Horseshoe Curve, Altoona PA

Horseshoe Curve is an elevated, three-track railroad curve located in Altoona, PA.  The location is an historic site with a museum and visitor center.

I\’ve been here a handful of times on random drives in the past.  My father used to love watching the trains, and we would park  in the belly of the curve and then count train cars as the long ribbon of steel would slink along the curve.  As a kid, I didn\’t appreciate the engineering marvel that conquers the Allegheny Ridge.

Rainy Weekend

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During on of my geocaching weekends the weather shifted earlier than expected. Intense storms rolled in with lightening and gusting winds.  We cancelled our outdoor activities late in the morning and started the slow road-trip drive home.  I like to have several backup plans for various regions for just such an occasion. If Plan A fails, there is always Plan B through Z mixed in with the inspired randomness that road trips offer.

We were passing through Altoona on our way home and my travel companion had never see the Horseshoe Curve, nor visited Altoona itself. We all know what that means, right?

Train Spotting

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A train started to pass through the curve a few minutes after we arrived. My guest enjoyed the first experience of watching the train\’s passing on the large, long bend.  The rain never ended, however. But it slowed down enough that we could see the passing from the interior of my car.

Unfortunately the museum was closed as was the steps leading up to the observation deck.  It was supposed to be open, so I guess whoever was working that day assumed there would be no visitors on the cold, wet weekday.  They were wrong, but I could understand their reasoning. We were the only car in the entire park during the length of our visit.

If you happen to be a rail road fan or train buff, this site is a great spot for Pennsylvania Rail Road history with a living rail road activity overhead.  You\’ll definitely get to watch a large train pass through the curve with only a short wait.

Next time…

The next time I\’m in the area, I\’ll swing by and capture more information about the viewing platform and museum and update this blog post with current photos. In the meantime, here are some stats:

  • Built 1851 – 1854
  • Length of Curve: 2375ft
  • Degree of Curve: 220 degrees
  • Was targeted by the Nazi\’s during World War II in an attempt to severely damage American infrastructure

Tom & Joe\’s Restaurant

We selected on a family restaurant in Altoona, and was very pleased to find a popular and well attended \’old fashioned\’ diner restaurant.  They were practicing Covid safety by keeping an empty table between each customer. But you could instantly tell the place was the go-to for the locals and nearby businesses.  The food was very good and the service was friendly. And despite the wet, chilly day – all I can remember is that we laughed and laughed over something silly, enjoyed a tasty hot meal, and then hit the road to continue our road trip drive home.

\"Tom