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


Memorable Moments from the Chapter's Past - 2010

This page last updated March 08, 2017!

January 2010 - WINTER ISSUE 2010


President:  Francis X. Givler, 114 Scott Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602 (Note:  ALL time-sensitive correspondence should be sent to this address)

Vice-President:  Joseph K. Harella, 3812 5th Avenue, Altoona, PA., 16602 

National Director:  M. Richard Charlesworth, 903 Penn St., Hollidaysburg, PA 16648;

Treasurer:  Denny Walls, R. R. # 2, Box     , Hollidaysburg, PA 16648; 

Secretary:  Karin Givler, 114 Scott Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602; 

Chapter Historian/Editor:  David W. Seidel, 2011 14th St., Altoona, PA., 16601-3020;

Webmaster: Chris Behe


2009 Santa Trains

Horseshoe Curve Chapter’s annual Santa Trains were a huge success this year.  Operated each Saturday before and after Thanksgiving, with three trips daily, the patronage has gained in popularity and provides the Chapter with their annual fund—raiser to continue our projects in preserving railroad heritage and education.  These trips, operated in conjunction with the Everett Railroad Company (and, Santa Claus) seem to be just as popular with adults as well as children.  In the latter category, over 900 children received treat bags from Santa Claus but overall patronage for both days was over 1,000 passengers per day.  We are also indebted to the Roaring Spring Historical Society who owns and maintains the Roaring Spring station, the only surviving Pennsylvania Railroad station here in southern Blair County.  Predominantly, patrons for the Santa Trains come primarily, from a 25-45 mile radius and may, in part, be due to the popularity of the movie Polar Express.  Entertainment aboard the trips was provided by the following church choirs singing carols :



    Your 2010 dues are now due and we hope, despite the economy, that you will consider renewing for the 2010 season.  The fraternity of the National Railway Historical Society has it’s many rewards and the national publications are now on schedule. The quality of these publications are worth the cost of the dues similar to a major magazine subscription.


    As is traditional, the annual election of officers is held in November of each year. By popular vote, the current slate of officers has been re-elected.  They thank you for your confidence and support. Contrary to popular opinion, they were not ‘railroaded’ back into office. Their cumulative experience, leadership, and accomplishments make them irreplaceable.


    The REA truck has progressed further with the completion of signs for the truck by Jack White Signs in Altoona.  The signs were completed in early December,  and President Givler and Dave Seidel visited Jack White Signs and drilled them  for application.  These are very well re-produced with the lettering rendered in buff color with red shadowing, as was customary for the period, this truck represents (1940’s). The truck is now housed inside at Railroader’s Memorial Museum for the winter, properly licensed and insured as an antique motor vehicle. The one remaining appliance, as soon as President Givler acquires it, is the requisite ‘flux capacitor’. In the following photo, President Frank Givler positions a sign for installation.


    Railroader’s Memorial Museum’s utility “Marplex” truck has been moved to Frank’s Auto Service and will undergo restoration over the winter months. The Marplex is a generic type truck, mostly used to transport welding tanks and other tools around the museum. It was previously used in a similar vein by Conrail and subsequently donated to the museum.  There are several mechanical issues that need addressed as well as body rust and paint.  As was demonstrated by the restoration of the Railway Express Agency truck for the museum, Horseshoe Curve Chapter “can do” to borrow an old Conrail slogan.  Work will begin after the first of the year at Frank’s garage, usually on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings. Be prepared to get dirty !


    Was held on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at Deer Hollow Bed and Breakfast, Tyrone RD (near Union Furnace).  Joe DeFrancesco’s grandmother, Rachel Gensimore is a first-class cook !  We enjoyed the superb hospitality of Rachel and Dink Gensimore as well as Joe, as usual. Great conversation, fellowship, and, of course, Joe’s model railroad, kept us all entertained.  WE THANK THEM !


    Dick Charlesworth and Dave Seidel traveled to Harrisburg in October to attend the monthly meeting of Harrisburg Chapter NRHS, especially to enjoy the vintage slide program by Frank Tattnall depicting, especially to enjoy the vintage slide program by Frank Tattnall depicting PRR in the Enola area in the 1950’s. We appreciated the hospitality of President Dan Nettling, Joe Heffron and Fred Wertz.  It was a most enjoyable evening.  On the way down, we stopped at the Duncannon station, now occupied by Blue Mountain Cable Co.  They have done a first class restoration of the building, to include removal of dense vegetation on the river side providing an expansive view of the Susquehanna River.  It’s worth the stop!


     If you aren’t aware of, or haven’t yet visited the site, we recommend you take a look at chapter member Bill Burket’s new website at the following address:  It is a remarkable inventory of vintage Pennsylvania Railroad images, much from the Altoona area. Good work, Bill ! OTHER PROJECTS

    Late summer, autumn work involved re-building a vestibule on one of the coaches and other maintenance. Mr. Francis Givler Sr. painted the interior of one coach also and Neil Myers assisted by spray painting the trucks on all the coaches as well as those of the Everett Railroad at Wye Switches.  Airbrakes appliances were re-built and installed as well.  Our thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in some way especially the coach cleaning and window washing. The Chapter coaches were also used in October by the Hollidaysburg Y for their autumn foliage trips from Canal Basin Park.


    The Hollidaysburg Branch from Alto to Hollidaysburg Yard was completely upgraded with tie and ballast work and new welded rail. Much of this was necessitated by the increased traffic with loaded ethanol tank cars. These care are usually transported to Hollidaysburg on the Local, then delivered to the tank farm at Canan Station on the return trip to Altoona to fit the siding configuration.

     The Position Light Signal Bridge at Horseshoe Curve was taken out of service on August 30th, and dismantled August 31st, replaced by the modern system and a cantilever style mounting. The old signal bridge was preserved, however, and is now located at Railroader’s Memorial Museum in Altoona, with signal aspects. When restored and re-erected, it will have signal aspects for a “four-track” mainline.

     “C” Tower (Conemaugh) in Johnstown, once a busy hub of interchange traffic for Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s Conemaugh & Black Lick RR, has seen diminishing activity since the closing of the mill in the 1993-1994 period. The original C Tower (frame) was demolished  on September 30, 1958 when westbound freight train ‘Extra 7065 West’ with diesel units 7065, 7173 and 7055, with 98 cars and caboose, derailed at C Tower. The block operator at C Tower was killed and another operator and signal maintainer were injured. The 65th car de-railed.  The replacement structure, concrete block, was closed on October 27, 2003, and razed October 26, 2009.

    SO Tower at South Fork, essentially gutted by fire (set by vandals) earlier this year (they were caught), had its “remains” razed October 2009.  As most of us in this region know, South Fork is a busy branch line junction for area coal traffic to this day, but was also the starting point for the great Johnstown Flood of 1889 when the dam of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club breached during torrential rains, sending a wall of water toward Johnstown.



    Francis X. Givler Sr

    Oct 2, 1933Dec 27, 2009

    Mr. Givler is survived by his wife of 54 years, Ruth Ann, and three sons: Chapter President Francis X. Givler Jr  Ronald, Bill; daughters Jennifer Smith, and LisaMeadows; father-in-law to Chapter Secretary Karin Givler.  Our sympathies are sincerely extended to the Givler families.  He was a true gentleman, patriarch of the Givler family and will be missed by all those who were privileged to know him.  In that regard, memories are genuinely the treasures of a lifetime.


    January 26 -  Regular Meeting

    February 23 – Regular Meeting

    March 23 – Regular Meeting (Note: March has 5 Tuesdays…watch date).

    Unless notified otherwise, all meetings are at 7:30 PM in the theatre of Railroader’s Memorial Museum, on the fourth Tuesday of each month…1300 9th Avenue, Altoona, PA, 16602.


May 4, 2010 - Spring 2010 Issue of "The Coal Bucket"

click here for newsletter

June 2010 Chapter Meeting Minutes

The meeting was called to order and the minutes from the May meeting were read, there was a correction to the minutes that the anniversary is for the Museum not the Chapter. A motion was made by Joey and seconded by Joe. Motion carried.  The treasurers report was read.  Bills are all paid.  A detailed sheet is available for review.  A motion to accept was made by Dick and seconded by Joey. Motion carried

Frank asked the members present if they were in favor of wanting to spend the money and have the other vestibule on #103 done this year. After some discussion Dick made a motion to go ahead with the work on #103, spending up to $5,000.00 and if more approval can be made by phone. Dan seconded the motion, all voted in favor. Frank will contact Floyd Beegle to see when he is available and talk with the Everett R.R. to see if the car can be moved to the office.

Work is progressing on the Loretto, body is almost done, Joe has all windows done on the east side and now will move to the west. The roof will get painted first after the primer is finished.

Dick gave a report on the Wellsboro trip, he will be doing another ad this week so anyone interested please get in touch with Dick for your reservation. The cost is $89.00 for members and $94.00 for non. We will be departing from station mall area approximately 6:30 or 7 am. We will visit the canyon lookout, Tyoga Central R.R. for a train ride, Penn Wells Hotel for lunch. Lunch will consist of meatloaf or baked chicken, and visit the Highland Chocolate candy factory. Possibly stop at the outlets there.

Dave Seidel will be at Barnes & Noble July 17th for a book signing of his new Altoona post card book.

The meeting was open for general discussion.

A motion was made to adjourn by Joey and seconded by Larry.

Meeting adjourned. 

ATTENDANCE:  Wil Teeter   Leon Wilson   Karin Givler   Denny Walls   Frank Givler   Wayne Burket   Joey DeFRancisco   Don Goebal   Mike Walls   Dick Charlesworth   Larry McKee   Jeff Holland   Joe Harella Dan Moringello


June 24, 2010 - Wiener Roast

A relaxing evening enjoying the superb hospitality of Joe DeFrancesco; Rachel and Dink Gensimoe at Deer Hollow Bed and Breakfast, June 27, 2010. Photos by Dave Seidel


July 2010 Chapter Meeting Minutes

The meeting was called to order and the minutes from the June meeting were read. There were no additions or corrections, a motion to approve was made by Larry McKee and seconded by Joey DeFrancesco.  The Treasurer’s report was given.  A motion was made to approve by Dick Charlesworth and seconded by Joe Harella.

Car #103 was moved to Duncansville office, Floyd should have assessed for materials and work should start directly.  Work on the Loretto is progressing, all the windows on the west side are finished, black paint is started on the roof, when the roof is complete the sides of the car can be started.  There has been no progress on the Marplex.  REA truck has signs on, the truck went to the Antique Truck and Machinery Show at Lakemont Park on July 24 & 25.  Discussion again was of putting a Wrigley’s gum ad or some local vintage ad. Jeff suggested checking the internet to see what style would be preferred.  Frank also took the truck to the cruise in at Target and reported that it got a lot of attention.

Dick reported on the bus trip, we have 54 passengers. Dick ask that you please have him paid by the 1st of August. Cards will be given to you for dinner chice to be placed at your seat.

A reminder was given to those present and will be sent out about the Chapter picnic at the Teeter Lodge, please RSVP Frank so he can give Wil a head count.

Mr Seidel was a guest on WRTA to promote his new book, along with a very nice full page story in the Altoona Mirror.

The meeting was open for discussion.

Motion to adjourn was made by Don Goebal and seconded by Joe Harella Meeting adjourned

ATTENDANCE Jeff Holland; Karin Givler; Frank Givler; Bill Temple; Dave Seidel; Wayne Burket; Joe Harella; Dave Behe; Don Goebel; Bill Burket; Mike Walls; Denny Walls; Dick Charlesworth;  Joey DeFrancisco; Joe Oricko; Duane Miller  Tyler Martinuska;  Bob/George Merritt; Mike Walls 

Pictures of home

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
David Seidel of Altoona shows a small
 sampling of the hundreds of local postcards
 he has collected.

Writer depicts Altoona’s past through postcards

July 18, 2010 Altoona Mirror - By Jimmy Mincin,

David Seidel has again shone a light on the past  The Altoona native and local history author is celebrating the recent release of "Altoona" (Arcadia Publishing, 128 pages, $21.99), a photo essay book that captures the town's life and past through images of never-before-seen vintage postcards from both private and public collections, a release states. The book not only chronicles Altoona from its infancy, but also the railroad industry which founded the city - namely, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

"Photographic materials provide immediate clarity for the written word," Seidel, 72, said. "It's a nice way to get a good vignette of your hometown. Every little town and its people have a story to tell. These types of books really capture that."

The book, officially released June 14, is Seidel's third published work with Arcadia, the leading local history publisher in the United States, with a catalog of more than 6,000 titles in print and hundreds of new titles released every year, according to the company's website ( His other works include "Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Railway" (2005), which he co-authored with Altoona resident Leonard E. Alwine, and "Horseshoe Curve" (2008).

All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Blair County Historical Society, he said, adding it can be purchased at area bookstores, independent and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at 1-888-313-2665 or its website.

"I've donated all royalties from all of my books to local nonprofits and museums," he said, adding he is a founding member of the Railroaders Memorial Museum, a founding officer and and chapter historian of the Horseshoe Curve Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, the Blair County Genealogical Society and the Altoona-Blair County Photographic Society.

"I don't usually seek public attention, but I'm looking forward to (the book signings)," he said. "I'm just hoping people show an interest. In the retail environment, it's easy to meet and talk with people. I enjoy that."

A retired employment security specialist for the Commonwealth of Penn-sylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Seidel was born in Altoona and has lived here all his life, he said. His first job was as a newspaper delivery boy for the Altoona Mirror at age 14. Upon graduating from Altoona Catholic High School (now Bishop Guil-foyle) in 1956, he joined the U.S. Air Force, in which he served until 1965. He had the opportunity to work with the Pennsylvania Railroad for its final few years prior to its three subsequent mergers.

"I've always loved the industry, but it was hard to work for in those days because of the fluctuation," he said. "But since Conrail and Norfolk Southern, employment has stabilized dramatically. There's not as many peaks and valleys."

Seidel has been a collector of Altoona historical memorabilia and newsprint for more than 40 years, he said, adding much of his collection formed the basis for his latest book.

"I started collecting memorabilia around the mid-'60s, after I got out of the military," he said. "It evolved from there. That's when talks started for Altoona to have a railroaders museum. That's when the movement to create a museum began in earnest."

Local author Dennis McIlnay ("Juniata, River of Sorrows: One Man's Journey Into a River's Tragic Past," Seven Oaks Press, 2003) said Seidel's book "shows the really magnificent homes and other buildings that were a part of Altoona's history.

"Not being from Altoona originally, I wasn't aware of some of the buildings depicted on these postcards," McIlnay, 62, of Hollidaysburg said. "For life-long residents of Altoona, these post cards are going to bring back a lot of memories. For those who are non-residents, they're going to show the amazing collection of building that Altoona once had."

McIlnay, a full-time professor of business management at St. Francis University in Loretto, called Seidel a "treasure trove of local information.

"He's an historical landmark himself in many ways," he said. "He's a guy working to preserve Altoona history."

Joe Conlon, a retired English and history teacher for the Spring Cove School District, has known Seidel for more than 20 years, calling him "one of the most unrecognized Altoona historians out there.

"It's a very good book," Conlon, 85, of Roaring Spring said. "Not enough people know or are interested in local history. A lot of these postcards represent the history of Altoona."

But for all the accolades, Seidel takes it all in stride.

"I do this as an extension of my avocation, interests and hobbies - I'm not an academic or anything," he said. "But I think it makes a contribution to Altoona, if nothing else - and that's good enough for me.

Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460

August - September 2010 Issue of "The Coal Bucket"

AUG-SEP10 Newsletter

August Chapter Picnic

Our thanks, once again, to Diane and Will Teeter for hosting our annual picnic at their lodge near Hollidaysburg, PA. Its always a pleasure to visit this rustic location and share food and conversation. We were honored this year by a visit by our Regional Vice-President, John D. (and Mrs.) Sweigart. A great time was had by all and we thank the Teeter’s for the gracious hospitality. Mrs. Sweigart displayed the NRHS “Tile” which is available from Society sales, which makes a nice addition to NRHS memorabilia.  

October 2010 Chapter Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the August and September meeting were read and approved. A motion to accept the August minutes was made by Larry and Seconded by Don. The motion was made to accept the September minutes by Don and seconded by Joey.  The Treasurer’s report was given.  Motion to accept the Treasurer’s report was made by Joey and seconded by Dave Seidel.

Floyd is finished with the work on the car end, called Frank to come and look it over. Frank discussed with those [resent the work that was done. Frank told Floyd to measure the tank on car 104 to replace for the restroom and give us a price. All the work area is spray painted but will need primed and painted in the spring.  The side vestibule windows that are missing, Frank is trying to locate rubber gaskets to put in with new glass.  Joe Harella did painting on Saturday. Museum end of car done and steps that were black are now green. He also cleaned the paint from some windows. Joey has lettering done and waiting for brushes and gold paint. Frank will check on gold paint type and correct shade. Depending on the weather, this may not get done til spring.

The Chapter Christmas dinner is set for December 4th at 6:00pm. At the bed and breakfast of Joey’s grandparents . It will be Roast Beef and Turkey with all the trimmings, price is $20.00 per person including gratuity. Dave will send out a reminder by email and Frank will send out cards to those that do not have email. RSVP and money to come to Frank. Need a count by November 26th.

Dick requested cost of one nights stay for the Lancaster directors meeting. Denny made a motion to give Dick the cost of one nights hotel stay. Motion seconded by Dan.

Dick reported that Santa trips are selling quickly. The two extra caboose trips are sold out. Joey D went over car host schedule and plans.

Joey spoke about the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday October 22 for the roundhouse. The attendance was 75 to 100 people.

Meeting was open for discussion.

A motion to adjourn was made by Don and seconded by Joey.  Meeting adjourned 

ATTENDANCE Larry McKee; Jeff Holland; Tyler/Bob; Barry Kauffman; Leon Wilson; Wil Teeter; Larry Lear; Karin Givler; Frank Givler; Bill Temple; Dave Seidel; Wayne Burket; Joe Harella; Dave Behe; Don Goebel; Bill Burket; Neil Myers;  Mark Yingling; Mike Walls; Denny Walls; Dick Charlesworth; Dan Morningello; Joey DeFrancisco; Joe Oricko; Gary Clare; and Guest Ron Givler.

November 2010 Chapter Meeting Minutes

    The meeting was called to order by the President and the minutes from the October meeting were read with a motion to approve from Joe Harella and seconded by Dick Charlesworth. Motion carried.  The Treasurer’s report was given.  Frank ask Dick for a report on the Santa trips, Saturday was the first trips and went well. The assigned seating also went well for being the first time. Dick asked Alan Maples if he would consider giving us an extra day next year as the trips this year sold out so quickly.  A lot of discussion followed concerning the next year and the Saturday trip.

    Frank introduced a guest George Stanley from Williamsburg.

    Blair County Children & Youth sent a thank you for the donation to their Christmas event to buy the children Christmas gifts.  A check was sent to Toys for Tots at the Ramada and we also had a tree displayed for our chapter.  A donation was discussed for the Roaring Spring Historical Society, Bill Burket made a motion.  Motion was seconded by Dick Charlesworth. All voted in favor. Motion carried.  A motion was also made to give Norbert of the Everett Railroad who is retiring a Sheetz gift card from the Chapter in thanks for all the trips he has worked for us. Motion seconded by Denny Walls. All voted in favor. Motion carried.

    The Secretary asked the members present for nominations for officers for 2011. Since there were no nominations, by unanimous consent all the officers are keeping their present office for the next year.

     The meeting was open for discussion.

     A motion to adjourn was made by Don Gobel and seconded by Denny Walls Meeting adjourned

    ATTENDANCE Larry McKee; Jeff Holland; Tyler/Bob; Barry Kauffman; Leon Wilson; Wil Teeter; Larry Lear; Karin Givler; Frank Givler; Bill Temple; Dave Seidel; Wayne Burket; Joe Harella; Dave Behe; Don Goebel; Bill Burket; Neil Myers;  Mark Yingling; Mike Walls; Denny Walls; Dick Charlesworth; Guest: George Stanley

    December 2010 - Santa Trains

    Horseshoe Curve Chapter’s annual Santa Trains on November 20 and 27, 2010 were a great success. Trips were operated four times each day from Roaring Spring Station to Martinsburg, PA and return. All children received a treat bag, as usual, and everyone had cookies and hot chocolate after disembarking at the station. Carolers were aboard the train to provide carol sings during the trip and Santa Claus visited each child. In addition, Santa received many letters and, we have it on good authority, that Santa replied to these letters. Many thanks to all who helped in some capacity.

    December 2010 - Message from President Givler

    Chapter President Frank Givler wishes to extend his appreciation to everyone for all the chapter’s achievements during 2010. During any given year, we have a variety of projects going on simultaneously. Even if you are unable to participate in a physical project, the support received when votes need to be taken, and decisions made, it all assists the chapter leadership. We look forward to another productive year in 2011. As you know, there is no shortage of tasks or activities which enables all of us to share in this fascinating hobby. Frank  

NRHS and its logo are trademarks of the National Railway Historical Society
(All photos are by David Seidel unless otherwise indicated.)