Inclines of Allegheny City

Mar 9, 2015 | | 6 comments

The Pittsburgh landscape is famous for it’s hills, stadiums and triangular shape formed by the confluence.  It is also synonymous with the Duquesne and Mon inclines.  They both connect Mt. Washington to downtown.  Did you know that the Northside also had at 3 Inclines (4 if you count the Ridgewood which was moved) during it’s Allegheny City years? A few of them were chartered but never built.  There would have been 7 if all plans were realized.

Troy Hill Incline Plane Railway Company
It was directed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on Aug. 27, 1886, that Letters Patent issue to that company; Allegheny County Charter Book 10, 369. The stockholders at that time were John H. McCreery, R. F. Ramsey, C. A. Cooper, Wm. M.Short and Wm. A. Stone. The company was formed for the “purpose of constructing and operating one or more Incline Plane Railways for carrying of freight and passengers from a point or points on Spring Garden Street up and over Troy Hill to a point or points on the West Penn Railroad, between Ravine Street and Pine Street in the City of Allegheny … .”  There is no record of this incline ever being built.

The Allegheny Inclined Plane Company:  In 1888 the 1st Incline in Allegheny City was chartered.  It was to operate between Jacksonia Street and Perrysville Avenue.  There is no record of that incline ever being built, however Beuna Vista from Jacksonia to Perrysville indicates it might have been graded for the Allegheny Incline.  Records show that the company was formed for transporting passengers, vehicles and freight or either of them, from a point at or near Jackson Street to the top of Observatory Hill in the City of Allegheny.” The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on Aug. 24, 1881, directed that Letters Patent issue to it. The stockholders at that time were L.H. Willard, R. J. Hemmick, Robert S. Smith, W. H.Pfohl, James S. Young and Lewis McMullen.

The Troy Hill Inclined Plane Company:  The 1st Incline to operate was the Troy Hill which began service in 1888.  Built by Samuel Diescher, it started just West of 1802 East Ohio Street (formerly Lambros Hotel) and ended at 1733 Lowrie Street, near Ley opposite the Old Engine House No. 11.  Its application for a charter was approved on May 21, 1884; Allegheny County Charter Book 9, 50. Its stockholders at that time were John D. Scully, Josiah W. Davidson, Joseph F. Speer, George B.Hill and James W. Grove. The company was formed “for the purpose of erecting, maintaining and operating one or more inclined planes in the City of Allegheny …. from a point or points terminous or termini on the northern side of Ohio street, about 300 feet west from the intersection of McFadden street in the 8th ward of said city up the slope or heights of Troy Hill to a point or points at or near the junction of the Troy Hill Road and Gardener street, a distance of 300 feet, more or less, and for the purpose of carrying …. passengers and freight along over and upon said Inclined Plane or Planes and for the collection of tolls rates and charges therefor …” The Street Railway Journal Souvenir, Oct. 1891, 39, stated: “The first inclined plane in Allegheny was the Mount Troy Incline, which starts at the Allegheny end of the Thirtieth Street Bridge and climbs Troy Hill”

Troy Hill Incline Map 1890

Old Map from 1890 showing the rail lines of the Troy Hill incline.

Troy Hill Incline Station

The Upper Station House for the Troy Hill incline. This building still exists today.

Nunnery Hill Inclined Plane Company: Nunnery Hill incline was the 2nd one built in Allegheny City in 1888. The building on the corner of Federal and Henderson (which still stands today) was the lower station for the incline. The upper station was located opposite the old 12th Ward School No. 2 at Catoma & Meadville Streets.  It was curved and predated the curved incline on the Southside.  In 1893 the conductor was 15 years old.  Boys started work at an early age back then. Its application for a charter was approved on Sept. 24, 1886; Allegheny County Charter Book No. 11, 132. The subscribers to the company’s stock at that time were: Oliver P. Scaife, Chas. C. Scaife, Jas. B.Scott, Geo. P. Hamilton, Jr., Arthur Kennedy and S. Diescher. The corporation was formed “for the purpose of operating an inclined plane in the City of Allegheny …. from a point on Fairmount Street to a point on Clide or Willis street near the Twelfth Ward School House.” The Street Railway Journal Souvenir, Oct. 1891, stated that the Nunnery Hill Incline was “The second of the Allegheny inclines,” and that it ascended “Nunnery Hill from Federal Street on the line of the Pleasant Valley railway.” It also stated that it was built in 1887 and was for passengers only. Detailed information was given as to construction, fares, etc.  In 1900 residents of Nunnery Hill lobbied to reopen the “Old” Incline.

Nunnery Hill Incline view a curved track.

A look down the famous curved track of the Nunnery Hill incline around 1889.

Nunnery Hill Incline Path

The path of the Nunnery Hill Incline. It traveled from Catoma & Meadville Streets to the corner of Federal and Henderson.

Nunnery Hill Map 1890

Old Map of Fineview showing the rail lines of the Nunnery Hill Incline. Nunnery Hill was known as Ben Villa in 1852.

nunnery map

Article about the Nunnery Hill incline in 1888 Pittsburgh Press.

Ridgewood Incline Railway Company, Ltd.:  In 1889 the 3rd incline, The Ridgewood was built. It was located opposite Nevada Street on Taggart (Charles Street) near Nixon, crossing Irwin Avenue on a wooden trestle to Ridgewood Street at Yale.  The trestle burned down that same year.  In 1890 the machinery was transferred to Breed’s (McCreery’s) Hill overlooking North Charles Street.  A partnership was entered into in July, 1886, “for the purpose of building and operating an elevator incline railway in the Second Ward of the City of Allegheny, Allegheny County .. .” (Partnership Book 4,412, Allegheny County) .The purchaser of the largest block of stock at that time was H.Samson who, years earlier, had established an undertaking business in Pittsburgh. World-renowned Dr. John A.
Brashear was also a stockholder. Some of the others were Alexander Leggate, M.J. Walsh, Geo. Lacock and R. P. Wallace. Allegheny County deed records (D.B. 613, 5) show that “Otis Bros &c”obtained a judgment against the Ridgewood Incline Railway Company, and that the sheriff of Allegheny County conveyed, by deed dated Sept.
24, 1887, to W.D.Baldwin, “All the right, title …of” said company “in and to lot 20 feet, more or less, on the eastern side of Taggart street, Allegheny City, 331 feet 10″ from Gallagher Street and extending back 300 feet … on which is erected a station house, engine boiler, passenger car and tressle for an inclined railway ….”

Ridgewood Incline Map 1890

Old 1890 map showing rail lines for The Ridgewood incline. Nixon Street changed to Nevada by 1907, today it is called Nublock.

Location of the Ridgewood incline on 2015 map.

Location of the Ridgewood incline on 2015 map.

Flash Card Taggart Street 2

The Clifton Avenue Incline Plane Company:  The upper station was located on a small plateau know as Clifton Park where Chatauqua Street dead ends on Irwin Avenue Extension.  The sub station was located on Strauss Street (formerly Metcalf & Myrtle Street).  The owners built row houses at this point to provide customers for the Incline.  It reported worked until 1905 when the car got away and smashed into a house on North Charles Street.  Records show its application for a charter was approved on June 25, 1888; Allegheny County Charter Book 12, 219. The subscribers to its stock then were William and John McCreery, Wm. A. Stone, Charles A. Cooper, R. F. Ramsay and T. L. Rodgers. The corporation was formed for “the purpose of erecting . . . and operating an incline plane in the City of Allegheny …. from a point on Sarah Street near Breed’s Hillon land of Wm. McCreery for carrying …. passengers and freight.

the clifton

Overview of where The Clifton incline would be located today (2015).

Clifton Incline 1900 Map.png

Old Map from 1900 showing the rail lines for The Clifton incline which operated until 1905.

Spring Hill Incline Plane Company;
Penna. Laws, 1893; Charter sec. a- 18 The company was incorporated on Aug.21, 1891. It was “formed for the purpose of locating … and operating an incline plane from Madison Avenue, Twelfth Ward, Allegheny City, to Haslage Avenue on Spring Hill; also in the same ward, and to be located as follows, viz., beginning at a point on the east side of Madison avenue immediately opposite Mill st., and at the base of Spring Hill a distance of about eight hundred feet to Haslage avenue on the crown of Spring Hill at or near a point where said Haslage Avenue intersects with Kloper street, in the Twelfth Ward, City of Allegheny … and for the purpose of carrying …. and transporting passengers and freight or either upon or over said incline plane from Madison avenue to Haslage avenue on Spring Hill, Twelfth Ward, Allegheny City ….”

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6 Responses

  1. There is still at the top of Kaiser Avenue ( I believe the Preskar family controls that part of the street now, where they built a garage) a metal pole that was one of the supports for the Spring Hill Incline.

  2. some Larry’ville residents want the Troy Hill Incline to be operation again to make the gentrification of the next neighborhood to be gentrified done quickly. Where is the photos of the Troy Hill Incline?

    1. JASON—-Years ago, I authored an article which I do not believe is on line—-it was years ago—-about the TROY HILL INCLINE and others. I have as yet, never ever seen any pictures showing the TH, the Ridgewood or Clifton—————the image of the Nunnery Hill Incline came to my files many years ago from an aged fellow who gave it to me in Fineview.

      In recent years, I wrote a published story in the NS Chronicle about the trolleys in lieu of their return w/the opening of North Shore T. As a follow up, I did a new updated version of a NS Inclines story—-but they never ever printed it. I have also traced the fabled Bellevue cable-line.

      If you are familiar w/the Troy Hill Incline—–then you have seen the historical marker on the upper station which the late Mary Wohelber & I helped secure. OF course, your are familiar w/the T #4 which ran until 1957 from Troy Hill T Loop and there was a branch line T which ran out to St Mary’s known as the MOUNT TROY SHUTTLE. It was abandon early on…..

      Bryant Schmude

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