ASME-Landmark:Duquesne Incline


The Duquesne Incline is one of seventeen built and operated in Pittsburgh in the 19th century. Of the seventeen, the Duquesne and the Monongahela (landmark #26) are the only two remaining operating units.

Pittsburgh's expanding industrial base in 1860 created a huge demand for labor and a subsequent housing shortage, as industry occupied most of the flat lands adjacent to the river, leaving only hills such as Mt. Washington, then called "Coal Hill," for housing. German immigrants, recalling their "seilbahns" or cable calls, proposed the construction of inclines along the face of Coal Hill.

Designed by Sam Diescher, who also co-designed the Monongahela Incline, the Duquesne Incline opened May 20, 1877, and has operated with only minor interruptions since. A preservation group from Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington interceded in 1962 to refurbish this incline to working order.

Like the Monongahela, the Duquesne was steam powered and then converted to electric and updated with modern safety devices. The Duquesne Incline used individual maple bull gear teeth in the hoisting machinery. The original cars with walnut paneling and incised carved decorations are still in service. The platform beneath the cars, still intact, was used to store groceries and produce for the passengers. Though little is known of the original steam engine, other records on this incline's history have been preserved.

Inclines contributed greatly to the development of metropolitan areas in hilly terrain such as Pittsburgh, but were superseded by the automobile and improved roads in the early part of the twentieth century. See ASME website for more information