The Montour Trail Library Junction History
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Photos from Library Junction, circa 1983

Here is the first picture. After digging up these old shots of Library Junction and studying them, I have to conclude that my memory was off earlier in regard to the time frame of when they were shot. I had told you that I took them in the summer or early fall of 1983; this was obviously wrong. Now that I have had a chance to study them, and they have performed a miracle by jogging some of my memory, I am convinced that I went on this Library Junction trek of mine earlier than I had first recalled. Now that my memory has been jogged, I recall these pictures were taken about March of 1983.

One thing I am convinced that my memory is infallible on is in regard to the location of this picture. I am certain that this first shot is facing south at the end of the Bethel Park Spur. The track that went straight ahead from the old switch, then swings to the right in the distance, was the track that went west towards Coraopolis. The other track, that made a quick left off of the switch in the foreground, went east to Library, the connection with the B&O at the county line, and Clairton via the Pennsylvania RR.

Two things that caught my attention as I studied these pictures just recently, is the overall condition of the tracks as well as the position of the old switching mechanism in the foreground of this shot. Notice how the old switch was positioned here so that any train traveling south from Bethel Park would then be sent west to Coraopolis. Also, notice how in this picture and the others that the track of the Bethel spur as well as the junction track leading to the West, had less vegetation on it than the track east to Library did.

Although the Bethel Park spur was already long abandoned by the time I took these shots (the tunnel at Rt. 88 and other streets had been removed a few months earlier), it would appear that the Bethel spur was in use more recently than the Library track had been. Of course back then tracks could be out of use long before they were officially declared abandoned because of the bureaucratic regulatory process the RR's had to go through to 'officially' abandon a track.

This shot is from an angle nearly opposite the first shot. The track straight ahead is the Bethel spur heading north. The track converging from the left is from the West and Coraopolis. The one on the right is from the East and Library.

Again, notice here as in the first picture how the track to and from Library and the East has more vegetation encroaching on it. Also, in this picture, this Library track appears more brown from rust than the track from the West and the Bethel Spur to the North. Although the Bethel Spur and the entire junction had been long out of use by the time these pictures were taken, this again suggests that the Library and Eastbound track was out of use even longer.

This shot is facing east towards Library with the converging of the tracks in the foreground. The track on the left is the one from the Bethel Spur while the one on the right is coming in from the West and Coraopolis.

Notice how both of these converging tracks have more vegetation encroachment than the track to and from the Bethel Spur did. In fact, after the tracks converge, they are quickly obscured by the vegetation that makes it look like a hay field. Again, it would appear that the Library line was out of use long before the Bethel Spur was.

Too bad I did not get a shot of the tracks heading towards the West and to Coraopolis. Yet I seem to recall that these tracks were relatively clear and thus visible for a distance to the West. I would just wonder if the switching mechanism on the West side of the junction was shifted so as to send trains coming from the West towards the North and the Bethel spur. If I had taken a picture that indeed showed that, that would help confirm that the Bethel Spur was in use after the Library spur was discontinued. Yet I definitely recall that there was less vegetation on the track heading west of the junction than what there was in this picture on the track heading to the East.

I cannot remember exactly where this shot was taken. I am certain it is on the Bethel Park Spur. Yet precisely where slips my mind. I seem, for some reason or other, to think it was in Washington County -- but perhaps it was in Allegheny County. I also seem to think it is facing south -- but I could be wrong. I do not see the electrical wires here. Anyhow, if I were to walk the trail today between Clifton Rd and the old Junction, maybe I might recognize where it was at. Maybe!

I can be certain that this shot was taken on the Bethel Spur and facing north. The direction is confirmed by the location of the high voltage wires to the left of the track. I think I took it in Washington County. Yet it could have been in Allegheny. My first guess is that it was just north of the old junction and the old overpass that carried Brush Run Rd over the tracks. In other terms, I think it may have been the section where the RR curved left as it headed north and ran on a near east/west latitude before curving right and swinging back to the North as it neared Allegheny County. Yet perhaps I was already north of the county line in BP when I shot it. Like with shot 4, I may recognize the spot if I walked the trail through here again.

I also cannot remember who that is in the picture.

These last 3 shots are definitely less valuable as they were taken after the tracks had been removed. They were taken in the summer or early fall of 1985 -- no later than September. They were taken either on the section between Clifton Rd and Logan Rd/Irishtown Rd -- which would be part of the currently opened trail. Or they were taken on the section between Logan Rd and South Park Rd -- which is not part of the trail. Or both.

On this first picture here you'll notice a house on the right side. The presence of the house indicates that this shot was taken facing south. The only question is where.

If this shot was taken between Clifton and Logan Roads, then the house is either on Ashland Drive or Forest Rd, and it is today part of the trail. On the other hand, if this was taken between Logan and South Park Roads, it is not part of the current trail and the house is on Logan Rd.

However, I think the former is correct. I seem to recall the Montour being on a shelf of land above Logan Rd where they ran parallel to teach other. Obviously, this house is at an elevation slightly above the old Montour route, which leads me to assume that the house is either on Ashland or Forest.

Yet, this assumption is contingent on my memory being infallible. Which it isn't. In other terms, I could be wrong here. The one bright spot: if I were to take a walk on the old Montour ROW today, I'm sure I could recognize the spot I took it at. Stay tuned for the summer.

PS: If by any chance you recognize where this was shot at, please let me know.

How far north on the old Montour Right of way do the high voltage wires continue? The answer could give a clue as to whether this shot was taken between Clifton and Logan or between Logan and South Park Rd. Do the wires continue along the old ROW beyond the old Logan Rd crossing? If not, this was definitely shot south of Logan and north of Clifton Rd. There is a white industrial building off to the right and what appears to be houses on the left. Again, if I walked it today, I should recognize the location.

Out of all the many times I spent on the old Montour ROW, I would have thought that I had more than just eight pictures. If I did take anymore, than I have forgotten about them and they have been misplaced.

This last one will be hard to determine where it was shot at as there are no building structures nearby. Again, I must ask, how far north do the wires continue for? That could give a clue to where this shot was taken at.

©2001, by Larry Woods. Posted with permission.