Conemaugh Line

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Conemaugh Line
Termini New Florence
Opening 1863 (independent), 1865 (PRR), 1968 (PC), 1976 (Conrail), 1999 (NS)
Closed 1865 (independent), 1968 (PRR), 1976 (PC), 1999 (Conrail)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The Conemaugh Line is a rail line owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The line runs from Conpit Junction (west of New Florence) northwest and southwest to Pittsburgh[1] along a former Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) line. At its east end, it merges with the Pittsburgh Line; its west end is at the Fort Wayne Line at the west end of the Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge. The line was used by the PRR as a low-grade alternate to its main line (now the Pittsburgh Line).[2]


A short branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad from Torrance (on the main line) to Blairsville opened in 1851; only a small piece of this at Blairsville is still in use.[3] The Western Pennsylvania Railroad opened from Blairsville west to Saltsburg in 1863[4] and to Kiskiminetas (Kiski) Junction (near Freeport) in 1864 or 1865.[5][6] The line from Freeport to Allegheny (Pittsburgh) opened in 1866.[7] A new, more direct line east from Blairsville was built by the Western Penn in the early 1880s, meeting the PRR main line at Bolivar.[8] The PRR's Sang Hollow Extension, now only part of the Conemaugh Line west of Conpit Junction, opened east to Johnstown in 1876;[9] the portion east of Conpit Junction was operated as a one-way line for westbound freight.[10] All of the aforementioned lines became part of the PRR through leases and mergers, became Penn Central in 1968, and were taken over by Conrail in 1976. In the 1999 breakup of Conrail, the line was assigned to Norfolk Southern.

The Conemaugh Line is notable for being the recipient of a variation of the PRR's cab signal system in 1940, which eliminated the wayside signals between interlockings from Conpit Junction to Kiski Junction, requiring operation of trains by cab signal indication only.[11] This system (whose visual NORAC Rule 562), modified by Conrail to operate bidirectionally, continues to be used by Norfolk Southern on this part of the Conemaugh Line; the section from Kiski to Pittsburgh also uses bidirectional signaling, however this section uses wayside signals but is NOT cab-signal energized. The entire line is remotely dispatched by Traffic Control System (TCS).[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ the NS Conemaugh Line
  2. ^ Keystone Crossings: Hobo's Guide to the Pennsy: The Allegheny Valley Railroad
  3. ^ PRR Chronology, 1851 PDF (67.7 KiB), March 2005 Edition
  4. ^ PRR Chronology, 1863 PDF (140 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  5. ^ PRR Chronology, 1864 PDF (109 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  6. ^ PRR Chronology, 1865 PDF (110 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  7. ^ PRR Chronology, 1866 PDF (89.2 KiB), June 2004 Edition
  8. ^ PRR Corporate History: Pennsylvania Railroad
  9. ^ PRR Chronology, 1876 PDF (116 KiB), April 2006 Edition
  10. ^ PRR Interlocking Diagrams: Altoona to Pittsburgh Main Line
  11. ^ PRR Chronology, 1940 PDF (35.3 KiB), August 2004 Edition
  12. ^ "Conrail - Pittsburgh Division - Conemaugh Line Employee Timetable #6 January 15, 1998". Eastern Pennsylvania Rail Page. Retrieved 24 March 2012.