In General
Train Pix
Additional Maps


The guides for the Altoona area are divided into the following maps:

Index page
Map 1 - Altoona proper - you are here
Altoona West
Altoona East
Horseshoe Curve

the East Broad Top RR Railfan Guide
the Railroader's Museum

In General

Location / Name:
Altoona PA, Blair County

What's Here:
the Railroaders Memorial Museum
the for ALTO Pennsy RR Tower
Norfolk Southern Juniata shops
Horseshoe Curve is just outside of town
Amtrak Station
Boyer Candy Co - the folks who make Mallo Cups

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 814
ZIP: 16601/602

Access by train/transit:
Amtrak Pennsylvanian

The Scoop:

Altoona is a great railfan town, period.  Between the Railroaders Museum, ALTO Tower, the former Pennsy Juniata Shops, the mainline, the Amtrak Station, and the close proximity to Horseshoe Curve, Gallitzin, and Cresson, there is plenty to keep you busy for several days of enjoyment.

Note: THE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OUT on the Pennsy PL signals - this happened in 2012.  See the signal section below.

For an Altoona railroad timeline, check out:

Tyler Nace
Marc Lingenfelter
Abram Burnett
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
None at this time.....



  The Amtrak Station

GPS Coordinates: 40.514460, -78.401864
1231 11th Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601
Station Code: ALT
The Pennsylvania Railroad established Altoona in 1849 as a base for its rail operations over the Alleghenies; the transportation center is located near the Railroaders Memorial Museum.



  Shot looking north from the overpass.

  Sign at the bottom of the overpass on the Museum side.

The station is located directly across the tracks from the railroaders Museum and the mall (and a McDonalds if you're looking for a quick meal).  When they run trips "over the hill", they leave from here as can be seen from the E's waiting to leave one early and rainy morning on October the 2nd, 2011.  I was the only one around taking pictures of the departing train that morning :-(

  ALTO Tower

After a long history, ALTO tower was closed on 6/16/2012, after the cutover to the new sugnals was made, and the ALTO sign was removed from the face of the building.

The tower is located a few hundred feet west of the Amtrak station.

  The Railroaders Museum



      Early morning shots in the rain 10/2011

A great railroad museum in one of the best railfanning areas of the country (a little personnel bias... nah).  Their website also covers Horseshoe Curve, and admission to one gets you into both attractions (many years ago, before a visitors center was constructed, Horseshoe Curve was wide open and free to visit :-).

The above pictures are from the Railfest held in 2004.  Present were Bennett Levin's E's as stationary displays.  In previous years, they ran excursions over the hill to Gallitzin and back.

You'll find more pictures of the museum on my page for the museum HERE,
and more info from their website is HERE.

The Juniata Shops





Conrail #5438 on the turntable with railcar wheels under it, being moved by Rail King 320.  Pictures by Marc Lingenfelter... Many thanks!


You never know what to expect in the way of motive power when you  drive by.....  A friend of mine got harassed by the NS police when 999 was in Enola and tried getting pictures of it :-(  999 is supposed to be a battery powered unit...

    The shop sign isn't looking as good as it did 7 years ago (2004 vs 2011).....

      Shots from 4th St.

Back in the Pennsy days, these shops were hard to beat for just about anything.  The guys that worked here would tackle fixing or building anything... anything.  Up until the Norfolk Southern takeover of Conrail, they even opened the shops as part of the Railfest days, held in conjunction with the Railroaders Museum.  Still in operation: a turntable at the far north end of the shops as shown above.

  North Side of the Yard




The above series of photos of a light engine move is by Marc Lingenfelter and passed on by Tyler Nace... Thanks guys!
The engines, owned by the AAR, are headed to Africa.

Train Pictures

The westbound Broadway Limited in 1966.
Photo courtesy ADB.

Sunday 10/2/2011 ~ 7:00am -  A Pennsy E-8 fan trip getting ready to leave.  Weather was crummy, and I was the only one around in the station area taking pictures.  It was heading west over the Horseshoe Curve.


EB freight coming off the grade from Horseshoe Curve at 35th St.


A couple of shots of caboose DODX 900 coming thru town.  Photo by Tyler Nace, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time!

A WB freight coming around the curve into the straight stretch in front of the station, and then in front of the station.  10/2011

A WB freight going under 17th street, with nice shots of the PL signals (for now).  10/2011


Another WB freight, with 8 engines in the lead and several "foreign" engines including a Wheeling & Lake Erie unit.  10/2011


Two EB freights, left one from 17th St, the other one from 10th Ave.

Couple of shots at 17th St.

Helpers at 35th St.

WB freight at 35th St, getting ready to head up the hill to the tunnels and the Curve.

Additional Maps

The three following maps came off of one of the coolest maps I ever came across on CN's website, but I have lost the way to find it again.  Their map of the United States and Canada has virtually every railroad track existing.  Here are three screen captures from Altoona down to Johnstown:


As of 6/16/2012, Norfolk Southern took down the last Pennsy PL signals in the immediate Altoona area.  They brought in cranes to remove the entire bridge structures for any existing PL signals, and Alto tower closed with the removal of the ALTO sign off the side of the tower :-(  The following pictures were forwarded to me by Mr. A Burnett and taken by AJK..... many thanks to both!

  EB - Next to Juniata Shops


Signals at the Amtrak Station

Dwarf PL's and pedestals abound, looking west from the overpass.

  WB/Signal Bridge - Northside of 17th St




  EB/Signal Bridge - Southside of 17th St

There used to be a signal bridge here that spanned all four tracks, but it only had 2 EB signals on it (geographically NB going thru Altoona).  In the PL replacement, it was replaced with a cantilever bridge with three signals on it, the forth track got its own signal, adjacent to a new colorlight signal for the Cove Secondary / Hollidaysburg branch joining the mainline.  All of this is adjacent to ALTO Tower, and under 17th St.

  Signals at 3 Today


3d and Boyer's Candy

       10/2011 - Old signals getting ready to come down....

            10/2011 - New signals going up....


  The track leading off to the left heads down to Duncansville and Holidaysburg.

  Cove Secondary / Hollidaysburg Branch Interchange Signals

These are the last signals an engineer sees on the branch before coming out on the mainline at ALTO tower.


  EB Signal Bridge - 24-1/2 St/West Walnut Ave

Need pictures

  WB Signal Bridge - 24-1/2 St/West Walnut Ave

Could use a better picture if anyone has one available....

  WB Signal Bridge - 35th St


    Crossing gates at 35th St.

North end of the yard


    The tracks on the left head to Tyrone.

Hollidaysburg Branch

A new set of signals where there was none... Between the overpasses of 37th St and N Logan Blvd.



  Anyone like Mallo Cups?.... well, they're made right here in Altoona, across from the mall by the museum.

  Underpass on 31st St.

  Interesting building....

  Interesting street signs....

In this day and age of green reflectorized interstate signs, it is most unusual to see these remnants of the 50's still hanging around.  These WERE on I-70 NB coming into Breezewood PA.  The last ones in Maryland came out in the late 80's, and were on US340 south of Frederick.

  Station 4.

  Are you a Penn State fan?


For you Harbor Freight fans, it's located on the south side of town just off I-99 on Planks Road.
It's in the SC across from Arby's and KMart on my map.

If you prefer Tractor Supply, it's located down in Duncansville.

If you're a Northern Tools fan, sorry, there are none north of Virginia unless you're out in Minnesota!


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.

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 :-)

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.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

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!  Please 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.


NEW 4/19/2009, 4/8/2010, 12/7/2013
Last Modified 28-Sep-2018