The South Hills Junction

South Hills Junction - 1906

This is the Pittsburgh Railways South Hills Rail Junction as it looked in the fall of 1906, as seen from atop the southern portal of the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel, nearly three years after opening to traffic. All streetcar, and later bus, traffic to and from the South Hills communities passed through this tunnel. It was then, and may always be, one of the busiest intersections in the city.

In the distance, a Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad inbound passenger train can be seen chugging along the Warrington Avenue hillside, approaching the horseshoe curve and the Castle Shannon South Incline. Prior to 1904, this low-guage railroad, once used primarily to ship coal to the city, was for many years the best transportation alternative offered to commuters traveling to Pittsburgh from the south.

South Hills Junction - 1905.
Looking down upon the Pittsburgh Railways South Hills Junction in the spring of 1905 from the P&CSRR tracks above.

The junction actually had its beginnings a few years before, at the turn of the century, as a transit hub where the Mount Lebanon horse-drawn line met with the Warrington Avenue line. It was also near the Castle Shannon South Incline passenger station.

Construction at the South Hills Junction - 1905.
The South Hills Junction passenger center and the Southern Portal of the transit tunnel,
as seen from the
P&CS Railroad tracks on the hillside below Warrington Avenue.

The billboard on the hillside showcases a Freehold Real Estate advertisement touting Fourth Ward lot sales in the fast growing suburb of Brookline. The transit tunnel and subsequent 39-Brookline trolley service shortened the trip from the community of Brookline to downtown Pittsburgh from a matter of hours to only fifteen minutes.

As a result, land speculation, real estate development and property valuations in Brookline, as well as other South Hills communities, saw exponential growth.

Old picture
 of South Hills Junction.

For over a century, there has been a constant stream of trolleys, buses and light-rail cars rolling by on their way to Brookline, Beechview, Carrick, and numerous other destinations in the South Hills. The transit tunnel, built under Mount Washington, was one of the major engineering achievements from the early 20th century. It spurred the southward expansion of the City of Pittsburgh and the birth of the community of Brookline.

Some Photos of the South Hills Junction

South Hills Junction - 1920s

South Hills Junction - 1936

South Hills Junction - 1950s

South Hills Junction - 1950s

South Hills Junction - 1960s

South Hills Junction - 1964

South Hills Junction - 1980s

South Hills Junction - 2005

South Hills Junction - 2005

Models of the 39-Brookline and South Hills Junction

Scale model layout of the South Hills Junction

A scale model layout of the South Hills Junction, designed and constructed by Bob Dietrich. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is outstanding. For a complete set of Bob's South Hills Junction model photos, visit Below is a scale model replica of the 39-Brookline streetcar, PCC Car #1795, as it appeared in the 1960s, made by Dr. Michael Brendel.

39-Brookline    39-Brookline

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