Each of the last couple of visits to Pittsburgh Joe's been meaning to take me on a trip up and down on the Monongahela Incline - sadly the back in August it was broken, but when we happened to be down in the city for Thanksgiving we had an afternoon to spare. Built in 1870, the incline is one of only two that remain from the fifteen that once use to transport people and goods up and down between the river valleys and the communities above. It's also the oldest continuously operating funicular railway in the United States.
Today both the Monongahela and Duquesne Inclines transport residents and tourists 600 feet up and down the side of Mount Washington. Before their construction the only way to pass between the river and the hill was upon extremely steep walkways, now for a round trip of $5 (if I remember rightly) you get to sit back and enjoy the ride and see the Pittsburgh skyline before you has you travel down the slope towards Station Square.
The cars travel at around 6 miles an hour which is fast enough when you can look down and see the drop. Each of the cars operate as a pair, simultaneously pulled up and down by a cable operated by an engine within the upper station.
Parking at the top of the incline after the short descent we spent an hour or so walking around Station Square - a popular retail and restaurant area of Pittsburgh which is housed in what was a former railway station for the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (see logic in the name and can be seen in the first image as the building with the red long roof). Being a train geek Joe knew I would love a look around and it's exciting to see how they changed the stations interior while keeping the overall feel of the station both inside and out.
The above image (source) taken in 1910 captures the incline from across the river by Smithfield Street Bridge gives you a better scale of both Mount Washington and the incline itself. The Railway Station is just before it to the right.
If you ever happen to be in Pittsburgh and have an hour to spare, an incline ride is well worth the experience - the ride is a little scary when you consider you're only been held in place by a cable but the views are amazing!