The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

August 14, 2012

In Altoona, steam power returns for a brief time

ALTOONA — There were walkie-talkies tuned to the railroad dispatch office.

There were smartphones connected to a tracking website.

Someone said, "I heard a whistle."

Another person replied, "No, it's my phone."

But finally, over a notch in the trees above the western end of the Horseshoe Curve, coal smoke rose, followed by rhythmic clanking, like the agitations of an old wringer washer.

Monday afternoon, for the first time since 1977, a steam locomotive chugged around the famous railroad landmark as part of Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary.

That was before he was born, said John McDonald of Cleveland, who came with his brother to get the curve's 180-degree view of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society's No. 765 on its way from Pittsburgh to Enola - where it will power an excursion train for Norfolk Southern Railway, as part of a series of employee-appreciation trips.

The antique Nickel Plate Railroad engine arrived around 2:30 p.m., 2 hours late, and the anticipation was like waiting for a Steelers kickoff at Heinz Field, said Chris Hess of Duncansville, a "semi-railroad buff" who came to the event accidentally, when he brought visiting cousins from California to visit the curve.

"It was worth the wait," said Steve Kepner of Buffalo, who likewise didn't know that the sight of the steam locomotive would be part of a visit to the curve with his wife and in-laws.

Hess, 59, remembers steam engines still in service when he was a youngster in Lewistown.

He thought they were neat, but was too young to remember specifics about their effect on him.

Steam engines are certainly more demonstrative than the diesels that replaced them.

No. 765 was discharging white steam low and gray smoke high, blasting a throaty whistle like an organ pipe.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/17/2014

    April 16, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads