Sunday, March 31, 2013

Postcard Project: Week 7

For background on the Postcard Project, please see the introductory post.

Conemaugh Viaduct

Staple Bend Tunnel

The conclusion of this year’s project consists of two historically important scenes that I photographed along the Path of the Flood Trail [PDF], which follows the path of the Great Flood of 1889 from the failed South Fork Dam to downtown Johnstown.

The Conemaugh Viaduct carries the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad along the Little Conemaugh River, bypassing a loop in the river. The original single-arched viaduct was built for the Portage Railroad, and was destroyed in the 1889 flood. Before it failed, debris accumulated behind the viaduct, holding back the waters. The sudden release of water when the viaduct failed intensified the damage to the city downstream.

A wooden replacement for the viaduct was built immediately after the flood to permit trains to travel this stretch as quickly as possible. In 1891, this double-arched replacement was completed, and it remains heavily used today.

The Staple Bend Tunnel was the first railroad tunnel in the United States, and was part of the Portage Railroad, which carried people and goods over the mountains to connect to the canals on each side. The 901-foot tunnel was dug and blasted at a rate of about 18 inches per day.

Many notable figures traveled on the railroad through this tunnel, including Charles Dickens, P.T. Barnum, Black Hawk, Santa Anna, and the body of William Henry Harrison.

I walked to the tunnel with the intention of taking the featureless interior photograph above, as a joke for this project. But once I was there, I found that a long exposure of the interior actually yielded an interesting photograph:

The End
I recommend clicking through to embiggen.

The light at the end of the tunnel: A fitting conclusion to this year’s Lenten project. Happy Easter to all who celebrate the holiday!

1 comment:

  1. This is seriously my new favorite blog. Interesting and hilarious with some photography thrown in? Yes, please.

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