Cowansburg to Hempfield Junction

The Hempfield Branch

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The Hempfield Branch was built by the PRR to access several mines in Hempfield and Sewickley Townships in the 1890's. This line depicted on this map is a little incomplete. The branch originated at Hempfield Branch Junction on the Radebaugh Branch near Greensburg, PA. For a time there was a signal and interlocking tower at the junction known as HJ Tower. The Hempfield Branch extended all the way to the Yough River at Gratztown where it connected with the B&O railroad. There were five other branch lines that connected to the Hempfield Branch; the B&O Adamsburg Branch at Eisaman's Junction; an unnamed spur to the Poverty Hollow Mine at Madison; the PRR Andrews Run Branch at Keystone; the PRR Youghogeny Branch at Cownansburg; and the PRR Yukon Branch also at Cowansburg. The branch passed through the towns of Arona, Darragh, Madison, Hermine, Cowansburg and Lowber, each having working coal mines and some coke ovens. Crews that worked the Hempfield Branch worked out of Youngwood. A train would work north out of Youngwood Yard on the Southwest Branch, enter the Radebaugh Branch at CJ Tower (County Home Junction) enter the Hempfield Branch at HJ Tower. The train typically worked south on the Hempfield Branch picking up loaded cars at each mine and delivering empties. At Cowansburg, the train would enter the Yukon Branch and work back toward the Southwest Branch at New Stanton, coming back into Youngwood from the south. There was a wye at Cowansburg and a wye at Eisaman's Jct. Although the ground appeared to be graded for a wye at the junction with the Radebaugh Branch, there was never a wye at this location.

James Falcsik
Irwin (Hempfield Twp.), PA
4/5/2017

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