The Pennsylvania Railroad in Altoona

Download 450 b.
Hajmi450 b.


  • This presentation is meant to introduce students to the Pennsylvania Railroad as an entity and to begin to stress the impact of the company on the local area. Students are surrounded by train tracks, but in the modern era when trains seem so outdated and when the local railroad industry has taken such a hard hit, students do not recognize the truly revolutionary impact of the company on the area.

The Pennsylvania Railroad in Altoona:

  • A Brief History of the PRR in the 1800s


  • Created by the PA General Assembly in 1846 at the request of Philadelphia businessmen

  • Original charter called for a rail line to be built between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh


PRR Lines, 1840

Founding of Altoona

  • Construction of the Altoona Repair Shops begins in 1850

  • Also in 1850, the first train makes the trip from Altoona to Pittsburgh

  • The sale of plots of land in the location that would soon become Altoona begins in 1851


Growth of the PRR in Altoona

  • 1850: only a few settlers

  • 1860: 3,600

  • 1870: over 10,000

  • The railroad grew immensely during the Civil War; the Union Army relied heavily on the railroad to distribute materials and transport troops

  • Rumors of a raid by Gen. Lee on the Altoona Shops spread each time the Rebels advanced into the North


The Logan House

The Logan House

  • Beautiful hotel built in Altoona in 1852

  • Housed many famous and influential people, including seven presidents, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, P.T. Barnum, and Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII of England

  • Explore PA History

The War Governor’s Conference at the Logan House

  • One of the greatest moments in Blair County’s history: September 24-25, 1862, two days after the Emancipation Proclamation was released

  • 14 governors of Union states met with Pres. Lincoln and pledged their support to the Northern cause during the Civil War at a time when support for the war was weakening

  • Explore PA History

The Logan House

  • Hotel closed in 1927 after 75 years; sleeping cars on passenger trains made the need for the hotel void

  • In 1931, the site was sold to the U.S. government; it is the current site of the Altoona Post Office

  • Explore PA History

Altoona maps

Altoona Maps

The Horseshoe Curve

The Horseshoe Curve

  • Designed by John Edgar Thomson and Herman Haupt

  • Opened in 1854

  • Advertised as the “8th Wonder of the Modern World” and “The World Famous Horseshoe Curve”

  • Serves as a main basis for the name of the AA minor league baseball team, the Altoona Curve

The Horseshoe Curve

  • PRR was faced with the problem of crossing the Allegheny Mts. if they were to connect Philadelphia with Pittsburgh

  • Trains at the time could not travel on tracks with a grade of greater than 1.8%

  • Solution was to build a road in a horseshoe shape around the valley, filling in a number of hollows along the way

  • Received National Landmark status in 1966


The Horseshoe Curve

  • The Curve was one of Adolf Hitler’s top strategic spots to attack if he were to move WWII to America

  • On July 1, 1942, the FBI searched 225 homes in Altoona to find evidence of a Nazi plot to destroy the Curve and cripple the American war machine

  • "The Horseshoe Curve"

The Horseshoe Curve

  • Trains along the Horseshoe Curve

The Horseshoe Curve

  • Accidents near the Curve include:

    • May 27, 1887: Eight injured, six killed, including Dale Graham, the son of former Speaker of the PA House of Representatives James Graham
      • New York Times, 5-29-1887
    • February 18, 1947: 25 killed when 11 of the 14 cars of the Red Arrow, a passenger train heading from Detroit to New York, jumped the track

Kittanning Point Station, east of the Curve

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state…

  • The Railroad Strike of 1877

    • An economic recession had struck in the years following the Civil War. Instability and inflation sent industries into a tailspin, leading to layoffs and wage reductions
    • In May 1877, the PRR had, for the 2nd year in a row, reduced pay by 10%. Strikes started in Pittsburgh (leading to bloody confrontations between railroaders and police) and eventually spread throughout the country
    • Altoona Shop workers did NOT strike; they were not allowed to unionize, and because Altoona was a one-industry city, they feared they would lose their only chance at employment if they struck
    • Explore PA History

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the state…

  • The Johnstown Flood

    • May 31, 1889, one of the most terrible disasters in American history took place in Cambria County
    • The manmade dam built by the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club (which counted “richest man in the world” Andrew Carnegie among its members) gave way, sending a 40 ft. tall, half a mile wide wall of water and debris through the Conemaugh Valley into the streets of Johnstown, a mining town of 30,000
    • Over 2,200 people died in the flood; bodies were found as far away as Cincinnati
    • Johnstown Area Heritage Association

The Johnstown Flood

Effects of the PRR

  • The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of the leading railroad lines of its time. It even appears as one of the railroad spaces on the original “Monopoly” game, so it must be a big deal!!

  • The city of Altoona was founded by the PRR; anything of any importance to happen in or because of this city can be traced to the PRR

  • Millions of workers owed their livelihoods to this company

  • Railroads, including the PRR, played a major role in the course of history. Without railroads, western expansion couldn’t occur; the Union may not have won the Civil War; the Axis may have won World War II.

  • Industry is the backbone of our economy, and without railroads to transport goods and materials, it would be crippled

Your Task:

  • You will research a specific event or important placed tied to the Pennsylvania Railroad in or near Altoona. It could be the opening (or closing) of shops or related businesses, disasters, accidents, meetings, or other approved topic that MUST RELATE TO THE PRR!!!!

  • You will create a presentation or website that exhibits your research in an engaging and creative fashion

Your Rubric:

  • Project rubric


  • These events and many others have helped to shape our local identity. Though the Pennsylvania Railroad no longer exists, its effects still linger in the identity of central Pennsylvanians.

Works Cited

  • Johnstown Area Heritage Association. “History of the Johnstown Flood.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “Explore PA History.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “Database of Pennsylvania Railroad Stations Past and Present.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “Horseshoe Curve Train Wreck.” AP Wire Service. The Gettysburg Times, February 18, 1947

  • “Crushed in the Cars.” New York Times, 5-29-1887.

  • “The Pennsylvania Railroad.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • Mcilnay, Dennis (2007). The Horseshoe Curve: sabotage and subversion in the railroad city. Hollidaysburg, PA: Seven Oaks Press.

  • “Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • Wikipedia Commons. “Horseshoe Curve.” Web. 26 July 2010

  • “Altoona and Horseshoe Curve Railfan Guide.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “Explore PA History.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “Database of Pennsylvania Railroad Stations Past and Present.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • National Park Service. “Pennsylvania Railroad Shops and Works.” Web. 26 July 2010.

  • “PRR Maps From the Centennial History.” Web. 26 July 2010.

Do'stlaringiz bilan baham:

Ma'lumotlar bazasi mualliflik huquqi bilan himoyalangan © 2017
ma'muriyatiga murojaat qiling