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Real railroading is fun too.

by Webmaster on September 17th, 2007
Christine and I departed for Horseshoe curve last Monday. We arrived at South Station and were able to bump up to Acella for a grand total of $5.00 each. The total trip to Philadelphia was $10.00. The train was on time and fun. We stayed in Philly over night and ate at a Italian restaurant called “Ralph’s”. This is a very famous, and said to be the oldest Italian restaurant in Philly. It was great. The next day we were able to bump up to business class on the Pennsylvanian for a grand total of “free”. This train was great, the food was good and we arrived in Johnstown on time. As it happened I knew the conductor and he offered me a ride around the Shoe in the engine. I declined but we rode the rear vestibule. It was fantastic.
The next day we rented a car and headed for the shoe. The weather was perfect and we spent two wonderful days on the hill between Altoona and Casandra. N.S. is running about sixty trains a day on this line including general freight, coal, autos, double stacks, and T.O.F.C. Helpers (snappers) are abundant! We even saw an abreviated N.S. business train, alas, pulled by an SD 40-2, not the Fs. The access road at Allegany Tunnel that leads down to the east portal is now open to the public and we rode down and watched trains exiting to start down the long grade. It’s dirt but really not to bad.
The historical site at the curve has some issues. The first day the incline was not working but we still had to pay. The second day the incline was not working and the gift shop was closed due to a broken pipe, admission was free. There are 193 steps to the top! On our return trip we noticed from the train that the whole place was locked up at 9:45 AM on a Saturday! With the gate locked there is no way to get to the top. This seemed unacceptable to us.
Our third day was spent in and around Johnstown. We visited the flood museum, rode the incline, a must, had lunch at the restaurant at the top and watch the trains, four while we ate. They look like N scale from that height. The Holiday Inn in Johnstown is slightly up-scale, it’s the only show in town, and has a great restaurant, although a bit pricy with a great wine cellar.
The next morning we went back to Philly on the train, again on time and fun. We spent that night in Philly and came home Sunday on a regional, number 88, which was packed but we were able to bump up to business. We had tried to get an Acella but it was sold out! Amtrak needs to run more service on Sundays.
After riding and watching the real thing I’m more then ever determined to operate the Shoals as accurately as possible.
Best to all Carl.

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