The Pennsylvania Railroad’s Altoona Worksbuilt 6,783 steam, diesel and electric locomotives plus other train cars from 1866 to 1946. At one point Altoona was the largest railroad shop in the world. Curiously, Fort Wayne IN became known as “Altoona of the West” for its locomotive manufacturing and repair shops.
The Railroaders Memorial Museum is located at the Altoona Works. This 3-story building offers a well-designed experience of railroading, including dioramas and portions of locomotives, model trains, etc. Unfortunately, there are very few actual train cars or engines on site, but several working rail lines run adjacent the property and pedestrian bridges offer you the chance to watch the constant traffic.
One exhibit displays the controls and cab of a steam engine. The number of valves and levers imply a complicated system with no labels or signs to help the memory.
A large drive wheel emphasizes the size of these locomotives in a way that standing beside the full engine doesn’t make obvious.
In the days before GPS, stone markers were used to indicate direction of travel and distance to the next major city.
Most railroad equipment has been reused and finally abandoned, and museums are struggling to save at least some portions of railroading history. This photo clearly shows the state of disrepair of many railroad cars today.
Altoona Works – Wikipedia