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Nostalgia & History > Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building


Date: 01/21/22 07:35
Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: cr7998

From the time I started serious photography, I've tried to capture not just train shots but the many railroad structures that once were so common.  One that I missed was the massive B&O warehouse on Pittsburgh's North Side.  It was still standing when I moved to Pittsburgh in late 1981.  I remember seeing it, a white concrete structure with large black lettering that proclaimed "B&O Railroad Stores".  Although I made a point of photographing the remaining stations and towers around town, I never took the effort to photograph the B&O Stores building.  Perhaps I was thinking it would always be there.  One day I was watching the evening news and the anchors promised some footage of a large building implosion in downtown Pittsburgh.  I stayed tuned, and suddenly on the screen was the B&O Stores building in its last moments of existence.  Then came the controlled explosions knocking out the key structural pieces, and the building collapsed into a pile of rubble.  I don't remember the exact date, but it was sometime in 1982 or 1983.  It was the proverbial "one that got away from me", and from that point I doubled down on my photography of structures and anything else of significance, railroad or otherwise, that might be there today but gone tomorrow.  

While it existed, the B&O Stores building was a prominent landmark on Pittsburgh's North Side.  Seven stories tall, it stood on the north bank of the Allegheny River between the Seventh and Ninth Street bridges, readily visible from downtown Pittsburgh.  It was served from B&O's Allegheny Yard Branch which ran along the riverbank (now part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail).  There were indoor rail sidings at ground level, crossing River Avenue, holding a total of 18 railcars, per B&O's Form 6 of 1954.  The Form 6 also lists six tenants who leased spaced inside the building for warehousing and local distribution.  I'm not sure when operations ceased inside the Stores building, my guess would be sometime in the 1960's.  The B&O's Allegheny Yard Branch, which once stretched all the way to the McKees Rocks Bridge a couple of miles west of downtown, was severed with the construction of Three Rivers Stadium in the late 1960's.  The remaining stub along the river in front of the Stores building was long out of service when I first saw it in 1981 (although a short portion remained in service from Willow Grove Yard to serve the Heinz plant at 16th Street).  A previous post from 2017 had a nice picture taken from a PRR passenger train in 1962, showing the B&O Stores building towering over nearby buildings on the North Side.  Here is the link - https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,4292674,nodelay=1

But it turned out that I did indeed have a photograph showing the B&O Stores building.  While going through some slides of downtown Pittsburgh, I came across some images taken from Mount Washington showing the confluence of the three rivers at the Point.  Looking closely, I noticed that the B&O Stores building was visible in a couple of those images.  It wasn't the main subject, and it was from quite a distance, but for me, it will have to make do.  Here is the original image, plus two images where I zoomed in.  

#1  The original image, taken from Grandview Avenue on a frigid but beautifully clear day, January 17, 1982.  We are looking at the confluence of the three rivers, with the Monongahela River to the right, the Ohio River to the left, and the Allegheny River valley stretching into the distance.  At the very bottom of the image is Conrail's ex-PRR South Side line on the hillside, and along the riverbank, the snow-covered P&LE main line.  The pier for the old Point Bridge, demolished in 1970, is visible on the riverbank.  In front of that pier, a barge and towboat break a trail through the ice-covered Monongahela River, heading into the Ohio River.  Downtown Pittsburgh is to the right of the Allegheny River, and the North Side is to the left of the Allegheny.    

#2  A zoom of the first image, showing the numerous bridges over the Allegheny River.  The closest is the Fort Duquesne Bridge, then the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Street bridges, and then Conrail's ex-PRR Fort Wayne Bridge.  A westbound TV (Trail-Van) train is passing over the Fort Wayne Bridge.  The 1962 image of the B&O warehouse in the linked post would have been taken from about the same place where the Conrail locomotives are.  Beyond the Fort Wayne bridge is the Sixteenth Street Bridge, and then the 36th Street Bridge.  Hardly visible behind the 36th Street Bridge is the bridge that carried B&O's Pittsburgh & Western Subdivision main line over the Allegheny, with Willow Grove Yard on the north bank of the river.  The B&O Stores building is between the Seventh and Ninth Street Bridges.  

#3  A further zoom of the B&O Stores building.  The B&O's Allegheny Yard Branch passed underneath the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Street bridges.  Also visible are the doors for the inside rail sidings.  The red brick buildings at the top of this image are part of the Heinz plant beyond Sixteenth Street (today the Heinz Lofts).   Although a bit fuzzy, this image is the best I can do in the way of documenting the B&O Stores building.  After demolition, Alcoa built its new headquarters building on the site.  When Alcoa was broken up, it became offices for Arconic, one of the successors of Alcoa. 

#4  Finally, an image of the Point and downtown Pittsburgh, taken from the West End Overlook on another frigid day, January 20, 1985.  To the left is Three Rivers Stadium and its adjacent parking lots, built on area previously occupied by B&O's Allegheny freight station and team tracks, and School Street Yard.  (Three Rivers Stadium would last only 30 years or so, until being imploded in 2001.  The new home for the Steelers, Heinz Field, would be built in the parking area to the west of Three Rivers Stadium).  A portion of the West End Bridge is visible in the foreground, and underneath are the main tracks of the P&LE.  At far right are the snow-covered tracks of the ex-PRR South Side Line, against the slope of Mount Washington, with the Duquesne Incline passing over those tracks in the distance.  Although only thinly related to the subject of this post, this photo is one of my favorite images from my days in Pittsburgh, a great city that I love and miss (too bad about Big Ben and those Steelers).  

Steve Salamon
Valley City, OH 









 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/21/22 07:41 by cr7998.








Date: 01/21/22 07:36
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: cr7998

Photo #4.




Date: 01/21/22 08:00
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: DJ-12

Great shots Steve. I wasn't aware the B&O had a building at that location.

As I'm sure you know, B&O/Chessie/CSX continued to serve a remaining customer or two on the orphaned portion of their branch after the stadiums were built, including a steel processor under the West End Bridge. This was done over trackage rights on Conrail to a connection between BELL and PENN. Alas, I have no shots of this interesting operation, but I have a vivid memory of spotting a Chessie unit sitting under the west end bridge one night waiting to make a move or two while I was in the family car on the way home from a Pirates game.Do you have any shots of operations serving Heinz or the isolated customers beyond the stadium?



Date: 01/21/22 08:04
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: NYSWSD70M

Very interesting pictures and post!



Date: 01/21/22 08:41
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: jimB

Also on the far right shows Gateway Center where icancmp193 and I went through our training at what was then the PPG Industries HQ. Many years ago.

Jim B



Date: 01/21/22 08:57
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: ironmtn

I really enjoy posts like this one that dig into a scene and pull out all kinds of interesting information, and interpret it. And besides that, the images are all just very interesting to view and study.

I never would have thought that B&O would have such a prominent Stores facility in Pittsburgh, of all places, even despite the fact that B&O had a major presence there and significant operations. Just not something you would think of, at least not me, so much is Pittsburgh a Pennsy town in our mental maps. But in many ways, it made a lot of sense. It was a fairly central point on the B&O system, neither too far east or west, north or south. B&O had very good connections in Pittsburgh for inbound traffic of all manner of equipment and parts that a big Stores warehouse would have handled. And there was probably a fairly significant portion of the equipment and parts that a centralized Stores warehouse handled that would have been produced nearby in that heavily industrialized region.

Glad you were able to discover that you had an image of that Stores building after all. It's always gratifying when you make a discovery like that in your collection. And thanks for a very interesting, informative and educational post.

MC



Date: 01/21/22 09:01
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: ClubCar

Thanks for the great photos of Pittsburgh, a beautiful city, but phooey to the Steelers and Big Ben.  I'm glad that their season is over.
John in White Marsh, Maryland



Date: 01/21/22 14:04
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: jmbreitigan

iI really appreciate your pictures and most importanly the information shared with those pictures. I have spent some time up on Mount Washington taking pictures but nothing that goes a s far back as yours.
Regards, John



Date: 01/21/22 18:51
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: RuleG

Thank you very much for posting these photos. 

I believe the B & O's large presence in the North Side is a legacy from a predecessor railroad, Pittsburgh & Western, originally built as a narrow gauge railroad starting in what was then Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh's North Side).  The P & W  subsequently converted to standard gauge and was acquired by the B & O in 1892.

Here is a link to three historic photos of the B & O freight house which also show a passenger depot called "The Ark" due to the frequent flooding in this area.

https://www.west2k.com/papix/pittsburghbandoriver.jpg

When I moved to Pittsburgh in 1989, CSX was still serving a few North Side rail users along the western end of the branch.  One of the crew regularly assigned to that job had a very long beard which reminded me of one of the ZZ Top band members.  Alas, I never got around to taking photos of this operation which ceased a in the early 1990s.

While I am an enthusiastic resident of Pittsburgh's East End, I will always have a big place in my heart for the North Side where I worked for a number of years and Mount Washington where I courted a woman for a number of years until she came down from the Mount to live with me in the East!

 



Date: 01/21/22 19:05
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: krm152

Definitely super excellent winter scenes.
Thanks for your awesome posting.
ALLEN



Date: 01/24/22 20:33
Re: Pittsburgh - B&O Stores Building
Author: cr7998

While looking at some old records, I found that the B&O Stores building on the North Side was demolished by implosion on Sunday, November 14, 1982.  The implosion happened in the early morning, around 7:00 AM as I recall, to minimize interference with vehicular traffic.  

Steve Salamon
Valley City, OH



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/22 07:25 by cr7998.



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