An Alco builders photograph of the then brand new Montour Railroad No. 26, a 2-8-2 Mikado type locomotive, 1916.

(American Locomotive Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The Montour Railroad (reporting mark MTR) was a former Class I railroad company operating passenger and freight service in southwestern Pennsylvania. At its height in the 1930s, it served 27 mines and transported nearly seven million tons of coal annually in Allegheny and Washington Counties.


Map of the Montour Railroad System.

(National Archives at College Park - Cartographic, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, contrast corrected)



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 1914 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 railroads 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 five-mile (8.0 km) branch served Moon Run, this segment being operated until 1936. 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 discontinued in 1927. 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 (37 km) 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 right of way were acquired by the Montour Trail Council in a rails to trails program.

In 1944 Montour reported 159 million ton-miles of revenue freight; at the end of that year it operated 50 miles (80 km) of road and 84 miles (135 km) of track.


The Champion No. 1 coal cleaning plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1942. (John Collier (1913-1992), photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Library Trestle Railroad Bridge closed where the route of the Montour Trail crosses PA-88 in South Park, PA, 2006. (Chris Collins from Pittsburgh, PA, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Montour Mine No. 4, 1942. (Collier, John (1913-1992), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Westland Branch

The Westland Branch was opened in 1928 to serve Westland Mine No. 1. Later, Westland Mine No. 2 was opened, and the Montour was extended to serve it. Westland No. 1 closed in 1981. The No. 2 mine was the last operating mine served by the Montour, finally closing in 1983, and demolished in 1985. 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.


Montour Railroad SW9 No. 78 in 1970.

(, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)



In 2019, the Montour Railroad's SW9 locomotive No. 82 was acquired by the Age of Steam Roundhouse from the Flats Industrial Railroad, restored to its original condition, and painted into Montour colors.


A Montour gondola manufactured by ACF.

(American Car & Foundry, W. Lenheim Collection)



Headquarters: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
Reporting mark: MTR
Locale: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania to Imperial, Pennsylvania and West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation: 1877–1984
Track gauge 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge


See Also:

Railroads A-Z