Thursday, March 10, 2022

1904 (NS+Amtrak)/Pennsy/PFW&C Fort Wayne Bridge over Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, PA

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; pghbridges; B&T; Satellite)

PFW&C = Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, a Pennsy subsidiary

"Built 1901-1904; replaced earlier 1868 lattice truss bridge; raised 1918; lower deck tracks removed c1950s." [BridgeHunter] This was the fifth bridge at this location. The first two (1829 and 1845) were canal aqueducts. The PFW&C built the next two in 1857 (wood) and 1868 (iron). [pghbridges]

Street View
3D Satellite

Because of the trees along the road, we can't get a good view of the bridge. But since this road goes under the bridge, we can get a good view of a truss. This view reminded me that a 1904 bridge would be pin connected.
Street View

John Wrynn posted
The Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge. Spans the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh. Taken from the David Lawrence Convention Center. Built 1901-1904 for the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway. Still used by Norfolk Southern and Amtrak.
Patrick Rieger: When built the bridge was lower, but when the current station was built the tracks were elevated so they were no at street level so the bridge was raised, hence the cement on top of the stone making the piers. [Not only did the city want the tracks raised to reduce traffic congestion, the War Department ordered the railroad to raise the bridge to provide more clearance for boats.]
Ken Heitzenrater: Union Station with dome covered entrance is now an apartment building and National Landmark. In 1969, when I entered the US Army, this was the Trailways Bus Station which had a small section for ticket services. There were long old dark wooden benches for waiting for connections. The restroom reminded me of the ones in Witness with Harrison Ford. Though all but one were coin operated.
[Amtrak Station is across from Union Station Building.]

Joseph Flickr via BridgeHunter, License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)
[It is labeled "Panhandle Bridge," but the Panhandle Bridge was on the other side of the triangle. This photo shows that the bridge has four truss lines. And the right pier clearly shows the concrete extension on top of the stone pier to raise the bridge when the tracks were elevated.]

Historic Documents via HistoricBridges, p10

Bridges & Tunnels posted two photos with the comment:
I've long been intrigued by the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge which carries Norfolk Southern over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Originally opened as a wooden truss by the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad in 1857, it was replaced with a wrought iron truss structure in 1868.
In 1901, the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had taken over operations of the railroad, began the process to rebuild the Fort Wayne Bridge in conjunction with the construction of a new passenger station immediately south of the crossing and the elimination of grade crossings elsewhere. Construction was carried out by rolling the old bridge to temporary supports alongside while at the same time skewing it to bring it parallel to the new centerline, a process that took two hours on April 13, 1902. The new bridge was then erected atop the old piers and the project was finished in 1904.
In 1918, the Fort Wayne Bridge was raised by two or three feet to about 47 feet above Davis Island pool to meet the vertical clearance requirements set by the War Department. In the 1970s, there were talks of abandoning the crossing in favor of utilizing the Brilliant Cutoff, while another proposal called for the reuse of the lower level of the bridge for automobiles. Ultimately, the lower level was abandoned with the provision that it could be used as a pedestrian crossing in the future. Work on removing tracks from the lower deck of the Fort Wayne Bridge and removing abandoned approaches was completed in 1989.
▶︎ Check out more of the history and photos of the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge at
[When I wrote these notes, I could not find a B&T post for this bridge so I'm glad to see this link.]


Ted Gregory posted two images with the comment:
Anyone have pics of this bridge?
This is one of my favorites.
I have not visited yet so all I got are these cool Google images.
Note that this bridge is a rare double-deck railroad bridge that used to see trains on two levels.
Pennsy Fort Wayne Bridge 
The Allegheny River
Pittsburgh, PA
Charlie Easton: The P&WV [actually, PFW&C] built this bridge with the idea of leasing the lower level sometime in the future. But that never happened. [PRJ's comment and other comments indicate the lower level was used to access freight facilities such as a freight station and a produce yard. I think Charlie is thinking about the K-truss bridge over the Monongahela River. That P&WV bridge was built with tracks on both levels, but on the upper level was used.]
Charlie Easton: Aaaand, Steel Bridge in Portland was a double deck vertical lift bridge. The bottom was rail and the top was light rail, so close to double deck rail. Aaaand, the lower level lifted independently of the upper span for the first few feet. 39 feet sticks in my mind but don't count on it. So when a big enough ship came through, both spans went up. But for smaller water craft, just the lower level was raised.
Ted Gregory: Cool Charlie. There's a double deck bridge at Santa Fe Junction in Kansas City. Both levels are still seeing heavy freight traffic and both double track. It is close to where that derailment happened a few weeks back. If that camera could spin to the right, you would see it.
Patrick Rieger: Notice from the overhead shot the part of the bridge that heads towards the convention center. The PRR had a freight house on the site of what is the convention center.
The lower level went towards a yard in the Strip District, delivering produce. Now the produce comes in by truck. The site of the yard has lots of development such as condos and a couple self-driving car companies. [Per PRJ's comment, the lower level also served the Duquesne freight station.]
James Love: Pairs of this trestle from Allegheny River up were left from Pennsylvania Mainline Canals Western Division that operated from Johnstown to PNC Park today, with location above leading to Canal Basin at PIttsburgh's AMTRAK/Greyhound Station today. West Penn Railroad filled in Canal between Johnstown out the Conemaugh River to PA 286 in Saltsburg where name becomes Kiskiminetas River and is same River. At Schenley PA Kiski flows into Allegheny River where Canal crosses to Freeport on down to PNC and location of trestle above.
Randall Banks: If you look at Street View in the right lane looking east next to the convention center they seem to be working on something major. It looks like they might be re-opening the bottom part. I know that Amtrak is adding another track to the Pittsburgh Amtrak station, which is right near there. Being that there's no room on the top for another track, adding tracks on the bottom could alleviate traffic issues for more Amtrak's which are planned for that stretch.


Patrick Rieger provided three photos as comments on Ted's post.


With Carload Express heading East, lead by three SD60Ms the company acquired from Norfolk Southern.


  1. A few corrections, notes:

    The bridge was raised by order of the War Department, to provide more clearance on the Allegheny River. Approaches (including the one in the station) were raised as a consequence of the bridge raising, not the other way around. It was done under traffic.

    This bridge was never related to the P&WV, it was the PFW&C, a PRR subsidiary.

    Though there are three bays, there were only two tracks on the upper and two on the lower, each offset so that only the middle bay had tracks on both levels. The lower level served the Duquesne freight station, which was located in the triangle.

    1. Thanks for the information. I added some clarification to the various quotes.
      I can believe that PRR raised the tracks because they were getting pressure to do so from both the War Department and the city. I know that Chicago was successful in forcing all of the railroads to elevate their tracks in Chicago.