Special Recognition IMI Golden Trowel Award — Staple Bend Tunnel


Built in the 1830s, the Staple Bend Tunnel was the first railroad tunnel, and the third tunnel of any kind, in the United States. Located about four miles east of Johnstown, PA, the tunnel is part of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, which operated between 1834 and 1852 and played a critical role in opening the interior of the United States to trade and settlement.

At 20 feet in height and width and over 850 feet long, the tunnel featured grand entranceways that once served to impress travelers. Many years of disuse and vandalism had left the tunnel in disrepair until the National Park Service oversaw its restoration in 2000-2001.

Following strict Historic Landmark guidelines, Graciano helped to bring the tunnel a second life, as part of the Main Line, a biking/walking trail that will one day run from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg.

The project included:

  • Restoration of portals by cleaning, patching with jahn repair mortar, resetting displaced stone, and installing Dutchman to cap stone
  • Rebuilding of dry-laid retaining walls salvaged from the existing walls
  • Building of new sandstone retaining wall on east portal
  • Restoration of arched sandstone liners at each portal
  • Interior improvements including resetting of stone, as well as a grout injection into mortar joints of the stone liner

Related Project Details