Altoona Works (also known as Altoona Terminal) is a large industrial complex in . It was built between 1850 and 1925 by the (PRR) to supply the railroad with , 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, . Construction was started in 1850, and soon a long building was completed in the 12th Street area that housed a , woodworking shop, shop, locomotive repair shop and .

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 , and were manufactured in Altoona between 1866 and 1946.

In time additional PRR repair facilities were located in , , and , and the Altoona Works expanded in adjacent . Inventor sent two assistants to the Altoona shops in 1875 to study the feasibility of installing 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. In 1905 a Stationary Testing Plant was installed at Altoona, after originally being installed, and used for locomotive testing, in 1904 as one of the PRR System exhibits at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Locomotives tested on the plant included T1 4-4-4-4 No.6110[3] and Baldwin No. 60,000 Use of the testing facilities was discontinued in 1968 and many of the structures were demolished.[]

The turntable at the Altoona Works in 2014

In May 1877, telephone lines were installed for various departments to communicate with one another.

, 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 (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 . They were caught before they could complete their missions.

Current facilities[]

Today, NS runs the locomotive shop at Juniata with about 1,100 employees.[] The is next to Altoona Works.

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, shop, house, erecting shop, two-story , electric and hydraulic house, two-story office and storeroom, paint storehouse and gas house, and hydraulic and pit.
    • Repair work only in the mid-20th century
    • Builds and remanufactures locomotives today
  • South Altoona Foundries
Map of Altoona Works Map of Altoona Works circa 1931.

See also[]


  1. . Norfolk Southern Corporation. Archived from on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  2. . National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  3. "Locomotive And Railway Preservation" The Magazine of Historic Railwaay Preservation, Number 9, July-August 1987, ISSN 0891-7647, p.22
  4. . National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  5. Alexander, Edwin P. (1967), The Pennsylvania Railroad: A Pictorial History, New York: Bonanza Books, p. 133 
  6. Paige, John C. (1989), Washington, DC: United States National Park Service.
  7. . National Park Service Special History Study. United States National Park Service. 2004-10-22. from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  8. . Archived from on 9 October 1999. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 

External links[]

  • – history of Altoona Works, maps, photos, listing of locomotives built/repaired/completed
  • (HAER) No. PA-108, ""
  • HAER No. PA-230-A, ""
  • HAER No. PA-230-B, ""
  • HAER No. PA-230-C, ""