At the site of the first water pumping station providing water and sewage systems to the City of Erie in 1868, the Chestnut Street Pumping Station houses one of the largest steam engines, which pumped 20 million gallons a day. The triple-expansion steam reciprocating engine, which pumped water from the filter plant to the city reservoir, was typical of those used in municipal water pumping stations throughout the country during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In an era when roads and canals were the most common means of overland transportation, the Allegheny Portage Railroad provided a novel alternative. The railway carried fully-loaded canal boats over the steep grades of the Allegheny Mountain. The 36-mile system rose almost 2,300 feet above sea level at its summit - the highest level to which canal boats had ever been carried. The project included ten double-tracked inclined planes, powered by steam engines. Its 900-foot Staple Bend Tunnel, cut from solid rock, was the first railroad tunnel constructed in America.