Railroaders Memorial Museum
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Coordinates: The Railroaders Memorial Museum is a railroad museum in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The museum is dedicated to revealing, interpreting, commemorating and celebrating the significant contributions of railroaders and their families to American life and industry. The museum also operates the visitor center at Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site.
Altoona is one of the hubs of the area's tourist industry. Many significant cultural resources are within the city itself, and most of these resources are linked directly to the city's long history as a railroad center. Altoona is in a section of southwestern Pennsylvania that is home to a number of significant cultural and historic resources. The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site, Staple Bend Tunnel, and the historic iron furnace at Mt. Etna are all within 25 miles (40 km) of Altoona.
For more than a century, Altoona was one of the most important rail facilities in the United States. The city was home to the Altoona Works, the Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) repair and maintenance shops, locomotive construction facility, and test department. Altoona's location at the foot of the Allegheny front and its proximity to the Horseshoe Curve route over the mountains made the city a key location in the PRR's Altoona operations.
PRR's contribution to the nation’s transportation infrastructure, and to production standardization, marks it as one of the most important contributors to America's industrial revolution. By the 1920s, the Altoona railroad works employed 15,000 workers; by 1945 the PRR's facilities at Altoona had become the world's largest rail shop complex.
The museum is also said to be haunted and was investigated by the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) in 2004.
- 1966 - An ad is placed in the Altoona Mirror searching for parties interested in establishing a Railroad Museum for Altoona.
- 1967 - The group forms the Altoona Railway Museum Club and adopts the name Altoona Railway Museum Association.
- 1968 - The National Railway Historical Society grants a charter to the association. Chapter members begin collecting railroad memorabilia and displaying historical objects at civic events, etc.
- 1972 - The name Railroaders Memorial Museum is officially incorporated.
- 1975 - Museum acquires the private rail car of Charles M. Schwab - The Loretto. The Altoona Redevelopment Authority sells the former Penn Central Railroad shop complex land to the Center Associates with an agreement providing that Center Associates make a 5-acre (20,000 m2) plot available for the Museum.
- 1979 - Ground-breaking ceremonies are held on May 12.
- 1980 - Museum celebrates grand opening on September 21.
- 1985 - Museum acquires the PRR K4’s #1361 locomotive and moves it from the Horseshoe Curve to Altoona for restoration.
- 1987-1988 - K4’s excursions haul thousands as the “Pride of Altoona” returns to the rails.
- 1993 - Museum acquires former PRR master mechanics building and an adjoining parcel of land.
- 1995 - Renovations to the master mechanics building begin.
- 1997 - Exhibit fabrication and installation work begin.
- 1998 - Grand opening of the new Railroaders Memorial Museum held on April 25.
- 2002 - Scott Cessna becomes Executive Director
- 2007 - RMM board fires management and lets Salone Marketing Group run the museum.