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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: richg on March 11, 2014, 09:10:14 PM



Title: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on March 11, 2014, 09:10:14 PM
Read about both a lot. Looking forward to this area in June with girlfriend who is from the area.
Lots of railroad history.from what I have read over the years.
Horseshoe curve is a must see.
Found many websites.
Been to Scranton twice and Strasburg twice.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on March 11, 2014, 11:17:04 PM
three other spots worth looking at:

Juniata shop in Altoona is where ns rebuilds locomotives. there are currently several rebuild projects going on so you will see locomotives in various states of disassembly. Juniata is also home to the f7s when they are not in use.

gallitzen tunnels near cresson are the top of the mountain above Altoona. there is a nice park with an old cabin car you can tour while waiting for trains.

several miles further west is the Cassandra railroad overlook, with a park and picnic tables, as well as a footbridge where you can hang out.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on March 11, 2014, 11:27:10 PM
Thanks. Googleing that info right now.
Thinking we might take our bicycles. Many places today have great places for biking. Always looking for Rail Trails.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: trainmainbrian on March 12, 2014, 08:55:30 AM
Read about both a lot. Looking forward to this area in June with girlfriend who is from the area.
Lots of railroad history.from what I have read over the years.
Horseshoe curve is a must see.
Found many websites.
Been to Scranton twice and Strasburg twice.

Rich

Rich .... I have been to Horseshoe curve on 1 Trip myself in May last year for a weekend & being from the other end of PA I live in Bethlehem home of the Lehigh Valley Railroad & about 4 - 3/4 HR drive to Horseshoe curve for me... You will be amazed of The power that comes through the curve is awesome. & the Loco shops are really awesome too... I try to go Rail Fanning to this area in the summer months 1 time each year.. But  I am in the process of building a Model Railroad Layout myself "witch a lot of you already know that" I will not be planning & trips this Summer because I want to finish my Layout this summer I just passed the 70% complete mark... LOL... Rich Bring a lot of Film & have your cam recorder handy you will get a lot of video's... & ENJOY YOUR TRIP


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on March 12, 2014, 11:18:22 AM
Thanks. Googleing that info right now.
Thinking we might take our bicycles. Many places today have great places for biking. Always looking for Rail Trails.

Rich

for rail trails you'd want to go to Cumberland md, 60 miles to the south. Cumberland to Pittsburgh is the old westerm Maryland and p&le roadbed, which parallels the steam powered western Maryland scenic railroad for about 15 miles. east of Cumberland, is the c&o canal to Washington dc. there is a tunnel on the canal about 25 miles east of Cumberland. both are well worth the trip.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: ebtnut on March 12, 2014, 01:07:52 PM
Further east from Cumberland, a portion of the former WM is a good paved trail between Fort Frederick and Hancock, about 12 miles.  An interesting trip might be to bike the canal one way and the rail trail back. 


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on June 10, 2014, 09:50:27 PM
Great times on the trip. Thanks for the references.
Allegheny Portage Railroad site.  life- size model of the locomotive Lafayette is on display. Similar to the locos used.
Impressive to see how a 36 mile railroad hauled canal boats up and let them down the other side.
Went to The Gallitzin Tunnels after.
Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum

Scranton again. About the best, Got a tour of the backshop. Really impressive. Showed her all around. No steam running. Turntable down for overhaul. No rails or ties on it. The place is getting ready for Railfest 2014.
Couple railroads of sorts. They run on rails. lol
Funicular at Horseshoe curve.
Johnstown Incline Plane.

Saw a freight heading up Horseshoe Curve. Two GE C40-9W on point. Two pushers. 16,000 HP total. Impressive. Got a short video.
Sure you can find all this on You Tube and much better videos.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on June 11, 2014, 09:03:33 PM
one of the things about horseshoe curve is that most of the really heavy trains are heading downhill at that point. crude oil, coal and grain trains all run loaded eastbound. about the only really heavy trains heading uphill around the curve would be the steel slab trains and ballast trains since we lost the garbage train to csx in april.

if you understand what you're seeing, watching a heavy train descend the curve is almost as impressive as seeing them go uphill. when the railroad was built, the grade was lessened on the curves to compensate for the increase rolling resistance of the train in the curve. thus, a locomotive starting uphill will in theory use the same power all the way to the top. the helper engineers have an easy job here, just open the throttle and relax.

coming downhill is another matter. those lseesned grades act as flat spots so that the engineers are constantly working the dynamic brake to get themselves through these flat spots. you'll see the train come into the curve with dynamics screaming, then hear them back off while in the curve as the train speed lessens. in some cases, they may come out of dynaimc altogether and pull against the air brakes set on the cars. as they come out of the curve and the train speed starts to pick up again, they will notch back up on the dynamic brake. helpers are often used on the downhill trains for additional braking power. losing control of the train on a long winding downgrade like this one of an engineer's worst nightmares, right up there with hitting a school bus or a tanker truck.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on June 11, 2014, 09:38:12 PM
Did see a coal trail running toward the Curve but was gone by the time we got there.
The train we saw was all Auto-Max. Lots of them. About three different styles. I would assume the cars were empty running in that direction but that is just a guess on my part.
While at the Gallitzin Tunnel we saw a load of double stacks heading toward the curve.

Hope to get back there next year and spend at least two days in Steamtown.
Girlfriend has family reunion not far from Johnstown.
Johnstown Flood museum sad as was flight 93 memorial.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: Woody Elmore on June 13, 2014, 11:58:33 AM
Isn't the East Broad Top in that neck of the woods. I would try to fit it in to any Horseshoe Curve trip I might make.

enjoy your trip!


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on June 13, 2014, 10:17:22 PM
ebt is within 50 miles of the curve. not running this year, hopefully back in service next year. the whole railroad exists in a time warp, with cars still parked where they were the day it shut down, some with trees growing through them. ebt deserves an entire day to explore the line.

as for horseshoe curve, the whole area deserves at least an entire day. find a spot, kick back & relax and let the trains come to you. with the oil trains running hot and heavy this year, you never know whose locomotives will be on the next train.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: Woody Elmore on June 14, 2014, 07:51:25 AM
Sad news about EBT. I went on a Winter Spectacular once many years ago with friends. I remember being at the end of the line where they had to reverse direction. We jumped off the passenger car to take pictures and were knee deep in snow. Riding in a caboose and the motor car was great fun. Wasn't (isn't) there a traction line running in the same area - or is that also defunct?


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on June 14, 2014, 10:49:24 AM
the trolley museum is still active.

also word has it that parts of the ebt have been sold with the intention of getting them back in service. i believe it was mt union yard and the north end of the line which have been sold.

it's a miracle that the ebt is still intact. the kovalchicks who own it are in the scrap business, and bought the railroad to scrap it. instead, they let it sit except for the 5 mile portion which was restore to service. if the money can be found, at least the section from orbisonia to mt union could be rebuilt. i have heard at least one of the tunnels south of orbisonia is collapsed, so i doubt you will ever see that part of the line in operation.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: ebtnut on June 17, 2014, 10:28:47 AM
Not going to go into a long dissertation on the current state of affairs on the EBT.  Suffice it to say that there are on-going discussions regarding its future and return to operations, maybe next year.  The Friends of the EBT are still having regular worksessions (I believe there is one this weekend) and the Rockhill Trolley Museum is still active and has a very nice ride down the former Shade Gap branch.  The Broad Top Miner's Museum has been doing some right-of-way clearing down at Robertsdale, where the Friends have their museum as well.

As for the NS main around Altoona, in addition to the curve there are some other spots to check out.  The Gallitzen tunnels is certainly on the list.  Note that the eastbound main is separated from the westbound.  There is a bridge over the e/b tracks a couple of blocks away from the little park area where the caboose is.  Further west, there is a railfan platform alongside the main at Cresson, and another railfan viewing spot at Cassandra.  The latter is a bit hidden, but you should be able to locate it with Googlemaps or Mapquest. 


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on June 17, 2014, 05:49:33 PM
Not going to go into a long dissertation on the current state of affairs on the EBT.  Suffice it to say that there are on-going discussions regarding its future and return to operations, maybe next year.  The Friends of the EBT are still having regular worksessions (I believe there is one this weekend) and the Rockhill Trolley Museum is still active and has a very nice ride down the former Shade Gap branch.  The Broad Top Miner's Museum has been doing some right-of-way clearing down at Robertsdale, where the Friends have their museum as well.

As for the NS main around Altoona, in addition to the curve there are some other spots to check out.  The Gallitzen tunnels is certainly on the list.  Note that the eastbound main is separated from the westbound.  There is a bridge over the e/b tracks a couple of blocks away from the little park area where the caboose is.  Further west, there is a railfan platform alongside the main at Cresson, and another railfan viewing spot at Cassandra.  The latter is a bit hidden, but you should be able to locate it with Googlemaps or Mapquest. 

We where at the Gallitzen tunnels. Saw the entrance to the first ones also.
I will look up the other two.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on June 17, 2014, 06:24:35 PM
it should be noted that cresson is also home to the sd80macs on ns. the engine service facilities are right across from the viewing platform. cresson also boasts a bed and breakfast geared towards railfans, as does gallitzen.  cassandra also hosts a railfan motel, though you can't see the trains from the motel.


since my tastes run more towards being trackside on a busy modern railroad, this area is one of my favourites. i have done several train logs over the years, and traffic is pretty consistently about 75-80 trains in a 24 hour period. (the csx former b&o line about 40 miles to the south runs half that on a good day.)


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on June 17, 2014, 07:24:58 PM
it should be noted that cresson is also home to the sd80macs on ns. the engine service facilities are right across from the viewing platform. cresson also boasts a bed and breakfast geared towards railfans, as does gallitzen.  cassandra also hosts a railfan motel, though you can't see the trains from the motel.


since my tastes run more towards being trackside on a busy modern railroad, this area is one of my favourites. i have done several train logs over the years, and traffic is pretty consistently about 75-80 trains in a 24 hour period. (the csx former b&o line about 40 miles to the south runs half that on a good day.)


Thanks. That one is on the list also.

As a side note. the Backshop at Steamtown was very informative. Now I know why some steamers will never be restored. Too much wear on the boiler. Ultra sound has proved that.
Lots of machining has to be done to restores a steamer.
The Backshop is right behind the roundhouse and only accessible by a tour.
For those who have never been there, you can walk in the rear of the roundhouse and you walk right by the front of the loco. Some have the smokebox open. Handicap accessible. Metal guardrails keep you inside the walking area.

Rich



Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: jward on June 18, 2014, 06:11:35 PM
this just shows how much we have lost over the years. up until about 30 years ago, you could sign a release and have the run of some pretty major yards. in 1983, a friend and i got a tour of b&o's cumberland shops by simply writing them and asking. this was and is a major facility capable of complete overhauls in the way steamtown is to-day. the big difference is that steamtown is set up for tours, the b&o took the time out of their day to show us around a busy facility during a normal workday. nobody will do that anymore.

for those who have never been able to tour a facility like this, go if you ever get the chance. some of the equipment they have in the backshop is absolutely fascinating: overhead cranes capable of lifting entire locomotives, drop tables where they can lower an entire axle from a locomotive while it is sitting on the rails, and wheel lathes capable of grinding wheels into the proper profiles while they are still on the locomotive.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: richg on June 18, 2014, 07:14:40 PM
You can still wander all though the yard ar Steamtown.
We arrived about ten minutes before an announced tour of the backshop which is restricted to only tours.
lots of equipment for overhauling locomotives. Steam or diesel.
Large lathes and milling machines and overhead cranes. Quite something on how a tire is replaced on a driver.

Rich


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: RAM on June 18, 2014, 10:58:48 PM
When I was in high school I would go out to the yards and roundhouses full of live steam locomotives and talk to workers and no one said a thing.  I would even ask if I could get up in the cab while the local crew went for lunch.  Just don't touch anything.  Now with BNSF, if you cross that line you may face a week in jail.


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: ebtnut on June 19, 2014, 12:50:37 PM
Re:  Restoration of steam locos.  While the boiler condition is an important issue, it doesn't have to be a show-stopper.  Several tourist-era locos have gotten new boilers made.  The one that comes immediately to mind is the Climax being restored at Cass, WV.  Yes, it is expensive, like any steam-realted work.  The real killer is if the main frame is cracked beyond a welding repair.  I'm not sure that there is anywhere in the country that has the technology to cast a new steel frame. 


Title: Re: Johnstown Altoona PA trip
Post by: RAM on June 19, 2014, 02:13:35 PM
I have spent the last week in Washington St.  The other day we drove by a tourist line.  the had one 2-6-6-2 in good shape.  They also had about 10 other locomotives that were just rusting away.  a 2-6-6-2, 2-8-0, 0-6-0 and other geared locomotives.  It is great to save them, but sad to see them rust.  Up here they have a lot of rain which is bad news for anything made of steel.