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Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Monongahela Incline Funicular Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Steep Slope Historic Train At Mount Washington In The Great Wide Travel Blog

Monongahela Incline - Oldest Funicular in America

The historic Monongahela Incline provides the most incredible views of Downtown Pittsburgh while providing an experience you can’t find many other places. Even though it’s one of the most touristy things to do in the city, don’t let that deter you!


What is the Monongahela Incline?

The Monongahela Incline (pronounced muh-naang-guh-hee-luh) is a funicular, a type of cable railway system that connects points along a railway track laid on a steep slope, usually counterbalanced by two railway cars. This one was designed by John Endres in 1870 as a way for coal workers to get down to the riverside, where the coal plants were situated, even though all of the workers lived on top of Mount Washington and in the surrounding areas. They originally devised 17 inclines around the city to transport workers to work and back home, but of those 17 inclines, only 2 are still operational: the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne incline, which is a mile up from the Monongahela stations across the river from Point State Park. And it just so happens that the Monongahela Incline is the oldest continually-operating funicular in the United States!

The Monongahela Incline was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, meaning the 635 feet of rail, the 35 degree incline, and the 337 feet of gained elevation will not be changed for historical significance, although it was changed from steam-powered to electric in 1935. The cars lumber along at 6mph and can carry up to 23 people per car (when not being socially distant, as they’d implemented when we visited).

Where is the Monongahela Incline?

The Monongahela Incline is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between W Carson St. on the bottom and Grandview Ave at the top. The Lower Station is right next to the Station Square light rail stop and the Upper Station has the Shiloh Street Shops and Eateries right across the street.

How to Get There

The Pittsburgh Regional Transit (formerly the Port Authority of Allegheny County) Station Square light rail station is just across the street from the Lower Monongahela Incline Station. Station Square services the Blue, Red, and Silver light rail lines, making it much easier to access via public transit than the Duquesne Incline. There is plenty of paid parking in a lot across the street as well if you’re driving to the Incline.

Monongahela Incline Downtown Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Mount Washington Steep Slope Train Car Oldest Funicular In America Review By In The Great Wide Travel Blog

How to Get Tickets

Note (September 27, 2022): The Monongahela Incline is currently closed for scheduled maintenance. It is scheduled to reopen on November 12, 2022. Find the latest updates here.

Tickets can be bought at the Lower or Upper Station at the Monongahela Incline, but because it operates as public transportation, tickets are not available for advanced purchase or reservation online. Not to fret though, it only took us a few minutes to get on.

A round-trip on the Monongahela Incline costs $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids aged 6-11, and Seniors with ID and kids under 6 ride for free. One-way tickets are also available. Cash, ConnectCard (the Port Authority’s public transportation card to store passes and fares), Credit Cards, and transfers are accepted as payment.

Pro Tip: If paying in cash, bring exact change so you won’t have to wait in line for the ticket machine. You can simply get on the Incline and pay as you exit, but only with exact change!

Patrick Fagan Overlook Sunset Views Downtown Pittsburgh Skyline From Mount Washington Pennsylvania Monongahela Incline Review By In The Great Wide Travel Blog

Our Experience

We visited Pittsburgh during our month-long train trip across America using the USA Rail Pass, and this was our first time ever in Pennsylvania. To be honest, we only visited because we have local friends there that we wanted to see and it seemed like a good place to break up our long train rides from Denver to New York via Chicago on the California Zephyr and the Pennsylvanian trains. We actually arrived in Pittsburgh on the Capitol Limited from Chicago, 2 hours late but still early in the morning. With all that being said, we ended up being incredibly impressed with Pittsburgh and it immediately shot up our list of one of our favorite cities in America!

Our local friends suggested that we go up the Monongahela Incline to get the most spectacular views of Pittsburgh. The city is separated by the three rivers running through it that often give it a more European feel as you are constantly crossing over bridges, each one with a different look from the last, and the inclines will give you waterfront views! Fun fact: the convergence of the three rivers is why Pittsburgh was founded where it is.

Upon arriving at the Monongahela Lower Station, we purchased our tickets using the machine since there wasn’t a long line and then lined up for the next car that would have room for us. When you line up, you’re “staged” to get into the cars, as there are multiple entry points on different levels of stairs, but make sure you stay as close to the back wall as possible so the people exiting the cars will have space to move past you before you get in. If someone causes a delay, they will stop or hold the other funicular car until it’s resolved. The views are great, so there are worse places to stop, but keep in mind that locals use this service for public transportation, so try to be respectful and don’t make them late.

Pro Tip: Sit in the lowest section of the car for the best views!

Monongahela Incline Review Patrick Fagan Overlook Views Of Downtown Pittsburgh Pennsylvania River Bridges From Mount Washington In The Great Wide Travel Blog

The ride takes about 5-6 minutes to go up or down Mount Washington on the Monongahela Incline and the reveal of the downtown skyline is absolutely breathtaking. When we got to the top, we used the Patrick Fagan overlook, which is less than a block away from the Upper Station and juts out over the precipice of Mount Washington, giving you incredible unobstructed views of Downtown Pittsburgh. The Shiloh Street Shops that contain DiFiore’s Ice Cream Shop and some other eateries and bars is right across the street from the overlook, but we had other plans to go to Strange Roots Brewery, so we didn’t get a chance to enjoy them this time.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could ride up the Monongahela Incline and then walk the mile over to the Duquesne Incline, but be aware: going that direction means hiking up a fairly steep hill, and unless you have a car waiting for you at the bottom, you’ll have to walk back too or catch a bus into downtown, as the light rails don’t stop by the Duquesne Incline. You could go up the Duquesne and then head down to the Monongahela to save yourself some energy, if you’re inclined to want to ride both. The walk with the views at the top of Mount Washington would be lovely if you’re walking downhill and not struggling for air. Also be aware: the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline are owned by different entities, so you’ll have to purchase separate tickets.

We lucked out (or perhaps it was by design from our amazing friends) and went up the Monongahela Incline just before the sun started setting, giving us some incredible views as dusk settled in and the downtown skyline lit up. We stayed long enough to ride back down after night had fallen so we could enjoy seeing all the lights from inside the funicular.

Patrick Fagan Overlook Twilight Views Of Downtown Pittsburgh Skyline PPG Tower Castle From Monongahela Incline Review By In The Great Wide Couple Travel Blog

Our Verdict

We cannot emphasize enough how much fun we had in Pittsburgh! The Monongahela Incline seems very touristy, but like most of Pittsburgh, the touristy side of it is just an added benefit of something very practical and historic. Go here first when visiting Pittsburgh to get a great overview of the entire city!

PPG Tower Downtown Pittsburgh Castle Skyscraper At Night On The Monongahela Incline Review By In The Great Wide Couple Travel Blog

Quick Reference Guide



How to Get There

Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Station Square stop for the Red, Blue, and Silver lines is right next to the Monongahela Incline Lower Station

Time Commitment

1 hour if you’re just going up, enjoying the views, and coming back down.

Each way is a 5-6 minute ride up the side of Mount Washington.

There are also shops, restaurants, and bars at the top, so you could spend several hours in the area if you want.


​Round-trip tickets: $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids aged 6-11, and Seniors with ID and kids under 6 ride free

Reservation Info

Tickets must be bought onsite with cash or credit cards.

Transfers from other PRT lines are accepted.

No advanced reservations are offered.


5:30am to 12:45am from Monday-Saturday, and 8:45am to midnight on Sundays and Holidays.

Our Verdict

This is probably the most touristy thing to do in Pittsburgh, a very non-touristy city, but it’s totally worth it, especially for how cheap it is!

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