This Location Is The World’s Steepest Incline Plane In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to the steepest vehicular incline plane in the world.

In May 1889, a devastating flood known as the Johnstown flood claimed the lives of 2,209 individuals. In response, the Cambria Iron County initiated the construction of an inclined railway in 1890. The purpose of this railway was to transport people, horses, and wagons to the newly established hilltop community of Westmont.

In 1891, Johnstown welcomed the creation of the world’s steepest vehicular inclined plane, boasting an impressive 70.9% grade.

In March 1936, when Johnstown was hit by another flood, the incline served as a means of transportation for nearly 4,000 residents. During the most recent flood in 1977, the incline played a crucial role in not only transporting people but also boats, emergency personnel, and equipment down to the valley to assist in rescue operations.

In 1936, the Westmont Borough made a remarkable purchase by acquiring the incline from its original owners, Bethlehem Steel, for a mere $1! Afterward, the Cambria County Tourist Council took ownership of the incline for a few years before the final owners, Cambria County Transit Authority, obtained it in 1983.

Samuel Diescher skillfully designed the incline at Pittsburgh. Not only did Diescher design the incline at Pittsburgh, but he also designed inclines at Monongahela, Duquesne, Fort Pitt, and Castle Shannon. In addition to his work on inclines, Diescher also designed the machinery for the first Ferris wheel, which was showcased at the Chicago World’s Colombian Exposition in 1893.

The incline measures a staggering 896 feet in length and reaches an impressive height of 503 feet. Two cars gracefully traverse the railroad tracks, capable of accommodating a weight of 15 tons in the form of people, cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

On top of the hill, a colossal flag flutters proudly in the United States. Measuring an impressive 30 feet by 60 feet, this remarkable flag is hoisted to honor the momentous 100th year anniversary of the devastating flood that occurred in 1889.

For more than 130 years, the incline has been an integral part of Johnstown’s history, heritage, and economic prosperity. Many consider it to be a crucial component of the city’s success.

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MBS Staff
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