Johnstown Inclined Plane

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Johnstown Incline
Locale Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation 1891 – present
Track gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters Johnstown, Pennsylvania

The Johnstown Inclined Plane, located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the United States is the claimed to be world's steepest vehicular inclined plane, a claim disputed by the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway.


After the May 31, 1889 Johnstown Flood killed over 2200 residents, the city rebuilt and developed new residential areas on higher elevations. The Johnstown inclined plane was built to serve the residents of one of these new communities, Westmont. The borough of Westmont is on top of Yoder Hill, which has a grade of 70.9%, too steep for a road. Consequently, a decision was made to build a funicular, with construction started in 1890, and service beginning on June 1, 1891. The inclined plane transported people, and even horses and wagons up and down the steep hillside.

In addition to its normal service, the inclined plane was used to rescue Johnstown residents in two floods: March 1, 1936, when nearly 4,000 escaped via the inclined plane; and July 20, 1977, when it was also used to bring rescuers, their boats and other rescue equipment down into the valley.[1]

With the growing popularity of the automobile in the 20th century, the number of riders declined. However, by the 1980s, the inclined plane experienced an increase in riders again as it became "the primary tourist attraction in Johnstown". The incline is operated by the local mass transit system-CamTran. [2]

The inclined plane was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 1973.

Technical specifications

The Pittsburgh engineer who designed Johnstown's inclined plane was Samuel Diescher. He had previously worked on other funiculars (including the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines in Pittsburgh), and later designed the machinery used to operate the original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Perpendicular Lift: 502.2 feet (153 m)
  • Elevation at Summit: 1,693.5 feet (516 m).
  • Angle: 35 degrees, 25 minutes
  • Lights: 114 high pressure sodium lamps
  • Cars: 15 ft 2 in x 15 ft 6 in x 34 ft (4.6 x 4.7 x 10.4 m), 38 tons each
  • Length: 896.5 feet (273 m) from top to bottom
  • Grade: 70.9%
  • Ties: 720 in total, each 12 in x 12 in x 14 ft (305 mm x 305 mm x 4.3 m)
  • Rails: total length: 3,586 feet (1093 m), total weight: 120,553 lb (54,682 kg)
  • Cable Size: 2 in (51 mm) powersteel, wire rope, 6 x 36 right regular lay".[3]

See also


National Park Service logo.png U.S. National Register of Historic Places - (List of entries)

National Park Service . National Historic Landmarks . National Battlefields . National Historic Sites . National Historic Parks . National Memorials . National Monuments

Coordinates: 40°19′0.1″N, 78°55′39.8″W