When Steam Engines Powered the Monongahela Incline

Figure 1. Monongahela Incline upper station on Grandview Avenue, June 24, 1908. The twenty-two foot high iron truss spanning Grandview Avenue at the center of this image fed two cables from the boiler and steam engine house (at right, with the two stacks) into two holes (portals) in the incline’s upper station at left. Those were the very cables that were each attached to an incline car. One pulled a car up the hill while the other let a car down. Detail from the image on page 33 of “Pittsburgh’s Inclines”. Image courtesy of Historic Pittsburgh, the Digital Research Library at the University of Pittsburgh.

All of Pittsburgh’s inclines were originally powered by steam engines. Figure 1 above shows the Monongahela Incline’s upper station in 1908 more than 25 years before electric motors replaced its steam engines. Tap or click on the image and zoom in to see details of the two steel cables that passed over a wheel set about 22 feet above Grandview Avenue between the steam engine house at right and the upper incline building at left.

Those of you in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania tomorrow Sunday, July 1st please drop by Classic Lines between 2:30 and 3:30p.m. for “Pittsburgh’s Inclines” discussion and book signing. I hope to see you there!