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Altoona Railway Museum Club: Railfan's Guide - Altoona-Juniata

 

 

Overview

 

History of Altoona

Altoona was created by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.  In the year 1849, a few little cleared patches of farms set in wilderness, formed, with some of the wilderness itself, the site of what is now Altoona. The 224 acres of farm and woodland, on which the original Altoona was built, constituted the farm of David Robeson. The railroad company, then pushing to completion its line from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and looking for a site for their shops, decided that this location was ideal.

Archibald Wright of Philadelphia, acting presumably for the railroad company, purchased the Robeson farm for $11,000, although said to be worth only $2500 for farming purposes. The deed was dated April 24, 1849. On this tract of land original Altoona was laid out and the first units of the railroad shops were built during the later part of 1849 and 1850. It is believed that Altoona's name was derived from the Cherokee word, "Allatoona", meaning "the high lands of great worth." The name was bestowed after the picturesque "Allatoona Pass" in Georgia by Archibald Wright, who was long a resident of the Cherokee country in Georgia and an admirer of the musical names of the Indian language. There is also some debate as to whether or not the city was named for the a major railroad town Altona, Germany. 

In 1850 the erection of the Altoona shops on a small scale had began. In 1854 when the railroad line and "Horseshoe Curve" was completed westward. The village of Altoona began to grow rapidly and had a population of 3,591. Then came the Civil War and Altoona became a place of importance as a rail terminal. 

Altoona was incorporated as a borough in 1858 and chartered as a city in 1868. 

By 1870 its population (Mostly composed of Native Americans, Germans, Irish, and Scotch who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company) had grown to 10,610.

Approximately 20,000 people were employed by the railroad in the Altoona area during the railroad's heyday in the mid 1920's with about 16,000 in the shops and another 4,000 working as crew members in the railroad yards. Altoona's population coincided with the growth of the railroad, reaching a peak of 90,000.

The Sanborn Map Company, the best known of the US fire-insurance map producers, has made maps since 1867. The fire insurance maps produced by Sanborn show building footprints, building material, height or number of stories, building use, lot lines, road widths and water facilities. The maps also show street names and property boundaries of the time. This collection of maps is historically significant as it is sometimes the best detailed map of a town or city dating from the mid 1800s. Penn State University Maps Library has a near complete collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the state of Pennsylvania as well as for Altoona.

 

Altoona Videos

 
Altoona Part 1-3 (by WFBG Radio)

PVid88
  Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway

Posted by: kirkleidyassociates
The Passenger Train - Vintage Railroad Film
 

(
editors note: depicts scenes from Washington DC Union Station.)

ebaytiqued

 

For further information on the history of Altoona as well as the PRR, see the following publications, all on the Altoona Area Public Library's On-line/Digital Collection:

 

 

Pinecroft to 8th Street Juniata

  

 

Juniata Videos  
 

Juniata Shops and Altoona Yard - August 5, 1994

"Ghosts, skeletons, and otherwordly visitors filled the locomotive storage and freight car deadlines around the yard and shops in Altoona on August 5, 1994. The points of interest here were numerous - ex-Santa Fe C30-7s awaited rebuild with a GP35 or two peeking through in the background (is that Reading paint I saw?), scores of end-cab switchers including a white-lined SW1, and various other locomotive oddities.

The car graveyard had a variety of Conrail predecessor logos visible, with a solitary keystone serving as a reminder of whose railroad this was originally. The black-and-yellow SW1500s were a mystery, but shortly after returning home I discovered they were the remaining power for the nearby Cambria & Indiana Railroad which had shut down recently. One mystery I never solved - what were the spine cars doing in cold storage, old prototypes maybe?"


FastFlyingVirginian

The east end tower ("BELL") was located at MP 230.0. Between 1955 and 1961, "BELL" became an unattended interlocking.

West bound freights would enter the Westbound Empty Receiving Yard at "HOMER", travel through the Westbound Empty Classification yard, and progress to Rose.  "HOMER" was a two story stone structure built on top of the passenger mains. It was demolished in 1969 or 1970.

"ANTIS" was located at MP 232.1. This tower segregated the Passenger Mains (Tracks #3 and #4) to the (RR) north and the freights operating on tracks #1 and #2.  Tracks #1 and #2 left the Eastbound Departure Yard here.

 

USPS near Antis late 1960's. Old westbound receiving yard on bluff.  David Seidel

- - - -

 

The passenger mains snaked under the west bound hump near "HOMER" Tower and continued on to "WORKS"  Tower (MP 235.5).

At 17th Street, Juniata, south of and adjacent to the freight mains was the famous East Area Engine House Complex. This was the side of the largest round house in the world. "HOUSE" interlocking controlled the west end of the Complex.  Note that the iron bridge at 17th Street, Juniata is partially dismantled today.  The East Altoona Passenger Station was located at 15th Street Juniata.

South of the engine house were the East bound yard tracks. Many of these tracks are still in existence today. They lead to "FARM", then to the Eastbound Classification Yard, to the hump at the Scales. The tracks then enter the Eastbound Receiving Yard, continue on to "SOUTH", and then to "ALTO" where they connect with the passenger mains.

Up until 2010, the Eastbound Classification yardswere used for storage. Over the years, they became overgrown with brush and small trees. However, Conrail, in 1997-8 cleared the area of them.   In 2010, Norfolk Southern removed the remaining rolling stock and removed all rail.

 

17st_Juniata.jpg (72812 bytes) 17th Street Juniata Bridge.  Looking SE.  Date: Fall 1995 Juniata_Eb_Class_yd.jpg (57730 bytes) Looking NE from the 8th St Bridge into the old "Eastbound Classification yard.".  12/96 Juniata_pass_mains.jpg (56834 bytes) Looking East toward the old "passenger mains and westbound loaded classification yard" from the 8th St Juniata Bridge.  Date Unknown.
Juniata_Wb_loaded_Class_yd-2.jpg (86218 bytes) Westbound locomotive shifting cars in the old "westbound loaded classification yard".  The old "freight mains" are to the right.   Looking East.  12/12/97 Juniata_Wb_loaded_Class_yd.jpg (55795 bytes) Looking East from the 8th St Juniata Bridge toward the old "Westbound Loaded Classification Yard".  Date Unknown. Apr-63_East_Altoona.jpg (39108 bytes) April 1963,  The parlor car "COURAGEOUS" at East Juniata, white-lined, in storage pending disposition. Disposition unknown. Photo by David Seidel.

 

East Altoona Roundhouse

Altoona was known world-wide for its reputation as a railroad center and for the advanced standards adopted by the industry based on the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona motive power development and testing. As a major railroad center and division point in the steam era, the East Altoona roundhouse was the hub of locomotive servicing with 50 stalls which gained it the reputation of the largest roundhouse in the world. In its peak years during WWII, a new turntable was installed in 1942 with a 110 ft beam to accommodate the newest and largest locomotives being developed. This accommodated the largest and last steam locomotive class built by the PRR in Altoona, the class T-1, which was identified by his "shark-nose" appearance.

At it's peak, the East Altoona roundhouse serviced 325-350 steam locomotives daily and employed about 1200 persons which included inspectors, machinists, boilermakers, laborers and engine hostlers.

Just east of the roundhouse, was the mammoth East Altoona Coal dock which refueled steam locomotives for the Pittsburgh and Middle Divisions. This Coal Dock was constructed of concrete over a steel frame, was 135 ft high, and, when filled to capacity, held 1,250 tons of coal; at peak operation, 35 hopper car-loads of coal were required daily to replenish supplies. After removal of scrap steel, the base of the structure was dynamited and dropped into a huge pit prepared for that purpose, by Robert J. Kruise, demolition contractor. However, the structure was so huge, that the first attempt only resulted in dropping the structure in a tilted position (similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa), but was subsequently dropped into the pit with a second blast some weeks later.

Dale S. McCracken was the last foreman of the largest roundhouse in the world. Mr. McCracken, of 1012 24th Avenue, Altoona, assumed the position June 1, 1953 until the closing of the facility in 1968 with the advent of the Penn Central merger on February 1st of that year. The East Altoona Roundhouse facilities were demolished during the next 6 months.

Mr. McCracken died December 18, 1995 at the age of 80.

ADDENDUM; During 1968, the Penn Central Merger year, many PRR structures and facilities in the greater Altoona area were razed. Among the most notable losses to the city were the PRR Test Department on 16th Street, and the famous steam locomotive test rack, which was housed in a separate building at the rear of the Test Department laboratories.  The locomotive test rack was the only one of its kind in the world and was designed as an exhibit for the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. When the exposition ended, the test rack was shipped back to Altoona and installed in the new Locomotive Test building at the PRR's Test Plant. A recollection of Mr. Dale McCracken, Foreman of the East Altoona Roundhouse, "only the best engineers and firemen were ever assigned to the test rack to operate locomotives undergoing tests. Many engineers vied for this position, for the man thus assigned was considered the best in his line." One of the last steam locomotives tested on the rack, was the experimental class Q-2 which showed a maximum of 7,897 horsepower at a speed of 57.4 mph. This was the greatest horsepower developed by any locomotive at that speed. However, many locomotive tests were run at speeds of 100 mph and the plume of coal smoke from the buildings ventilation chimney was a familiar site to Altoonans as was the roar from the structure. (Submitted by David Seidel; from his Altoona Mirror acrhives)

T1_East_Altoona_Enginehouse.jpg (42773 bytes) A view of a T-1 locomotive at the East Altoona Enginehouse.  Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph. William Burket Collection

 

8th Street Juniata - Works

Rose Tower

Regarding Rose Tower, on February 21, 2003, Bill Volkmer recalled:

ALVERY red bridge.jpg (60786 bytes) The attached photo shows an A&LVERY trolley crossing "Red Bridge" in Juniata during the PRR steam era. Also pictured is the "old" Rose Tower prior to being demolished in a fire. Photographer unknown. Date unknown.  Collection of David Seidel.

 

"This is far different appearance than the way I remember Rose Tower in 1958 when I worked in Altoona. The roof had been entirely rebuilt and did not have anything in the way of cupolas, dormers or whatever you call the stuff on the roof. Also the tower portion had been amputated.

The view looks southeasterly, and the two tracks in the foreground were the passenger main tracks, which brings up a funny story.

Take a look at the window in the lower left hand corner of the building. Note particularly how close to the track it is. I would say 15 feet would be a good guess as to how close to the CENTERLINE of the track that window was. Well, that happened to be the Trainmaster's Office. Not only was it the Trainmaster's Office, but the TM, Ralph Decker in those days, used to sit in his chair with the back tilted up against the windowsill and his head literally resting against the glass.

I will never forget the first day I visited Ralph in that office. He was sitting in the tilted position, when an eastbound passenger train (probably 50 the Admiral running a little late) roared past. When I say roared past, I mean ROARED past. Every window pain in the entire building shook and rattled. I personally was looking for a window to jump out of.

Ralph kind of grinned, never moved a muscle, and pointed over his shoulder, "Best damned maintained piece of track on the entire Pennsylvania Railroad! Gets inspected EVERY DAY by the Trainmaster himself!"

 

In the wake of the Penn Central Merger, NYC #4016 and PRR G5 #5741 sit at the Juniata E&M shops. 6-16-1969.  By David Seidel. Jan. 27,1950...A steam engine approaching Juniata, looking east off of the 8th. Street bridge in Juniata. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) 1939...The S1 locomotive as seen from the 8th. street bridge in Juniata , near Altoona, in 1939, just before it went to Flushing , NY. for the 1939 World's Fair, where it was ran on a specially built treadmill for display.  This was designed by Raymond Loewy, built in the Juniata Shops, and it was almost twice the size of the K4 locomotive.  The PRR only made one of these, (this was #6100),and this only ran for four years before it was cut up for scrap.(NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)
S-1.jpg (25534 bytes)  PRR S-1 #6100.  Photographer and location unknown.  Date Unknown.  Presumed to be on display at the World's Fair.   Collection of Chris Behe 5149_eb_from_17st_bridge_juniata.jpg (52376 bytes) PRR _ #5149 travels west.  View east from 8th St Juniata Bridge (Red Bridge)
in the vicinity of Rose Tower.  Note the white guard rail posts in
background, which is the drive into Eastbound from the bridge.  The drive off
the bridge into the yard at 17th Street, was very steep and dropped into the
roundhouse area.
 Date unknown.
Arlington J. Wolfe photograph William Burket Collection.  
Nov-Dec 1980. Tanks at Rose Yard being shifted.  By David Seidel
Nov-Dec 1980. Tanks at Rose Yard being shifted.  By David Seidel March 28, 1953: The Pennsylvania Railroad's ROSE TOWER was destroyed by fire. Seven employees on duty escaped the flames uninjured.  Collection of David Seidel.    

 

"ROSE" (at 8th Street Juniata) is currently used for: Helper layover and staging, crew change point, maintenance staff area, the site of relay tracks, as well as local yard work.

 

Juniata_pass_mains-2.jpg (91052 bytes) A westbound helper set passes "Rose"  and a stopped Eastbound empty coal train.  Both trains are on the old "passenger mains".  Looking West from the 8th Street Juniata Bridge.  12/12/97 Juniata_Wb_Depart_yd.jpg (70411 bytes) Looking West to the old "Westbound Departure Yard" from the 8th St Juniata Bridge.  Date Unknown Juniata_Pgh_Cabin_trk-2.jpg (81878 bytes) The old "Pittsburgh Cabin Tracks" are visible in this SW view Looking  towards the Juniata Scales ("JS").  Date: Unknown
Juniata_Pgh_Cabin_trk.jpg (65820 bytes) Juniata Shop complex.  Looking NW from the 8th St Juniata Bridge.  Fall 1995 Scales-Pgh_Cabin.jpg (98044 bytes) The Scales ("JS") and old "Pittsburgh Cabin Tracks" are visible in this SW view from the 8th St Juniata Bridge. Note the door on the trailer at left. 5/26/2000 Juniata_Power_trk.jpg (61551 bytes) The E&M shop complex.  Looking NW across the old Eastbound Classification yard" from the 8th St Juniata Bridge.  Fall 1995

USPS opposite Juniata Scales late 1960's.  David Seidel

July 1970. Note Bell Telephone truck on bottom.  David Seidel

Eastbound Yard east side of Red Bridge. Note the Santa Fe lettering along roof. REX 4085. Note brakeman. David Seidel

   

Of course, the Juniata Shops are still in use.  The turntable is located at 6th Street. 

 

 

1972 (?) Mercurys. Note old lower eleventh avenue buildings.  Photo by David Seidel.

Ford Trucks (above and below) Feb 1976  Photo by David Seidel.

New_hopper_Engine_Roundhouse_3_17st.jpg (58499 bytes) A view of a new Hopper near Enginehouse #3, located near 15th Street, Altoona.  Date unknown. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection.  

 

 

Norfolk Southern Railroad, Juniata Shop, January 28, 2015. On the turntable is Boston MA locomotive from the Massachussetts Bay Transit Authority. A fleet of these locomotives received mechanical repairs at Altoona, PA.

Posted by: PRRDAVE1
Positioning of locomotive for shop bay at Altoona's Juniata Shop complex of Norfolk Southern Railroad.

Posted by: PRRDAVE1
Shifting at the Juniata Locomotive Shop Turntable.

Posted by: PRRDAVE1

 

The Wopsononock Railroad

The Wopsononock (Wopsy) Railroad, originally a narrow-gauge railroad but standard gauged in 1916, extended about 15 miles from Juniata near Altoona, Pennsylvania west to the plateau of Wopsononock Mountain and then to Dougherty in Cambria County and was first operated to the mountain top on June 11, 1891. See A History of the Wopsononock Railroad & Resort.

 

Juniata - by Jim Logrando - Norfolk Southern Juniata Quality Assurance Department

"The growing business of the Pennsylvania Railroad and crowding at the original 1850 Altoona Machine Shops Complex led PRR officials in 1886 to begin developing plans for construction of additional shops for locomotive repair and building of new locomotives. The site selected was a large tract of land in the eastern section of Altoona known as Juniata. The reason that an entirely new location was needed for locomotive repairs was the ever increasing size of locomotives used in road service. Prior to 1880, most American locomotives were relatively small machines, rarely over 30 tons. Individual parts could be moved with hand power, swing cranes, blocks, jacks, and human muscles. New power cranes with large clearances were now needed to clear a finished engine above its neighbor on the shop floor.

As far as size of locomotives used on the PRR, the first real jump in size came in 1885 with a new design (Class R) Consolidation engine built in Altoona weighing 57.3 tons. The old design Consolidation engine had weighed only 48 tons. Larger capacity cranes planned for the Juniata Erecting Shop would effectively solve both locomotive size and weight handling problems at the same time. Railroad officials in their 1886 plan determined that the Juniata complex would contain a paint shop, boiler shop, blacksmith shop, boiler house, electric and hydraulic house, two story office and store room, paint storehouse and gas house, and hydraulic transfer table and pit. Construction of these structures began on September 15, 1888 with most of the construction work completed in 1890. The first locomotive was built in 1891. The layout of the four principal shops in the Juniata complex capitalized on the success of the longitudinal (assembly line style) layout of the old Altoona 12th Street Erecting Shop, which was laid out parallel to the machine shop. At Juniata, the Boiler, Blacksmith, Machine, and Erecting Shops were laid out on an identical parallel relationship. This arraignment made possible a smooth, orderly production flow. Raw material came in at the west end of the Boiler shop. As it passed through the building, it was flanged, punched, assembled, riveted and exited at the opposite end as a completed boiler. From there, the boiler was moved to the Erecting Shop (present day, Welding Shop building) directly opposite. From the Blacksmith Shop, frames and forgings entered the west end of the Machine Shop directly opposite it. The layout of the Machine Shop was such that the forgings were finished as they passed through it, without going over the same path twice, reaching a completed stage at the center of the building.

Cylinders and other castings entered the Machine Shop from the east end, reaching a completed stage at the center of the building where they met the finished frames and forgings. From the Machine Shop, matched parts were delivered through an outside door to the Erecting Shop, where they were met by the boiler which had come in from the Boiler Shop. With all of the parts delivered to the west end of the Erection Shop, assembly of the locomotive could now begin with the finished locomotive coming out of the east end of the shop about one week later. The Juniata Erection Shop had three run-through tracks. Tracks on the left and right were used for locomotive assembly and the center track served as access for supplying parts and materials. Work increased steadily at the Juniata Locomotive Shops and by 1895, the number of people employed rose to 789. In 1902 and 1903, the original Erecting Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Machine Shop, and Boiler Shop were increased in size, with the Machine Shop more than doubled in length. In addition, a new storehouse and Blacksmith Shop (No.2) were constructed.

In 1917, a second Machine Shop was constructed. This building, completed in 1918, served as a Tank Shop to repair and construct locomotive tenders. Tender repairs lasted only until 1925 when the building was refitted for heavy machining work. In 1952, this structure became the first Diesel Engine Shop. When diesel engine repairs were moved to the Erecting and Machine (E&M) shop in the early 1960’s, the building was converted to a storehouse. An extensive modernization program of the Juniata Locomotive Shops in 1983 included upgrading of the storehouse to modern "high-rise" material storage center for parts needed for locomotive repairs at both Juniata and the entire Conrail System.

In 1924 and 1925, the PRR further expanded the Juniata Locomotive Shops with construction of a 50 stall E&M shop (present day A through D bays) on the east side of the existing shop buildings. A three story storehouse and a small flue shop were also constructed. All of this new construction was part of management’s long term plan to move the locomotive work away from the aging Altoona Machine Shops Complex. Today, under Conrail Management, the 1925 Erecting and Machine Shop building is the primary location for locomotive component re-manufacturing and locomotive overhauls. The 1925 three-story storehouse serves as the general office building for the Altoona Manufacturing Division of Conrail. By 1926, the Juniata Locomotive Shops contained two Blacksmith Shops, a Boiler Shop, two Machine Shops, a Tank Shop, two welfare buildings, and an E&M shop. The Juniata Shops at this time could repair four locomotives a day and build 12 new locomotives a month.

Juniata_Shop_Complex.jpg (64600 bytes) Juniata Shop Complex.  Looking SE from Chestnut Ave.  Fall 1995 scales_from_NW.jpg (101080 bytes) Juniata Scales.  Looking SE from Chestnut Ave.  5/22/00 E_and_M.jpg (71334 bytes) The Turntable at the E&M shop.  Date Unknown.
In the wake of the Penn Central Merger, NYC #4016 and PRR G5 #5741 sit at the Juniata E&M shops. 6-16-1969  By David Seidel EandM_looking_S.jpg (39852 bytes) The E&M Shop.  Looking South from the employee's parking lot.  Fall 1995 EandM_looking_SW-1.jpg (31079 bytes) The E&M Shop.  Looking Southwest.  Fall 1995
EandM_ne_corner.jpg (37229 bytes) The E&M Shop.  Looking west from the (former) Sheetz store parking lot.  Fall 1995 EandM_looking_SW-2.jpg (30069 bytes) The E&M Shop.  Looking Southwest.  Fall 1995    

Visit Altoona Achives, by Tom Lynam, for additional  historic photos. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

 

 

A disastrous fire broke out at the Altoona Machine Shops Complex on December 27, 1931. The fire and the resulting damage sealed the fate of the Altoona Machine Shops as the principle locomotive shop of the Altoona Works. In the succeeding years, more and more locomotive work was transferred or eliminated. Finally on August 1, 1938, all locomotive work was transferred completely to the Juniata Locomotive Shops.

The Juniata Shops were busy during the WWII years with increased locomotive maintenance work due to greatly expanded war material movement on the PRR and a fair amount of war related work as well. Related work included machining castings for gins and straightening armor plate for tanks. After the war, the PRR began converting from steam to diesel electric locomotives. This decision had a significant impact on operations at the Juniata shops. The new diesel electric type locomotives required less maintenance than the old steam engines. Less maintenance resulted in less need for shop space and repair facilities. The predictable outcome was a number of furloughs, layoffs, and recalls.

In the 1950’s, the PRR began moving shop facilities away from Altoona and reducing the workforce. The company announced in 1953 that by the end of December, the steam locomotive program would be abolished. In spite of this order, the Juniata Shops still repaired steam locomotives for the next several years. Juniata also repaired electric, gas electric and diesel electric locomotives during this period. By 1957, steam work at the Juniata Locomotive Shops ended.

In 1964, the E&M shop (A through D bays) was partially upgraded by the Pennsylvania Railroad to better accommodate repairs to diesel locomotives. In addition, the Juniata Locomotive Shops adopted a disassembly and assembly line technique known as the "process line." This technique meant that the locomotives moved from one work position to another on a time schedule until all work was completed and the finished locomotive was ready for final testing.

Merger of the PRR and New York Central Railroad on February 1, 1968 to form the Penn Central had dramatic impact on the Juniata Locomotive Shops. In the first year, many furloughed employees were called back to work to overhaul locomotives as part of Penn Central’s $6,500,000 modernization program. Success for the shops was short lived. On June 21, 1970, the Penn Central Railroad was forced to declare bankruptcy. The shops struggled through three years of uncertainty. In 1973, Congressional action prevented collapse of railroad transportation in the Northeast section of the U.S. by having the United States Railway Association (USRA) step in to manage the bankrupt railroad, study the problem, and submit a railroad reorganization plan to Congress.

The USRA study recommended that a private corporation, to be known as Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), be formed from the Penn Central and five other bankrupt railroads. Part of this study selected the Juniata Locomotive Shops as the major locomotive repair shops for the new railroad. On April 1, 1976, Conrail took over operations from the six bankrupt railroads, including management of the Juniata Shops.

Legislation to form Conrail took over also provided money (later paid back) to upgrade the shop facilities and a three year modernization program completed in 1983 brought the Juniata Shops up to state-of-the-art technological standards for locomotive maintenance and overhaul work. It was during Conrail’s 1983 Modernization program that the large open-air "midway" area between the west end of the Erecting and Machine (E&M) Shop building and the east of the Main Storehouse, Machine Shop and Welding Shop buildings were covered over with a huge addition to form the present day (E bay). The new E bay addition was the first major new building construction work at the Juniata Shops since the 1925 completion of the E&M shop and the three story General Office Building. Several of the original 1889 buildings still remain in use today, although all have been modified over the years. The original boiler shop burned to the ground in 1981 and a new, modern Locomotive Paint Shop was erected on the site in 1982.

Insert fire news article here

Today, Conrail’s Juniata Locomotive Shop is the most modern locomotive heavy repair facility in the railroad industry. Juniata’s capability includes repair and overhaul of complete locomotives, traction motors, main generators and alternators, diesel engines, power assemblies, air brake equipment, engine governors, fuel injection equipment, fans, blower motors, and virtually all of the other components used on Conrail’s own fleet of locomotives as well as for a variety of commercial contract customers who take advantage of Juniata’s Insourcing Program, which began in 1990. In 1995, the Juniata Locomotive Shops received a contract from EMD to assemble, test, and paint brand new SD60I locomotives. This group of units were the first new locomotives to be built completely at the shops since 1946. (From 1891 through 1946 over 7,000 locomotives of all types were built from the ground up at Juniata.).

In 1998, another historic event took place at the Juniata Shops. For the first time ever, both new EMD and new GE locomotives were assembled under the same roof. Currently, employees are assembling, testing, and painting new GE D9-40CW’s for Norfolk Southern. This project, along with a growing list of other projects, such as painting of the GE P42 for Amtrak, assembling, testing, and painting of the SD70MAC for CSX and BNSF and the SD709DC) for Norfolk Southern serve as a few recent examples of the excellent work the Juniata Locomotive Shop’s workforce has achieved on a continuous basis since 1889.

Reference:
A Special History Study, Pennsylvania Railroad Shops and Works. U.S. National Park Service, 1989.
Blair County and Cambria County, Pennsylvania: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites. U.S. National Park Service. 1990.
Photo of K-4 from the Altoona Railroader’s Memorial Museum archives"

  JUNIATA SHOP LOCO PROD LIST.jpg (87367 bytes) 1906 -1946 Juniata Shops Production List

 

The Record Beaten - The Big Class A Engine Built in Ten Minutes Less Than Seventeen Hours

The Baldwin locomotive works, of Philadelphia, can no longer claim that they have made the best time in building an engine. Their time is twenty-four hours. On Monday morning the Pennsylvania railroad company began the building, at their shops in this city, of a class A anthracite burner, weighing 110,000 pounds, which when finished was to be used on the New York division. There were twenty men in the gang and they were in charge of Gang Foreman John Griffith. As noted in the Tribune of yesterday morning, the work was so far completed Monday evening that all were satisfied that the record could be easily beaten. The locomotive was finished at ten minutes of 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, thus making the record ten minutes less than seventeen hours and beating the Baldwin time seven hours. During this time there were two hours when no great amount of work could be done because of the parts being hot from the testing. The locomotive was afterwards run out into the yard. This feat of rapid workmanship again places the Altoona mechanics in the front ranks.

The work was done under the direction of Master Mechanic G.W. Strattan and those having it in preparation in the different departments were William B. Ford, general foreman in charge; A.C. Davis, foreman erecting shop; Peter Moore, foreman lathe shop; John Griffith, gang foreman; William Cook, foreman smith shop; Thomas Wiggins, foreman flue shop; Joseph Nixon, foreman boiler shops; Charles Pimlott, foreman tin shops; Frank McNolty, foreman cab shop; L. Keifer, foreman vise shop; Pat. Halton, rod man; John Lawrence, links and eccentric rods; Charles Mason, foreman paint shop; William Alloway, pipe connections; Thomas Goodfellow, foreman air brake department; Joseph Hoopnagle and the assistants in each department.  (Altoona Tribune, June 21, 1888; submitted by Duane Miller)

 

Juniata Scales - by David Seidel

Prior to the Penn Central merger, I had the opportunity to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad during the railroad’s last 2 and years as a clerk in the Trainmasters department. This involved work as a clerk in the Altoona Yard alternating between Rose Tower, South Tower (4th Street opposite WORKS tower), and Juniata Scales. Looking at the vast Yard real estate today, it’s hard to visualize how things were 30 years ago. Much is similar and much is not.

Scales-Pgh_Cabin.jpg (98044 bytes) Viewing the Scales and the area of the "Pittsburgh Cabin Track" from the 8th St, Juniata Bridge.  5/22/00 scales_from_NW.jpg (101080 bytes) Viewing the Scales from the Home Nursing Agency parking lot along Chestnut Avenue.  5/22/00 Juniata_Scale-Eb_Class.jpg (73773 bytes) Viewing the scales and eastbound classification yard from the 8th St, Juniata Bridge.  5/22/00
  The daily routine at the Juniata Scales. After each car is weighed, it would coast down the back side of the "hump", each carrying a brakeman who would control the brake and couple them together with other cars in the yard.  (Photo by Tom Lynam and Altoona Archives) (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

 

  Viewing the scales and eastbound classification yard from the 8th St, Juniata Bridge. photo by Chris Behe, taken on 1/27/2000    "The ladder" in the Freight Yards, Altoona, PA.  (C.E Wheelook & Co Postcard.  Date unknown.  Collection of Chris Behe.)

The Altoona Yard, pre-Penn Central, was indeed a busy place, although not necessarily cost-efficient, particularly in the eastbound operation. While much freight was sent into the Altoona yard and re-classified for other destinations, the primary business was coal. The Juniata scales weighed and made-up trains for various eastern destinations (westbound will be reviewed later). Eastbound freight arriving at Altoona entered the eastbound receiving yard at South Tower, adjacent to the 4th St. pedestrian bridge. The clerk working there would record the car numbers passing the tower and matched them with the waybills the conductor threw off the end of the train (caboose, nee’ cabin days). Missing those numbers meant a long walk down in the yard to recapture the order of the train, not a pleasant activity at 3:00 a.m., lantern in hand. After arranging the waybills (with wheel report) in the correct order of numbers recorded, the pack was sent to Juniata Scales and pigeon-holed in a case corresponding to the track number the cars were located-on.

As late as 1965, Juniata Scales operated on three shifts per day but had waned to one shift by late 1967 and early 1968. Trains for classification were pushed in the usual manner over the twin scales hump, with weighing if appropriate. However, unlike modern hump operations, the Altoona classification was by gravity and cars were slowed manually by a brakeman who rode the cars down the incline to their designated track. The Yardmaster operated the switches pneumatically, but there were no automatic retarders. One can only image what it was like to ride those cars down on a dark foggy night to couple onto what lie ahead. Obviously, the operation was labor-intensive and the ‘company’ gradually whittled away at the many crews that dotted the crew dispatchers board.

After the initial classification, the waybills were realigned in their pigeon hole case for the corresponding track, preparatory to the clerk preparing the wheel report & waybills for the new eastbound crew. The final element was for the yardmaster at the FARM yard office (near the East Altoona engine house) to have crews ‘pull’ the classified tracks into a final consist. The prepared wheel report and waybills were sent to FARM for the new crew and when the train departed, the clerk at the ‘Scales" would transmit the wheel report to destination by teletype. Leaving the yard from FARM, trains exited the Altoona Yard at Antis Tower, where the freight mains through Altoona Yard rejoined the passenger main.

The Altoona yard was established in (obviously) eastbound and west-bound operations. However, westbound train classification in the 1960’s was never the operational parallel of the eastbound yard. Traffic dictated that most eastbound cars were ‘loads’ and most west bounds were empties. Westbound classification in the 1965-1968 period was via flat-shifting operations by ROSE Tower and the westbound departure controlled by the operator at WORKS Tower (located parallel/opposite SOUTH Tower at 4th St). Movements were controlled by the Trainmaster in the Master Mechanic building at 9th avenue & 12th street, Altoona. Westbound exit was controlled by ALTO.

Westbound operations pre-1930 operated quite differently from that described in the preceding paragraph. Westbound freight trains left the main line just west of Bellwood at BELL Tower with a gradual ascent to the westbound receiving yard on a bluff above the mainline in the vicinity of ANTIS Tower. This gave elevation for the westbound gravity hump at WJ and WH (atop the east Altoona tunnel carrying the passenger main bypassing the Altoona yard), and offering a superb panoramic view to the west. WJ Tower was a magnificent limestone structure with Spanish tile roof and pediments, reminiscent of structures captured on film by William H. Rau during the late 19th century and early 20th. (Similar construction can be seen in period photos of Kittanning Point station, and IA Tower west of Horseshoe Curve). (Note: A superb image of this operation has been captured in watercolor, entitled "Hump Operations 1936" by Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) which is in the permanent collection of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art).

"Nothing is as constant as change", as the popular quote goes. With the advent of Penn Central, the Juniata Scales was closed, and much of the Altoona yard operation was transferred to a flat-shifting operation at nearby Hollidaysburg Yard (Jones St). Hollidaysburg, home to the then SAMUEL REA CAR SHOPS, also had (has) a large east-west configuration. However, in the Penn Central era (and PRR), Hollidaysburg had a direct connection to the main line east at Petersburg (Huntingdon County) via (Petersburg Branch) and Gallitzin (Cambria County) via the New Portage Branch, as well as Altoona via the branch to ALTO. With the advent of Conrail, the Petersburg and New Portage branches were dismantled; Hollidaysburg Yard and ROSE yard continue flat-shifting operations. The Petersburg Branch is now host to a Rails-to-Trails enterprise from Williamsburg to Water Street. The New Portage branch is gone and I still have to wonder if this was a wise decision. New Portage from Duncansville (WYE) to Gallitzin Tunnel (SF) was always a prudent by-pass in case of derailments on the mainline mountain.

The Altoona Yard had one other yard office not previously mentioned: BRUSH. The early-mid 1960’s saw the start of through "relay" freight trains…which did not require re-classification at Altoona, operating between Conway and Enola yards. Operating at schedule as preference freight, these trains passed Altoona on the passenger main or through Altoona Yard for re-crewing and only a minimal delay. These trains were essentially complete consists although it could include a minor "set-off" or "pick-up", and continued through the yard re-entering the main at ANTIS interlocking. Westbound relay trains were handled by the Rose & Brush Yard Offices. Brush Yard included those tracks close to center line between eastbound and westbound with the longest trackage within the enter-exit switch points.

JUNIATA SCALES & SOUTH closed not long into the Penn Central era and yard areas became storage space for class-repair equipment and, in ensuring years many were gradually removed. The Scales Classification Yard in the post-Penn Central era also became an interesting storage site for white-lined passenger equipment of all descriptions. With the merger of the New York Central & Pennsylvania railroads, and the gradual reduction in passenger trains or downgrading of "name" train consists, a great deal of the blue-ribbon fleet was white-lined...removed from revenue service. Much of this equipment was scrapped or sold, sadly, while some of the heavyweight cars were converted into MW (Maintenance-of-Way) service, and painted yellow. Although many of you may remember, it was quite a visual experience to stand on that 8th street Juniata Bridge (Red Bridge) and observe a sea of tuscan red passenger equipment before you. These were the "named" cars of the Blue Ribbon Fleet, e.g., the bedroom cars (RAPIDS series etc.), the section sleepers, the parlor and dining cars, all of which was pre-NRHS, and pre-Railroaders Memorial Museum. Much was lost in the late ‘60’s and early 70’s while the Horseshoe Curve Chapter NRHS was in its infancy, circa 1968. Sadly we saw the demolition of the cathedral of industry at the PRR Test Plant, PRR Locomotive Test Rack, most of the original Machine Shops at 12th Street, the East Altoona Roundhouse, the various power plants at 12th St., 4th St., etc.

In 1971, "SOUTH" was taken out of service. "WORKS" tower closed in 1973, being remotely controlled by "ALTO".   "ROSE" closed in April of 1974.

Apr-63_East_Altoona.jpg (39108 bytes) April 1963,  The parlor car "COURAGEOUS" at East Juniata, white-lined, in storage pending disposition. Disposition unknown. Photo by David Seidel.

ADDENDUM; Juniata Scales opened for service April 15, 1927. First man to ride a car off the hump was S. C. Witts, Group # 6, at 7:05 a.m. Homer Hump (WJ) closed on 8-25-1957 and crews abolished. Furnace Hump (WH) closed 2-13-1957, and crews abolished.

POST-SCRIPT; Track profiles in the vicinity of ROSE yard office have changed over the years. Much of the remaining active yard takes place in the westbound and BRUSH yard office geography and very visible from the 8th street Juniata Bridge. A great place to watch trains. Further along the bridge toward the east end, the old Juniata Scales is visible to the west, as are the remnants of the Scales Classification yard under the bridge. In recent years the cars stored here were in a forest of mature birch foliage, but vegetation was finally removed in 1998 and storage cars re-classified by type, giving the appearance of what-used-to-be. Future plans may see an industrial park developed here and, possibly, a bridged highway link to I-99 at Pinecroft. But, those of us with rose-colored-glasses in the minds-eye, will still see and remember what used to be…the late, GREAT, Pennsylvania Railroad. (By David Seidel, posted 2/6/99)

 

Altoona Yard - PRR Statistical Data

Although many remnants remain today, only an aerial view would, perhaps, indicate the true magnamity of the Altoona Yard and the real estate involved. Once rails are removed and vegetation matures in any form, the distinct character of the terrain alters significantly. However, according to a blueprint of the Altoona Yard, correct as of January 1, 1946, the following statistics dramatize the local yard operations:  

ALTOONA YARD CAPACITY

Westward                                                 No. of Cars             No. of Tracks 

Empty Receiving Yard                                     853                             10      
Loaded Receiving Yard                                   211                               6      
Loaded Class, Yard                                          540                             13      
Empty Yard                                                       1365                             25     
Preference & Advance Yd                             1502                             18     
                                                                                                                      

 Total                                                              4471                             72       

 

Eastward                                                 No. of Cars             No. of Tracks 

Receiving Yard                                              1791                             25    
Classification Yard                                         2427                             32     
Advance Yard                                                 578                                7     

Total                                                              4796                             64     

Total Capacity all other Yard Tracks & Sidings (excluding 32.62 miles Altoona Works Industrial sidings): 7690 Total Car Capacity, all tracks: 16965 

Source: Official PRR Blueprint of Altoona Yard. Reported by Dave Seidel

Click Here for Altoona Track Charts

 

"Works" to "Alto"

"Works" to "Slope"

   Click Here for Altoona Track Charts

"WORKS" allows access from the yards, across the passenger mains, to the Juniata Shops. At milepost 235.7, "WORKS" is the western exit for the relay tracks. It is also the eastbound entrance into the yards. 

 

Fourth Street, Altoona Pedestrian Bridge Closed

An item of dismay to area rail fans has been the closing of the 4th St, Altoona, pedestrian bridge that provided an excellent view of "Works" and the Altoona yards to the East. The bridge has been closed for several months at direction of Conrail but we area unable to confirm the reason why. The bridge linked the North and South sides of Altoona. We hope this will not cause problems for the railroad because of trespassing. The closest areas to cross the tracks are 7th St (one side of this bridge is also closed to pedestrian traffic), 8th St Altoona, or 8th St Juniata. At present, we can't tell you when the bridge was built but it did survive the recent clearance adjustments for double stack trains The bridge was originally a wooden structure (with steel frame) and, up to about 3 years ago, still had wooden decking and stairs/railings. Recently, the wooden decking was removed and replaced with steel grates. (by Chris Behe and David Seidel; posted 12/28/98)

 

Two views of the 4th Street, Altoona, Pedestrian Overpass. Looking North. 12/96

           

 

Note:  Located along Chestnut avenue between 7th St and 1st Street are the former PRR Passenger car shops, now home to Union Tank Car company (the transfer table is still being used) and the Home Nursing Agency. The small Agency building near 2nd Street is a former PRR fire house.


 blue_1-2.jpg (247904 bytes) PRR Plan of the Altoona Machine Shop Yard -- This view encompasses the Hollidaysburg Branch from 19th Street to 17th Street & the Mainline from 17th Street to 11th Street Altoona.  This includes the 12th Street Altoona Shops.  Dated 2/1/1908.  William Burket Collection  blue_3-4.jpg (184949 bytes) PRR Plan of the Altoona Machine Shop Yard -- This view encompasses the Mainline from 11th Street to 4th Street Altoona.  This includes the freight warehouses along 11th Avenue, Altoona.  Dated 2/1/1908.  William Burket Collection  works_RO.jpg (91464 bytes) Works" (aka "RO"). A Westbound Freight shifts tracks.  Looking NE from the 4th St Bridge.    Date Unknown.  
 works_wb_eb_pref_yd.jpg (100952 bytes) A view of the old "West and East Bound Preference Yards" from "Works.  A Westbound freight waits at the signal bridge as a priority westbound freight passes.  A helper set waits on a shifting track.  Looking East from the 4th St Bridge.  3/13/97  works_eb_pref_yd-2.jpg (84130 bytes) A view of the old  "Westbound Preference Yard".  Looking NE from the 4th street bridge ("Works" / "South").  11/29/96  works_eb_rec_yd.jpg (73138 bytes) A view of the entrance to the old "Eastbound Receiving yard" from the 4th street bridge.  Looking East.  Date unknown.  
 works_west-3.jpg (74120 bytes) Looking NW, an eastbound Amtrak ("The Broadway Limited") passes "works".  12/96  works_west-2.jpg (101552 bytes) A west bound view of "Works" from the 4th St bridge.  A helper set, moving eastbound,  shifts tracks.  3/13/97  works_west.jpg (63168 bytes) 7th Street bridge.   Looking West from the 4th Street Bridge.  11/29/96 
 EMD_Es_passenger_wb_from_7th_St.jpg (48340 bytes)  PRR E-8's heading a westbound passenger train at 7th Street.  Looking East.  Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.   William Burket Collection.     2-EMDs_from_7th_st_look_e.jpg (51468 bytes)  PRR GP units heading a westbound coal train at 7th Street.  Looking East. Note the abundance of passenger equipment present.   Date unknown.  Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  William Burket Collection   SW_switcher_from_17st_jun_bridge_look_e.jpg (43273 bytes)  SW Switcher.  Looking west from the 7th Street Bridge.  All the siding tracks at extreme right are the leads into the
Altoona Freight Station, often referred to as the Ben Hur siding.  Date unknown.
Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.   William Burket Collection.   
 EMD_GP_from_7st_look_e.jpg (48995 bytes)  PRR GP units heading a westbound coal train at 7th Street.  Looking East. Note the abundance of passenger equipment present.  Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.   William Burket Collection.     Aerotrain_WB_7st.jpg (104070 bytes) A view of the "Aerotrain" passing Westbound under the 7th St Altoona Bridge.    Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.   William Burket Collection.     

 

The next interlocking was FG (with a tower at 10th St, Altoona; MP 235.8), the Altoona Station, the 14th Street Tower {MP 236.10), Alto Tower (17th Street; MP 236.3) and Slope Tower (24th St, MP 236.10).

  • FG controlled the passenger tracks at the east end of Altoona Station. In January of 1935, operations moved to ALTO.
  • 14th street tower controlled the west end area leading to Alto. In May of 1933, operations moved from here to ALTO.

 

7TH ST BRIDGE DEDICATION SEPT 1912.jpg (73943 bytes)  A clipping from Altoona Mirror, August 8, 1972 showing dedication of 7th Street Bridge in 1912, the 50th anniversary year of the Loyal War Governor's Conference at the Logan house hotel. 

A plaque on the Bridge reads: Built Jointly By Pennsylvania RR Co Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway and the City of Altoona W.M.C. Craine Harry E. Gamble George A. Klesius Board of Public Works Frams Emgstrp, City Engineer Bridge 

article submitted by David Seidel 

8_ST_VIEW_PRR _n_ALVERY_7TH_ST_BRIDGE.jpg (81008 bytes) View east from 8th Street, Altoona, Pa., circa 1931. PRR Passenger ready tracks under 7th Street Bridge, and possibly a class I-1 facing east toward the Altoona Receiving Yard at the 4th street pedestrian bridge in distance. The locomotive is probably ready to push another train of the hump at Juniata Scales while an Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Railway car passes over the 7th street bridge. At this location there were "approximately" eight tracks across plus industrial sidings. Today, only four tracks remain. The passenger ready tracks are vacant ground in the center (with bridge piers for a new bridge at 8th St). The 7th Street bridge remains in modified form, minus A&LVERY, rusting and painted sky blue. It is scheduled for replacement.   text submitted by Leonard Alwine. article submitted by David Seidel K-4_passenger_wb_at_7th_St.jpg (63208 bytes)  A PRR K-4 (1554?) leads a westbound passenger train past the Freight warehouses.  The 7th Street bridge is in the background.  Most likely taken from the 9th Street Bridge. Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.   William Burket Collection.  Note:  Copies of these are available by contacting William Burket.
PRR_3554_at_7th_St.jpg (57409 bytes)  A PRR locomotive (3554) travels westbound past the Freight warehouses.  The 7th Street bridge is in the background.  Most likely taken from the 9th Street Bridge. Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  . William Burket Collection Note:  Copies of these are available by contacting William Burket. 8th_St-east2.jpg (80253 bytes)  A view of a local shifting cars at "Works" from under the 8th Street Bridge.  Looking East. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but I'm keeping this as a place holder until I can see if something else can be worked out.)   (4/13/97) 8th_St-east.jpg (60172 bytes)  The 7th Street bridge.  Looking towards "Works" (East, from 8th Street). (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but I'm keeping this as a place holder until I can see if something else can be worked out.)   Date unknown.
  Steam locomotive  taken from 7th. Street looking east. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) Apr.17,1949...Steam locomotive filling with water, looking east from 7th Street. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)   Apr.17,1949...New diesel engine from 8th Street, looking east. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)  
Apr.17,1949... Two diesels getting water, looking east from 7th. Street. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)        

 

Visit Altoona Achives, by Tom Lynam, for additional historic photos. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine..)

"The Altoona Shops of the Pennsylvania System embrace five general departments as follows: Altoona Machine Shops, Altoona Car Shops, Juniata Shops, East Altoona Engine House and South Altoona Founderies.  They cover a yard area of 242 acres and embrace a floor area of 48 acres.

Altoona Machine Shops comprise all that body of buildings extending from below Twelfth Street to Sixteenth Street. Here are located buildings having an aggregate frontage of more than three miles, all constructed of stone or brick, and occupied by the best machinery  for locomotive building and repairing that modern ingenuity can devise. The Altoona Machine Shops include thirty-six departments, the total floor area being nearly 16 acres giving employment to over 4,000 men.

At the Altoona Car Shops, in the southern section of the city, is located the yard enclosing the immense round house (largest in the world) and the construction and car shops. They cover an area of 65 acres, while the floor area of the buildings is 16 acres, divided into thirty departments, giving employment to nearly 4,000 men.  Here are manufactured and repaired passenger, mail, parlor and sleeping cars. Like the Altoona machine shops, it is a giant plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world, but even by this statement their magnitude cannot be comprehended. It is necessary to see them running to realize their extent and capabilities.

The Juniata Locomotive Shops are located a short distance from the eastern boundary of the city. Their total area is 6 1/2 acres and the number of men employed about 1,600. These men are employed solely in the production of steam and electric engines. There are two immense blacksmith shops in which are employed over 1,000 men.

The East Altoona Round House is one of the largest structures of its kind in the world, and is said to have cost one million dollars. It is 395 feet in diameter.  There is a turn table 75 feet in diameter, and the total area of all the shops of this department is 4 1/2 acres, while the yards cover 34 acres, an average of 300 locomotives are handled per day, and 750 men employed.

The South Altoona Foundries, including shops and cover a tract of 84 acres, the floor area of the buildings being 7 1/2 acres. Here are manufactured all wheels used in the various departments of the locomotive and car shops, the operations giving employment to 950 men. The shipping facilities of Altoona are therefore unexcelled, and the city has sixty passenger trains daily."  ("Story of Altoona", Clarence E. Weaver, 1911)

A December 27, 1931 fire destroyed the machine shop in the Altoona Works at 12th Street and the decision not to rebuild it marked the first signal the railroad sent out that it was considering consolidation. Today, Altoona remains linked to the railroad through Norfolk Southern's Juniata locomotive shops.

The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum is the former PRR Master Mechanics building and was part of the former PRR 12th Street Altoona Locomotive Shops and Test plant. Also located here is the Altoona Pipe and Steel Company. Another former PRR shop building (Erecting Shop #3). The small building located at the intersection of 12th St and 9th avenue (to the east of the Museum) used to be a PRR firehouse.

 

 

1972 (?) Mercurys. Note old lower eleventh avenue buildings.  Photo by David Seidel.

Ford Trucks (above and below) Feb 1976  Photo by David Seidel.

New_hopper_Engine_Roundhouse_3_17st.jpg (58499 bytes) A view of a new Hopper near Enginehouse #3, located near 15th Street, Altoona.  Date unknown. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection.  

March 1968 - Army medical car converted from white-lined pullman PRR plus old buildings of lower eleventh avenue in background, now long gone. This car parked in Freight Station yard trucks down around 9th St. That signal mast is no longer there.  Photo by David Seidel.

Ford Trucks (above and below) Feb 1976  Photo by David Seidel.

Ford Trucks (above and below) Feb 1976  Photo by David Seidel.

8th_St-west2.jpg (61405 bytes)

Looking West towards 12th Street.  Viewed from 8th Street.   Date Unknown.

8th_St-west.jpg (82261 bytes) Helpers on the rear of a Westbound Freight.  Viewed from 9th Street.  Looking NW.  (4/13/97) 11st.jpg (77133 bytes) An Eastbound Triple Crown (CR,CSX,NS) "Roadrailer" consist.  Viewed from 10th Street.  Looking SW.  (6/3/98)
Enginehouse_no3_from 17th_st.jpg (73147 bytes) PRR Altoona round-house #3 as viewed from 17th Street Bridge.  Date unknown. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection - - - -

 

 

Altoona Videos

 
 

Schulman's Altoona

Produced by Kirk Leidy & Associates; Posted by: kirkleidyassociates

 

  The Logan House Heritage

Produced by Kirk Leidy & Associates; Posted by: kirkleidyassociates
Penn Furniture, Blair Chamber HOF Heritage 2004

Produced by Kirk Leidy & Associates; Posted by: kirkleidyassociates
Times Tribune Co HOF 2012

Produced by Kirk Leidy & Associates; Posted by: kirkleidyassociates

 

The Altoona, PA  station was built by the PRR in the 1880's on the corner of 12th Street and 10th Avenue in Altoona, Pennsylvania and unfortunately demolished in 1971.  The Altoona Transportation Center (new station; opened July 1986; @ 13th Street) is located at milepost 236. The old PRR brick station was demolished in 1974 and for many years, the ornate hotel known as The Logan House (built in 1855) stood adjacent.  The grade to Cresson begins here.

 
storyofaltoona_pic46.jpg (67373 bytes)

View of the Altoona Works at 12th St. from "Story of Altoona", by Clarence E. Weaver.

Altoona Station circa 1970. The Broadway Limited pauses westbound around 11 PM. Pictured is a diner from the American Railroads Golden Spike Ltd which toured the United States in 1969 to commemorate the laying of the Golden Spike at Promontory Utah. The various U.S. railroads contributed rolling stock for this consist. Penn Central RR contributed this diner (painted robin-egg blue with silver roof/trucks) as well as three ex-PRR B-60b baggage/exhibit cars [not shown]. Following the commemorative year, the loaned equipment, including this diner, was returned to revenue service.  Photo by David Seidel Another View of the Golden Spike Ltd.  Photo by David Seidel
PRR Altoona round-house #3 as viewed from 17th Street Bridge.  Date unknown. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection ca 1963 Eastbound Passenger PRR 12th St and 10th Avenue, Altoona PA ca 1963 Note Baldwin Shark's in dead-line headed to storage or for scrapping. Between 1965-1968 many of these were in storage in East Altoona. The car at the curb is a 1963 Chevrolet. Car back along curb is 1963 Ford. Nose of car at immediate right is probably a 1956 Buick with bombsight hood ornament slightly recessed.
1972: A few days prior to station demolition, from old 12th St Bridge. The post office area was formerly occupied by the PRR's Logan House Hotel pre-1931.   This linear area was replaced by present day PRR Expressway along the RR. The track that curves in through the station area (one of which would have passed under the ornate shelter canopy [razed April 1961] was also a casualty for the expressway. The girder bridge (17th st) in the distance was also replaced for the expressway, and the large building to the left of the girder bridge was the PRR Test Department, also razed in the early 1970's, all of which was part of the "re-development" of the city's infrastructure. The remaining shops at Twelfth St (site of present day museum and Station Square) were also razed at that time as well as much of the area near Altoona High School and the "corridor" for present day 17th St. (16th Street was eliminated from 4th Avenue to 12th Avenue in this process). Eleventh Avenue between 11th St and 12th St was totally razed and eliminated. That's 'another' slide show... 1972....Altoona Station "on the ground". View east on old 10th Ave at 13th St. In this interim period, the replacement station was a trailer near 12th St. When Amtrak arrived after the Penn Central bankruptcy, we affectionately referred to it as Amshack! View from 11th Avenue
Feb 12, 1969. This is the image that suggested the poem/rhyme about the Altoona Station; note the "DeSoto at the curb..." The station carries the Penn Central ID on the sign...the merger which occured the year prior on 2-1-1968. The parking garage/station sits on this same site today. 13th Street view from 11th Avenue. Altoona Passenger Station.  Built by PRR circa 1880's.  Corner 12th Street and 10th Avenue.  Demolished 1971.  (Photo by David Seidel) Altoona Station. 1-12-70  

(Photo by David Seidel)

4th Street Shops.  C.H Wheelook & Co Postcard.  Postmarked 1911.  Collection of Chris Behe.  Altoona_station_1900s.jpg (76633 bytes) A view of the Altoona passenger station, train-shed, and the famous Logan House.  Circa 1900's. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection.   1-14-1964 Rear of Test Dept. Bldg corner at left is locomotive Test Bldg which was to be razed in 1968 in the PCRR era.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.).
10th Avenue & 12th Street, Altoona. 1969. The Altoona Station is visible on the left.  (Photo by David Seidel)  This is a photo of the Manhattan Limited at Altoona Station, circa 1969. This photograph is currently hanging at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, through February 2000.  (Photo by David Seidel) View of old ex-PRR 12th St Shops eastward from 17th St just prior to demolition as part of Altoona's Redevelopment Project. Site is now Station Mall and Railroader's Memorial Museum in Altoona. The famous locomotive test rack stood at immediate lower right of photo, razed in 1968 with the onset of the Penn Central Merger.  David Seidel Collection
late_60s_all pullman_Boradway_LTD_Altoona.jpg (28285 bytes) The all Pullman PRR "Broadway Limited".  Late 1960's at Altoona Station.  

(Photo by David Seidel)

This photograph is of the eastbound PRR "Juniata", at Altoona Station, circa 1969. This is one of the photos recently displayed at the Altoona Area Public Library. (by David Seidel) K-4_5434_Wb_at Wolf_Furniture.jpg (92691 bytes)  PRR K-4 #5434 headed westbound .  Location:  10th Avenue to the rear of the Wolf Furniture Warehouse.  Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  William Burket Collection.  
  Altoona Station.  19XX.  Photo by Chris Behe   Altoona Station.  19XX.  Photo by Chris Behe FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

These are copies of official PRR photos from their Electrical Engineering Department .
 
 The train lost its brakes near Horseshoe Curve, but traveled down the east slope of the mountain with the wreck occurring at the 24th street bridge in Altoona.

Altoona Model Railroaders Club Collection

station_east.jpg (71549 bytes) Looking East from the 12th Street pedestrian bridge.  Date unknown. station_east-2.jpg (80875 bytes) Looking East from the 12th St Bridge.  A Westbound Freight approaches the Transportation Center. Note the Southern Pacific power.   6-26-98 FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

These are copies of official PRR photos from their Electrical Engineering Department .
 
 The train lost its brakes near Horseshoe Curve, but traveled down the east slope of the mountain with the wreck occurring at the 24th street bridge in Altoona.

Altoona Model Railroaders Club Collection

 
station_west.jpg (93424 bytes) Looking West from the 12th St Bridge.  An Eastbound Freight approaches the Transportation Center.  6-26-98 station_west-2.jpg (73330 bytes) Looking West from the 12th St Bridge.  The Eastbound freight passes the  Westbound Freight at the Transportation Center.  6-26-98 FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

These are copies of official PRR photos from their Electrical Engineering Department .
 
 The train lost its brakes near Horseshoe Curve, but traveled down the east slope of the mountain with the wreck occurring at the 24th street bridge in Altoona.

Altoona Model Railroaders Club Collection

 
station.jpg (105277 bytes) Looking West from the 12th St Bridge.  The Helpers on the Westbound Freight pass the Transportation Center.  6-26-98 station_platform-2.jpg (81052 bytes) A westbound freight passes the Transportation Center train platform.  Looking East.  7/2/98 4-14-1961 Altoona Station. '53 Cadillac?  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.).
station_platform-3.jpg (99225 bytes) An eastbound Amtrak "Three River's" approaches the Transportation Center train platform.  Looking West.  7/2/98 station_platform-1.jpg (66552 bytes) The  Amtrak "Three River's" discharges passengers at the Transportation Center train platform.  Looking East.  7/2/98 Westbound passenger from Altoona with much head-end equipment in the Penn Central Era, early 1970's. David Seidel Collection
station_wreck-1.jpg (68788 bytes) Track crews making repairs after the 7/13/95 derailment in front of the Transportation Center.  Looking West.  (7/14/95) station_wreck-2.jpg (69781 bytes) Track crews making repairs after the 7/13/95 derailment in front of the Transportation Center.  Looking West.  (7/14/95) wreck_at_17th_St_1927.jpg (77540 bytes)  FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

On November 30, 1925, The wreck occurred when an eastbound freight train "lost its air" descending the East Slope and ran away, derailing and striking the old Seventeenth Street Bridge moving it 32 inches off its foundation. The bridge had to be rebuilt before it could be used for vehicular traffic again. Date is circa 1927.  Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection.  

5-5-1962 View from Test Dept toward AHS.   Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.. 5-5-1962 View from Test Dept S on 16th St toward 9th Ave   Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

These are copies of official PRR photos from their Electrical Engineering Department .
 
 The train lost its brakes near Horseshoe Curve, but traveled down the east slope of the mountain with the wreck occurring at the 24th street bridge in Altoona.

Altoona Model Railroaders Club Collection

 
5-5-1962 Bridge St from PRR Test Plant. Alto Tower left center. The
new 17th St bridge of today was built to left of old bridge.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.).
 4-61  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). FREIGHT TRAIN WRECK at 17th STREET BRIDGE ALTOONA, PA

These are copies of official PRR photos from their Electrical Engineering Department .
 
 The train lost its brakes near Horseshoe Curve, but traveled down the east slope of the mountain with the wreck occurring at the 24th street bridge in Altoona.

Altoona Model Railroaders Club Collection

 
4-14-61.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). 4-1961.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). 4-27-61 This dates the removal of the Altoona train shed approximately.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.).
 4-14-61.  Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). 4-14-61 Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.). 4-27-61 Photo taken by David Earl Ehredt (July 7,1897-Mar 27,1971), who worked at the Test Dept. He walked to work every day from Kettle St and Pleasant  Valley Blvd to the PRR Test Dept.)

 

A handicapped accessible pedestrian crossover is at 13th Street, which allows persons to crossover the railroad tracks from the station to the Museum. An older pedestrian crossover is located at 12th street. Opportunities also exist to watch trains from behind the (former Ames, then Hills department store), now, UPMC Altoona Station Medical Center and along the "Railwalk" at the base of the 13th street crossover.  

Make sure you also visit the following pages:

Sam Rae Shops

Click Here for Altoona Track Charts

 

"Alto" Tower to "Wilkes Curve"

"Alto" Tower to "Wilkes Curve"

  

 

Altoona Videos

  Alto Tower

"May 2009: Eastbound PPLX train at ALTO passing through Altoona PA"

Additional Video by Dave Seidel can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/user/prrdave1

Horseshoe Curve Signal Bridge Move 

"September 06, 2009
The position-light signals and bridge at Horseshoe Curve on the Norfolk Southern RR Pittsburgh Line, was removed from service on August 31, 2009. Replacement was by a cantilever style modern signal. The former Pennsylvania Railroad Position-Light signal and bridge was transported by rail to Railroader's Memorial Museum, Altoona, PA."

Additional Video by Dave Seidel can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/prrdave1
  NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAIL TRAIN ALTOONA PA FEB 2 2012 4PM

"Westbound movement of the maintenance-of-way rail train on Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 4 PM near Slope Interlocking."

(by David Seidel)
  Coburn Brickyard Crossing

"May 18, 2009 at Brickyard crossing 2 miles west of Altoona. Train eastbound to Hershey, PA"

(by David Seidel)

 

Alto tower, built in 1890, located at milepost 236.5 (17th Street), is the last manned interlocking tower on the the NS (CR) east slope and the last of 8 towers in the Altoona complex. Block operators have local control of over 50 trains per day as well as helper operations using Union Switch and Signal CTC boards. The grade here is 1%. A person may view operations from either on or beside the 17th Street bridge. 5 regular and 3 extra operators handle 5 inter-lockings (switches and signals) from here (Antis, Homer, Rose, Works, and Alto). It is said that these areas could not be controlled by computer due to the heavy traffic, the need to control and calculate the amount of helper engines (based on tonnages) needed to assist with trains ascending and descending the mountain, as well as taking into account maintenance and weather conditions. (Note that the track running south is the Hollidaysburg, PA Branch)

 

alto-1.jpg (114976 bytes) Alto Tower and Signal Bridge.  Looking West from the 17th St Bridge (6-26-98) alto-2.jpg (135437 bytes) Alto Tower and Signal Bridge.  Looking Northwest from the 17th St Bridge (4/10/97) alto-3.jpg (111725 bytes) Alto Tower and Signal Bridge.  Looking Northwest from the 17th St Bridge (4/10/97)
alto-4.jpg (89999 bytes) Alto Tower and Signal Bridge.  Looking Northwest from the 17th St Bridge (4/10/97) alto-5.jpg (99477 bytes) Alto Tower and Signal Bridge.  Looking Southwest from the 17th St Bridge (4/10/97) 12-7-00_Alto-1.jpg (49796 bytes) Alto Tower  (12-00) 
12-7-00_Alto-2.jpg (48889 bytes) Alto Tower  (12-00)  Crane_9TH_AVE_16ST_ca_1969.jpg (36861 bytes) Crane at 9th Avenue and 16th Street, Altoona.  Circa 1969.  If you look right behind the crane across 17th St, there is a 1959 De Soto parked there.  Photo by David Seidel.    

 

"Slope"

"Slope" is located near 23rd Street, at milepost 237.2. "Slope" tower once stood here at the base of the grade. Viewing opportunities exist all along 10th Avenue and at the 24th Street Bridge.   Between Alto and "Slope", a small yard, turntable, and pit also served the passenger helpers assigned there.   If you look east and to the right, a large open area and a concrete foundation is visible. This used to be the site of a turntable and water tower used in helper operations.  

 

Operations at SLOPE were moved to ALTO in June 1968. 1968 also marked the Penn Central merger era, reduced passenger service, and saw Conway and Enola become the preferred yards for classification. This meant the end of the vast classification system at Altoona. Altoona became merely a crew change point (at ROSE) and helper engine base.

 

PRR_K4_5432_on_24th_St_TT.jpg (33563 bytes) PRR K-4 #5432 on the 24th Street Turntable.  Date unknown. Photographer unknown. William Burket Collection.   24th_St_look_east.jpg (59022 bytes) TURNTABLE at 24th STREET ALTOONA, PA: CIRCA 1940s. The view of the photograph is looking eastbound tracks towards the Altoona Machine Shop Yards from the old 24th Street railroad bridge in Altoona. The 24th Street turntable is in the foreground and Altoona Steam in the distance. Two steam locomotives are approaching in the distance. Unfortunately the turntable in now under of mound of dirt. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph  . William Burket Collection 24th_St_look_east-2.jpg (37268 bytes) This photo is part of an  enlargement from the previous photo.  Note the Altoona Shop complex in the distance and the ladder tracks in the foreground.  Circa 1940's.  Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  William Burket Collection.  
M1_6340_eb_24th_st.jpg (66257 bytes) PRR M-1 #6340 headed eastbound at 24th Street.  Note the water tower on the hill.  Date unknown. Arlington J. Wolfe photograph   William Burket Collection Triple_I1_at_Slope_WB.jpg (60247 bytes) Triple L-1's Westbound Approaching "Slope" Tower.  Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  . William Burket Collection.   S-Altoona_Wheel_Foundry_1900s.jpg (62445 bytes) South Altoona Wheel Foundry.  Circa 1900.  The Fifth supervisor from the right side (front row) is of Harley E. Burket.  Grandfather of Harley W and William E. Burket.  Arlington J. Wolfe photograph.  William Burket Collection 
Slope tower at 24th street in Altoona. Notice the PRR Test Plant in the back left and the Jaffa Mosque and turntable off to the right. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) Jun.22nd, 1949...Railroad diesel, taken off of the 24th. Street bridge, looking east towards the railroad turntable. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) The Circus Train passes "Slope" in Altoona, PA. 196?
Jun.22,1949...A steam engine in the narrows west of the 24th Street bridge. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.) Passing near Scotch Run...1972 ??  Photo by David Seidel.    

 

Visit Altoona Archives, by Tom Lynam, for additional photos. (NOTE: Tom's pages have been taken off line but can still be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.)

Brickyard is at milepost 238. Wilkes Curve (milepost 239) is visible to the West.

At milepost 240.7, (between McGarvey's Curve and Millers Curve) a Dragging equipment detector and AEI scanner is in place.

 

Make sure you visit the following pages:

Altoona Track Charts

 

Revised April 2017


Photographs are by Chris Behe unless otherwise noted.
Title Photo of the Altoona Station at 12th Street is from an antique postcard.