Background on the Great Allegany Passage Trail. With the railroad mergers in the 1970s, the Western Maryland Railroad line became redundant with a parallel rail line on the opposite side of the river owned by the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. At the abandonment hearing before Congress, a WM railroad executive suggested that the route would make an excellent biking and hiking trail. The expense to remove all railroad bridges and to seal all railroad tunnels was certainly a major concern for the railroad executives. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Western Maryland Railroad organized a final train ride along the route and many on the train were inspired to create the trail. The first section of the trail, near Ohiopyle, was opened in 1986 by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.Today the Great Allegany Passage Trail starts in Cumberland Maryland and runs 150 miles to Pittsburgh. The last section of the trail from McKeesport to Pittsburgh was completed in June 2013. In fact, the celebration of the opening occurred on the Saturday we rode into Pittsburgh. The trail includes numerous tunnels, the largest of which is the 3300 foot long Big Savage Tunnel. The trail crosses many bridges, some old railroad bridges, and several newly constructed just for the trail. For more information, check out their web sight at http://www.atatrail.org If you ever have an opportunity to ride the Great Allegany Passage, do it. It is an amazing ride and not very difficult.
|Allegany Mountain in Maryland|
In preparation for riding the Great Allegany Passage Trail, we took off the fenders and mounted 700 -32 tires on the tandem. On Sunday we rented a U-Haul truck and on Monday drove in the rain to Frostburg Maryland. Tuesday we rode from Frostburg to Rockwood on the Great Allegany Passage Trail. Along the trail we met several riders who had just completed the C&O Canal bike path and said the riding was very difficult because of the mud from the recent rains. The Great Allegany Passage Trail went upward from Frostburg along the railroad grade before reaching a tunnel under the Eastern Continental Divide. From there the grade is mostly downward into Pittsburgh. Tuesday night we spent in a hostel in Rockwood. This was our first stay in a hostel but there was no one else there and we had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately the hostel was very close to the railroad tracks so sleep was limited.
|Crossing Under Eastern Continental Divide|
|Crossing One of Many Converted Railroad Bridges|
|Carolyn on Historic Caboose|
|Farm on South Side of Trail|
|Hostel in Rockwood|
Our ride from Rockwood to Connellsville was simply spectacular, riding above the Casselman River. The river was swollen from the recent heavy rains and was moving swiftly over the rapids along most of the river. In several locations we rode across old railroad bridges modified for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. In other locations new bridges spanning ravines up to a hundred feet deep had been constructed specifically for the trail. The trail passed through Ohiopyle state park where rafters were negotiating rapids a hundred feet below us. We spent the night in Connellsville. The forecast for that evening and the following day were for heavy rain and even a tornado watch. Although it didn’t rain much in Connellsville, we decided to stay put on Thursday because we were concerned about mud on the trail.
|Trail through the Woods along Cassellman River|
|Rafting at Ohiopyle|
|Calmer Section of Youghiogheny River below Ohiopyle|
|Remains of Beehive Coke Ovens (Holes in Hillside)|
|Antique Passenger Car in West Newton PA|
|Celebrating Opening of Final Section of Allegany Passage Trail|
|Pittsburgh Pirates Stadium|
|Incline up Mount Washington|
|Jim and Sonya Orr with Carolyn and Hank at the Top of the Station Square Incline|