Altoona Pennsylvania History

A Nazi plot that fizzled out and sabotaged in 1942 tells the story of an agent thriller that is beginning to unfold these days. The story begins a half-century earlier, when the fledgling Pennsylvania Railroad consisted of only a few hundred miles of track between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the days when a stagecoach ride between the two cities could take one to two weeks, depending on weather conditions, the journey time from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was reduced to 15 hours, as opposed to the three days required to build the railroad.

The Pennsylvania Railroad was hastily established by the Legislature in 1846, and soon after, work began on a rail corridor through the state. Pennsylvania Railroad was unable to appease political interests and to anticipate competing railroads that were already planning routes to the Midwest. These interruptions have hampered PRR's efforts to stay on track with other major US railroads, such as the New York and Ohio Railroad.

The entire intersection was opened in 1853, allowing access from Altoona and the rest of the state to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The 113-mile connection between Paloona and Pittsburgh united eastern and western Pennsylvania like never before, proving that the railroad age had truly arrived in Pennsylvania.

Much of this growth was fueled by demand for locomotives during the Civil War, and in the later years of the war Altoona was known as a valuable northern city. More than 2,000 inhabitants lived there, many of them farmers and ranchers. The war and rationed gas, as well as the construction of new roads and bridges, brought unprecedented traffic and property to Altoonia and the Logan Valley.

When the founders of the PRR appealed to the state legislature to build a railroad in 1846, the legislature issued a charter and passed a law incorporating the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. When the water and property were sold in part to the city in 1850 for the Philadelphia and Western Pennsylvania Railway Company, the name was changed to "Altoona Gas Company," which it retains to this day, although the name has since been sold as part of its water ownership. This spurred the creation of a county of its own, with Hollidaysburg as the center. Altoona was authorized in 1855 to use its own water, sewage and sewage system and a sewage treatment plant, but it did so under the direction of a private company founded in 1859 for this purpose.

The road service consisted mainly of US Route 22, which provided access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and its intersection with Interstate 99. In the mid-19th century, passenger traffic declined as the Allegheny County Railroad and the Philadelphia and Western Pennsylvania Railway Company began to run the Horseshoe Curve. The Pennsylvania Railroad Band became the first band in Altoona history, with John White replacing Fred Hagar as conductor and John W. White and his band members remaining employed.

In 1834, the canal was connected to the Allegheny Portage Railroad, which carried boats in primitive railroad carriages to Allegheny Ridge. In 1932, an access road through the park was completed, and the Pennsylvania Railroad (GP9 - 7048) replaced the old Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Railway (P & WR) line with the Horseshoe Curve. The train had previously taken three and a half days to use the existing rail link with the Pennsylvania Canal System, but the PRR inaugurated the parks in 1957, with a new station at the intersection of US Route 22 and Interstate 99.

The creation of the horseshoe curve allowed trains to cross the Allegheny Mountains, reducing the travel time between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from several days to less than 20 hours. When it opened on February 15, 1854, the journey time from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was reduced to 15 hours, and the Main Line Public Works was able to use it as a stop for Pennsylvania Railroad's "Ride-a-Thon" service between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

If used, travelers could forget Pittsburgh for Philadelphia, and passenger trains could run between the state's two major cities in less than an hour and a half instead of several days.

The Pennsylvania Railroad underwent the Allegheny Mountains by passing through a 3,600-foot tunnel, the so-called "Allegheny Tunnel," under the mountain town of Gallitzin, Cambria County, and then westward to Pittsburg, PA. The Horseshoe Curve is celebrated as one of the most famous curves in Pennsylvania's railroad history. When the main P.R. line was completed in 1858, travelers from Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh could get there in less than an hour and a half. In 1864, the first of three major tunnels between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Altona Tunnel, was completed, reducing the journey time from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh from three to four days to just 15 hours.

This three-story building was formerly the home of the master mechanic of the Pennsylvania Railroad and was built in 1882. Once they tested the most efficient ways to do things here, and once it was the headquarters of PR where they tested the best ways to do things.

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More About Altoona