New Brighton, Pennsylvania is the location of one of the Pennsylvania Railroad's more remarkable engineering feats; a Flyover that allows two heavy duty parallel mainlines to diverge without operationally cumbersome crossovers and turnouts. The park itself is sandwiched between the old PRR mainlines and the Beaver River. It features the usual picnic tables, picnic shelters, and park benches that afford a great view of the Beaver Valley.
It also affords a decent view of the railroad.
The Fort Wayne Line stands as the quintessential "Lines West" property acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1870's. It reaches from Pittsburgh westward to Chicago, following the Ohio River from Pittsburgh as a 4 track mainline past Conway Yard at Freedom, PA, to Rochester PA, where the Cleveland Line diverges west following the Ohio River while the Fort Wayne Line and Youngstown Line continue on up the Beaver River Valley.
The Youngstown Line runs from CP-Rochester to Ashtabula, OH, while the Cleveland Line runs from CP-Rochester to the Chicago Line at Cleveland, OH.
Page 24 of the Conrail Pittsburgh Division Employee Timetable #7. Notes: The Cleveland Line continues west to MP 123.6 Drawbridge Tower at the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, OH. The Youngstown Line ends at CP-Rochester MP 97.2, having started at MP 0.0 JM Tower in Ashtabula, OH. ETT kindly provided by W. Terry Stuart , proprietor of the Fallston Flagstop in Fallston, PA.
The Flyover begins timetable east of New Brighton in Rochester, at a location known as CP-Rochester. The 4 track Fort Wayne Line becomes a 2 track mainline at CP-Rochester, and the 2 track Youngstown Line ends at CP-Rochester. The Fort Wayne Line is on the outer 2 tracks while the Youngstown Line is on the inner 2 tracks.
We say Timetable East because the Beaver River is a north-south stream from the point where is converges with the Ohio River back upstream toward Beaver Falls. We therefore have a north-south mainline that is timetable east-west on the Fort Wayne Line and timetable north-south on the Youngstown Line (are you dizzy yet?).
The physical Flyover actually begins where the Youngstown Line descends below grade as the Fort Wayne Line ascends above grade to get itself over the Beaver River. The two Fort Wayne mains diverge slightly, like the center of an hourglass.
On the way home from visiting my parents in Florida in February 2000, Amtrak #29 carried me from Washington DC to Toledo. I made sure to be awake and alert when we departed Pittsburgh. A light snow had fallen, so I could see landscape and architectural features quite easily. We crossed over to #2 track at CP-West Conway, which placed the Youngstown Line on my side of the train. After we passed CP-Rochester I stared at the tracks of the Youngstown Line; they pulled away below grade and swept underneath our coach; in an instant we were over the cold, dark water of the Beaver River. I was totally absorbed by this architecural drama...making all that heavy traffic flow smoothly; crossing over here, passing another train in the same direction there. The ghosts of the men who designed and built this piece should be content that their handiwork is as vital today as it was the day it was placed into service.
I think that in the clamor to get to Altoona, many fans forget that the Pennsylvania Railroad Lines West of Pittsburgh has some mighty fine infrastructure to stand amazed at.
Please allow me to show you some of what you are missing.
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