Monongahela Incline

Monongahela Incline
the sign on the terminal showing Monongahela Incline 1870
Monongahela Incline
The lower terminal and a car descending
Monongahela Incline
Type funicular
Locale Pittsburgh, PA
Termini West Carson Street
Grandview Avenue
Stations 2
Opened May 28, 1870
Owner Port Authority of Allegheny County
Line length 635 feet (194 m)
Track gauge 5 ft  (1,524 mm)
Electrification 1935
Operating speed 6 mph (9.7 km/h)

Coordinates: 40°25′55″N 80°00′19″W / 40.4319°N 80.0054°W / 40.4319; -80.0054

The Monongahela Incline, built by John Endres in 1870, is located near the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. It is the oldest continuously operating funicular in the USA. It is also one of two surviving inclines (the other is the nearby Duquesne Incline) from the original 17 passenger-carrying inclines built in Pittsburgh starting in the late 19th century. Its lower station is across the street from the Station Square shopping complex, and is easily accessible from the light rail system at the Station Square station.



Pittsburgh's expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor, attracting mainly German immigrants to the region. This created a serious housing shortage as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the river, leaving only the steep, surrounding hillsides of Mt. Washington or "Coal Hill" for housing. However, travel between the "hill" and other areas was hindered by a lack of good roads or public transport.

The predominantly German immigrants who settled on Mt. Washington, remembering the Seilbahns (cable cars) of their former country, proposed the construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill. The result was the Monongahela Incline, which opened May 28, 1870.[1] Earlier inclines were used to transport coal in the Pittsburgh area, including the Kirk Lewis incline on Mt. Washington and the Ormsby mine gravity plane in nearby Birmingham, later annexed to the city of Pittsburgh.

It is operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which operates the rest of Pittsburgh's transit system. Transfers can be made between the incline and the light rail and buses.[2]

The incline in 1905. The Monongahela Freight Incline is to the left of the original.


  • Length: 635 feet (194 m)
  • Elevation: 369.39 feet (112.59 m)
  • Grade: 35 degrees, 35 minutes
  • Gauge: 5 ft  (1,524 mm)
  • Speed: 6 mph (9.7 km/h)
  • Passenger Capacity: 23 per car
  • Opened: 28 May 1870
  • Renovated: 1882 (with steel structure)
  • Original steam power replaced with electricity: 1935
  • Renovated: 1982-83 new track structure, cars and stations
  • Renovated: 1994 upper, lower stations, restored cars, replaced electric motors and controls[3]


The view from the top, upper station on right of picture

See also


External Links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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