Juniata Shops at Altoona Works in 1988, during the Conrail era.
|Location||9th Ave. at 13th St., Altoona, Pennsylvania|
||Norfolk Southern Railway|
|PA marker dedicated||October 5, 1996|
Altoona Works is a large railroad industrial complex in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) to supply the railroad with locomotives, railroad cars and related equipment. For many years it was the largest railroad shop complex in the world.
In 1849, PRR officials developed plans to construct a repair facility at a town newly established for this purpose, Altoona. Construction was started in 1850, and soon a long building was completed in the 12th Street area that housed a machine shop, woodworking shop, blacksmith shop, locomotive repair shop and foundry. This facility was later torn down to make room for continuing expansion. Many additional buildings and facilities were added to the complex up until 1925. For many years it was the largest railroad shop complex in the world.
The 12th Street area facilities were replaced later by the Altoona Machine Shops. The first locomotive was built there in 1866. A total of 6,783 steam, diesel and electric locomotives were manufactured in Altoona between 1866 and 1946.
In time additional PRR repair facilities were located in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Mifflin, and the Altoona Works expanded in adjacent Juniata. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell sent two assistants to the Altoona shops in 1875 to study the feasibility of installing telephone lines.
In 1875 the Altoona Works started a testing department for PRR equipment. In following years, the Pennsylvania Railroad led the nation in the development of research and testing procedures of practical value for the railroad industry. Use of the testing facilities was discontinued in 1968 and many of the structures were demolished.
In May 1877, telephone lines were installed for various departments to communicate with one another.
Fort Wayne, Indiana, also held a key position for the railroad. By the turn of the 20th century, its repair shops and locomotive manufacturing facilities became known as the "Altoona of the West."
In the 1920s the site consisted of 125 buildings on 218 acres (0.88 km2), and the shops employed over 16,000 workers. Portions of the complex are still in use by Norfolk Southern Railway (NS).
By 1945 the Altoona Works had grown to be one of the largest repair and construction facilities for locomotives and cars in the world. During World War II, PRR facilities (including the Altoona Shops) were on target lists of German saboteurs. They were caught before they could complete their missions.
Major facilities (1920s)
- Altoona Machine Shops (renamed 12th St Car Shop in 1928)
- Built steam locomotives during 1866-1904
- Later in the 20th century it handled locomotive repair and manufacture of engine parts
- Altoona Car Shops
- Juniata Shops
- Built 1888-1890; expanded 1924-25
- Built steam and electric locomotives during 1891-1946
- Included a paint shop, boiler shop, blacksmith shop, boiler house, erecting shop, two-story machine shop, electric and hydraulic house, two-story office and storeroom, paint storehouse and gas house, and hydraulic transfer table and pit.
- Repair work only in the mid-20th century
- Builds and remanufactures locomotives today
- South Altoona Foundries
- Map of Altoona Works
- "Norfolk Southern Railway: Timeline". Norfolk Southern Corporation. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- "History of the Altoona Railroad Shops National Park Service Special History Study Chapter 1: History of the Altoona railroad shops (continued)13. Changes after World War II". National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- "History of the Altoona Railroad Shops Chapter 1 Heading 7 The Altoona Railroad Shops After The Civil War Paragraph 10". National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- Alexander, Edwin P. (1967), The Pennsylvania Railroad: A Pictorial History, New York: Bonanza Books, p. 133
- Paige, John C. (1989), “A Special History Study: Pennsylvania Railroad Shops and Works, Altoona, Pennsylvania,” Washington, DC: United States National Park Service.
- "Chapter 4: Significance and Recommendations for Future Research 1. Significance of Altoona Works". National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- "Railfan's Guide to the Altoona Area". www.trainweb.org. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- AltoonaWorks.info – history of Altoona Works, maps, photos, listing of locomotives built/repaired/completed
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-108, "Pennsylvania Railroad, Altoona Works"
- HAER No. PA-230-A, "Altoona Car Shops, Fire Engine House No. 8"
- HAER No. PA-230-B, "Altoona Car Shops, Foreman's Office & Stores"
- HAER No. PA-230-C, "Altoona Car Shops, Cabinet, Tin & Machine Shop"