The Montour Trail Montour Railroad History
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The Montour Railroad was chartered...
Steam Locomotive 1877. It was one of many short line railroads built in the late 19th century to haul coal from rural western Pennsylvania to the steel industry of Pittsburgh and beyond. The first segment constructed extended from Montour Junction (near the confluence of Montour Run with the Ohio River east of Coraopolis) south to the town of Imperial. In 1912 the Montour RR undertook major expansion in order to reach new mines, and by 1917 reached West Mifflin via an arc near or through McDonald, Cecil and Bethel Park. By now it was an important link in the rail transportation system serving Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland. The Montour connected with all five of the trunk railroads serving the area.

At its peak in the early 1930s, the Montour served 27 mines and carried almost seven million tons of coal annually. Other freight was virtually incidental, and passenger service was abandoned in the 1920s. By mid-century both the demand for coal was decreasing and local mines were closing, and in 1946 the Montour RR was sold jointly to the Pennsylvania RR and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie RR. The P&LE acquired sole ownership in 1975. Costs continued to rise and revenues to decrease. The segment from Bethel Park to West Mifflin had already been abandoned, service between Venice and Library ceased in 1975, and the Montour RR ceased operation entirely in 1984.

The Pennsylvania RR constructed the 7.8 mile Peters Creek Branch from Clairton to Snowden (where it connected with the Montour RR) between 1902 and 1907. It too served coal mines, principally around Large. This line ceased operation in 1962.

For more detailed information about the history of the Montour Railroad, see: