Horseshoe Curve Operations

Conrail operated trains over the world famour Horseshoe Curve during its entire existence. This engineering marvel is a national historic landmark, and is known to railfans around the world.  

The 'curve changed over time. Slimming from 4 tracks when Conrail started to 3 in the early 1980s, and many of these views are of things that are gone, or are from locations you shouldn't go to (due to more stringent enforcement of tresspass laws).

This gallery is a way to visit the area and see how Conrail's ops changed, and how they've stayed the same.  Included are photos from the main helper district over the Allegheny Mountains between Conemaugh and Altoona, PA.

Map Icon This gallery is available on an interactive map.

1
CR GP38 7866 leads CNW GP30 821, U23B 2742, and CNW GP-30 812 down Horseshoe Curve on May 22, 1977.
2
CNW GP30's 821 and 812 mix with lead CR GP38 7866 and U23B 2742 as they head down Horseshoe Curve on May 22, 1977.
3
A 1981 view of Works interlocking looking eastward shows many things that will never be seen again: a quartet of blue EMDs as road power on a general merch train, the deadlines of blue and black locomotives at Rose Yard, and the rainbow of stored cars belonging to CR and its ancestors.
4
Observation car CR 10 is seen heading west on a short OCS move just west of Horseshoe Curve in 1982.
5
Conrail GP15-1 1648 is leading a westbound freight around Horseshoe Curve in 1984.
6
Conrail GP15-1 1648 is leading a westbound freight around Horseshoe Curve in 1984. Today, seeing a quartet of Geeps on an auto parts train rounding the Curve would be a sight to behold.
7

The early 80s were a strange time on the Pittsburgh Line. Here a pair of light road units provide assistance up the hill, shoving behind two different cabooses.

8

CR GP40 3165 runs third in a seven-unit consist that blasted up the Curve on May 22, 1977.

The GP40 leads U23B 2759, F-7A 1755, and GP40's 3065 and 3071.

9
CR B23-7 1932 follows U25B 2644, and B23-7 1969 as they roll mixed freight down Horseshoe in August, 1979.
10
CR B23-7 1932 follows U25B 2644, and B23-7 1969 as they roll mixed freight down Horseshoe in August, 1979.
11
Conrail B23-7 1935 is trailing on a westbound empty coal train at Cresson, PA in 1991.
12
Conrail B23-7 1936 is in charge of a westbound empty coal train as it passes MO tower in 1991.
13
Conrail B23-7 1936 is seen again on the same train in 1991, this time approaching the viaduct over the Little Conemaugh River between South Fork and Mineral Point, PA. For some reason the train has crossed over to track 1 to run against the flow of traffic instead of using tracks 2 or 3.
14
CR B23-7 1956 leads U25B 2644 and B23-7 1969 with mixed freight down Horseshoe in August, 1979.
15
CR B23-7 1991 is the rear unit on a westbound empty coal train at Benny Curve in 1981. This view clearly shows where the old Track 2 was removed. In the background you can see the grade separation between the new Tracks 2 and 3 and Track 1 on The Slide.
16
Conrail B23-7 1994 is seen leading an eastbound into Bennington Curve in 1983.
17
Conrail class N21 caboose 21204 is seen just west of Bennington Curve, PA in 1982. Note the bagged signal heads that formerly controlled movements on the now-removed #2 track.
18
CR 6686, former EL 3655, is pushing hard against an ex-NYC N7A class cabin CR 21691 at Horseshoe Curve in August, 1978.

Photo by permission from Andrew J. Erlichman.

19
CR GP30 (ex-PC 2192) and U23B 2707 (ex-PC 2707) are seen on an eastbound train on Horseshoe Curve in 1982.
20
An Eastbound at ALTO with a GP-35 that got a patch job with CONRAIL spelled out on the nose.
21
Conrail SD45 6145 (ex-PC 6145, nee-PRR 6145) shoves against Class N5B caboose 22965 at Gallitzin, PA in 1981.
22
Conrail boxcar 230147 is seen in this shot of a westbound freight heading up around Horseshoe Curve in 1982.
23
Conrail class N5C caboose 23023 is passing MG tower in 1981.
24
N-7A class 21790 (ex-NYC 20381) feels the pressure of CR GP35 2304 and GP38 7799 applying the brakes as they roll down Horseshoe's track 2 on May 22, 1977.
25

CR GP35 2304 and GP38 7799 apply the brakes as they assist a mixed freight down Horseshoe's track 2 on May 22, 1977.

Awaiting the arrival of RDG 4-8-4 #2102 later that day, the large crowd of steam fans was overly interested in the constant black and blue GP and SD consists pushing up or braking down the Curve. Those consists would be rare in the not too distant future.

26
Conrail SD35 6041 (ex-CNJ 2502) is seen trailing behind class N5C 23043 at Bennington Curve in 1983.
27
Conrail class N5C cabin car 23064 is seen passing MO tower in Cresson, PA in 1982.
28
Conrail class N5C cabin car 23110 is seen at Johnstown, PA in 1983. Today, the caboose is gone, as are the CR triple hoppers, the Santa Fe reefer, and the vast majority of the steel mill.
29
A Westbound with brown CR caboose 23120 is getting a shove up the mountain by pushers 6659 & 6341.
30
Conrail class N5C cabin car 23140 is seen with class NE6 caboose 23865 at CP-Slope in Altoona, PA in 1982.
31
Conrail SD40-2 6372 is seen shoving against N8 caboose 23378 on a westbound train on Horseshoe Curve in 1981. A short Amtrak train is cruising east to make its station stop in Altoona.
32
A Westbound holds at WORKS.
33
A Westbound hopper train waits on the East side of Altoona. Lots of variety in the power on this train.
34
Former PC GP-35 2364 leads sister unit 2337 and SDP45 6677 (ex-EL 3646) down the Curve in August, 1977.
35
Former PC GP-35 2364 leads sister unit 2337 and SDP45 6677 down the Curve in August, 1977.
36
CR SDP45 6677 (ex-EL 3646) trails GP-35's 2364 and 2337 as they brake down the hill at Horseshoe in August, 1977.
37
CR SDP45 6677 (ex-EL 3646) trails GP-35's 2364 and 2337 as they brake down the hill at Horseshoe in August, 1977.
38
Conrail SD40 6261 (ex-PC 6261) is shoving Class N8A caboose 23667 around Bennington Curve in 1984.
39

An Alco lover's dream at Altoona in July, 1978!

Ex-LV C628 6728 and two C425's, 2423 and 2418, follow CR SD-35 6003 as they blast toward the Curve.

The C628 and two C425's in the consist were put together earlier in the day at Enola to head toward Conway.

40

An Alco lover's dream in Altoona in July, 1978!

A pair of ex-PC C425's, 2423 and 2418, follow ex-LV C628 6728 and lead SD35 6003 as they pound toward Horseshoe Curve. The C628 and two C425's in the consist were put together earlier in the day at Enola to head toward Conway.

41
A coal train has stopped at ALTO so that the helpers can uncouple from the rear of the train.
42
Ex RDG C-424 2495 working on a Westbound by Alto Tower.
43
CR U25B 2571 (ex-EL 2502) is tucked in behind leased CN GP38-2 5581 as they roll mixed freight by the Juniata shop dead lines on their way to Conway in August, 1977.
44

Former PC GP40 3040 leads leased CN GP38-2 5581 and CR U25B 2571 (ex-EL 2502) by the Juniata shops deadline on their way to Conway in August, 1977.

The next day at the Conway engine terminal, both CN 5581 and U25B 2571 were mixed with other CR power, ready for another assignment.

45
CR U25B 2644 runs between a pair of B23-7's as they roll mixed freight down Horseshoe in August, 1979.
46
GP40 3043 and U25B 2656 roll a TV train down the Curve on May 22, 1977.
47
With EMD leading, U25B 2675 (ex-PC) second, U36C 6564 (ex-EL 3301) third, and two more U-boats following, a quintet of units pound through Altoona in August, 1979.
48
4 axle power idles thru the night at the Cresson service area.
49
CR GP38 7866, CNW GP30 821, U23B 2742, and CNW GP30 812 head down Horseshoe Curve on May 22, 1977.
50
CR GP38 7866 leads CNW GP30 821, U23B 2742, and CNW GP30 812 down Horseshoe Curve on May 22, 1977.

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