Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Horseshoe Curve

The Horseshoe Curve is a section of railroad tracking a few miles west of Altoona, Pennsylvania, built onto the side of Kittanning Point and two adjacent hills.  It was originally constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1854, with many of the workers coming from Ireland.  During World War II, it was one of the targets of German saboteurs who landed on the east coast in 1942.  In recent decades, ownership of the line passed from the Pennsylvania to the Penn Central to Conrail and finally to Norfolk Southern, due to mergers and the purchase of Conrail by Norfolk Southern and CSX.  The curve originally included two tracks and was later expanded to four.  Conrail removed one, resulting in the present three-track layout.

The Horseshoe Curve is now a national landmark.  Here's the entrance and gift shop, through which you must pass if you want to go the side of the fence from which I took the photo.

To go up to the viewing area, you can either ride a funicular or climb up the stairs, which start behind the clock tower.

I got to the top of the stairs just as an eastbound (and downhill) Norfolk Southern freight train started to pass through.

Serving as a trackside monument is the retired Pennsylvania 7048 diesel-electric locomotive.

This is the old watchman's shanty.

Here's a look down the funicular tracks.  Connected to and behind the lower funicular station is an exhibit hall.

This is the view to the east, toward Altoona.  Of the two bodies of water, the more distant is the Kittanning Reservoir.

After a while, a westbound (and uphill) NS train pulled into the curve.

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