Big Cut, Big Fill

Big Cut, Big Fill (HM2B4V)

Location: New Providence, PA 17560 Lancaster County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 53.928', W 76° 11.136'

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The Atglen & Susquehanna in Providence Township

No other section of the eastern A&S more fully demonstrated the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) commitment to re-shape the landscape for an optimum freight road than its seven miles through Providence Township. The gentle compound curve (on paper) became a canyon that few residents could have anticipated. The A&S bisected farms with gaping, unstable slopes. It spanned the route with twelve new road bridges (upper right image) and crossed another dozen streams. Unwilling to compromise its goal of minimal grades for trains, the A&S found no naturally accommodating corridor through Providence. The PRR incised one.
It was likely no accident that one of the nation's most experienced railroad contractors, McManus Construction Company of Philadelphia, was awarded the arduous Providence section. Work extended westward from Quarryville, where an existing railroad branch from Lancaster hauled in materials and massive steam shovels. At least there temporary rail spurs trailed off the older railroad to supply A&S work sites. In the cuts, temporary construction track bobbed along the deepening route, requiring constant relaying to stay ahead of the track-bound shovel (center right images). McManus removed an estimated 1.3 million cubic yards of rock and earth over seven cuts, as deep as ninety feet.
Eight A&S section contracts were

awarded in the spring of 1903 for masonry and grading, although excavation might have more accurately described work in Providence. McManus was first to begin work. Compressed air drills (foreground of image above) sunk pilot holes in rocky sections for dynamite blasting. Brutish steam shovels removed the debris in descending layers, along with a crew of 300 men under McManus.
Some of the cut material formed the towering berm over what eventually became separate north and south bound tunnels for Route 272 (lower left images).
Completion of the A&S (1906) coincided with mandatory retirement (age 70) for the PRR's notable Chief Engineer, William H. Brown (b.1836 - d.1910). Born in Little Britain Township, Brown served the PRR for 44 years. In his 32 years as Chief, the PRR was physically transformed by a succession of engineering triumphs. Brown and McManus had concurrent careers and numerous joint projects with the PRR. For the last twenty years of Brown's life, the two were next-door neighbors in Philadelphia's Powelton Village.
HM NumberHM2B4V
Placed ByAmtrak
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 4th, 2018 at 11:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 398647 N 4417197
Decimal Degrees39.89880000, -76.18560000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 53.928', W 76° 11.136'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 53' 55.68" N, 76° 11' 8.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 527-503 Fairview Rd, New Providence PA 17560, US
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