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Conrail in the Horseshoe Curve Area


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In the spring of 1996 the Conrail Technical society held a convention in Pittsburgh PA and on the way there Chris and Vince stopped for a day of pictures in the Horseshoe curve area.



Very little time was actually spent in the Horseshoe curve park area. The area around the had been under maintained by not trimming back the brush making it hard to take photos in the curve area. Here are 2 C40-8W's and a SD60M running up grade past the signal bridge to the east of the curve.

Much more of the time was spent in the area to the west of Altoona were the scenery is much better and the traffic is still the same. One of the favorite spots in the area is the bridge at Cassandra, here 2 SD40-2's return light to Cresson. The Conrail blue and the Sky blue are almost a match on this great day.

Another eastbound makes its way through Cassandra as this C40 powers a train of rail. The cab door is open on the engine probably because the Air Conditioning is not working at the crew wants to get some air flow on this very hot spring day.

Finally a westbound makes an appearance at Cassandra as a SD40-2 lead a hot pig train through the area. The photo is taken from a top the bridge and the consist on the train today includes a wide cab and a UP sd40.

An Ex- LMS wide cab leads this Conrail freight through the cut just west of the bridge at Cassandra. The train is on the middle track of 3 tracks that go through the area but there used to be for tracks as evidenced by the gap between the middle and left track.

Hot on the heals of the freight is this Amtrak passenger train lead by a F40. The train has a long consist for one locomotive but the train is going down hill towards Altoona.

Heading back east towards Cresson is another train with helpers. The Conrail 6367 is another SD40-2 that is used in regular helper service in the Horseshoe curve area, the location of the photo is just to the west of South Fork.

From a top the bridge at South Fork we see this coal train powered by an SD50 and 3 other units. Notice the raised signals on the signal bridge, they are raised to enable engineers to see them over the bridge that the photo is taken from.

Just west of Cresson is the small town of Lilly complete with defect detector. Here a hot TV train led by a Conrail B40 and an LMS unit blasts through Lilly, there is also a SP SD45 in the consist on the train.

Another coal train makes its way through Lilly on its way back to the mines. The train today is led by a C40, a rare SD45-2 and a GP15, a rare consist in today's modern railroading were almost all trains at full of wide cabs.

Late in the afternoon three light Gp38's come through Lilly. The locomotives are most likely heading back to South Fork were they will pick up a loaded coal train, Conrail was using 3-4 Gp38's and a SD45-2 to power coal trains in the mid 90's.

Another C40 leads another pig train through Lilly. The light Gp38's had just passed when this train came roaring through the town. The C40-8W's were rated at 4000 horsepower and Conrail first purchased them in 1990.

Very late in the day 2 SD40-2 helpers return down grade through Gallitizin. The tunnel that the SD40's are about to enter had just been rebuilt to accommodate the largest cars and engines on Conrail while the tunnel on the left had its track taken out and it now used as a service road.

Right after the SD40's disappeared from view then another pair of C40-8's blast upgrade out of the tunnel at Gallitizin. The locomotives are about to crest the grade that they have been battling against since leaving Altoona.

Here are 2 more C40's leading a freight through Gallitizin and down the slide. The slide is an even steeper grade than the Gallitizin tunnel and only used for trains heading down grade. The engines are in full dynamic trying to hold the train back, AR tower looms in the background.

The sun was very low in the sky as the 2 SD40-2 helpers on the rear of the train pass through Gallitizin. The engines are on the rear to help in dynamic braking as the grade can get as steep as 2.2%. This would be the last train before heading onto Pittsburgh.

The day was complete with an overnight stay at the Station Inn.

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