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PENNSYLVANIA RAILFAN TRIP 1983

Pennsylvania Railfan Bus Trip

April 30th, 1983 - by: John Baker

Promptly at 7:00am, Society member Dave Wood, our tour director and driver, arrived at the Orchard Park Depot where 38 anxious railfans boarded the bus for our first chartered two day bus trip. We would first visit the Cambria & Indiana Railroad shops in Colver, Pennsylvania. Then head to the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, PA. Our second day would include an extensive tour of the famous Horseshoe Curve and finally, a visit to the tunnels at the summit of the grade in Gallitzin, PA.

Our route of travel was south on Route 219 toward Bradford, PA. Along the way, rails that once belonged to the ERIE, B&O, Pennsylvania and NYC Railroads were pointed out. Structures and abandoned right of way from the long abandoned Buffalo & Susquehanna and the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern were also spotted. We made several unscheduled stops to view and photograph stations, interlocking plants and trains along the way. About noon, Dave found a suitable spot for our lunch stop and distributed the box lunch that was included in the trip. Sandwiches, snacks, cookies and beverages were awaiting everyone. After a plesant stop to consume all the goodies, we were on board again heading south to keep our appointment with the Cambria & Indiana Railroad.

At approximately 2:00pm, we arrived in Colver, PA. and were greeted by the officials of the C&IRR. To our surprise, we learned that we were the only second group to ever tour the C&I. We were treated like royalty and were given tours of the car shops and engine facilities. Our group was given complete access to photograph all the facilities, motive power and equipment of the railroad.

After our tour and group photos, we were pleased to find that the railroad had coffee and cake waiting for all. On the second floor of the C&I administration building, we all enjoyed some genuine C&I hospitality. The railroad also had doorprizes available and some lucky members won caps, HO Scale cars and calendars. Following our short but very pleasant stop, the tour was off and traveling east toward Altoona, PA.

After a few wrong turns and poor directions, Dave delivered all of us to the Holiday Inn just outside of Altoona. Room assignments were handed out and all were off for a shower and a fine meal in the motel restaurant. After dinner we were off to the next stop which was the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona.

After a few very tight turns and some local directions, we managed to park in front of the museum. Mother Nature made herself known at this point and produced a heavy shower that made viewing the exhibits outside difficult. Inside the museum however, numerous displays and a model railroad exhibit was interesting to all. Later in the evening, our group and the Altoona group exchanged slide programs showing their activities and railroad history in their local areas. It was very pleasing to find that the C&T officials had made the trip to Altoona and shared our museum visit. We Soon found ourselves saying good night to our friendly hosts and made our way back to the Holiday Inn. Everyone eventually found their way to bed and a good nights sleep.

On Sunday morning after breakfast, we boarded the bus and headed back through Altoona in our attempt to find the Horseshoe Curve. However, after a few wrong turns and backing down some hills we managed to find that we were lost. We eventually got to the curve and stayed there for a couple of hours. Conrail however was in a quiet mode and running very few trains. The group waited the railroad out and did manage to photograph trains circling around us at the amazing curve.

With lunch still in hand, we boarded the bus again and headed toward Gallitzin, Pennsylvania to view the tunnels at the top of the long grade. Conrail and Amtrak were extremely active and ran a virtual parade of trains through the tunnels. Kodak was guaranteed a profit as a massing of shutter response was much in evidence. About 3:30pm, we had to leave this great train watching spot and start our trip back to Buffalo.

Arrival back in Orchard Park was about an hour later than scheduled however no one seemed to mind. If you missed this tour, you missed a great and fun filled two day ramble. If we sponsor another tour, you have to be sure to make it.

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