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Altoona Railway Museum Club: Horseshoe Curve NRHS - Memorable Moments from the Past


Memorable Moments from the Chapter's Past

This page was last updated on: March 08, 2017

January 2009 -
The Horseshoe Curve Chapter began their 41st year of service to the preservation of railroad heritage in the greater Altoona area by celebrating the 40th anniversary in May.  The emphasis of chapter activities this year was stabilization and painting of rolling stock either owned by the chapter or the equipment of Railroader’s Memorial Museum in Altoona.  Specifically, re-painting was accomplished on the museum’s N-5C PRR caboose near the museum’s entrance as well as PRR office car Duquesne, PRR RPO “Robert E. Hannegan”, the three ex-Erie Lackawanna coaches (in service on the Everett RR) and started the repainting of the “Loretto”, private car of industrialist of Charles M. Schwab.  The latter was interrupted by the advance of cold weather.  Work has continued throughout the year on the restoration of a 1940 Chevrolet Railway Express Agency truck for Railroader’s Memorial Museum and is about 85% complete. Finish painting has been completed with wiring, instrumentation, glazing remaining to be done, as well as doors and fenders (which are ready for installation). 
On June 2nd, the chapter received from the family of deceased member Wayne T. (Tim) Reese, a maintenance-of-way “speeder” car which will be a future restoration project of the Chapter. 
Social events for the year included a February meeting at the Alto Model Train Museum; celebration of the chapter’s 40th anniversary at a banquet at Geeseytown Fire Hall on May 17th (40th Anniversary Logo designed by Joe DeFrancesco); bus trips to Washington DC on May 3rd and in October to visit: Dulles Air & Space Museum, Mt. Vernon, Washington Union Station followed by a trip on the Capitol Limited from DC to Cumberland MD; participation with the annual Railfest excursions as train or station hosts (we have enjoyed working the railfest trains with Amtrak Conductor Dale Secker these several years and welcome him as a chapter member in 2008); a trip on the Potomac Eagle on August 2nd; the annual picnic hosted by Diane and Will Teeter at their lodge near Hollidaysburg, PA; provided assistance to the Conrail Historical Society for their convention in Altoona in October; Operation of an October train to benefit Veterans in October; Operation of two Santa Train weekends in November; and the annual Christmas dinner at Deer Hollow B&B hosted by Joseph DeFrancesco & his grandparents, Harold (Dink) & Rachel Gensimore.  Chapter Director M. Richard Charlesworth is recognized for organizing all field trips and train excursion ticket operations.
Chapter Historian David Seidel authored a book entitled “Horseshoe Curve”, a photographic essay via, and has donated all royalties from the book to benefit Railroader’s Memorial Museum, Altoona, PA (to maintain the private car “Loretto” of industrialist Charles M. Schwab). The book is available at the museum and all national book outlets for $19.99.
With sadness we note the passing of Chapter Member Marjorie “Marge” Goebbel of Roaring Spring.  Her contributions and participation in the many chapter activities is deeply missed and condolences are extended to husband and chapter member, Don Goebbel.  In addition, the mother of Chapter Historian David Seidel, Catherine M. Seidel, (grandmother of webmaster Christopher Behe; mother-in-law of member David G. Behe) passed away on Easter Sunday.  Mrs. Seidel was an ardent supporter and participant of chapter activities in the early years, which included hosting many chapter picnics, as well as projects for Railroader’s Memorial Museum.

Horseshoe Curve Chapter sponsored member Joseph DeFrancesco to RailCamp in Ely, NV this summer, building on his attendance at RailCamp/Steamtown in 2007.  Joe presented a very impressive audio/visual program on his experience at the August meeting in the theatre of Railroader’s Memorial Museum.
Chapter webmaster Chris Behe with wife Kelly and daughter Morgan, were able to visit Washington DC’s Union Station the weekend of October 4-5 for the centennial celebration of this palace to transportation. The weekend was host to the best varnish from fallen-flag railroads, not seen in such grandeur in decades.  Many of the locomotives came directly from museum’s in their finest museum-quality paint. The chapter newsletter “Coal Bucket” carried a full report in November. 


March 2009 Update

Winter finally seems to be leaving us behind and we can now look forward to new activities for 2009.
On the immediate horizon, is a train show/meet at the Pinecroft Firehall for Sunday, March 8 from 9 AM to 2 PM sponsored by the Alto Model Train Museum Association.  This newsletter will not be out in time, but it’s just one of those signs of Spring that re-energize us.
Look for new announcements and schedules from Railroader’s Memorial Museum.  Although their website is lagging behind, new changes are in the works for that as well as their newsletter “The Standard” which will now be edited by Bill Deasy of Pittsburgh.

The Altoona Association of Model Railroader’s is celebrating their 60th Anniversary in 2009.  Their anniversary banquet will be celebrated on April 25, 2009 at Railroader’s Memorial Museum.  The keynote speaker will be Mr. Bennett Levin of Juniata Terminal Company, Philadelphia, PA, whom we all know from the Railfest trains and other venues.  We offer our sincerest congratulations to the Altoona Association of Model Railroader’s on this noteworthy milestone.  Locally, we all know this organization for their excellent model railroading in all gauges, as well as their RARE collection of PRR memorabilia, which includes badge and number plates of  very noteworthy PRR steam locomotives, as well as an extensive reference library.  At this writing the Altoona Association of Model Railroaders is re-building the interpretive model railroad at Railroader’s Memorial Museum on the third floor.  There are many improvements which will certainly make this one of the keynote attractions in the museum.

Work continues as seen in the photos below, on the restoration of this vehicle for Railroader’s Memorial Museum.  At the present time, the glass is being installed as is the wiring harness.  The dash instruments have been restored and installed.
Remaining to be done is the installation of the front fenders (ready to go) and lighting and installation of the rear cargo doors.  The truck should be ready to show this summer, possibly for Railfest as well as the annual Antique Truck and Machinery Show at lakemont Park the last weekend in July.  Signage and lettering will be a specialty task which may or may not be completed by that time.

February 15th was the  155th anniversary of Horseshoe Curve.
February 18th was the 62nd anniversary of the Wreck of the Red Arrow at Bennington Curve.
March 17th 2009 is the 73rd anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 which devastated the entire PRR system.
Following are some images from the flood damage near here at Tyrone, PA:
(Above and below:) Natural Gas storage tank washed up against the old Lewisburg & Tyrone RR bridge (Fairbrook Branch) east of town.
The Pennsylvania Railroad published the “History of the Floods of March, 1936 and January, 1937”, compiled by Charles W. Garrett, which documents the damage to the PRR system. The text includes photographs of the damage to stations and facilities which is supplemented by maps and meteorological data from the period.
The St. Patrick’s day floods of 1936 was the result of early spring rainfall, accompanied by a rapid thaw of the winter snows which overwhelmed all rivers, streams, & tributaries.  Washouts were commonplace.  Train transportation was suspended with trains stranded in standing water; bear in mind this was the day of friction bearing equipment, whose lubrication cellars became water-logged. The damage ran into the millions of dollars in 1936 currency, but was not limited to the state of Pennsylvania and was complicated by downed telephone and telegraph lines*. The floods were unique in “that all streams would rise almost simultaneously and by their confluence bring their united waters to new heights, as for instance at Pittsburgh, Sunbury and Harrisburg, PA.”  Note:  the downed telephone and telegraph lines were relieved by amateur battery operated short wave radio broadcasts.

Addendum:  Tyrone has sustained many floods in its history because of it’s proximity to the Little Juniata River.  Unfortunately, another chapter is currently unfolding as the Tyrone YMCA, with roots in the PRR, is to be razed this summer.  The final blow was from flood damage from Hurricane Ivan, as well as other safety issues. The “Y” ended activities December 2004, closing a facility that began in 1914.   The Tyrone Historical Society’s newsletter “Tyrone PastTimes”, Winter 2009, carries a superior 14 page history of the YMCA and the PRR by Charlie Hoyer.  Visit:

The January 27th meeting was held at Railroader’s Memorial Museum as will be the March 24th meeting (7:30 PM in the museum theatre). 
However, the Chapter enjoyed a very pleasant social meeting for February as guests of the Alto Model Train Museum Association at their headquarters at Beale Ave and 29th St (rear).  Their hospitality is always a pleasure, and we sure did enjoy the pie and cake supplied by Joyce and George Thompson; good coffee too !  It was a great evening of conversation and train-watching…and tall tales.


We would like to introduce Tyler Martynuska, age 14.  Tyler has been interested in trains and railroading for much of his young life, and found the Horseshoe Curve Chapter and the National Railway Historical Society on the internet.  We first met Tyler at the January meeting, accompanied by his mother and grandfather, as he had written a very succinct letter seeking sponsorship to go to Railcamp.  The Chapter voted unanimously to send Tyler to Railcamp at Steamtown for the 2009 class, and a reservation was immediately made.  In this photo Tyler is seen at the February social meeting at the Alto Model Train Museum Association with his Mom.  WELCOME ABOARD TYLER !


Chapter Director Dick Charlesworth is working on a proposal for an overnight bus trip to the Buffalo, NY area July 18-19.  Plans are only tentative at this writing,  but plans are to tour railroad sites in and around Buffalo and Hamburg, New York such as the former New York Central Terminal, the Pennsylvania RR I-1 locomotive and related equipment owned by the Western New York Railway Historical Society as well as a ride on the Arcade & Attica RR and a boat trip on the Niagara River..  Due to time and distance an overnight stop will be included, returning via Salamanca, NY (no, NOT the Indian Casino). Ticket price is in the $200.pp range.  More information will be forthcoming, but if you are potentially interested, stay in touch with Dick Charlesworth at (814) 695-2201 or via


The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. Many ask why is this place so important to you? The fact is I love the history of the railroad that served our area. The museum is a place where I can go to learn and explore the past and what it has to tell us. This museum captures the whole story of a place that people loved and worked for. Through the storyboards and exhibits through out the museum, this story is told. This is not a place where you can go and visit and walk through in an hour. The museum is much more in-depth. In order to fully understand the purpose of the institution you must spend many hours there analyzing what is being presented to you. Once the information is digested, perhaps you too can fully understand the greatness of the heritage behind the Pennsylvania Railroad and its people.
The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum exhibits illustrate the many jobs required for railroad work. For generations, lives that were employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad were defined by the schedules of railroad work. At this museum you can find out how the families were affected by the schedules. You can find out if you have a relative who worked for the railroad, by using the museum online database for former employees. Many visitors leave with a sense of connection to the museum when they find out their loved one is being honored.

This museum offers a first hand look at railroading in the past with a yard filled with former railroad equipment. Many are only restored for display purposes. But few are capable going back onto the rails to relive their former lives. Through these rare events, the general public can have a first hand view of railroading’s past. For many this can be viewed right in their back yard.
The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum has allowed me to become apart of the organization in many ways, as a Volunteer, as an Employee, and as a Member. For me personally the museum is more that what it was designed to be. For me it is a place for many rewards. As a volunteer I have the ability to work with a great group of people who share my visions. As an employee I can be apart of the inter workings of the museum to help provide a better experience for the visitors, along with collaborating with the other employees who also take pride in their work. As a member I can discuss concerns with fellow members at meetings and once again work with people who share the same visions.
Joe is a senior at Juniata Valley High School and a member of the National Honor Society.  He will graduate in June and will attend Penn State Altoona. He is an alumnus of Railcamp at Steamtown and Ely, NV.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 7:30 PM in the theatre of Railroader’s Memorial Museum.  Please note that March has 5 Tuesdays and our meeting is always on the FOURTH Tuesday of every month unless a special event is scheduled.
The April meeting will by April 28, 2009; same time and location.  Post your calendars now.


March 2009 Update

The March meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at the usual 7:30 PM, in the theatre of Railroader's Memorial Museum, 1300 9th Avenue, Altoona, PA.
The March meeting will feature special guests Andrea and Bob Vibbert of Portsmouth, NH.  As many of us know, Andrea and Bob have a long association with GG-1 # 4913 and were married aboard a train powered by this locomotive.  Andrea, particularly, had much influence on this locomotive coming to Railroader's Memorial Museum in 1980. Both Andrea and Bob have had careers with Amtrak and are now retired.
They are bringing some vintage 8mm movies of the Altoona area and we are scrambling to locate, and test vintage 8 mm projectors for the purpose.  We HOPE everything will come together with this vintage technology so we can show some film that hasn't seen the light of day in a quarter-century.  It won't be the best display of modern technology but should be entertaining;  and, we hope to have some light refreshments.
We hope you'll be able to visit us at the March meeting.


May 2009

UNDER THE WIRE  by Leonard E. Alwine
In the “Under the Wire” stories, we usually cover some item about the Logan Valley Trolley system.  In this segment, we go way under the wire, to the basement of the generator room where the power for the electric trolleys was made (in Altoona).
The Logan Valley shop complex was quite large for a small town system.  In future articles we may cover some of the other buildings in the complex, but for now we will look at the basement of the one building.  Note:  If you have a copy of “Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Railway” as published by Arcadia Publishing Co. (all proceeds benefit Horseshoe Curve Chapter NRHS), you can follow along visually.
Most of the buildings except the car barn were sold off sometime in the 1950’s. Norman Glucroft bought most of them and moved his business, Roaring River Mills fabric store, into the old bus garage.  Several extensions were added to this building, eventually connecting it with the Machine Shop building.  In the early 1970’s, the Pump House, Generator or Engine Room, and the Boiler Room buildings were razed (including the smokestack) in an effort to make space for future expansion of his store.  This never happened and eventually he went out of business and put the property up for sale.  In 2008, Amtran purchased the property and began plans to renovate the Carpenter Shop, Machine Shop, and Transformer Room buildings.  The bus garage and additions by Roaring river Mills were to be torn down and a future office complex built in it’s place.
In early January 2009, Earthmovers Inc. began the demolition process. By February, the buildings were gone and the cement floor of the Generator Room building which had set for about 40 years without a structure on it was next to be torn up.  It was half covered with dirt and small trees and weeds.  As the dirt was removed and the first concrete broken up, a basement was discovered. Further investigation revealed many large pillars used to support the generators and other equipment which at one time made the electric power for the trolley system.  After a couple weeks of contemplation, it was decided that these sleeping giants had to be removed.

On February 20th, Dave Seidel and I were invited to take a tour of this basement before demotion began the next day.  It was a chance to see something that no one had seen for over 40 yeas and most of us living today did not even know existed.

As we made our way into the basement with John Palko of Amtran (Altoona Metropolitan Transit Authority, successor to the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway and the Logan Valley Bus Company), the feeling of excitement was soon replaced by a feeling of awe. The basement was massive – 150 ft by 75 ft wide.  It ran from the Transformer Room building near 5th Ave all the way to the sidewalk at 6th avenue.  The ceiling was 10 ft high and the walls were made out of poured concrete a foot thick.  It was about a zero temperature day outside, but inside the basement it was at a guess about 32 degrees as there were some icicles hanging but they were melting.  There was some water on the cement floor but we were told that this had happened during the last two weeks after the first floor/ceiling area had been breached.  When first discovered, it had been dry.  Looking at the walls, you could see where rust stains from leaking over the past 40 years had happened but there were no high water marks on the walls or pillars to suggest any flooding at any time.  This seemed amazing to think that something built in 1891, taken out of use in the 1950’s, and torn down in the 1970’s could still have a dry basement in 2009 !
The feeling of awe only increased as we made our way through the hallways between the pillars all the way back to 6th Ave. (we entered at the hole in the ceiling ner 5th ave.)  Near 5th ave. the pillars were smaller but still rather large.  The first ones were only about 3 ft thick by about 8 ft long and as high as the ceiling, about 8-9 ft.  They were also poured concrete.  The next three were more pyramid shaped and were made to support something big and of an unusual shape. They also had small vent spaces throughout them.  We do not know what these were used for.  The next two going towards 6th ave.  were very big. The one at sixth ave. being the largest. These were about 10 to 12 ft wide by at least 20 ft long and again 9 – 10 ft high. These two also had crawl spaces large enough for a person to crawl-through from one side to the other as well as the many small vent spaces through them.  These, we feel, must have supported the generators themselves although this is just a guess.  There were also some cement ledges between these two pillars which were oil-stained and several oil drums were also in this area, which we feel may have been used to lubricate things; again, just a guess.

As darkness increased (we toured from approximately 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) we had to use flash lights and camera flash to be able to see.  Because of the quickness in which we were given the opportunity to tour this before it was destroyed, we did not get to actually measure objects or distances in detail. [Arrangements were made about 3:30 p.m. that same day to see this piece of history].  We did not find many things left in the basement [artifacts] as they were most likely sold for scrap at the time Logan Valley stopped using the power plant. Several small insulators and a few bricks from the walls near 5th ave. were preserved for future generations to see as well as the photos taken that day. It was amazing that most of the photos were acceptable given the darkness of the basement area.

Beginning the next day and for the next month, I traveled out to the site to watch the progress made daily razing this old landmark.  These trips gave me a chance to take many more photographs of the pillars after the ceiling (grade level floor) was completely removed. It also showed me the way these were constructed which made me appreciate this basement even more.

The largest pillar (as were all of them) was solid concrete. One alone was estimated to have some 55 yards of concrete in it, based on it’s size. It was estimated that nearly 225 yards were used in all the pillars.  Add to that the walls, basement floor, and ceiling, it is possible that number could be doubled or tripled.  Remember that in 1891 there were no cement trucks. This concrete mostly likely was mixed on-site, maybe with a steam powered mixer, but placed by men pushing wheelbarrows out wooden ramps and dumping it into forms for the pillars and walls.  Also, inside the pillars were supports which went from the basement floor to the ceiling and probably bolted the machinery in place at grade level.  These were rods with bolts and nuts at the bottom buried in the cement which were 3 inches across.  There were many in each pillar and these too had to be placed by men using strings and plumb-bobs as lazer-guided transits were not available in 1891 !  The neatest thing about these rods were the bases, made of 1.5-inch steel which held them in the basement floor.  On the bottoms of them was stenciled “Altoona & the Logan Valley Electric Railway”.  I made sure one of these 200 pound items was preserved.

To get the pillars and basement razed, a large excavator with a hydraulic hack-hammer was used to break through the ceiling and then with a bucket would pull the pieces up and out of the basement, and pile them towards 5th ave. to await the time the grinder would come and grind the cement and bricks up into ballast to be hauled away.  Thea cement was old (about 100 years) and very hard.  They worked from sun-up to sun-down pounding on the pillars and walls.  It seemed as if the pillars were fighting back, not wanting to be removed.  The jack-hammer seemed to just make dust many times.  March 4th, a new and larger jack-hammer was brought in, and it made more progress but still at a slow pace.  It would have been nice to save at least one pillar for historic purposes, but they could not be moved and could lnot be left in place either.  For over a month, the sound of the hammer could be heard working on the cement and during that time I was able to record on film some of the hidden secrets of the Power House basement.  Holders for cables and steam lines and doors to other basements, and the extreme rigidness built into the construction (1.5” re-bars), etc  It was like getting to know a friend inside and out, but yet much could not be found out due to a deadline for the demolition.  It would have been nice to have a month to explore and measure every nook and cranny, but time and weather (it was very cold in February and March) did not permit.  By April 1st, the basement as gone and many untold or unfound secrets went with it (no blueprints are known to exist).
By April 2nd, all the pillars were removed as well as the walls.  The cement was ground-up on site and then hauled away by truck.  The area was bulldozed and seeded.  I will have to admit that I was saddened when this was done as another Altoona landmark was now gone.  After spending so much time at the site, it had become like a friend and now it was gone.  But, I was so happy that I received the chance to see this piece of Logan Valley Railway and record it’s demise on film for future preservation.  Thank you, Amtran, for that opportunity.  More about the other buildings in future “Under The Wires”.
Post-Script:  Penna Dept of Transportation recently (week of May 4) removed the asphalt surface of PA Rte 36 on Penn St. in Hollidaysburg, PA …revealing the old trolley right-of-way.
More in the next issue of “Under The Wire” …and a report on Tyrone’s trolley service which became part of the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway.
- In the next issue, more on the Tyrone Trolley system and the "Home Electric and Steam Generating Company.

On April 6, 2009, I was assigned the work-job of transporting two septic tanks and installing them at a hunting cabin “way back in the woods”.  I have done this many times in the past, but this time it turned into a rare chance to travel abandoned PRR right-of-way and see something that most living today have only seen in photos.
The man who owns the hunting cabin (whom I do not know) is supposed-to own about 500 acres in this area including the old right-of-way which he uses for the access to his cabins – actually built on the former right-of-way, just past “big fill curve”.
I left the hard road several miles from Bald Eagle (north of Tyrone, PA) and turned onto the old railroad bed.  Although the tracks and ties were removed who-knows-when, traveling on this roadbed was still very bumpy.  It seemed like the ties were still under the ballast/shale now in use for the road.  From the time I left the hard road, it was 2.6 miles to the “curve” and travel was limited to about 10 mph.  I kept hoping not to see a train coming at me because there wee no places to pull over.  For most of the way, it was a high rock ledge to my left (10 to 30 feet high) and to my right a cliff which went down (I am guessing)  50 to 100 feet.  It seemed to be upgrade to the “big fill curve”.
In a vintage postcard view, the area is known as the “Deep Fill”.
Once at the “curve”, it reminded me of Horseshoe Curve – only not quite as big or wide.  It seemed just as high though.  What was fascinating, was to think that this was built by pick and shovel to bring coal down the mountain (from Clearfield, Philipsburg, Osceola Mills to Tyrone and the Jct with the mainline).  Looking closely at the area around the curve, you could see ledges cut into the mountainsides at different levels used to get the fill for the curve.  As the curve reached that height, another ledge was cut  higher to get the fill using down hill travel to the curve site.  Five different levels of cuts were visible yet today.  I am sure that others have been grown over also.
The stream that runs under the “curve” has a cement culvert built over it.  If it would ever collapse, the water would build up and most likely wash out the vill and cause a flood somewhere.  Also, at the bottom of the curve fill, near the stream, is a cement house which I was told by the contractor – was used to house workers who built the fill.  They were supposedly prisoners who were kept in this house at night.  It is said to still have bars on the inside of the windows.  The day I was there, it was raining and since it was about 150-200 feet down a slippery slope, I did not go down to get a closer look.
I had to make two trips to the site, and on my second trip I took a camera and took a few photos.  The area is still very much covered with coal and ash dust, deeper than you would think, once we got to excavating.
By days-end, I was tired from the work and on the second return trip out, we found a flock of turkeys and also a deer along the right-of-way.  It was one of those days at work when you got a “non-monetary bonus” !  End.
Addendum by David Seidel:  As many of us who live locally know, this is also the line used by the Walter L. Main Circus Train on Memorial Day – May 30, 1893, passing over the locations illustrated above,  which tragically resulted in a major train wreck at the bottom of the mountain near Vail, a history documented and recounted by author Paul Zitzler with Susie O’Brien, entitled “Unscheduled Stop – The Town of Tyrone and the Wreck of the Walter l. Main Circus Train”.  Mrs. O’Brien lives directly opposite that point on the former rail line (a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad) where the wreck occurred, and her home is built on the ground used to bury some of the circus animals.
Five people, including a brakeman, were killed, but over 125 people on the train escaped serioud harm. Over 50 horses died in the calamity and dozens of other animals escaped their cages for the woods of this Pennsylvania region.  One Bengal Tiger was shot by Alfred Thomas hear his home.  The citizens of Tyrone came to the rescue of the circus people and lodged them in their homes for almost 9 days until the train (repaired by the Pennsylvania Railroad shops) could resume it's journey.  The cause of the wreck?  We won't spoil that part for's in the book a very pleasant and easy "read".
There is a monument at the wreck location today, and each year, as near the anniversary date as is possible, a memorial service is held.  2009 was a particularly poignant anniversary and the memorial service was moved one month forward to Wednesday, April 8, 2009 for a special observance which coincided with the annual circus at the Jaffa Shrine facility in Altoona.  In honor of the occasion, arrangements were made for two Asian elephants, Lulu and Chang, to visit the Memorial Site and place a wreath at the monument, after which they were treated to an elephant-sized lunch of fresh produce and fruits on the lawn of the O’Brien residence.  And yes, to the amusement of all, they left elephant-sized footprints on the lawn.  The event resulted in a record turnout for the event.  When the elephants arrived by truck, they were heard to bleat as they stepped off the truck.  Larry McKee reports he talked to the handler about this and was informed that the elephants could sense that animals were buried here which unsettled them.
“Unscheduled Stop” in paperback, may be purchased in Tyrone at the Tyrone Area Historical Society in the Tyrone Railroad Station on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, and at nearby Gardner’s Candy Store & Ice Cream Parlor on Tenth St at other times.  It is a fascinating story of tragedy and triumph to put the circus train back on the rails to resume it’s itinerary.


The Horseshoe Curve Chapter, NRHS cordially extends their congratulations to the Altoona Association of Model Railroaders, who celebrated their 60th anniversary on April 25, 2009 with a banquet at Railroader’s Memorial Museum. Mr.Bennett Levin of Philadelphia was the keynote speaker and presented a slide program on his Juniata Terminal operations, especially the “Liberty Limited” trips for wounded military veterans.
One of two model railroad clubs in Altoona, it is the oldest of all organizations, as most of us who live locally know,  & the club is known for it’s spectacular model railroad “and” their collection of historic railroad artifacts from the PRR which represent the BEST examples of badge and number plates to be found anywhere, as well as an excellent reference library and photograph collection.  The club meets Friday evenings and visitors are welcome at any time.  We thank them for their commitment and service to the greater Altoona area these many years and the enjoyment they provide, not only to members, but guests as well.


The windshield glass installation was completed on Monday, April 27, 2009 and most all of the wiring and lighting is complete.  In the next week the front fenders will be installed as well as the hood sheet metal.  Research is currently underway regarding lettering the truck.  Inquiries have been made to the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Spencer, NC as they have an almost identical truck (1939) and they have graciously supplied digital photos of that work for us to use as a guideline.  Once these finish elements are complete, final photographs will be taken and an application will be filed for antique licensing.

As previously announced, RAILFEST will be the last weekend in June, 2009 with Saturday and Sunday excursions over Horseshoe Curve and Gallitzin Tunnels (Eastern Continental Divide); three trips daily.  The major change this year is simply that there will be no Saturday evening trip to Pittsburgh.
All Chapter members who are available may volunteer as coach or station attendance for the train.  Contact Dick Charlesworth at 695-2201.  More information closer to the time.

The National Office has announced that “national” dues will increase by $3.00 (to $36.00 from $33.00) starting with 2010. This is attributable to steadily increasing  costs associated with the high-quality national publications (including postage) and the rate of inflation in relation to the present economy.

As reported previously, the Chapter’s work on the restoration of the Railway Express Agency truck is nearing completion.  For a more comprehensive look at the entire project, a photo-album is available at:
Work projects will be shifting to Saturday mornings at Railroader’s Memorial Museum to start work on the rolling stock there, especially the LORETTO.  Also, installation of windows in the DUQUESNE is probable.  Saturday mornings often start with breakfast at Tom & Joe’s (optional).  Remember, if we arrive at the museum ahead of opening hours, there are service gates in the fence along the Station Medical Center sidewalk and along 12th St walkway.  Wear old clothes and have some work gloves for the paint smears.  These projects are often on for Monday evenings also while the daylight is with us.  Questions: call Frank at the garage: (814) 943-4942 prior to 4:30 PM weekdays.

A CHAPTER PICNIC is being planned for this summer hosted by President & Mrs. Frank Givler. Details will be announced soon.

25 Year Memberships

We are tardy with this “official” announcement, but congratulations go to members Chris Behe and H. Wayne (Harley) Burket for their QUARTER-CENTURY MEMERSHIP and service to the Horseshoe Curve Chapter and the National Railway Historical Society.  They were awarded their 25 year pins by the NRHS (silver) in February.  Congratulations guyz !  As most of us know, Chris Behe is our webmaster and does an excellent job from afar as he lives near Washington DC for his occupation in the Naval NCIS.  Harley Burket is one of our ‘original’ members, but had interrupted service due to family circumstances in the early years.  The “pin” may say 25, but the friendship is 41, and counting !

The planned Chapter bus trip to the Buffalo area on July 18-19 is almost full.  If you are interested, you can add your name to the waiting list as last-minute cancellations invariably occur.  Call Dick Charlesworth at (814) 695-2201.



Rockhill Furnace, Pa. - A new nonprofit organization has signed an agreement to operate the East Broad Top Railroad for three years, and the organization hopes to attract enough grant money during that time to buy the Pennsylvania narrow gauge from its longtime owners, Joe and Judy Kovalchick. The railroad was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

The new organization, the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association, was put together by Larry Salone, who is also executive director of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. Mr. Salone announced the preservation association's creation during a May 8 press conference at the railroad that was attended by State Rep. Mike Fleck, who represents Orbisonia and Rockhill Furnace in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; State Rep. Rick Geist, who represents Altoona and is chairman of the House Transportation Committee; and by representatives of State Sen. John H. Eichelberger, Jr., and Congressman Bill Shuster.

Mr. Salone is a restaurant- and engineering-company owner who says he took his first train ride as a kid on the East Broad Top, which the Kovalchick family has operated as a tourist railroad since 1960. Joe Kovalchick's father, Nick, was a salvage dealer who bought the railroad after its last common-carrier runs, in April 1956.

Mr. Salone said that the railroad's current employees would remain on the payroll, and that the schedule for the coming year would remain largely unchanged. But he said he hoped that riders would begin to notice small improvements as soon as the EBT opens, on June 6. The railroad will accept credit cards for the first time, he said, and shuttle buses will run between the East Broad Top and the Altoona museum during the museum's annual railfest weekend, June 27-28.

He said he planned to begin seeking money to reopen about six miles of track from the current end of operations into Mount Union, where the railroad transferred coal and other freight to the Pennsylvania Railroad in a dual-gauge yard. Mr. Salone also discussed putting a second EBT steam engine back in service — most likely No. 14, a 1912 Baldwin Mikado that is nearly identical to the only engine currently operating, No. 15. In addition, he talked about converting additional freight cars for passenger service so that the line's 19th-century coaches could be reserved for special occasions.

The East Broad Top began operating in 1873 along a main line roughly 33 miles long, of which about five miles are currently in service. The rest of the railroad is almost entirely intact but is badly overgrown. In addition to six narrow-gauge 2-8-2s in three sizes, the EBT has a unique 1927 Brill gas-electric car in operating condition, a standard-gauge 0-6-0 in Mount Union, and a sprawling machine-shop complex that is being restored by a volunteer organization, the Friends of the East Broad Top. The Rockhill Trolley Museum operates on a portion of the railroad's old Shade Gap branch.

Miscellaneous News
Congratulations to Amtrak Trainman Rob Hammer who, with Amtrak Conductor Dale Secker, worked with us on last year’s Railfest train.  Rob has just been accepted into Amtrak’s Locomotive Engineer training program and will report to Wilmington in June.  Congratulations, Rob !  We look forward to seeing Dale again this year during Railfest.  As some of us know, Dale joined Horseshoe Curve Chapter NRHS last year.


August 2009

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September 2009 Update

In Memoriam

Marjorie A. Goebel

Dec 12, 1938 - May 21, 2008

The Chapter is in the process of placing a picnic table at the top of Horseshoe Curve park in her honor.


At tonight's monthly meeting, we moved the Chapter Memorial Plaque from the Grimshaw Room in the old building to the Master Mechanics Building.  The old building is essentially out-of-service due to a need for storage at this time.  For example:


On 9/21/2009 Railroader's Memorial Museum took delivery of an official Norfolk Southern locomotive simulator with all accessory and support equipment (computer, generators, programs, hydraulic equipment etc) which is based on an SD-60 locomotive.  Eventually it will move to the new roundhouse when completed and be used as part of the new curriculum being developed by Penn State Altoona.


On 9/1/2009 Railroader's memorial Museum received the signal bridge from the Horseshoe Curve which was removed August 31, 2009.  It will be re-erected on the museum grounds after restoration, at a later date.


Chapter excursions: 

Oct 10 - Charter for Hollidaysburg YMCA..  Three trips departing from Canal Basin Park.  Autumn foliate with a theme. Tickets via YMCA.

SANTA Trains: 

November 21, 2009  Three trips

November 28, 2009  Three trips


December 2009 Update

jun10 newsletter

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(All photos are by David Seidel unless otherwise indicated.)