ABOUT THE HORSESHOE CURVE
GATEWAY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS: THE TALE OF AN ENGINEERING MARVEL
In the early 1850s, the massive front of the Allegheny Mountains, standing 2,161 feet above sea level, blocked westward advance. This obstacle culminated in the creation of the Gallitzin Tunnels and the Horseshoe Curve, both of which were dug out of near-impenetrable geographic formations. Using switchbacks, excavations, and pure innovation, engineers reduced grades and effectively conquered the mountains. To conduct these laborious endeavors, the Pennsylvania Railroad hired job-hungry Irish immigrants. The hazardous work lasted three grueling years.
The end result was nothing less than monumental. The Curve became known as one of the eight engineering marvels of the world. The completion of the Curve was widely celebrated and heralded throughout the state as a grand opportunity. The now-iconic railroad link opened for business on February 15, 1854. Over the next century-and-a-half, the landmark also became a tourism destination, a target of Nazi spies, and one of the primary east-west arteries of railroad travel in the nation.
ABOUT THE LANDMARK
ENGINES & EXHIBITS: EXPLORING THE WORLD FAMOUS ATTRACTION
Today, visitors from around the world trek to the World Famous Horseshoe Curve, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966, to reflect on its incredible past and compelling scenery. The site includes a small museum, orientation films, funicular rides, observation areas, and a gift shop.
RAILFANS IN CENTRAL PA: EXPERIENCING THE TRACKS IN-PERSON & ONLINE
The Horseshoe Curve is open Friday-Sunday 11AM-4PM! However, due to the restrictions of COVID-19, the funicular is temporarily closed until further notice. As a result, visitors must take the stairs. There are 194 steps with landings were you can rest for a few. We sincerely apologize to senior visitors and individuals with disabilities for this inconvenience. In some cases, visitors can view trains from the picnic area at the base of the Curve for free. You may also view the live steam brought to you by Virtual Railfan.
There are also plenty of alternative railfan sites across Blair County! The public can see the train tracks at the bridges on 7th, 8th, and 17th Street. The 8th Street Bridge in Juniata also provides a nice view of the Altoona Shops. The 10th Avenue Expressway Pedestrian Bridge near the train and bus stations has elevators for handicap accessibility. There's also spots at the Station Medical Center, Canal Basin Park, and the Gallitzin Tunnels for the public to safely watch passing rolling stock. Enjoy your trip!