Todd's Railfan Guide to

 In General
Getting Here
Fire & Police


The guides for the Altoona area are divided into the following maps:
     Index page
     Altoona Proper
     Altoona West
     Altoona East
     Horseshoe Curve

     the East Broad Top RR Railfan Guide
     the Railroader's Museum
     the Allegheny Portage RR National Historic Site

Pictures (and additional information) are 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!
Contact info is here

In General

Location / Name:
Cresson PA

What's Here:
NS helper facility
RJ Corman RR
A wye
the Station Inn bed & breakfast
And the Allegheny Portage RR National Historic Site is very close!

GPS Coordinates: 40.28258, -86.51806
Zip code: 16630
Elevation: 2,057ft
Population: 1,666 (2013)

Access by train/transit:
None - Trains come thru here, but do not stop here, closest city for passenger service: Altoona PA, ~20 miles

The Scoop:

Along with the Horseshoe Curve and Altoona, Gallitzin and Cresson make this part of the country one of the biggest railfan areas to visit in the U.S.

Cresson is home to a Norfolk Southern helper facility, RJ Corman, a wye and the Station Inn, one of the few places in the U.S. where you can sleep right next to a mainline of this caliber.

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 Helper Facility and Wye

Ever since Horseshoe Curve became a reality, helpers have always been needed to get the trains up and over the hill.  If you have been taking pictures long enough, you will remember seeing engines in PRR, Penn Central, Conrail, and now, Norfolk Southern livery.  If you can go back a few more years into the 50's, well, you may also remember steam! :-)

The helper facility is nicely planted on the inside of the Cresson Wye, as can be seen from the aerial shots.


      Oct 2004               Oct 2011
These pictures are taken from Arch St.

According to the USGS Map at the bottom of the page, there used to be a flyover the mainline that connected the two yards.

   Across from the Helper Facility and Wye

With a great view in both directions, this spot can keep you busy for a whole day by itself!

  Oct 2004                       Oct 2011

      Oct 2011

          Oct 2011

   Heritage Park

  Oct 2004                Oct 2011

   The Station Inn

This is a great place to stay if you anticipate staying overnight in the area.  More info here.


        Oct 2011

   RJ Corman

This is part of RJ Corman's ever expanding empire.

          Oct 2011

          Oct 2011

    Oct 2011


      To the left is a much larger and newer version of the map below.

   Allegheny Portage Railroad

I used to have this site on this page, but have moved it here

The Allegheny Portage Railroad is part of the National Park system as a National Historic Site.  More info is also HERE and HERE

   Elsewhere in Town - Small Arch Bridge

This small ARCH underpass is on Arch St, off Shakertown Rd as you head over to the west side of the helper facility.


   Elsewhere in Town - Pedestrian Underpass

  If you're standing on Front St across from the wye, this underpass would be to your left, directly across from the Station Inn..


  WB - east of Cresson

As you are entering Cresson from the east (coming from Gallitzin), you will pass over the ex-Pennsy mainline before hitting town.  Parking can be found on the Cresson side of the overpass.  It was getting dark by the time I got here in Oct 2011.  By the time I took the last pictures, it was well into darkness.

              Oct 2011

          Oct 2011


  WB - in Cresson

  Oct 2011

  EB - in Cresson

These signals are not native to this region.  They were upgrades during the Conrail era.  They are "trilights", or, to keep the purists happy, triangularly shaped color light signals, maintainers call them "type G", after the GRS designation for them (however, a US&S type "G" signal would be a B&O style CPL signal).

                Oct 2011

  Sorry, last one in the dark is a little fuzzy :-(  Didn't feel like getting the tripod out.    Oct 2011

    A WB freight passes the signals close to the former location of MO Tower.  Oct 2004

All of these shots are from Heritage Park, the aerial shots are from Bing Maps birdseye view!

Fire and Police

Cresson Volunteer Fire Company


Public Safety Building

  The fire house is behind it.....


MOW Yard

Below is a section of the USGS map that illustrates the flyover between the two yards, and the fact that the eastern yard was at one time a much more substantial yard.
The USGS map I have at the bottom is around a 400K JPEG - it was reduced from one that around 4MB.  The screenshot below is from the 4MB version.

Historical USGS Maps




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.



NEW 8/22/2010
Last Modified 13-Apr-2016