Riding the Incline


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“Take a step back in time on a century-old cable car and see the best views of downtown Pittsburgh while riding one of the few remaining inclines in the country. Opened on May 20, 1877, the Duquesne Incline was rescued and restored by a group of local residents in 1963 and still delights residents and visitors with its original, elegant, wooden cable cars.  Now you can visit the interior of the incline and watch the machinery while it operates.  The Duquesne Incline’s upper station houses a museum of Pittsburgh history, including photos and a storehouse of information on inclines from around the world. Unusual Pittsburgh souvenirs, maps and photos can be found at the gift shop.”

After visiting the Nina and Pinta and enjoying a quick lunch, we went over to stop #2…The incline. Pittsburgh boasts two of these. The Monongahela Incline is closed for maintenance for the next few months so we drove two minutes down the road to the Duquesne Incline.

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“Originally  steam-powered, the Duquesne Incline was built to carry cargo up and down Mt. Washington in the late 19th century. It later carried passengers, particularly Mt. Washington residents who were tired of walking up footpaths to the top. Inclines were then being built all over Mt. Washington. But as more roads were built on “Coal Hill” most of the other inclines were closed. By the end of the 1960s, only the Monongahela and the Duquesne Incline remained.

In 1962, the incline was closed, apparently for good. Major repairs were needed, and with so few patrons, the incline’s private owners did little. But local Duquesne Heights residents launched a fund-raiser to help the incline. It was a huge success, and on July 1, 1963, the incline reopened under the auspices of a non-profit organization dedicated to its preservation.

The incline has since been totally refurbished. The cars, built by the J. G. Brill and Company of Philadelphia, have been stripped of paint to reveal the original wood. An observation deck was added at the top affording a view of Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle”, and the Duquesne Incline is now one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.”

The Incline costs $2.50 for an adult to ride up and $1.25 for a child 5-11. Under 5 rides free. We only had to wait a minute before a car was available. Everyone was excited. My older kids had been on it once before when Toby’s cousins came to Pittsburgh for a visit, but that was years ago and they were a lot younger. The two little boys had never ridden it before. Ozzie did NOT want to ride. He is afraid of heights and didn’t want anything to do with the incline.

Looking up...

Looking up…

But being one who is also terrified of heights, I knew this was doable for him. So I told him I wanted him to try it. He did and he actually enjoyed it. At the top he was over-the-top excited, not only because he liked the ride but because of the pride he felt about facing his fear.


For the ride up our group of 14 filled the bulk of the car.

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When we arrived at the top we walked through the gallery of photos, stopped to check out the mechanics of how the incline works,

Watching the gears turn.

Watching the gears turn.

and then moved outside to the observation deck.

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The views of Pittsburgh from the observation deck were breathtaking.

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What a beautiful city!

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Beautiful Pittsburgh!

It was extra windy up on the hill so we didn’t stay outside too long,

Checking out the views on the widy

Checking out the views of Pittsburgh from the windy deck.

just long enough to get some pictures, and then we headed inside to get warm and wait for the ride down.

The inside of the incline cars are beautiful.

The inside of the incline cars are beautiful.

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It was a fun way to end our Pittsburgh field trip.

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