Blairsville Secondary – Ghost Town Trail

A railroad line was constructed between Dilltown and Black Lick in 1904 by a predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad. This line served many coal mines in the valley of the Blacklick Creek. By 1998, the rail line was known to then-owner Conrail as the Blairsville Secondary. The end of rail-served coal mining in the valley led to the railbanking of the rail line in July 1998 and its acquisition by the Cambria & Indiana Trail Council in January 2003.  Indiana County then retained Gibson-Thomas to design the conversion of a portion of the corridor from railroad to recreational use.

Phase I of the project extended from Black Lick to Heshbon and was constructed in spring 2005.  Phase II of the project continued the trail to a point 2 miles west of Dilltown, where two bridges had been washed out in a July 1977 flood, and was finished in fall 2005.  The replacement of these bridges, also designed by Gibson-Thomas, was titled Phase III and was opened to trail users in 2009.

Gibson-Thomas was responsible for developing the construction plans and bid documents for what was then known as the Blairsville Secondary Trail. The trail surface was 10’-0” wide and consisted of aggregate placed on the existing railroad ballast. Fencing, slope stabilization, and ditch cleaning was also included.  The trail was opened for use in 2005 and became a part of the Ghost Town Trail. This segment currently serves as a key link in a regional trail system connecting Ebensburg, Indiana, and Blairsville. Future extensions between existing segments will eventually connect this trail system to Pittsburgh.


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Gibson-Thomas is a multi-discipline consulting engineering firm established in 1916 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Our past experience, key staff and commitment to total client satisfaction are the major factors that our clients consider when contracting with Gibson-Thomas.

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