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Pequea in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Big Cut, Big Fill

The Atglen & Susquehanna in Providence Township

 
 
Big Cut, Big Fill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 30, 2018
1. Big Cut, Big Fill Marker
Inscription. No other section of the eastern A&S more fully demonstrated the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) commitment to re-shape the landscape for an optimum freight road than its seven miles through Providence Township. The gentle compound curve (on paper) became a canyon that few residents could have anticipated. The A&S bisected farms with gaping, unstable slopes. It spanned the route with twelve new road bridges (upper right image) and crossed another dozen streams. Unwilling to compromise its goal of minimal grades for trains, the A&S found no naturally accommodating corridor through Providence. The PRR incised one.

It was likely no accident that one of the nation's most experienced railroad contractors, McManus Construction Company of Philadelphia, was awarded the arduous Providence section. Work extended westward from Quarryville, where an existing railroad branch from Lancaster hauled in materials and massive steam shovels. At least there temporary rail spurs trailed off the older railroad to supply A&S work sites. In the cuts, temporary construction track bobbed along the deepening route, requiring constant relaying to stay ahead of the track-bound shovel (center right images). McManus removed an estimated 1.3 million cubic yards of rock and earth over seven cuts, as deep as ninety feet.

Eight A&S section contracts were
Marker detail: deep cut with temporary tracks for machinery image. Click for full size.
Kline Collection, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, PHMC
2. Marker detail: deep cut with temporary tracks for machinery
awarded in the spring of 1903 for masonry and grading, although excavation might have more accurately described work in Providence. McManus was first to begin work. Compressed air drills (foreground of image above) sunk pilot holes in rocky sections for dynamite blasting. Brutish steam shovels removed the debris in descending layers, along with a crew of 300 men under McManus.

Some of the cut material formed the towering berm over what eventually became separate north and south bound tunnels for Route 272 (lower left images).

Completion of the A&S (1906) coincided with mandatory retirement (age 70) for the PRR's notable Chief Engineer, William H. Brown (b.1836 - d.1910). Born in Little Britain Township, Brown served the PRR for 44 years. In his 32 years as Chief, the PRR was physically transformed by a succession of engineering triumphs. Brown and McManus had concurrent careers and numerous joint projects with the PRR. For the last twenty years of Brown's life, the two were next-door neighbors in Philadelphia's Powelton Village.
 
Erected by Amtrak.
 
Location. 39° 53.928′ N, 76° 11.136′ W. Marker is in Pequea, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. Marker is on Fairview Road 0.3 miles west of Beaver Valley Pike (U.S. 222), on the left when
Marker detail: road bridge construction image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of Lancasterhistory.org, Lancaster, PA
3. Marker detail: road bridge construction
traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is located within the trailhead kiosk, at the west end of the New Providence parking lot for access to the Enola Low Grade Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Pequea PA 17565, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Job on the A & S (approx. 4.2 miles away); Drumore Township Illustrious Americans (approx. 4.7 miles away); Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508 (approx. 5.9 miles away); Lehigh Valley No. 40 (approx. 5.9 miles away); Monongahela Railway No. 67 (approx. 5.9 miles away); Reading Observation No. 1 (approx. 5.9 miles away); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 6755 (approx. 5.9 miles away); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 460 (approx. 5.9 miles away).
 
More about this marker. This is a large, "billboard-style" marker, mounted on the east-facing side of the trailhead kiosk for the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Atglen & Susquehanna Low Grade
 
Also see . . .  The Engineer And the Contractor. BY 1903 William H. Brown, the man who earned the nickname the stone man for his preference of masonry bridge construction
Marker detail: track-bound steam shovel image. Click for full size.
Columbia Historic Preservation Society, Columba, PA
4. Marker detail: track-bound steam shovel
was winding down a rewarding 44-year career with the Pennsylvania Railroad, 32 of which he served as Chief Engineer. Brown's tenure was part of an era that was arguably one of the most transformative times for the PRR's infrastructure and right of way. His role in the construction of the Low Grade, especially the Atglen & Susquehanna segment would be his last major project before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. Brown had come full circle in life having been born and raised in the same rolling countryside of Southern Lancaster County where he'd close out an impressive career. (Submitted on September 1, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNotable PersonsRailroads & Streetcars
 
Marker detail: work crew image. Click for full size.
Columbia Historic Preservation Society, Columba, PA
5. Marker detail: work crew
Big Cut, Big Fill Marker (<i>wide view; east side of kiosk; Fairview Road in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 30, 2018
6. Big Cut, Big Fill Marker (wide view; east side of kiosk; Fairview Road in background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 30, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 46 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on September 1, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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