The Pennsylvania Railroad and Ganister

This gallery of photos comes from Abram Burnett and the photographs highlight the importance of railways to Ganister. After all, even if the quarrymen removed all the limestone from the ridges, it still had to be shipped by rail to the steel furnaces in Pittsburgh. And the railway in Ganister was the Pennsy, or more formally the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Specifically, Ganister served as a junction on the Pennsy’s Petersburg Branch. The junction was named the Springfield Junction, hence the photos from and of SJ Tower that operated the signals at Springfield Junction. When I was growing up, I would hear stories of how the quarrymen and their families would hitch rides on the Toona Express, i.e. the trains heading west towards Altoona.

Today much of the railway landscape looks very different. The freight station remains today. And while the tracks were ripped out years ago, the roadbed remains via the Rails to Trails project. The Lower—pronounced like flower—Trail runs down the old Petersburg Branch.