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2017 Pennsylvania Calendar and Book Buying Options

9.30.2015

The Former Ing-Rich Manufacturing, Beaver Falls, PA

Ingram Richardson, aka Ing-Rich Manufacturing, was once located in Beaver County and made some of the best porcelain products. Early license plates and street signs were made by them. This was a lucrative business, with the bulk of all license plates being made by them at the start of the 20th century. The company made a wide array of porcelain goods. They had other plants, including one in Indiana County that ended up becoming a superfund site. This abandoned plant surely has some of the same major pollution problems. It sits abandoned with one building partially collapsed, and the rest of the grounds being used as a junk yard car depository. It is fitting that these vehicles will likely be melted down at some point and that this site was purchased from a former steel mill. It is almost as if the site has gone full circle. The plant closed way back in 1967. Many of the industrial areas in Beaver Falls are like this. Sections of the town are like they are lost in time. Don't get me wrong though, the town is very nice, especially Geneva College, the jewel of the town in my opinion. 


9.24.2015

Horseshoe Curve, Altoona, PA

Windshield shot of the road tunnel into the Horseshoe Curve area!
 Acid mine drainage. There is a containment trough that this runs into that ends up in a treatment plant to take care of the damage inflicted by the old coal mine. Hopefully we learn from the lessons of the past when it comes to the devastating pollution.
 The cut out of trees in the mountain is the southern rim of the Curve.
 The visitor's center and station to the small incline that takes you up to the level of the curve.
 An old observation sign.
This small funicular takes you to the observation level of the Curve. The bend in the track is where the cars pass each other as one goes up and the other goes down at the same time. This nifty design enables the cars to move on one track for the majority of the trip, likely making this a more affordable venture. This design is likely also good for places with space constraints.
 Old observation sign explaining the watershed area that makes up the valley under the curve. Great precautions are taken with the watershed to keep the acid mine drainage contained away from the drinking water supplies.
 Here we go up the funicular!
 This is such a nifty design.
 Looking down at the incline track from the top.
 The beautiful view out of the Curve and the valley in which Altoona is located. You can also see the watershed within the middle of the view.
Here is the Pennsylvania Railroad's PRR 7048 diesel-electric locomotive. It was put into service in the 1950s and then retired in 1986 and donated to the curve, with a paint job restored to its original paint design. 
 This is a beautiful place to be, even if no trains are going.
 I think Brit spots a train!
 Nothing yet!
 Can still hear it in the distance! Such a cool place

 Two locomotives on this Norfolk Southern Train
 Just some containers
 And UPS tractor trailers! The intermodal logistics between rail and trucking are pretty awesome. The thought that they can take this across the country to a waiting truck to haul right off is pretty awesome. I wonder how many packages were on this train? There were at least ten of these trailers.
 Hmmm what can brown do for you? Can it tell me what is in the next set of containers?
 It's a mystery that is none of my business.
 Brit having a great time taking photos.
 There were dozens of people watching the trains and picnicking on that relaxing Saturday afternoon. My only wish is that they would clear some of the brush in the area looking out into the Curve to open up the view, and maybe even add something like a fire tower or observation tower similar to the one at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
 Two locomotives and no traditional caboose? I guess UPS delivers as a caboose.
The train covered a good chunk of the nearly half mile length of the Curve. It is pretty amazing to me how efficient these locomotives are to be able to transport this much product with such little power. It is especially efficient when compared to delivery by tractor trailer. According to CSX, the locomotives can carry up to 3000 tons of cargo and move one ton of freight 480 miles.
 The little birds were hopping and looking like they were playing some game with each other. 
 Back to the trains again and good old PRR 7048 standing guard.
 Had a pretty awesome afternoon at Horseshoe Curve!
and our next stop is at the awesome Lakemont Park, here on our other page.

9.22.2015

American Dream Lost: Allentown Works, Western Electric, AT&T, Lucent, Agere

Once upon a time, a plant was built by Western Electric, a part of the old Bell System. The plant was built to produce transistors for the electronics of the day. Eventually the plant was converted into producing state of the art microelectronic microchips, the same chips used in computers today. This plant not only produced those things, it also was the catalyst to many people realizing the American Dream. Now it simply sits as a facade and an insight into once was what led so many people to the american dream in blue and white collar jobs. Over 20,000 people were once employed at the Allentown Works. Tens of thousands more were employed at other plants, including Breinigsville, and Reading. All of these jobs are gone after the disaster of leadership at Lucent. 106,000 people were once employed by Lucent. Almost all of these employees are out of their steady jobs, in which many people worked for 20+ years.
We are looking at Historical Aerials of the site. This view from 1955 shows the plant at relatively new status. On the bottom right you can see the Drive In Theater. I am not sure if it was in operation at this point. I assume so, but this spot has been abandoned seemingly since the beginning of time.
1972 shows the complex packed with the cars of workers. One of them was my grandfather, a man who came here as an immigrant from Slovakia at three years old, was a World War II veteran, went to school with the GI Bill, and worked at and retired from the company after thirty years of working in engineering. You can also see the buildings added to the back of the complex. This is where the silicon wafer slabs were formed.
2005 shows land clearing as the plant was shut down years earlier
 Present day and you can see Coca-Cola Park, the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Philadelphia Phillies AAA baseball affiliate. You can see that the facade of the old plant was kept.
This spot is a prime example of 20th century life in America. The spot transformed from farmland into a world class production plant. Around it, a then suburban neighborhood of Allentown formed within the vicinity of the plant, even including a drive-in theater. Eventually all of the plant's jobs are outsourced overseas, tens of thousands of people become (and remain) out of work, and the jobs that do come back are mostly service jobs, as seen with the baseball stadium.

Just fifteen years ago, this plot of land was home to one of the most high tech factories in the world. At one point this area was considered to be "Silicon Valley East." The equipment that was used for production is still in use in India, where Agere moved its production. Between here, the production plant in nearby Breinigsville, and Reading, 50,000+ jobs were lost in the early 2000s, thanks to the horrendous greed and leadership that traces back to the late 90s Lucent leadership. One of the key figures in that failed and ignorant leadership is Carly Fiorina, who went on to run HP and Compaq in a similar manner, killing tens of thousands of jobs in those places too. 

9.14.2015

Gallitzin Tunnels near Altoona, PA

On our way to visiting Lakemont Park, home to the world's oldest roller coaster, Leap the Dips, and the awesome Skyliner coaster, we stopped by some of the rail heritage spots located on the other side of Altoona and in nearby Gallitzin. This has always been a favorite day trip destination for us. Here is the restored 1942 Pennsylvania Railroad Caboose that sits at the Gallitzin Tunnels
 This old caboose is pretty awesome and it gives a great glimpse into the life of an old rail worker.

The oldest tunnel dates back to 1854, making it one of the oldest rail tunnels in the country. The Gallitzin tunnels were the subject of several failed plots by the Confederates during the Civil War, and Nazi Germany during World War II. 
Old Glory and the flag of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is fitting to have a Pennsylvania flag at this location for the initial project was the result of a public partnership between the state and the private railroads. The labor that built the initial tunnels, as with most of the east coast railroads, this dangerous project, was undertaken by Irish workers just as the rail projects on the west coast were done by Chinese immigrant workers.
Our next stop will be at Horseshoe Curve!

Here is the location of the Gallitzin Tunnels:
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