Friday, October 23, 2009

Altoona, Pennsylvania: Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark

As railroad curves go, this is a pretty interesting one.

The railroad industry had a problem in the 1850's -- how should get it an east-west line in Pennsylvania? The terrain was rather rugged. Engineers eventually came up with an elegant solution. They filled in some of the gaps in the landscape, and then built a rail line that made a sweeping curve of about 220 degrees as it slowly climbed up hill and out to the West.

It worked. In fact, it became one of the busiest train spots in the country. The site has been guarded during wartime (from the Civil War to World War II).

The facility is now a tourist attraction and a national landmark. Located just to the west of Altoona, railroad enthusiasts can drop by for as long as they want and watch the trains go by. Give it an hour, and you'll see a few -- sometimes two at once. Such as is shown in the picture above. There's also a museum at the bottom of the hill.

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