Montour Railroad

Montour Railroad (reporting mark MTR) is a former short line railroad company operating passenger and freight service on standard gauge track in southwestern Pennsylvania. At its height in the 1930s, the railroad served 27 mines transporting nearly seven million tons of coal annually in Allegheny and Washington Counties.

Montour Railroad
Reporting markMTR
LocaleCoraopolis, Pennsylvania to Imperial, Pennsylvania and West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation18771984
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
HeadquartersCoraopolis, Pennsylvania

The Montour Railroad Company was chartered in 1877 as a wholly owed subsidiary of the Imperial Coal Company. The first segment constructed extended from the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad line at Montour Junction, near Coraopolis, Pennsylvania to the Imperial Coal Company mines at Imperial, Pennsylvania. In 1901 the Pittsburgh Coal Company assumed control of the railroad. A major expansion was undertaken in 1912 to reach new coal mines and factories. By 1917 the railroad reached the town of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River. The Montour Railroad became an important feeder line and eventually all five major truck carriers in the southwestern Pennsylvania market were linked to the Montour Railroad. In 1946 the Pittsburgh Coal Company sold the Montour Railroad to the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad), who operated it jointly. A 5 mile branch served Moon Township, this segment being operated until 1974. The P&LE acquired sole control of the Montour Railroad in 1975.

The railroad's engine houses and shops were at Montour Junction, near the Ohio River at Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. The Montour Railroad had passenger service in its early years from 15 stations along its route, but passenger service was abandoned by the mid-1920s. By the 1950s most of the coal mines the Montour serviced had been worked out and the Montour began a slow decline. The Montour Railroad was down to just 23 miles of track between Montour Junction and Gilmore Junction when operations ceased in 1984 with the closing of the Westland Coal mine, the Montour’s last remaining major customer. In the 1990s large portions of the rights of way were acquired by the Montour Trail Council in a "rails to trails" program.[1]

In 1944 Montour reported 159 million ton-miles of revenue freight; at the end of that year it operated 50 miles of road and 84 miles of track.

In December 2010 MarkWest Energy announced plans to lease the Westland Branch right of way from the Montour Trail Council for 30 years. The branch was redeveloped as a combination trail and railroad operated by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway to serve MarkWest's Westland natural gas processing plant. Construction was completed and the branch began operation in August 2012.[2][3][4]

See also


  1. "Geology, Ecology & History – Montour Trail".
  2. MTC Announces Westland Branch Plans with MarkWest (PDF), Montour Trail Council, January–February 2011, retrieved September 14, 2012
  3. Schmitz, Jon (March 29, 2012). "Firm to build Montour Trail section in return for land use". Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  4. Campbell, Cristie (August 21, 2012). "Taking the Tracks". Observer-Reporter. Washington, PA. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
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