Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Monongahela Incline

This is a bit of a companion piece to yesterdays post of the Homestead Steel Works, also along the Monongahela River. I was born and raised in a small coal mining town about fifty or so miles from downtown Pittsburgh. In the late fifties and sixties, that was close enough to be accessible but far enough away to be a special treat. Sadly, my father did not share my enthusiasm for Pittsburgh's trolleys, soon to be torn up and replaced by bus lines, and the incline railways to Mt. Washington on Pittsburgh's south side. After I made my inglorious exit from Penn State, (Who knew they were that sensitive about bounced tuition checks.), I moved to Pittsburgh and started taking the inclines up to Mt. Washington for no other reason than that I enjoyed the ride. The Mon Incline and the Duquesne Incline, less than a mile down river, where the two survivors of what once had been 17 funiculars along the Monongahela River Valley. The large building at the foot of the incline on the second card was the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Terminal. It was pretty much a deserted hulk back then. I used to enjoy sitting in the quiet thinking about what it must have been like before passenger service ended on the south side. Eventually the preservation wing of the urban redevelopment movement got hold of the building. The passenger lobby became an upscale restaurant, and with my downscale income I found myself no longer welcome there. The old freight house became a shopping mall. Don't get me wrong, if that hadn't happened it would have been torn down, but really, how many Gaps can you visit? The Mon Incline was built in 1870. Today it's operated by Port Authority Transit, the public transit agency for Allegheny County. The Duquesne Incline is operated by a private foundation, and if I'm not getting them confused in my memory, the nicer of the two. Neither of these cards was used. On the back of both, "PUBLISHED BY I. ROBBINS & SON, PITTSBURGH, PA MADE IN U.S.A." I Robbins was in business from 1911 to 1943. Also, "PITTSBURGH PROMOTES PROGRESS" As well as the usual spot for stamps, and a not very interesting company logo. Go to Google, type in Monongahela Incline and then hit images. A lot of shots will come up, but be forewarned, a lot of them are of the Duquesne route.

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