The Clifton Incline… Finally a look!

Nov 19, 2016 | | 1 comment

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I truly believe that all hidden things are eventually revealed in time.  This is definitely true for a history sleuth.  A couple years back I wrote a blog on inclines of Allegheny City.  Revealing that the Northside had 4 known inclines:  The Troy Hill Incline, Nunnery Hill Incline (Fineview), Ridgewood Incline & The Clifton.  In fact at least 10 inclines were commissioned to be built but we don’t have evidence of the others including the Spring Hill Incline, Wicklines & Buena Vista Street Incline. (see our story “Inclines of Allegheny City” for more details).

So far the only images that we’ve seen of Northside inclines were of the Nunnery Hill.  One image was provided by the Allegheny City Society and the other was found in cyberspace by the Allegheny City Historic Gallery.  On November 14, 2016, Bill Marks, one of my Facebook friends posted images on my page of the Clifton Incline.  Immediately I was floored realizing that I was looking at images that I had been searching for, for quite a long time.  I am more impressed at the power of collaborative effort that Northsiders display in our shared neighborhood history search.  The images were in a story from the Pittsburg Post dated Sunday, October 5, 1902 called “Elevators for the Cliffdwellers”.

The story explains the unique features of the Clifton incline such as it only required 1 conductor to operate it.  He also filled in as engineer and fireman.  The boiler room was at the foot of the incline (Charles Street) and the engine room was at the top (Clifton Park).  About 406 people rode the incline everyday. There are two cars on the incline.  One that carried passengers and the other was weighted down with stones for balance.   The Charles Street streetcar would drop passengers off at the incline.  The story also contained 3 rarely seen photos.  Two of the incline and one of the engineer.  Surveying the area where the Clifton ran, I found many remnants still remaining.  Old stone walls, railroad ties and portions of the path confirm it’s existence.  Perhaps one day we could make a push to make the areas of the Old Allegheny inclines tourist attractions and even more ambitiously rebuild one in some form.

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Looking down the Clifton Incline in 1902. The Clifton extended from Clifton Park in Perry Hilltop to Charles Street at Sara (Strauss) Street.

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A North-West view of the Clifton Incline from the midway point. It was a 2-car system that carried passengers in one car and stones in the other car for balance.

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A look at the conductor of the Clifton Incline in 1902. It was a one-man operation and he also filled in as engineer & fireman.

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1900 map of location of the Clifton Incline.

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