“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Logan Township near Altoona in Blair County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Watching The Curve

Watching The Curve Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Fuchs, May 19, 2012
1. Watching The Curve Marker
Inscription.  Caption of drawing at top left The GE P42DC produced by General Electric Transportation Systems.

Caption of drawing at top right Norfolk Southern SD40-Es usually come up in pairs. And often on both ends of long freight trains going up hill. (Up is to your left as you face the track.)

Caption of drawing at center left Truck trailers were first carried on flat cars in 1927. Today with the advent of doublestack trailers and containers, the railroad has been able to move more goods more efficiently than ever before.

Caption of drawing at center right Amtrak got its own fleet of lightweight passenger cars in the mid-1970's, the first major order (492 units) for intercity passenger cars since the WWII era. Budd Manufacturing Company supplied the Amfleet cars in red, white and blue livery and configured to Amcoach, Amcafe, Amlounge or Amdinette functions.

Caption of drawing at bottom left Entire trains of coal hoppers are a common sight on the Curve. You will see mostly empty cars going upgrade, loaded cars going down. Most of the coal mines are west of here and the typical markets are northeastern
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power companies.

Caption of drawing at bottom right Overhead clearances were established in the early days. For example, the 17 to 18 foot heights of the tunnels at Gallitzin can keep some loads off of this route. But some large loads can be shipped by using a depressed center or "semi-well" flat car.

Text in Center Box


Horseshoe Curve measures 2375 feet from the beginning to the end of its curvature.

The lower end of the Curve is 1594 feet above sea level, the upper end is 1716 feet. (That's a difference of 122 feet.)

The diameter of the half-circle formed by the Curve is 1300 feet. In engineering terms, the degree of curvature is 9 degrees, 25 minutes.

The average grade is 91 feet per mile. That is also 1.8% or 1.8 foot rise for every 100 feet of run. At the center of the Curve the grade is reduced slightly to compensate for the increased friction of the curved track.

The Curve was opened on February 15, 1854. And two tracks were in operation by the end of that year. In 1898 a third track was addedc and in late 1899 to early 1900 a fourth. Conrail removed the second from inside track in 1981 due to a decline in traffic.

Horseshoe Curve has been in continuous use since it opened, with few exceptions: Strikes have briefly halted operations and there have been weather-related closures such as those resulting
Norfolk Southern Mixed Freight image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Fuchs, May 19, 2012
2. Norfolk Southern Mixed Freight
from the Johnstown floods of 1889 and 1977.

An average day's traffic is 60 trains in both directions, not counting returning helpers. For comparison in 1904 (a high point) there were 168 trains per day.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1985.
Location. 40° 29.892′ N, 78° 29.197′ W. Marker is near Altoona, Pennsylvania, in Blair County. It is in Logan Township. Marker can be reached from Glenwhite Road / Burgoon Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Altoona PA 16601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Over the Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); Trackside Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); The GP9 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Horseshoe Curve (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Horseshoe Curve (about 600 feet away); Blair County War Mothers Memorial (approx. 3.4 miles away); Blair County Memorial Highway (approx. 3˝ miles away); Endress War Memorial (approx. 3˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Altoona.
Norfolk Southern Intermodal Freight image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Fuchs, May 19, 2012
3. Norfolk Southern Intermodal Freight
"Stack train" or Container On Flat Car (COFC)
Amtrak's Pennsylvanian image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Fuchs, May 19, 2012
4. Amtrak's Pennsylvanian
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2023. It was originally submitted on May 21, 2012, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 530 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 21, 2012, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.

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Nov. 29, 2023