Montour Trail


The Montour Trail runs from Coraopolis to Clairton totaling 46 miles when complete. Only 40 miles are complete to date. New sections are being completed each year.

The images and photos we compiled from a series of rides taken along the trail to support an article about the 20th anniversary of the trail in the October issue of Allegheny West Magazine.

The still images were taken with a Canon G9 point and shoot. The video was captured with a Flip secured to the bike handle bars with a GorillaPod. Adobe Premiere was used to edit the segment.

Epilogue: The Flip video camera is no more. On a ride yesterday the cameras batteries died. After I took the camera off of the bike to change the batteries the camera slipped out of my hands. The camera hit the deck of the McDonald Trestle and then tumbled off the edge and fell 40 feet onto the Panhandle Trail below. Luckily, no one was passing through when the camera fell. Unfortunately all of the video captured yesterday was lost. The camera was not recording when it fell.

Montour Trail

Montour Trail

A recent ride along the Montour Trail just near the Steubenville Pike in western Allegheny County.

I am photographing the trail for Allegheny West Magazine in advance of the trail’s 20th Anniversary in November.

The trail goes from Coraopolis to Clairton. I will ride and photograph between Mile 0 in Moon Twp. to Mile 18 in McDonald.

Stay tuned to the October edition to see the final spread.

Abandoned Turnpike

Over an embankment at the intersection of Tannery Road and the Lincoln Highway in Breezewood, Pa. is a nearly nine mile stretch of abandon highway that served as the a part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from 1940 though 1968.

Abandoned Turnpike

The stretch contains two tunnels, Sideling Hill and Ray’s Hill, the 14th and 47th longest tunnels in the United States according to Lotsberg, The World’s Longest Tunnel List. It is also the only known abandoned superhighway in America as touted by the Pike 2 Bike organization that oversees the trail.

Abandoned Turnpike

The roadway remains intact in places, but is crumbling badly in others. No identifying markings remain that would indicate that the roadway was once the Turnpike. The remote nature of the roadway provides a surreal experience, allowing a bike rider to experience a futuristic view of what the world may look like after superhighways are no longer useful. Photographically speaking there are two or three vistas that provide nice glimpses incorporating the abandon roadway and tunnels into the surrounding landscape.

Abandoned Turnpike

Evidence remains that the highway had a use as a proving ground after it was closed in 1968. Rumble strips, paint and reflectors appear in random intervals near the Tannery Road trail head. Otherwise, plants, trees and the forest are slowly over taking the roadway, adding to the deterioration. The tunnel control rooms are open but otherwise are a royal mess filled with mud, water and litter.

Abandoned Turnpike

The ride is very easy and can be done with children. My son was fascinated by the tunnels. There are no extreme grades or hills. The most challenging portion of the ride is ensuring that you have enough light to see through the darkened tunnels. At Ray’s Hill the opposite ends of the tunnel can be seen from either portal. At Sideling Hill you must enter the tunnel blind. The tunnel arcs from one end to the other and crowns in the middle meaning the opposite ends of the tunnel cannot be seen from the portals. You must ride a significant portion into the tunnel to see the opposing portal. A light is an absolute necessity.

Epilogue:
A word of caution, vandals have left their mark near the western portal of the Ray’s Hill Tunnel. Normally, the content of graffiti does not bother me. I do find it childish to deface public structures, however, what I found is truly disappointing and cowardly. There is serious racist and anti-Semitic graffiti marring the walls and roadway near the western portal of the tunnel. On this particular day I had my three-year old son with me. I am thankful that he can’t read yet. I really didn’t want to have the conversation with him about what all of those words and symbols mean.