Tube City Almanac

March 21, 2013

RIP, McKeesport Connecting Railroad

Category: History || By

For most of its existence, McKeesport Connecting Railroad did exactly what its name said --- beginning in 1889, it connected the National Tube Works Co., and later U.S. Steel's National Works, to the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio and Pittsburgh & Lake Erie railroads. It also switched freight cars within the plant.

Naturally, for most of its existence, McKeesport Connecting Railroad was wholly owned by U.S. Steel. After the closure of National Plant in 1987, McKeesport Connecting continued to serve Camp-Hill Corp., though in recent years, it had no locomotives of its own --- it used equipment from another U.S. Steel-affiliated railroad, the Union Railroad.

With very little fanfare, the McKeesport Connecting's 123 year existence came to an end Jan. 1, when it was finally merged into the Union Railroad. (The Union runs from Penn Hills, down through the Mon Valley to West Mifflin, with branches to Clairton, Duquesne and Munhall.)

Like the Union Railroad and the nearby Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, McKeesport Connecting Railroad was owned by Transtar Inc., a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. In a filing with the federal Surface Transportation Board, Transtar noted that the decision to merge the two railroads was done "to simplify the corporate structure of the Transtar railroads (and) reduce the administrative, accounting, reporting and related burdens."

Considering that these days, the McKeesport Connecting Railroad wouldn't even have made a good property to own on Monopoly, it makes sense, but it still seems like an ignominious end.

You can still see equipment registered to the McKeesport Connecting --- mostly (all?) black open-topped pipe-carrying cars with the letters "MKC" stenciled on the side --- but those will likely start to disappear, too.

About the last remaining evidence of McKeesport Connecting's independent existence is an abandoned railroad roundhouse in the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport.

Digging through my musty archives, I found a brochure issued by the McKeesport Connecting Railroad. It's posted now in Tube City Online's Steel Heritage section.

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Thanks for your article on the McKeesport Connecting Railroad. My grandfather used to work for the railroad and retired from there in the ’60’s.

I am an avid railfan and model railroader and model the old B&O line from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. Included in my modeling is the MKC RR. I also have a model of the PaTrain (cream/orange/brown paint scheme), and several Union RR models.

I believe you are correct that the pipe gons were the only type of rolling stock owned by the MKC, and I have never seen a caboose either. All of their diesels were Alco S-2’s.

Here is the link to photos of my layout if you are interested.

-Ken Miller
(originally from Liberty Boro)
Ken Miller - March 22, 2013

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