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5.11.2014

GAP Trail: McKeesport Connecting Railroad Roundhouse

Today I decided to test my strength bicycling. As you may or may know, due to an injury last summer, I developed a chronic nerve condition that makes motion painful. Walking and standing vary in where and how much my right foot and ankle decide to hurt. It is not that bad, but I was unsure about my status in bicycling again. In my typical manner, I went into it full throttle and opted to get onto the trail at the old pumphouse for the Homestead Plant, on the far end of the Waterfront. The pumphouse is a lovely old structure that houses exhibitions and serves as a parking area to launch off on a journey on the Great Allegheny Passage trail. The GAP trail goes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland where it joins with the former C&O Canal Towpath and makes its way all the way to our nation's capital, but not before it passes places like Kennywood, the post-industrial Mon-Valley, follows the Yough River to Ohiopyle, and reutilizes spectacular former railroad infrastructure. I was not sure if my journey would last five feet or if it would go for a while. Thankfully it actually hurts less to bicycle than stand or walk, which surprised me a lot. I ended up going 15 miles each way. I did not make too many stops because it would have taken ten hours if I stopped for everything I wanted to take a picture of.

My first stop was to check out the Phantom and Thunderbolt in action at Thunderbolt. The vantage point is right down hill from the world's tallest terrain coaster, the Phantom's Revenge with its 228 foot and 85 MPH drop. Then we will head to the McKeesport Connecting Railroad Roundhouse.
The massive element after the even larger second drop of the Phantom, along with the Thunderbolt, the other cliff traversing coaster in this shot.
 Such a great element. I think the third drop is just phenomenal. 
 The most breathtaking part of the ride is this massive second drop. This cliff diving giant is like no other.
 Now for what I set out to post about: The former McKeesport Connecting Railroad Roundhouse. This roundhouse dates back to 1906 and judging by the disrepair of the building, it has been closed for decades. The railroad it once served closed in January of 2013. This is one of the few remaining National Tube Plant on this end of the property. Several large buildings still remain vacant but some development is starting to occur, making me hopeful that more employment is heading to the area. There is a MUCH smaller operation these days on the other end of the property, but the complex is no where close to when this plant was humming as a part of President Roosevelt's "Arsenal of Democracy." 
 Oh yeah! Looks like a point of entry! NO WAY! As much as abandoned buildings fascinate me, I will not enter any for it is both dangerous and illegal. Any photos you see of defunct places will always be from the outside of the building.


 The door is open. I wonder who we can notify to get the glass repaired, anyone have a contact number for the owner ;-)? 

All kidding aside, I really hate to see folks neglect buildings like this, especially when places like Steamtown in Scranton, PA have their roundhouses fully restored and operational, this photo from the National Park Service.

I hope someone either restores this roundhouse or finds an alternative reuse. You should go check it out though and explore the Great Allegheny Passage Trail because there are so many awesome things along it. 

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