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8.09.2017

Gallitzin Tunnels: Stunning Rail Overlook Near Altoona's Horseshoe Curve

It is obligatory to stop by the Gallitzin Tunnels on any ride through the Altoona area. 
The Tunnels Park and Museum has a superb view of the tunnels, along with a fully restored 1942 Pennsylvania Railroad Caboose.
We have covered this tunnel once before in an article that covers more of the technical specs and things to do in this location. This and the region's numerous curves, including Horseshoe Curve, are the crowning achievements of the Pennsylvania Railroad in traversing one of the most difficult infrastructure challenges of the day. Here, the railroad crossed the Alleghenies and getting passengers and products to and from the major markets of the midwest to the northeast and the east coast. 
The Allegheny Tunnel, pictured here and referred to as the Gallitzin Tunnel, is near the pinnacle of the Continental Divide, the division line in which water flows either into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed via the Susquehanna River, or into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers. 
These tunnels are some of the best to check out because they receive a large amount of rail traffic, since the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line is still used as a main corridor by the Norfolk Southern Railroad. It gets daily Amtrak passenger service via the Pennsylvanian twice a day as it passes through on its journey between Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. The New Portage Tunnel is located right down the road from this location, in which a segment of the main line splits off and eventually rejoins. 
There IS a light at the end of the tunnel!
A Norfolk Southern freight train carrying shipping containers.
Notice the double stacked containers. The tunnel was widened and raised in the early 90s for Contrail service in order to meet the modern demands of freight service.
Due to the steep grade, at this point the heavy freight trains are moving pretty slowly, allowing for some neat observation. You are sure to catch dozens of trains if you stay in this location and rail spot. There are so many angles to catch too, including down here at rail level, up atop a bridge that crosses a few hundred feet down from the tunnel, and on a hillside, making this a fine place to watch and photograph trains.

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