A Quick Railfan Guide to Altoona and the Nearby Pittsburgh Line

This is a quick guide to interesting railfan sites in the Altoona PA area. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but will hopefully be a primer for first time visitors.

A quick history: Altoona, and the current day NS Pittsburgh Line is part of a storied history of railroading in Pennsylvania. It was the heart of the PRR, and then a major feature of Penn Central and Conrail after it. Altoona is home to the massive Juniata Shops, a massive complex where locomotives and cars have been built and rebuilt for over a hundred years. It is home to the world famous Horseshoe Curve, an engineering marvel. It sits astride the NS Pittsburgh Line, one of the nation’s busiest rail lines. Needless to say, Altoona and the surrounding area is an area of great interest for hardcore and casual railfans alike.

Altoona is not an exceedingly prosperous place in modern times but it holds its own in modern America with regards to development and qualities of life. This means that it’s both a cost effective place to visit (provided Penn State Football doesn’t have a home game) and a pleasant place to spend a few days exploring.

In this guide I’m going to discuss points of interest from east to west.