Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad

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Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad
TCKR-550 Export PA April 2016.jpg
Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad locomotive #550 in Export, PA
Reporting mark TCKR
Locale Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation 1982–2014[1]
Predecessor Turtle Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad[2]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 10.7 miles (17.2 km)
Headquarters Export, Pennsylvania
Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad
connection to Pittsburgh Line
S-Z Tower
Stewart Station Road
PA 130
Forbes Road
Turtle Creek
Simpson Run
Saunders Station Road
I-76 / Penna Turnpike
Turtle Creek
Mills Street
Trafford Road
Turtle Creek
Carson Avenue
School Road
Turtle Creek
Turtle Creek
Haymaker Farm Road
US 22
Turtle Creek
Van Buren Street
Lincoln Ave
Turtle Creek
Puckety Drive
Turtle Creek
Old William Penn Highway

The Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad (reporting mark TCKR) was a short line railroad that operated in Pennsylvania. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dura-Bond Corporation of Export, Pennsylvania. The TCKR was created when Conrail (the successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad) abandoned the line in 1982. When it last was operational, the line ran from Export down the Turtle Creek valley until it joined with Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line at Trafford, Pennsylvania.

Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad (interactive map)

The Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad traces its origins back to 1886, when George Westinghouse chartered what was then called the Turtle Creek Valley Railroad with the hopes of exploiting the natural gas fields in Murrysville. At its peak the line would extend from Westinghouse's facilities in Trafford all the way through Saltsburg, and its primary cargo would be not gas but coal. Passenger service to and from Pittsburgh and points west was also popular before the age of the automobile caused its decline. Coal shipments declined as well as mines closed, and by the beginning of the 1980s Conrail, the new owner of the line, was looking to abandon it.[4][5]

In 1982, with the help from a grant from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as a bank loan, the Dura-Bond company acquired the short-line railroad from Conrail, along with a 100-ton locomotive from the Johnstown and Stony Creek Railroad, a 44-ton switcher, and a 1927 caboose.[6] They renamed the railroad the "Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad", and would own and operate the railroad themselves, taking on other businesses along the line as paying customers.[7]

A TCKR milepost stands next to the former railroad, now part of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail

In 2009, the line was devastated by a flash flood, leaving the railroad in a state of limbo with only limited service.[8] During the extended outage, the only remaining customer on the line made arrangements to have rail cars sent to their facility via truck.[9] In 2011, the Regional Trail Corporation and Westmoreland County published an extensive plan, part of which expressed serious interest in converting the flood-damaged railroad into a rail-trail.[10]

In 2013 the TCKR officially filed for a discontinuation of service.[11] An agreement was reached to sell most of the railroad to Westmoreland County. As of September 2017, the tracks have been removed from most of the railbed, and several miles of the western section have been made into an extension of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, with the remaining eastern section scheduled for trail completion by 2019.[1]

A former TCKR caboose sitting in Export, PA

When it was decided that the line would be discontinued, new homes would be found for some of the equipment that once worked the tracks. The TCKR was known to operate no fewer than two switch engines on the line, both of which were originally built for the Union Railroad in 1949.[12] These were TCKR 462, a model EMD SW1 locomotive, and TCKR 550, which was identified by railfans[12] as a model EMD NW2, but listed as a model EMD SW7 in a 2006 official filing[13] with the Surface Transportation Board. In August of 2014, engine 462 was moved to Dura-Bond's Duquesne facility, with the other engine remaining behind at its Export plant.[14] The company's 1939 caboose was thoroughly restored by Dura-Bond and donated to the Export Historical Society; it now sits on what remains of the TCKR track in downtown Export.[15]


  1. ^ a b http://www.murrysvilletrails.org/tc.htm
  2. ^ http://history.rays-place.com/pa/west-railroads.htm
  3. ^ Laman, Jeffrey; Guyer, Robert C. (Feb 1, 2010). Conditional Assessment of Short-line Railroad Bridges in Pennsylvania (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 
  4. ^ Trafford Borough 75th Anniversary Souvenir Book. Trafford, PA: Diamond Jubilee Committee. 1979. 
  5. ^ Richmond, Charles (July 15, 2004). Pennsylvania Historical Resource Survey (PDF). Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Historic Preservation. 
  6. ^ Smith, Helene (1986). EXPORT: A Patch of Tapestry out of Coal Country America. Greensburg, PA: McDonald/Swärd Publishing Company. p. 210-211. ISBN 0945437005. 
  7. ^ Varine, Patrick (July 23, 2015). "Turtle Creek short-line rail marks 125th anniversary". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
  8. ^ Means, Tim (Feb 13, 2014). "Westmoreland County set to buy Turtle Creek railroad". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  9. ^ Rico, Martha (October 30, 2014). EMPLOYER STATUS DETERMINATION Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad, Inc. (TCIR) (PDF). 
  10. ^ Mackin Engineering (February 2011). Turtle Creek Greenway Plan. 
  11. ^ Wilson, Richard (September 3, 2013). Turtle Creek Industrial Railroad, Inc. - Discontinuance of Service Exemption- In Westmoreland County, PA; STB Docket No. AB-825 (PDF). 
  12. ^ a b "Turtle Creek Industrial RR.Incorporated Photographic Roster". rrpicturearchives.net. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  13. ^ Alvord, Robert (October 4, 2006). Memorandum of Security Agreement (PDF). 
  14. ^ "(title unknown)". Delmont Salem News (Volume 46, Number 55). August 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ Varine, Patrick (August 10, 2016). "Refurbished caboose to debut at Export Ethnic Food & Music Festival". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 
  • Lewis, Edward A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide. Kalmbach Publishing. p. 315. ISBN 0-89024-290-9. 

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