By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies as provided in our policy.

Horseshoe Curve - Altoona, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member uccacher
N 40° 29.883 W 078° 29.146
17T E 713057 N 4486075
Quick Description: The "World Famous" Horseshoe Curve was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 2003.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 9/30/2012 8:55:04 AM
Waymark Code: WMFCY0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member QuesterMark
Views: 14

Long Description:
Horseshoe Curve is a 3,485-foot (1,062 m), triple-tracked, railroad curve on the Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line in Logan Township, Blair County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is close to 1,300 feet (400 m) in diameter and has a grade of almost 2 percent. As a train travels west from Altoona, it ascends almost 60 feet (20 m) in the 0.66-mile (1.06 km) segment that makes up the curve and rotates 220 degrees.

The curve was completed in 1854 by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a means of lessening the grade to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains by increasing the distance. It was built as alternative to the time-consuming Allegheny Portage Railroad, the only other method of traversing the mountains. It has formed an important part of the region's transport infrastructure since its opening, and during World War II was targeted by Nazi Germany in 1942 as a part of Operation Pastorius. The curve was later owned and used by the Pennsylvania Railroad's successors—Penn Central, Conrail, and Norfolk Southern. Horseshoe Curve was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It was also designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 2004.

Since its opening, Horseshoe Curve has been a tourist attraction. A trackside observation park for visitors was completed in 1879. The park was renovated and a visitor center constructed in the early 1990s. The center is managed by Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona and contains exhibits pertaining to the curve.

A plaque erected by the American Society of Civil Engineers to commemorate the 2004 dedication reads:

"Completed in 1854, the Horseshoe Curve was designed and built under the direction of the Pennsylvania Railroad chief engineer and, later, company president, J. Edgar Thomson. Horseshoe Curve opened in 1854. It was 366 meters across and 1310 meters long with a 1.8 percent grade. Eliminating the Portage Railroad's 10 incline planes greatly encouraged east-west trade across the Allegheny Mountains."

There is a $6.00 admission fee to access the observation platform.
3.5 miles west of Altoona, PA

Type of structure/site: Railroad curve

Date of Construction: 1854

Engineer/Architect/Builder etc.: J. Edgar Thomson

Engineering Organization Listing: American Society of Civil Engineers

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Web Site: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
The listed coordinates for this waymark must be personally visited.

Please submit at least one ORIGINAL PHOTO of the structure, preferably one showing a different aspect, angle, season, etc. from the original waymark.

Give the DATE of your visit and any comments or additional information that will help other visitors enjoy this site.
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Engineering Landmarks
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Nearest Hotels
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
wilsonjw visited Horseshoe Curve - Altoona, PA 10/7/2017 wilsonjw visited it
Laval K-9 visited Horseshoe Curve - Altoona, PA 7/30/2012 Laval K-9 visited it

View all visits/logs