Castle Shannon Trolley Line: 1965 / 2005

This web site is based on a small collection of photographs of the Port Authority Transit trolley line in the vicinity of Castle Shannon in 1965.

Some time ago I had found a small stack of photographs taken during a 1965 walk my father and a coworker took in 1965 along the Castle Shannon trolley line. Although they focus on the track, a few trolleys pass by in some of the pictures and there are views of many trackside structures. Those pictures were taken June 30, 1965. As the new Overbrook line had opened, I saw a rare opportunity and marked the upcoming fortieth anniversary of that walk on my calendar, and cajoled a photographer friend to take similar pictures along the line as it looks now. Many of the structures still exist, and a few even look very much as they did in 1965. The new pictures were taken July 2nd, 2005 by Friedman Wagner-Dobler.

On June 30, 1965, two members of the Allegheny County Department of Planning and Development walked the Port Authority Transit trolley tracks in Castle Shannon from Saint Anne's Church to Killarney Street, taking photographs and assessing the condition of the line:

The man [in picture 16] Bob Mueller. He was the Assistant Director in the Allegheny County Planning Department. I believe that at that time there was considerable discussion and debate on whether to put in a new line capable of accommodating a high speed facility, or, rebuild/repair the existing line to accommodate trolley cars.

Bob was asked by the Director, who I believe at that time was the Director of the Planning Department. He asked Bob to put together a report on the condition of the existing line and Bob asked me to walk with him along the line from the westerly edge of Castle Shannon to the Pittsburgh boundary line. Of course I said yes. I believe that our walk was about two to three miles long.

Both Bob and I had note pads and we both took notes on what we saw: rotted ties for example, missing or loose spikes that held the rails to the ties, depleted gravel, etc.

I don't know what ever happened to our notes. We put together our report, which went to LeRoy Little and I don't know where it went from there. I do know that the line was ultimately and quickly repaired.

I do not have any pictures but I strongly believe that the man in picture 16 was indeed Bob.

The line must have been repaired fairly well. My Dad recalled that it seemed remarkable that there weren't derailments or other problems regularly along the line. However, our family moved to Bethel Park, 2 miles beyond the southern end of this trip (near the Lytle Road Station) in 1967 and he commuted to work from there for ten years.

At that time, PAT ran three routes along this trackage: (35) Shannon-Library, (36) Shannon-Drake, and (37) Shannon.

Permission to link to these pages is hereby granted. For permission to use these photographs for other purposes, please e-mail your request to john.elion at

Here are the pictures - Castle Shannon then and now.

  • 1: Rockwood Avenue Crossing
  • 2: Martin Villa
  • 3: Willow Avenue Crossing
  • 4: Along Willow Avenue
  • 5: 38 Connector
  • 6: Castle Shannon Overpass
  • 7: Castle Shannon Municipal Building
  • 8: Crossing Castle Shannon Boulevard and Willow Street
  • 9: Poplar Street Crossing
  • 10: NWRR Trestle
  • 11: Between Trestle and Linden Grove
  • 12: Approaching Linden Grove
  • 13: Linden Grove
  • 14: Linden Grove
  • 15: Between Linden Grove and Killarney
  • 16: Between Linden Grove and Killarney
  • 17: Approaching Killarney
  • 18: Killarney Avenue Crossing
  • If you enjoyed these pages, please let me know - john.elion at