The top of the eastern portal
|Opened||Never used for Turnpike|
|South Penn Railroad|
|Planned Length||700 ft|
|Heading Completed||412 ft|
Quemahoning Tunnel is a tunnel which lies just off the shoulder of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Somerset. It has the distinction of being the only one of the South Penn Railroad's tunnels which was ever actually used by a train.
South Penn and P. W. & S.
The South Penn Railroad began construction of Quemahoning Tunnel as one its planned nine tunnels. Like all the others, it was unfinished when the South Penn ceased construction. In 1899, the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland and Somerset Railroad was chartered, and eventually decided to complete the tunnel for its use. The tunnel was finished in fall 1905.
The P. W. & S. discontinued service on 23 September 1916. The railroad's charter was purchased by another railroad, but the tunnel was never used again.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission considered using it, but decided against doing so and the rock was cut next to it, the same fate which befell the nearby Negro Mountain Tunnel.
The east portal is still visible today, the top just barely visible from a car heading west on the Turnpike. The portal is only about ten feet from the guard rail at the side of the road. The west portal was "obliterated" by Turnpike construction crews in 1981.
The only recorded near-visit to the Tunnel by a Septempontian was by Shawn Knight, who got close enough to get a picture showing the top of the east portal, on 31 July 2004.
Unlike the Lost Tunnels which were actually used by the Turnpike, approaching the entrance of Quemahoning Tunnel is extremely dangerous, for three reasons: one, because there is a hole in the ground just in front of the portal; two, there is a drop into the tunnel; and three, because you are very close to the modern Turnpike. If you visit the tunnel, please use extreme caution when so doing, do not go alone, and do not get too close. Furthermore, be aware that you will be trespassing on the right of way if you do so, and could be fined.
Since the initial token visit, Imperial policy has been to discourage anyone from attempting to visit this tunnel.
- Walton, Walter F. (1982). The South Pennsylvania Railroad or the Railroad that Might Have Been. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh Section.