Eastbound At Alto Tower #00415

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The Story

Alto Tower stands watch over all the mainline track switches leading into Altoona PA from the west. In this older view, coming into town is an eastbound freight train loaded with road trailers. They’re sometimes called pigs. The train is led by a brand new locomotive painted in light gray primer from the factory. On this nice day, the late-day Spring sunshine lights the side of the freight train coasting into town off the nearby mountain.

Alto Tower is one of the few remaining buildings on the railroad system left over from the original Pennsylvania Railroad era. Conrail kept many in use through its time running this railroad as well. At one time, there were plentiful switch towers like this one controlling movement all along the PRR.

The overhead signal tower with position light signals is also from the Pennsylvania Railroad days. Nowadays across the entire railroad system, they’ve all been removed or replaced with modern signals.

This picture was done on slide film just after Conrail was taken over by Norfolk Southern in 1999. During that changeover, the railroad had a shortage of locomotives that was slowing service so many more were ordered. As soon as they arrived, they went to work pulling trains immediately in their factory gray primer coats as seen here.

I stood under the 17th bridge in Altoona tight alongside one of the piers and chain link fence to take this picture. There’s another view of Alto Tower on this website called Helpers At Alto Tower #10618 that was taken on top of the bridge in morning sunlight.

Location: Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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