Westmoreland Trust Co. Building. 1928.

First National Bank ghost sign. 1924.

Scales Of Justice on top of the courthouse. There is an interesting but little known story from the coal miners strike of 1910. In August of that year the coal companies secured warrants calling for the arrest of 87 local district labor leaders on charges on conspiracy. While court was in session, the statue dropped her scales and they came crashing to the street. The courthouse was only two years old at the time, hardly enough time for the metal to deteriorate and there was not even a breeze that day.

More intricate detail.

This one is crazy. I have no idea what this symbolism is. Snakes. Very cool though.

I think these are dragons.

Looking down Main Street towards Troutman's.

Old neon sign remaining on the side of Troutman's.

Amazing old spiral fire escape on Second Street.

Pennsylvania Avenue. I'm not sure what building this is.

Detail on the top.


More nice old buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Nice little balcony.

I'm not sure of the status of this building.

Looking up Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thomas Lynch House

Thomas Lynch was the President of The H.C. Frick Coke Co. from 1897 to his death in 1914. He was also affiliated with a number of other interests including Carnegie Steel and U.S. Steel. He moved to Greensburg around 1890 after he became General Superintendent of the H.C. Frick Co. 


The old Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station. 1911.

Still in great condition and currently being used.

Greensburg Storage And Transfer Company. This massive building was built around 1902 and sits across the street from the freight station.

The building itself pretty much tells the story of the company.

Incorporated 1901.

Established 1887.

This building is currently unused. So much potential being wasted.

Front of the train station.

Front of the Transfer building. The enormous door on the left was capable of fitting trains right into the building.

Top front of the building.

Front door.

Bridge abutments from the Radebaugh Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. This branch served the mines at Radebaugh as well as Hawksworth Mine which was ahead on the right where the junk yard is on Mt. Thor Road. The western section of Ludwick was once known as Gayville and served as company housing when the mine was active. Gayville was named after Freeman C. Gay who owned the land.

Current railroad overpass.

Here's a few photos of the old West Penn Railways freight terminal. It's the current Electric and Sign Building, I believe. It sits behind city hall. City Hall used to be the main depot for West Penn Electric Railroad in Greensburg, which offered passenger trolley service throughout Westmoreland and Fayette Counties. 

This concrete thing on the side of the building looks like it could have been used to work underneath the trolley cars. I could be wrong.

 A little bit of brick left from when the rails went to the side of the building.

And here is a before and after I made with a photo I got off of


  1. The ruins at the far end of Urania Avenue are from the old McFarland Supply Company. There was a wooden building there with the company's name on the front in letters so big one couldn't miss it.

  2. We had to rebuild a foundation wall on our house up on Perry Avenue in the early 1970s. While digging for that purpose, we unearthed a trove of old bottles, which had en discarded there as trash many years before. There was a Star Brewing bottle among them. From the range of the other bottles, it would appear to date from 1890-1910.

  3. Wow. Thanks Matthew. What a great find!

  4. i was unable 2 see a lot of the pictures

    1. That's weird. What are you looking at them on?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Great photos Mike. I am impressed that you braved the cold to do the details! Greensburg has a lot more retail and railroad history and this just scratched the surface! Want to move there when retired.... JQ

  7. Replies
    1. You're welcome Bob! Thanks for looking!

  8. Idk if you can find anything on the internet but I'm from bovard our town was the crowsnest mine.

    1. Thanks Greg! I've always wanted to go looking around back there but it's posted pretty hard. Is there anything left from the mines?

  9. I don't know if there is access to Bob Van Atta's articles that were in the Tribune-Review for years. He was a local historian who wrote about Greensburg and the surrounding area. His articles were published in a book, I believe, but have very little information about it. The articles were always interesting.

    1. Wow! That does sound interesting. Thanks for the info. I'll try to find it.

    2. Dear Coke Oven Mike,

      I was reading your blog and was amazed to see my maiden name in the comments! I believe that Charlotte McNerny Dixon is a member of the Charles McNerny family--Charles' brother DJ, was my great-great grandfather. The Charles McNerny family moved to Ohio (we think) and we lost track of them. We would love to be in contact! Can you help me find this Charlotte? How can I privately message you or her with my/my father's contact information? This is very exciting! Thanks! Kristy McNerny Besada

    3. Oops! Accidentally posted the above note twice. What I meant to post here is that Mr. Van Atta was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church on Main Street. If you cannot find his book at the Greensburg Public Library, you may be able to find it in the church library. He was so knowledgeable on matters of local history--I suspect his writings would be quite helpful to you. Keep up the great work! Kristy McNerny Besada

    4. Thanks Kristy! I will look for it. I'm so happy you and Charlotte were able to connect!

  10. Many answers to your questions will be found in the library in a book "The Burg of Greene in Pictures seen" written around 1926 then the newer version from the 80's

    1. I did check out the book. It's amazing. Thank you!

  11. Having been born and raised in Greensburg, I loved going down memory lane with the pictures. My family was large and most of them stayed there all there lives. I remember when the Millen's owned the lumber yard you pictured and the Jamison family who owned the Jamison Coke and Coal and the Robertshaw's who owned the Robertshaw Controls in Youngwood. I moved from the town in 1949 when I was 14. Again thanks for the memories.
    Charlotte McNerny Dixon

  12. Wow Charlotte! Thank you so much for looking and sharing your memories. If you have any photos from then I'd love to see them.

    1. I am sorry to say I have no pictures. You certainly did a lot of work for us. Thanks
      Charlotte McNerny Dixon

    2. That's OK Charlotte. I'm glad you like the pictures and thank you for looking!

  13. I was in the brick house on Brewery Lane many times. The Testa family lived there and not sure if they rented or owned. There was a creek that ran along side the house with the bridge. Brewery Lane was a shortcut we took during the day of course crossing the rr tracks and up the embankment to the house I lived in on Vine Street. The brewery was once the home of the 7 up co. My dad was raised on Talbot Ave. and they once lived on Perry Avenue. So many memories of long ago. Charlotte McNerny Dixon

    1. Thanks again Charlotte for sharing your memories. I'll work on getting some more pictures up.

    2. Dear Coke Oven Mike,

      I was reading your blog and was amazed to see my maiden name in the comments! I believe that Charlotte McNerny Dixon is a member of the Charles McNerny family--Charles' brother DJ, was my great-great grandfather. The Charles McNerny family moved to Ohio (we think) and we lost track of them. We would love to be in contact! Can you help me find this Charlotte? How can I privately message you or her with my/my father's contact information? This is very exciting! Thanks! Kristy McNerny Besada

    3. Mike, I just got off the phone with Mrs. Dixon. She is, indeed, my grandfather's cousin. Thank you for (inadvertently) providing the forum through which this connection could be made! We are delighted. Kristy McNerny Besada

    4. Wow Kristy! That's the coolest thing that ever happened on here! I'm so happy for you and happy that I could kinda be a part of it! Thanks for looking and I hope you guys have a nice reunion soon.

  14. Hey Mike, great shots of the old stomping grounds. Can you tell me if the YMCA is still there?

  15. Hello Mike,
    Your Better-Half and my wife Tammy work together at RR. I met her last evening having dinner. She gave me your blog address. You have a nice site here. I follow anything coal, coke and railroad. Your bridge abutments above were actually the main line of the PRR at one time. The Radebaugh Branch still exists, from behind Walmart to South Greensburg. It was once double track, until the mid 1930's. Several of the foundations and supports you have photos of above were unloading bins served by PRR on the Southwest Branch that ran from Greensburg all the way to Fairchance, PA. The volume of coal and coke that shipped through Greensburg was unbelievable.

  16. Hi Jim, thanks for looking. I went searching for the section of Radebaugh that went up from near Mount Thor Road and came down by the carpet place on Greengate Road. I was able to trace a good section of it. There was an 1852 tunnel back there that is buried now. I was looking for any trace of that. I read that was part of the main line until 1898 when the "new" tunnel was opened on the current railway before it was daylighted in 1965. The old tunnel was used as the 4'th track and then the 3'rd track when the mainline was reduced to 3 tracks until the 1970's.

  17. The Eastern portal is buried and you can tell where it was by the growth around it thriving from water that passes through. The Western side may be intact, but the approach, or cut, is a creek most times of the year. To get there you have to go down Armstrong road, or lane, and park, but it is posted private as well. A buddy of mine and I were approached by a women pulling into her driveway. She warned us nicely, but we were leaving then anyway. She told us that the lobby of Excela gbrg has some pictures of the original, older tunnel. Also, have you heard of the Hyde Park Tunnel? It pre-dates the Avonmore/Salina, but was never used. It was part of the Northwestern, on paper, before prr named that corridor the western penn. If you ever stopped at the Salina Inn, bar, you might wonder why it was a train station, when the tracks are down by the river. Well this line climbed a pretty traction demanding grade on it's way from Saltsburg along and near current 981 North believe it or not. The dirt road, Larimer Road, was the grade. We had a heck of a time finding the Hyde Park tunnel. Just park at the old Akers (Hyde Park facility, not Avonmore's) and walk in the direction towards Vandergrift. You will find it above the current grade in the woods. We found that portal, but we think the other side was buried. Great blog by the way.

    1. Thank you. I saw the creek in the cut. I guess I was in the right area. I've been meaning to get back there. I've found some other pictures of the tunnel and some more info from a book I found. There's so many places I want to get back to but It's hard finding the time, plus everything is all grown over in the summer and it makes it a little harder. I'll have to check out the hospital lobby to see what they have. Thanks for that info. I know of the Hyde Park Tunnel and have sort of an idea where to look but nothing concrete. Thank you so much for the directions. I would have never looked above the current grade. I will definitely check it out. That's another one on my list. I did not know that about the Salina Inn. A friend of mine has been riding out there this summer and stopping for a beer (or two) and was talking about it. I haven't made it there yet. I know where it's at. I guess I'll have to stop there too. Thanks for looking at my blog and all your info. That Hyde Park tunnel has always been something I wanted to check out.

  18. Hi Mike,

    This is a great selection of photos that you have here and I like your commentary. I am a big fan of documenting the landscape as well and I have some projects in the works. I work in south Greensburg (though I live in Allegheny Co) and I hear a lot of stories about the town and how things used to be. It's so interesting to me to see history in the form of building and roads. I especially liked your last two photos and spent several minutes comparing the differences between the two. I'm also making my way around the rest of your blog. It's nice to find other people who have an interest in PA history!


    1. Thank you Denise. It's always nice to hear from people with a common interest. I'm glad you like my blog and thanks for checking it out and replying! I really appreciate it. I'll check out your flickr page.

  19. I really enjoyed looking at your pics of Greensburg. So much is hidden in plain sight. Thanks for sharing.