PAWESTMO-L ArchivesArchiver > PAWESTMO > 2002-05 > 1020702126
From: "james miller" <>
Subject: [PAWESTMO-L] 16- The Southwest Branch
Date: Mon, 06 May 2002 16:22:06 +0000
May 6, 2002
16- The Southwest Branch
This is the 8th of these excursions down the Southwest Branch RR following
the 5 Star Hiking Trail. They are done in the hope of encouraging other
list members to contribute their memories, stories, experiences, etc.,
relating to the industrial past of the Greensburg Area. In the last post,
we went by remains of an old RR trestle and some dwellings between the RR
and Urania Av. We also recalled young Will Johnstons experiences in this
As we move further down the Branch [south], it gets more difficult to see
the streets to the left, on the uphill side. The RR cut is deeper here as
evidenced by the steep bank. One of the streets up there, to the left, is
Wood St. Passing that, we move on just a bit further and, although you
cant see it from here, up the hill just about a block was the Overmeyer
Mould Co. It sat at 604 Highland Av. The building is still there, but
Overmeyer Mould moved out of town to the Donohoe Road about 1960. They set
up business here in 1933 as a division of a company in the State of Indiana.
[Greater Greensburg Profile, p. 292] They planned to make moulds for the
pressed-glass industry, which they did. I at one time lived in a glass
plant, a dubious distinction probably shared with few individuals. There I
had an opportunity to see quite a few moulds for pressed glass. They varied
in size from the very small ones, used for objects about the size of a shot
glass, to the larger ones, used for larger objects like punch bowls. These
latter were quite heavy, and required several men to carry them. Many of
them were made by skilled artisans, who carved designs into the metal
moulds, which would be impressed into the glass. The moulds would usually
require a plunger, which forced the molten glass into all of the crevices
and crannies of the mould. Someone told me they thought that glass objects
were actually made at Overmeyer Mould. This made me wonder whether they
were testing their moulds before shipping them out to the various glass
plants that used them. Over the years, Overmeyer branched out to include
making moulds for basketballs, footballs, and softballs. [sesqui-centennial
book, p. 271] In 1950 a decision was made to include container moulds in
their product line. These included moulds for food packaging, prescription
bottles, and liquor bottles. [Greater Greensburg Profile, p. 292]
Just a few steps more and our journey brings us to what used to be McFarland
Supply Co. One night in October of 1962, there was a bad fire here. [Van
Attas bicentennial book, p. 200] On that same night, two produce houses on
Depot St. in Ludwick were also torched. Whoever set the fires wanted to do
a good job.
The fire companies had their resources taxed to the limit, and McFarland
Supply is no longer here. Before McFarland Supply was here, there was a RR
building sitting at the north end of the trestle that used to serve
McFarland Supply. That trestle is still here; it being built of stone and
concrete, survived the fire. I am guessing that the engine house mentioned
in Wm. Johnstons story in the last post was the RR building mapped there in
1876. It is the only RR building mapped in the area. But that is just a
In 1897 another building was mapped just where Euclid Av. met the tracks.
In that year, Euclid Av. came the whole way up to the S.W. Branch. Another
thing that is suggested by old maps is that Euclid Av. was once the road to
Mt. Pleasant. Before the RR was here, early maps show it going up over the
hill to the east of where the tracks are now. Considering that building
mapped just where Euclid & the S.W. Branch met, it was part of the M.B.
Walker Lumber Yard in 1897. McFarland bought the place in 1904, and that
building became part of their operation, functioning as storage for hay and
feed. From what I can tell, part of it is still here now  being used
by Disaster Restoration Services.
I put a map at my website of the situation here in 1925. North is toward
the top of the page. Coming down from the top, to the left of the tracks,
there appears the coal and building materials warehouse of McFarland Supply.
This consists of the RR trestle carrying the tracks, and a 2 story
building that encloses it. Next comes the black rectangular area. This was
an oil storage depot for the Atlantic Refining Co. There were oil tanks
here also. Further down, at the junction of Euclid and the RR, is another
McFarland building. This is the building once used by the M.B. Walker
Lumber Co. To see the map, go to page two of my website.
A 1949 ad [sesqui-centennial book, p. 356] describes McFarland Supply as
Established in 1904 by the late J.E. McFarland, the company
operated at one time with as many as seven teams of fine horses,
and a team of mules. . . serving Greensburgers with custom coal
and builders supplies.
In 1915 the first motor truck was placed in operation. Now
after 45 years of continued service , a fleet of modern trucks
serving the community with builders supplies, coal, and ready-
It was an operation very much like St. Clair Supply, which we saw up the
tracks. And I was surprised to see that in 1925 they were keeping chickens
in a coop beside their stable. The office of McFarland Supply is still
there also. It is the little gourmet shop at the corner of Urania & Euclid.
We now go past where Euclid Av. once met the tracks and pass on a bit,
stopping before the bridge here that takes Mt. Pleasant St. under the RR.
The first thing I want to point out here is that at one time Mt. Pleasant
St. did not go under the RR tracks. It went across the tracks here, just a
few feet north of its present location, making a grade crossing. It was
some time between 1915 and 1925 that this bridge was put in. By 1925 it was
already in place. I put together a map of this area as it was before the
bridge was put in. This time go to page three of the website to see the
This is one of my field maps. I take it with me as I go around trying to
figure things out. I put it together from a number of old maps ranging from
1890 to 1915. It is not to scale and only an approximation. And not all of
the things indicated there were necessarily there at the same time. This is
one of the ways that I try to learn what happened at a particular place.
For some reason, this intersection is one of my favorite places and, dont
ask me why; I really dont know. At this point, we have traversed about one
third of the distance down through the Greensburg Area section of the S.W.
Branch. Although it may seem this trip has been going on forever, we have
only gone about seven tenths of a mile from the mainline. If you are
looking at the mile posts on the hiking trail, they are calibrated from a
point in Lynch Field, and will give you a different reading. If time
allows, I want to continue this trip down the Branch. But it may be a good
idea to relieve the tedium of the trip by looking at something else for a
bit. In the next post, I want to revisit Ludwick. That trip will probably
begin on the mainline around the train station and proceed west on the
mainline to Ludwick and thereabouts.
Before we end this leg of the journey, there are [were] a few items here to
mention. They appear on the map on the third page of the website. Recall,
that map shows things here BEFORE the bridge was put in, so not everything
is as it is today . To the left here was the N.K. Davis Feed Mill.
On the map it fronts on Mt. Pleasant St. and is just east of the RR, when
the street was up here on track level. It had its own RR siding, and by
1915 there was a 12,000 gallon gasoline tank here, suggesting they were
running a gas station for the early cars. By 1925 the feed mill was greatly
reduced in size, or had been replaced by a smaller structure. There is
nothing left of it now. Only a very large chunk of concrete, probably too
large to haul away, gives a clue to its having been here once upon a time.
________________________________________________ --- jim miller
researching industrial history/archaeology of the greensburg area
********************** jim miller/621 grove st
********************** greensburg pa 15601
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|[PAWESTMO-L] 16- The Southwest Branch by "james miller" <>|