RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
the ALLEGHENY PORTAGE RAILROAD
NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Portage Railroad was the first way to travel west towards Ohio using rail.
The only problem were the hills and mountains of Pennsylvania, which posed a
great barrier to the railroads of the early 1800's. This was solved by
using a series of steam powered inclines to pull basically what amounted to
a boat, up the sides of the mountains to reach either the railroad or
rivers. If they were going to a river, the boats would be put back into the
water till it again came to either another incline or the railroad. It is a
most interesting part of railroad history, and should be on every railfans
"to do" list.
The APR, between Altoona and Johnstown PA used sleepers extensively. The museum in Portage PA has an extremely well done exhibit, and has laid out several hundred feet of the sleepers on the ground to give the visitor an idea of how they were used. A link to a page on the sleepers is here, a link to the National Park Service website for the Allegheny Portage Railroad is here, and a link to a tutorial on the railroad is here.
The APR happens to be in the middle of one of the best railfan areas of the United States (IMHO). Take advantage of your visit to the area, with the Horseshoe Curve a few miles away, the NS shops in Altoona, one of the largest railroad maintenance centers, the East Broad Top about 35 miles to the east, the only operating narrow gauge railroad east of the Mississippi, Holidaysburg, and the mainline action on the Harrisburg-Pittsburgh Norfolk Southern line.
Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted. Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
The museum is about halfway between Harrisburg PA and
Pittsburgh PA, near Altoona PA and off Interstate 99.
The quickest way from just about anywhere, is via I-99, and then US-22, unless you are due west of the site.
As seen in the big map below, take the Tunnelhill Road exit, and follow the signs to the museum.
Photo from Wikipedia,
taken by Matthew A. Lynn.
A set of 4 aerial views from Bing Maps
The painting is nice, but the sleepers are too far apart!
(Picture from The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission)
Close-up of the Allegheny Portage RR sleepers.
(Allegheny Portage National Historic Site)
Below, photos of the original rail used on the Portage Railroad, dug up in 2003. Thanks to Abram for passing these along to me.
Historical USGS Maps
This map comes from a map I pieced together for Cresson PA, and is from the Ebinsburg Quadrangle - date unknown, but it is from the Conrail era.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while trying to help others. My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place. There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages. Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like. I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion). If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names. Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a
thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only
get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take
along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still
better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts
out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their
state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em,
I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and
concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where
tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.
Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.
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Last Modified 12-Apr-2016