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Gallitzin Tunnels Park & Museum

The extremely high grade presented the final obstacle in conquering the Allegheny Mountains, making it necessary to build tunnels as early as 1850. The New Portage Tunnel was completed in 1854 at an elevation of 2,167 feet, and was traditionally (and still is) used primarily for eastbound traffic. The Allegheny Tunnel, at 3,605 feet in length, was completed that same year. The third tunnel, known as the Gallitzin Tunnel, was completed in 1904 and removed from service when the Allegheny Tunnel was expanded to two tracks in 1995. The Tunnels were so significant to the transportation system that they were guarded during the war years. Still in use today, you can feel the awesome power of trains as they pass through the tunnels daily.

Gallitzin Tunnels Park & Museum

Pennsylvania location

Situated in downtown Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, the Tunnels Park & Museum mark the eastbound entrance into the famous Gallitzin tunnels. First built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1850s at an elevation of 2,167 feet, the tunnels lead eastbound to the famous Horseshoe Curve and Altoona beyond. The park overlooks the western tunnel portal, allowing vistors a close view of numerous mainline freights and the twice-daily Amtrak Pennsylvanian. The park includes a restored Pennsylvania Railroad caboose, open to the public.

See also our Horseshoe Curve and Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum pages

Spotlight: Amtrak #43 - The Pennsylvanian

April 2016

Not even a month after my second visit to the Gallitzin tunnels park area, I had to go to Philadelphia for business. Naturally, I booked tickets on Amtrak's Pennsylvanian -- one of the loveliest regional rides you can find in the mid-Atlantic region. This was my second ride on numbers 42/43, my family having ridden the entire route a few years ago for a holiday celebration in New York City. For this trip, I only rode from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, and then returned a few days later. The eastbound 42 is a great ride, coming down the mountain on the former Pennsylvania main and over the river to Harrisburg, where electrics replace diesels and speeds jump up to 100 - 110 mph on the Keystone Corridor that runs through Amish farmland and finally plays out in downtown Philly. But the westbound return is my favorite, leaving Altoona and climbing up and around the Horseshoe Curve and then through the Gallitzin double-track bore. The 3-track mainline between the Curve and over through the Tunnel is full of interesting crossovers, Pennsy-era signal bridges, and cutaways and S-curves. I made my way to the rear of #43 and shot some video from just west of the Curve all the over the crest of grade, through the return wye, and on to the reunion of the 3-track main on the Johnstown side of the tunnels. 42/43 are modest trains from an equipment standpoint, but what they lack in length or lashups they make up for in right-of-way.

all photos above aboard Amtrak #43 / near Gallitzin, Pa / Apr 2016 / RWH

Apr 2016 / RWH

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2016-05-21