The Duquesne Incline is a historic inclined plane railroad near the South Side of Pittsburgh and scales Mt. Washington. This incline was finished in 1877 and is still in operation today as a major tourist attraction. It’s 800 feet long, 400 feet high, and has a 30-degree incline with a rare track gauge of 5 feet. Listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, our Pittsburgh adoption agents think that anyone living in or passing through Pittsburgh should make at least one visit here to view this landmark. Some of our favorite aspects of the Duquesne Incline include:
When the Duquesne Incline was built in 1877, it was constructed as a matter of convenience for Mt. Washington residents, who wanted an easier way to walk to the top of the mountain. Previously, these residents had ascended using footpaths. During this time period, inclines were being built all over Mt. Washington.
Eventually, paved roads become more popular and inclines started to close down. At the end of the 1960s, only the Duquesne Incline and Monongahela Incline were still around. However, in 1962, the Duquesne Incline closed as well. It looked like this might be permanent, as the incline’s private owners didn’t do much to complete the major repairs the railroad needed. However, residents of Duquesne Heights began their own fund-raising project to save the incline. This project was a success, and the incline was reopened in July of 1963 as a non-profit organization.
Since then, the incline has been preserved and refurbished. Its cars were stripped of paint to showcase the original wood and an observation deck was added to the top (with beautiful views of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle). Today, the Duquesne Incline is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Pittsburgh.
Free Group Tours
The Duquesne Incline offers free tours to groups of ten or more people, which must be scheduled in advance. Some of our favorite highlights from these tours include:
- A viewing of the original hoisting equipment with wooden gear teeth in operation in the machine room
- A history of Pittsburgh in pictures, including various industries, other inclines, sports venues, and natural disasters
- Panoramic view of Pittsburgh from the observation deck, towering 400 feet above the Three Rivers
- Photo opportunities
- Gift shop
Riding The Duquesne Incline
Today, along with being a tourist attraction, the Duquesne Incline is still part of Pittsburgh’s transportation system. It uses the same cash fare system as buses and trolleys in this system. There is a change machine provided if you need to break bigger bills for your fare, but we suggest arriving with exact fare to speed up the process. Seniors 65 years of age and older ride for free.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the busiest times, so it’s usually wise to show up on a weekday or during the morning if you want to avoid waiting.
David H. Miller Working Museum At The Duquesne Incline
At the top of the incline, you’ll find a museum featuring over 140 years of Pittsburgh history. Entry is an absurdly cheap $0.50 and allows you to take a self-guided tour of the machine room. One of our favorite features here is a poster which explains the inner workings of the incline. The museum is a bit hidden, so look for the passage to the left and a small sign which reads “David H. Miller Working Museum.” The museum is housed in the working room of the incline, so you can actually watch as the machinery, gears, ropes, and cables all start working together to keep the incline running.