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Parking Lot Series: Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company

The lead image in today’s Parking Lot Series contains the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company parking facility at a train station on the south side of the Monongahela River. On the right-hand side of the image dated December 2, 1965, by the source is the Smithfield Street Bridge and following it the Liberty Bridge and a view of the City Pittsburg in the background.

Share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable sectional images (below) courtesy of Historic Pittsburgh.

25 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company

  1. The two bridges in the photo are the Panhandle Bridge that now carries our light rail or “T” service and behind that is the Liberty Bridge.

      • I live in Pittsburgh and drive across the Smithfield Street Bridge everyday. It’s the on ramp is in the very bottom left of the photo. The Panhandle Bridge used to be a streetcar bridge but now carries Port Authority or PAT “T” commuter trains, and behind that is the Liberty Bridge from the Liberty Tunnels.

  2. In Item 1 of 2 in the lower right corner a ’63 Sting Ray with hardtop.
    In the 1st row, next to a ’65 GTO convertible, a ’57 Ford Fairlane with an odd bumper, a couple ’57 Chevys, an early-‘60s Lark and a ’61-’63 T-bird
    In the 3rd row from the back, 1st car is a ’61 Rambler sedan next to a likely ’62 Lark sedan (larger grille crosshatch vs a ’63) and a 1st-gen Corvair sedan
    In the 4th row, 3rd car up, a ’57 Desoto Fire-something Sportsman hardtop

    In Item 2 of 2 that’s some curious paint treatment on the black and white ’56 Chevy…if it were a One-Fifty, the vertical division would be further back at the beltline dip and angled to the rear. Farther upi that row, the 6th car up is a ’57 Pontiac Chieftain Safari 4-door. The uppermost car in that row appears to be a ’54 or ’55 Cadillac…I’ll go with a ’55 as the bullet seems appropriately larger and mounted higher vs a ’54.
    In the 2nd row, the 2nd car is a 1st-gen Barracuda; the 9th car is a ’62 AMC, likely an Ambassador sedan and a bit further up is a ’61 or ’62 likely F-85 wagon and two more up is a ’62 or later Triumph TR4 beside an early-‘50s Mopar sedan.
    In the 4th row, across from the Mopar sedan is a ’59 Rambler Cross country and four cars up is Canadian-built ’64 Studebaker Cruiser sedan (wider side trim vs a ’65).

  3. Too many to ID here, but among the pickins are a `59 and `60 Impala cvts., a light-colored `59 Plymouth wagon, a `60 Dodge Dart hardtop, a `65 Barracuda, a `59 Olds cvt., and a `55 Cadillac sedan.

  4. Yeah,Mr. Hagen,so few pick up trucks back then.Makes you wonder if all the ones now are actually being used for what they were intended for.Either that or more people are subcontractors than ever before.

    • It’s true that there would be more pickups in the lot today, but note the number of station wagons, including the two VW buses.

      Pickups were intensely utilitarian back then — painted metal interiors, optional heater, rubber floor mats rather than carpet. If someone were looking for a second car or a commuter and still needed to haul stuff, station wagons offered a comfortable driving experience with some cargo capacity. I don’t think people have changed. Pickups are just more comfortable than they used to be.

    • Because pickups are the only thing currently manufactured with the kind of interior spaciousness you used to find in a Lincoln Town Car. And you can get one with a pleasant sounding, honest to God V8 engine. For four guys traveling to a hockey game, no finer conveyance.

  5. In the lead picture, in the line of parked cars near the roadway, 8th car from the right, four-door 1961 or ’62 BUICK Special. Better seen in the 1st expandable photograph.

  6. In the lead picture, parked three vehicles to the left of the VW bus facing left, is a 1954 CHEVROLET [facing what looks like a four-door 1958 RAMBLER Ambassador Sedan.

    • AML, the AMC sedan seen ahead of the 54 Chevy appears to have front fender trim seen only on the Rambler in ’58, not the Ambassador…it has a leading checkmark/ triangular shape.

  7. This looks like just the average workers cars. Lots of beaters and actually quite a few Ramblers, always a sign of “Joe Lunchpail”. I think there’s one Studebaker, right in the middle of the bottom pic. So what did all these people do? Repair trains?

  8. There are few pre-1955 cars in the lot. I view that as the year Detroit really went longer, lower, wider and got away from the bulbous cars of the immediate postwar era.

    In the third row from the river, there’s a white car that’s much taller than its neighbors and appears to have a fabric roof insert, but I can’t tell what it might be.

  9. I had never heard of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad before, only that of the famous Erie Railroad, which by the mid 60’s had already merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to become the short lived Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Interesting to know that, and to learn a little bit about the history of that RR.

    • The P&LE was know as the Little Giant. It ran from Youngstown, OH to Connellsville, PA on the Youghiogheny Branch, and Brownsville on the Monongehela branch. The two branches diverged in my hometown, McKeesport, PA. It got its name because while small,it carried a lot of tonnage. Coal and coke from the southern branches, plus steel all along the line. It served most of the major mills in the Pittsburgh District.

      Originally independent, it was acquired by the New York Central in 1893, and was one of the few profitable parts of the ill-fated PennCentral merger. As a result, it was able to regain its independence when Conrail was formed in 1976. When I was growing up in the late 70’s early 80’s it was a local success story, but the collapse of the steel industry in the mid to late 80’s eventually drove it into bankruptcy, and CSX picked it up. Before that, though, the railroad’s station/headquarters and freight houses, to the left of this picture, were transformed in the late 70’s into the Station Square shopping and dining center.

      CSX predecessor, the B&O, had long used the P&LE mainline from McKeesport to New Castle PA for long-distance passenger movements – that’s a B&O baggage car on the station platform. nd later used P&LE trackage in McKeesport to eliminate their mainline through the middle of town – with no less than 17 manned grade crossings.

      Speaking of the B&O, the long white building across the Monongahela River is the B&O Pittsburgh freight and express house, and the commuter station is just to the left of it, right above where the river bank cuts in. Both the B&O and P&LE ran commuter trains until the 1980s – I used to take the B&O Budd RDCs into Pittsburgh with my mom .

      The parking lot area used to be team tracks – paired tracks with roads between them to allow loading and unloading of boxcars. When this picture was taken, I’m pretty sure this was commuter parking, hence some of the beater cars. You could take the streetcar over the Smithfield Street Bridge into downtown Pittsburgh – you can see the waiting platform on Smithfield to the left of the lot.

  10. In the second row, the car to the left of the barracuda looks like a Studebaker Lark.

    The lack of beetles is surprising, but the VW vans sure stick out. I wonder if their owners had large families?

  11. That Triumph has the fender turn signal with the trailing chrome spear meaning it’s a TR4a. They made those from ’65 to ’67.
    Judging the vintage of the other cars, this must be right off the actual boat and still under the one year 12k warranty.

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