MODERN HILL CLIMBING
The Inclined Passenger Railway, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Scientific AmericanSeptember 18,
The topography of many Western cities is such that, as the
corporate limits enlarge, their most populous portions include
districts embodying very rugged features. At Pittsburgh and at
Cincinnati steep hills, or rather mountains, bordering the Ohio,
have long since been absorbed by the cities named, and these are
covered with a dense and growing population. This has been of
late years rendered the more possible by the general introduction
of the inclined railway, which makes hill climbing a luxury. A fair sample of such
a railway is noted in the Duquesne Incline Plane Company's roadway
at Pittsburgh, Pa. In this case the object in view was to surmount
the hill known as Mt. Washington, located at the mouth of the
Monongahela River and directly overlooking the site of the famous
stronghold whose name is given the modern enterprise. The Duquesne
is the latest and most complete of four similar enterprises climbing
the same mountain. It was opened to the public in May, 1877, and
up to September 1, 1880, had carried 500,000 passengers without
injury to any one. The perpendicular height reached is 400 feet,
length of incline 793 feet, rate of ascent 30½ degrees.
The roadway comprises, of course, a double track, one car ascending
while its fellow descends, and vice versa.
The motive power, consisting of a double engine of 70 horse
power, is located at the top of the incline, and motion is communicated
to the cars by the means of a large drum carrying steel wire cables
of 1¼ inch diameter. A supplementary or safety cable, of
1-and-one-eighth inch diameter, is also in constant use. These
cables are each 900 feet in length, and are capable of sustaining
a perpendicular strain of 50 tons, while the actual working strain
is about one-tenth that amount. The safety cable passes around
a system of sheaves so arranged that should the working cable
part the safety cable will tighten about the sheaves and bring
the cars to stop. The cars, neatly and strongly built, will each
seat 25 persons, and in the angle beneath them and between the
upper and lower tracks there is a space available for light freight.
In the Duquesne roadway there is a 360 foot section of wrought
iron bridge work spanning the tracks of the "Pan Handle"
Railroad. The rails are of the T
pattern, 40 pounds to the foot, and the gauge is 5 feet, the double
trackway being 20 feet wide, allowing 3 feet between the cars
at the passing point.
Rollers of locust and "gum" wood, located at regular
distances between the rails, bear the cables in their passage
above them. In operating the cars, the engineer in the "cab"
at the apex of the incline has absolute control of engine and
cars by means of two levers. One operates the reversing mechanism
of the engines and the other starts and stops the same. A brake,
operated by the engineer's foot, brings sufficient friction to
bear upon the cable drum to stop its revolutions even should steam
be on. This drum, it might be added, is 12 feet in diameter, with
a grooved periphery, and a width of 3 feet 10 inches. The cable
winds into these grooves, and the movement of engines, drum, cables,
and sheaves is almost noiseless, and indicates little or no strain
upon any of the machinery. Experience in this plane has shown
that popular prejudice against this mode of travel has ceased,
and on Sundays during the summer 6,000 passengers are carried
during the day and evening, the cars ascending and descending
as rapidly as filled and emptied. Ordinarily trips are made every
five minutes, the trip occupying two minutes. The engines, it
might be added, are 24 inch stroke and 14 inch cylinders, operating
a shaft bearing a driving pinion of 30 inches diameter, gearing
into the main driving wheel, which is 12 feet in diameter; 12
inch face. To operate the entire affair for nineteen hours out
of the twenty-four requires the services of only five men, namely,
two engineers, one conductor, one fireman, and one trackman. The
total cost of this incline, cars, real estate, etc., was $47,000,
and it is considered a paying enterprise by the stockholders.
The single fares are 6 cents. The road enjoys a growing popularity
as a means of best obtaining a beautiful and comprehensive view
of the "Iron City."
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