Altoona's Curve

by Gay Spencer 9. February 2012 12:37
Altoona's Curve

Now and then, but not often, a train conductor will tell passengers something about the area the train is passing through, and it's always quite interesting. Recently I learned some about Altoona, PA. Altoona was actually founded by The Pennsylvania Railroad. They first established a major shop complex there beginning in 1848.

When you cross the state of Pennsulvania, you cross the Alleghenies (a bit west of the middle of the state), and they were a formidable obstacle for early trains. When passing west to east, the steepest grade of the entire route from Chicago to the east coast is just west of Altoona, when the train crosses the Allegheny Ridge.

The trains slow way down as they approach the "Horshshoe Curve."

The Horseshoe Curve, a famous curved section of track owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, has become a tourist attraction and National Historic Landmark. The Curve was used to raise trains to a sufficient elevation to cross the Allegheny Ridge to the west, beyond which was the steel town of Pittsburgh and the rest of the western United States. Because it was the industrial link to the western U.S., the Horseshoe Curve was a primary target of eight Nazi saboteurs who had infiltrated the United States during World War II (1942) by being dropped off by U-boats of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) during Operation Pastorius.

The picture shows some retired rolling stock at the train station there. It's a very "Pennsylvanian" kind of place to see.

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