Pittsburgh's Old Inclines

The Penn Incline
 decscends over Bigelow Boulevard
The Penn Incline descends from the Hill District, over Bigelow Boulevard, to the Strip District below.

Pittsburgh's hills were once dotted with inclines, made of steel, wood, train rails, cables and vehicles that scaled the hills surrounding the city. Called Gravity Planes, or Funiculars, the incline's cars were pulled up, and lowered, using a system of cables and pulleys, powered by large engines located in the upper station. These inclines were a convenient way to get from Mount Washington to Carson Street, from Knoxville to the South Side, or from the Hill District to the Strip District, and are forever linked to the history of Pittsburgh.

The Duquesne Incline
The Duquesne Incline offers a picturesque
view of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle.

These inclined planes navigated many hills throughout the city. Some were for coal transport and others serviced passengers, wagons and freight. Pittsburgh had some of the longest and steepest inclines in the world. Today, only the historic Monongahela Incline, still the world's steepest, and the Duquesne Incline, owned by the Port Authority, are still in existence.

The Knoxville Incline
The Pittsburgh Incline Plane, known as the Knoxville Incline.

Altogether, there were a total of twenty-three inclines built on the hillsides of Pittsburgh. Most of the earliest planes were constructed by the various mining ventures. Ten of inclines were built and owned by the Monongahela Inclined Plane Company. The hilltop neighborhood of Allentown had eight nearby inclines in service at one time: the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane, Mount Oliver, Monongahela, Monongahela Freight, Castle Shannon, Castle Shannon South, Knoxville and Keeling Coal Inclines.

The Monongahela Freight and Passenger Inclines
The Monongahela Incline, built in 1870 and still in use
today, remains the steepest incline in the world.
The adjacent Monongahela Freight Incline was in
operation for 51 years, from 1884 to 1935.

During the first half of the 20th century the inclines were very popular. Some averaged over 2000 riders a day. As time progressed and transit opportunities increased, their popularity declined. By the mid-1960s, the coal planes had been dismantled and financial losses had forced closure of all but two of the passenger and freight planes. As for the eight that once operated near Allentown: The Keeling Coal was dismantled in the early 1900s, the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane closed in 1912, Castle Shannon South in 1914, Monongahela Freight in 1935, Mount Oliver in 1951, Knoxville in 1960 and Castle Shannon in 1964.

Monongahela Incline Token          St. Clair Incline Token          Duquesne Incline Token


List Of Pittsburgh's Inclines

Ormsby Mine Gravity Plane * (1844-1878) - route location near the St. Clair Incline - St. Patrick Street to South 21nd Street and Quarry Street - connected to narrow gauge railway - Ormsby (Southside).

Kirk Lewis Coal Incline/Hoist (1854-1870) - Grandview Avenue (formerly High Street) near the present Duquesne Incline - Duquesne Heights (Mount Washington).

The Cray and Company Coal Incline (pre-1872) - upper station near Junius Street and Camden Street (formerly Catherine Street and Hill Street - Westwood; lower station at Shaler Street - West End Valley (Union Borough).

Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline (pre-1872) - located on the hillside below Maple Terrace to West Carson Street (formerly Washington Turnpike) near the present Station Square - Mount Washington.

Jones and Laughlin Coal Incline (pre-1872) - Josephine Street between South 29th Street and South 30th Street to Summer Street - Southside Slopes.

Keeling Coal Incline * (1870-1928) - route similar to lower end of Mount Oliver and Knoxville inclines, along Southside slope - from narrow guage railroad exiting Keeling Coal Company mines to station at South 12th Street - Southside Slopes.

Monongahela Incline (1870-present) - West Carson Street at Smithfield Street Bridge to eastern end of Grandview Avenue at Wyoming Street - Mount Washington.

Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane (1864-1912) - (known as the Mount Washington Coal Incline from 1864-1874) route similar to Castle Shannon Incline from Neff Street (formerly Nimick Street) below Bailey Avenue and William Street to East Carson Street at Arlington Avenue (formerly Pittsburgh and Brownsville Turnpike) - Mount Washington.

Mount Oliver Incline (1872-1951) - officially known as the South Twelfth Street Inclined Plane - South 12th Street at Freyburg Street to Warrington Avenue - Mount Oliver

Duquesne Incline (1877-present) - West Carson Street opposite the Point to Western End of Grandview Avenue (formerly High Street) between Oneida Street and Cohassett Street - Duquesne Heights (Mount Washington).

Fort Pitt (1882-1906) - from north end of South Tenth Street Bridge to Bluff Street - Duquesne University Bluff.

Monongahela Freight (1884-1935) - parallel to the east side of the Monongahela passenger plane - Mount Washington.

Penn Incline (1884-1953) - over Bigelow Boulevard to Liberty Avenue, from Ledlie Street to 17th Street - Hill District.

St. Clair Incline (1886-1935) - (also known as South 22nd Street Incline) South 22nd Street and Josephine Street to Salisbury Street between Fernleaf Street and Sterling Street - St. Clair Village.

Bellevue and Davis Island Incline (1887-1892) - Dilworth Run ravine, from South Starr and West Bellevue following abandoned course of Oak Street to Ohio River at Davis Island.

Nunnery Hill Incline (1887-1899) - Federal Street at Henderson Street (formerly Fairmount Street), North Side, to Catoma Street near Meadville Street (formerly Clyde Street) - The first curved track incline in Pittsburgh - Fineview.

Troy Hill Incline (1887-1898) - near end of old 30th Street Bridge to Lowrie Street at Ley Street, west of Lofink Street and Rialto Street (formerly Ravine Street) - Troy Hill.

Ridgewood Incline (1889-1900) - Charles Street North (formerly Taggart Street) near Nixon Street to Ridgewood Street at Yale Street - Perry Hilltop.

Clifton Incline (1895-1905) - Strauss Street (formerly Metcalf Street and Myrtle Street) on North Side to Clifton Park (Chautauqua Street) - Perry Hilltop.

Knoxville Incline (1890-1960) - officially known as the Pittsburgh Incline Plane - South 11th Street at Bradish Street to Warrington Avenue and Knoxville Avenue - The second incline in Pittsburgh with a curved track - Knoxville.

Castle Shannon Incline (1890-1964) - East Carson Street near Arlington Avenue to Bailey Street - Mount Washington.

Castle Shannon South (1892-1914) - Warrington Avenue to Bailey Street - Mount Washington

Norwood Incline (1901-1923) - Island Avenue near Adrian Street to Desiderio Avenue between McKinnie Avenue and Highland Avenue - McKees Rocks/Stowe.

* Dates for the Keeling Coal Company inclines are approximate and based on available maps and data.

Wikipedia: List of Pittsburgh Inclines.

Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh: Incline List.


Images And Maps Showing Pittsburgh's Inclines

Click on images for larger pictures

The Knoxville Incline

The upper platform of the Knoxville Incline, on Warrington Avenue.   The Knoxville Incline
The Pittsburgh Incline Plane, or Knoxville Incline, was 2460 feet long, rising of 375 feet. There was a 18 degree curve
in the middle. It was one of only two curved inclines ever built in Pittsburgh. It ran for 70 years, from 1890 to 1960.
The incline's upper loading platform (left), was located on Warrington Avenue. A car (right) leaves the upper station.

The Knoxville Incline descends the hill,
 while the tracks of the Keeling Coal Incline
 (center) and the trestle of the Mount Oliver
 Incline (rear) stand in the background.   The cars of the Knoxville Incline
meet in the middle of the plane.
The Knoxville Incline's cars moving along both sides of the tracks, with the Mount Oliver Incline in the distance. The
Keeling Coal Incline is also visible in the photo on the left, wedged in between the Knoxville and Mount Oliver planes.

The Knoxville Incline looking up the rails.   A Car of the Knoxville Incline.
The Knoxville Incline looking up from the lower station (left), with the Mount Oliver and Keeling Coal Inclines to the left.
A car moves along the curve (right), with the Mount Oliver Incline in the distance.

Vintage postcard showing the Knoxville Incline.
A vintage color postcard image showing the Knoxville Incline.

The Knoxville Incline.   Knoxville Incline station at Bradford Street.
The Knoxville Incline descends to its lower station at Bradford Street in the Southside.

The Knoxville Incline rails.   The upper station of the Knoxville Incline.
The tracks of the Knoxville Incline (left) and the upper loading platform.

The Knoxville Incline.   The Knoxville Incline.
Looking up and down at the cars of the Knoxville Incline.

Wikipedia: Knoxville Incline.

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The Mount Oliver Incline

A view from the top of the Mount Oliver Incline.   The Mount Oliver Incline.
The Mount Oliver Incline descends towards the Freyburg street station and another view from the top.
Built in 1872, the incline was in operation for 79 years, closing in 1951.

The Knoxville and Mount Oliver Inclines pass on the Southside slope.   Mount Oliver Inclines Station at Bradford Street
between 11th and 12th Streets on the Southside.
The Mount Oliver and Knoxville Incline cars pass on their way up and down from the hilltop neighborhoods to the flats. The lower station of the Mount Oliver Incline (right) at Freyburg Street on the Southside, between 11th and 12th Streets.

Wikipedia: Mount Oliver Incline.

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The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane

The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane - 1888
The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane, shown here in 1888, was a low guage inclined plane used to transport coal mined
in the South Hills to industries located along the Monongahela riverfront. The Coal Railroad traveled through the

Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Tunnel to platform along the north face of Mount Washington. The Pittsburgh
and Castle Shannon Plane was in operation from 1864 to 1912. Two years after this photo was taken, in
1890, the
Castle Shannon Incline was constructed to the left of the coal incline to haul passengers,
wagons and freight. Until then, this traffic was lowered to Carson Street along the P&CS Plane.

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The Castle Shannon Incline

The Castle Shannon Incline - 1900.
The Castle Shannon Incline and the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Plane along Mount Washington in 1900.

Looking up from the Carson Street Station.   Looking down from the Bailey Street Station.
The Castle Shannon Incline measured 1,350 feet in length.
Originally steam powered, the incline was electrified in 1918.

The tracks of the Castle Shannon Incline
pass under the McCardle Roadway Bridge,
under construction in 1926.   A car of the Castle Shannon Incline
at the Carson Street Station in 1926.
The tracks of the Castle Shannon Incline pass under the McCardle Street Bridge, under construction in 1926 (left)
and a car stands at the Carson Street loading station that same year.

Castle Shannon Incline looking towards downtown Pittsburgh.   Castle Shannon Incline, looking up from Carson Street.
The Castle Shannon Incline was the final part of trip for passengers of the
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad traveling north to the city from
1890 to 1912. The incline itself remained in operation until 1964.

The Castle Shannon Incline - 1928.
The Castle Shannon Incline's upper boarding station is visible in this August 1928 photo taken from The Bluff.
The
Mount Washington Roadway (McArdle Roadway) had opened to traffic only one month before.
The incline passed down the valley beneath the concrete arch bridge.

Looking down from the top of the Castle Shannon Incline.   Looking up from Carson Street.
The Castle Shannon Incline looking down towards the McArdle Roadway Bridge and railroad trestle (left)
and looking up towards the Bailey Street Station (right) at the top of the plane.

View from the Castle Shannon Incline
showing the Civic Arena in the distance.   The Castle Shannon Incline station at Bailey Street.
The Castle Shannon Incline descends Mount Washington with the City of Pittsburgh and the Civic Arena
in the distance (left) and the Bailey Street Station at the top of the incline.

A vintage turn-of-the-century
Castle Shannon Incline Car.   A car from the Castle Shannon Incline about
to pass under the McArdle Roadway bridge.
The Castle Shannon Incline was a popular transit route from atop Mount Washington for seventy-rour years.

The Castle Shannon Incline - 1936.
The Castle Shannon Incline, from top to bottom, passing under the McCardle Roadway bridge, in March 1936.
Along the side of Mount Washington is Pittsburgh's historic
Coca-Cola clock.

Looking up towards the Bailey Street Station.   Looking down from the Bailey Street Station.
Looking in both directions along the rails of the Castle Shannon Incline.

Castle Shannon Incline Bailey Street Station.   Castle Shannon Incline Bailey Street Station.
The incline cars at the entrance to the Bailey Street Station atop Mount Washington.

View from the Castle Shannon Incline.   The Castle Shannon Incline.
Vintage Pittsburgh postcards showing the Castle Shannon Incline.

View from the Castle Shannon Incline.
A postcard image circa-1912 showing the Castle Shannon Incline (left) and the Pittsburgh and Castle
Shannon Plane (right), which was used to transport coal brought from South Hills mines by the old
Coal Railroad, and later the
Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad, from 1864 until 1912.

Wikipedia: Castle Shannon Incline.

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Castle Shannon South

The Castle Shannon South Incline.
The Castle Shannon South descends along Haberman Street in this undated photo. The incline ran from Bailey Avenue
down to Warrington Avenue, and was in operation from 1892 to 1914. Owned by the Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon
Railroad, it transported passengers from Warrington to Bailey. Riders then transfered to the Castle
Shannon Incline for the trip down the north face of Mount Washington to Carson Street.

Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.   Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.
Looking from Warrington Avenue up Haberman Avenue along the route of the Castle Shannon South Incline (left)
and the P&CSRR Warrington Station and Horseshoe Curve on the lower end of the incline.

Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.   Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.
Looking up from near the lower Warrington station (left) and looking down from near the top of the rise.

Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.   Castle Shannon South Incline - 1916.
Cables along the tracks near the top of the line (left) and a view towards the Bailey Street upper station.

Haberman Avenue was the location of
the Castle Shannon South Incline, which
took passengers from the boarding area
at the Warrington Loop up to Bailey Street
and the Castle Shannon Incline.
This is a view of Haberman Avenue in 1915, heading from the Warrington Loop up the hill towards Bailey Street.
The Castle Shannon South Incline, which operated from 1892 to 1914, ran parallel to Haberman on the left.
Also visible to the far left are the railroad tracks of the P&CSRR Horseshoe Curve.

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The Penn Incline

The Penn Incline in 1908.
The Penn Incline descends over Bigelow Boulevard from atop Polish Hill to the passenger station on Liberty Avenue in 1908.

The top of the Penn Incline was at Ridgeway Street.   Penn Incline looking down towards Strip District.
The Penn Incline ferried passengers and freight from the Strip District to Ridgeway Street on the Hill.
It was possibly the longest inclined plane in the world. Built in 1884, it operated until 1953.

The Penn Incline lower station was on Liberty Avenue.   Penn Incline descends over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.
The lower station of the Penn Incline (left), shown in 1937, was located on Liberty Avenue. In the photo
on the right, taken in 1951, the incline descends over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.

The Penn Incline in 1953.
The Penn Incline in 1953 shortly before closing. The incline was in operation for seventy years.

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The Monongahela Incline

The Monongahela Freight and Passenger
Inclines in operation in 1905.
The Monongahela Freight and Passenger Inclines in operation in 1905. The freight incline is no longer in service.

The Monongahela Incline in 1926.   The Monongahela Incline in 2006.
The Monongahela Freight and Passenger Incline in 1926 (left) and the Passenger Incline in 2007.

Crews working on the foundation of
the Monongahela Incline in 1926.   The Monongahela Freight and Passenger Inclines in 1932.
Crews working on the foundation of the Monongahela Incline in 1926 (left) and a view of the incline in 1932.

The Monongahela Inclines in 1972.
The Monongahela Incline in 1972.

Monongahela Incline over McArdle Roadway.   View from the bottom of the Monongahela Incline looking up.
A ride on the Monongahela Incline offers a wonderful view of the city and the Monongahela River.

View from the bottom of the Monongahela Incline looking up.   Monongahela Incline over McArdle Roadway.
A view from the lower station looking up (left) and the Monongahela Incline comes down over McArdle Roadway.

The Monongahela Incline.
The Monongahela Incline's thirty-eight percent grade is the steepest in the world.

Monongahela Incline cars   Monongahela Incline Cars
The passenger cars were built specifically for the Monongahela Incline.

The upper station along Grandview Avenue.   The lower station along Carson Street.
The upper station along Grandview Avenue (left) and the lower station along Carson Street.

The P&LERR Terminal Building and the Monongahela Incline.
The P&LERR Terminal Building and the Monongahela Incline.

The Monongahela Incline.   The Monongahela Incline at night.
The sign at the entrace to the lower station and the Monongahela Incline at night.

The Monongahela Incline.   The Monongahela Incline.
The Monongahela Incline is one of Pittsburgh's main tourist stops.

The Monongahela Incline - 1908
The Monongahela Passenger and Freight Incline scaling the Mount Washington slope in 1908.

Wikipedia: Monongahela Incline.

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The Duquesne Incline

The Duquesne Incline in 1908.
The Duquesne Incline, built in 1877 and shown here in 1908, has been transporting passengers for over 135 years.

The Duquesne Incline celebrating Pittsburgh Steeler Deee-Fense.   The Duquesne Incline from Mount Washington
to the Carson Street station.
The Duquesne Incline celebrates Pittsburgh Steeler Deee-Fense (left); A view of the entire incline from top to bottom.

The Duquesne Incline in the wintertime.   The Duquesne Incline in the wintertime.
The brilliant colors of the Duquesne Incline stand out with a light dusting of snow.

The Duquesne Incline in 1926.
The Duquesne Incline in 1926.

The inside of the incline car.   The Duquesne Incline scales Duquesne Heights.
The decorative inside of the Incline car (left) and a view of the incline rising towards Duquesne Heights.

The lower station along Carson Street.   Looking down towards Carson Street.
The lower station along Carson Street from ground level and from above.

The Duquesne Incline.
The fully-restored Duquesne Incline rises along the slopes of Mount Washington.

The Duquesne Incline.   The Duquesne Incline.
The Duquesne Incline, like the Monongahela Incline, is one of Pittsburgh's #1 tourist destinations.

The Duquesne Incline celebrating Pittsburgh Steeler Deee-Fense.   The Duquesne Incline from Mount Washington
to the Carson Street station.
Looking up from the lower station (left) and a view down towards Carson Street.

The Duquesne Incline in the evening - 2013
The Duquesne Incline provides a stunning view of the Golden Triangle in this early evening photo from January 2013.

Wikipedia: Duquesne Incline.

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The Keeling Coal Incline

The Knoxville and Mount Oliver Inclines descend
on either side of the Keeling Coal Incline.   The route of the Keeling Coal Incline is visible in this
photo, between the Knoxville and Mount Oliver Inclines.
The lower station of the coal incline is still visible.
The Keeling Coal Incline was built around 1870, linking mines along the Southside Slopes with the railroads on the flats.
The incline was located between the Mount Oliver and Knoxville Inclines. The plane was closed around 1928.

Wikipedia: Keeling Coal Company.

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The Norwood Incline

The Norwood Incline.
The Norwood Incline was located in McKees Rocks. It operated from 1901 to 1923, and was referred to
as "The Penny Incline," charging passengers one cent to get from Island Avenue to Norwood Place.

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The Fort Pitt Incline

The Fort Pitt Incline - 1905.
The Fort Pitt Incline can be seen rising from near the north end of the South Tenth Street Bridge to Bluff Street
in this 1905 photo. Open from 1882 to 1906, the incline was 2,640 feet long with a vertical climb of 375 feet.

The Fort Pitt Incline - 1890.
Map from 1890 showing the Fort Pitt Incline.

Wikipedia: Fort Pitt Incline.

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The Ormsby Gravity Plane and The St. Clair Incline

The Knoxville and Mount Oliver Inclines.  
The Ormsby Gravity Plane was located along the Southside Slopes, connecting to a narrow-gauge railroad (left) that
ran along 21st Street to the Jone and Lauglin Steel Mills. The coal incline was built between in the mid-1800s and
operated until 1878. The Ormsby Gravity Plane was replaced, in 1889, by the St. Clair Incline, which transported
passengers and freight from St. Clair Village down through the ravine (right) to a station along Josephine Street.

Ormsby Gravity Plane - 1872.
Map from 1872 showing the Keeling Coal Company's Ormsby Gravity Plane.

The St. Clair Incline - 1890.
Map from 1890 showing the St. Clair Incline.

Wikipedia: Keeling Coal Company, St. Clair Incline.

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Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline

Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline - 1872.
Map from 1872 showing the Clinton Iron Works Coal Incline, located along Mount Washington, slightly west
of the present-day Wabash Tunnel. It transported coal directly to the Clinton
industries located along the Monongahela riverfront.

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The Nunnery Hill Incline

The Nunnery Hill Incline - 1890.
Map from 1890 showing the Nunnery Hill Incline in Fineview, the first Pittsburgh Incline with a curved track.

Wikipedia: Nunnery Hill Incline.

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The Troy Hill Incline

The Troy Hill Incline - 1890.
Map from 1890 showing the Troy Hill Incline near the 30th Street Bridge.

Wikipedia: Troy Hill Incline.

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Cray And Company Coal Incline

The Cray and Company Coal Incline - 1872.
Map from 1872 showing the Cray and Company Coal Incline on the West End along Saw Mill Run Creek.

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The Jones And Laughlin Coal Incline

The Troy Hill Incline - 1890.
Map from 1872 showing the Jones and Laughlin Coal Incline along the South Side Slopes between
29th and 30th Streets. Coal was transported directly to the riverfront mills.

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The Ridgewood Incline

The Ridgewood Incline - 1890.
Map from 1890 showing the Ridgewood Incline. The Perry Hilltop incline
burned down after only one year of service.

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The Clifton Incline

The Clifton Incline - 1890.
Map from 1901 showing the Clifton Incline, rising from Myrtle Street to Clifton Park on Perry Hilltop.

Wikipedia: Clifton Incline.

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