Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Train Pix
Additional Maps


The guides for the Altoona area are divided into the following maps:
     Index page
    Map 1 - Altoona proper - you are here
     Altoona West

     Altoona East
     Horseshoe Curve

     the East Broad Top RR Railfan Guide
      the Railroader's Museum

Pictures are always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Contact info is here

In General

Altoona is a great railfan town, period.  Between the Railroaders Museum, ALTO Tower, the former Pennsy Juniata Shops, the mainline, the Amtrak Station, and the close proximity to Horseshoe Curve, Gallitzin, and Cresson, there is plenty to keep you busy for several days of enjoyment.

Note: THE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OUT on the Pennsy PL signals.  As of 6/16/2012, the changeover took place, and they brought in cranes to remove the entire bridge structures for any existing PL signals, and Alto tower closed with the removal of the ALTO sign off the side of the tower :-(  The following pictures were forwarded to me by Mr. A Burnett and taken by AJK..... many thanks to both!

For an Altoona railroad timeline, check out: http://www.altoonaworks.info/timeline.html


Train Pictures

The westbound Broadway Limited in 1966

   Photo courtesy ADB.

Sunday 10/2/2011 ~ 7:00am -  A Pennsy E-8 fan trip getting ready to leave.  Weather was crummy, and I was the only one around in the station area taking pictures.  It was heading west over the Horseshoe Curve.


EB freight coming off the grade from Horseshoe Curve at 35th St.


A couple of shots of caboose DODX 900 coming thru town.  Photo by Tyler Nace, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time!


A WB freight coming around the curve into the straight stretch in front of the station, and then in front of the station.  10/2011


A WB freight going under 17th street, with nice shots of the PL signals (for now).  10/2011


Another WB freight, with several "foreign" engines including a Wheeling & Lake Erie unit.  10/2011


Two EB freights, left one from 17th St, the other one from 10th Ave.


Couple of shots at 17th St.


Helpers at 35th St.


WB freight at 35th St, getting ready to head up the hill to the tunnels and the Curve.



    1       The Juniata Shops





Conrail #5438 on the turntable with railcar wheels under it, being moved by Rail King 320.  Pictures by Marc Lingenfelter... Many thanks!


You never know what to expect in the way of motive power when you  drive by.....  A friend of mine got harassed by the NS police when 999 was in Enola and tried getting pictures of it :-(  999 is supposed to be a battery powered unit...

    The shop sign isn't looking as good as it did 7 years ago (2004 vs 2011).....

      Shots from 4th St.

Back in the Pennsy days, these shops were hard to beat for just about anything.  The guys that worked here would tackle fixing or building anything... anything.  Up until the Norfolk Southern takeover of Conrail, they even opened the shops as part of the Railfest days, held in conjunction with the Railroaders Museum.  Still in operation: a turntable at the far north end of the shops as shown above.

    2       The Amtrak Station


  Shot looking north from the overpass.

  Sign at the bottom of the overpass on the Museum side.

The station is located directly across the tracks from the railroaders Museum and the mall (and a McDonalds if you're looking for a quick meal).  When they run trips "over the hill", they leave from here as can be seen from the E's waiting to leave one early and rainy morning on October the 2nd, 2011.  I was the only one around taking pictures of the departing train that morning :-(

    3       ALTO Tower


The tower is located a few hundred feet west of the Amtrak station.

    4       The Railroaders Museum



      Early morning shots in the rain 10/2011

A great railroad museum in one of the best railfanning areas of the country (a little personnel bias... nah).  Their website also covers Horseshoe Curve, and admission to one gets you into both attractions (many years ago, before a visitors center was constructed, Horseshoe Curve was wide open and free to visit :-).

The above pictures are from the Railfest held in 2004.  Present were Bennett Levin's E's as stationary displays.  In previous years, they ran excursions over the hill to Gallitzin and back.

You'll find more pictures of the museum on my page for the museum HERE,
and more info from their website is HERE.

    5       North Side of the Yard



The above series of photos of a light engine move is by Marc Lingenfelter and passed on by Tyler Nace... Thanks guys!
The engines, owned by the AAR, are headed to Africa.

Additional Maps

The three following maps came off of one of the coolest maps I ever came across on CN's website, but I have lost the way to find it again.  Their map of the United States and Canada has virtually every railroad track existing.  Here are three "Snags" from Altoona down to Johnstown:


    1       EB - Next to Juniata Shops


Signals at the Amtrak Station

Dwarf PL's and pedestals abound, looking west from the overpass.

    2       WB/Signal Bridge - Northside of 17th St




    3       EB/Signal Bridge - Southside of 17th St

          10/2011 - Old signals getting ready to come down....

           10/2011 - New signals going up....


  The track leading off to the left heads down to Duncansville and Holidaysburg.

    4           5      WB & EB Signal Bridge - Walnut St

    6       WB Signal Bridge - 35th St


    Crossing gates at 35th St.

North end of the yard


    The tracks on the left head to Tyrone.

Hollidaysburg Branch Interchange Signals

These are the last signals an engineer sees on the branch before coming out on the mainline at ALTO tower.


Hollidaysburg Branch

A new set of signals where there was none... Between the overpasses of 37th St and N Logan Blvd.



  Anyone like Mallo Cups?.... well, they're made right here in Altoona, across from the mall by the museum.

  Underpass on 31st St.

 Interesting building....

  Interesting street signs....

In this day and age of green reflectorized interstate signs, it is most unusual to see these remnants of the 50's still hanging around.  These are on I-70 NB coming into Breezewood PA.  The last ones in Maryland came out in the late 80's, and were on US340 south of Frederick.

 Station 4.

  Are you a Penn State fan?

For you Harbor Freight fans, it's located on the south side of town just off I-99 on Planks Road.
It's in the SC across from Arby's and KMart on my map.

If you prefer Tractor Supply, it's located down in Duncansville.

If you're a Northern Tools fan, sorry, there are none north of Virginia unless you're out in Minnesota!

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NEW 4/19/2009
Reformatted 4/8/2010
Last Modified 07-Dec-2013