2011-06-30 / Local & State

Historic Pa. Railroad Site Linked To Freed Slaves

PORTAGE, Pa. (AP) – A historic western Pennsylvania railroad that drastically reduced the time it took to travel from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh has now also been recognized as a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, used by blacks who were fleeing slavery in the 19th century.

Researchers at the Allegheny Portage Railroad Historic Site in Cambria County determined the tiny railroad was an important part of a network that helped slaves escape to free states.

The 36-mile railroad was intended to help travelers get over the Allegheny Mountains from the Holliday Canal Basin to another canal spot near Johnstown. The railroad operated from 1834 to 1854 and included the first railroad tunnel in the state before it was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1857. Before it was built, horse-drawn wagons took about 23 days to cross the state; using canals and railroads, the trip was cut to four days.

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