Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 36 Punxsutawney & Allegheny Portage RR NHS, PA

I grew up about 5 hours from Punxsutawney, PA and always wanted to go there for Groundhog Day since it is of PA Dutch origin, but never got around to it.
So we stopped on our way from Erie at the souvenir shop, bought a T shirt & other trinkets, got some flat pennies and walked around the town.
Next door was McD's and one of 34 decorated groudhogs scattered around the town.
The Groundhog Zoo is in the town square- a really nice typical small town park. Phil & Phyllis are in their home behind the plate glass in the Library building. I couldn't get a picture through the glass.
This is on the back side of the Groundhog Wanda's standing next to.

I'm not sure what their themes were.
This guy is the bell hop in front of the Hotel on the square
No caption needed

This is the town's animated clock which we were told the groundhog comes out at the half hour
Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS was one of the lesser known NPS sites we visited.
For a small NPS site , they have a very new and well displayed visitor center.
The Portage Railroad took canal boats and mounted them on railroad cars
and used a series of incline planes with stationary steam engines to lift the boats
over the 1500' Allegheny Mountain on the "Main Line" of the Pennsylvania Canal between Harrisburg & Pittsburgh. The cross section shows the remarkable amount of height they had to overcome.
The Historic site preserves 2 of the inclines and
one of the reconstructed engine houses used to pull the cars/boats to the top of the mountain.
Unlike modern RR Tracks using wooden ties, the rails were mounted onto stone bases that were quarried on site.
The steam engines connected to pulleys & gears to a continuous rope that pulled the cars up about a 10% grade. John Roebling developed the wire rope here that he later used to build Suspension bridges ( Brooklyn, etc.)
At the summit, locomotives pulled pulled the cars on the flat sections to the next incline plane to move up or down the mountain.
This is the hotel/tavern that's in the painting above.
An early locomotive, not very big but it only had to pull 3 cars at a time.
We were planning on stopping at the Horseshoe Curve about 5 miles away at the bottom of the mountain, but they had it closed early for a private wedding.
We did stop at the Gallitin Tunnels that are still being used by Amtrak & Conrail. The samller tunnel was hand dug in the 1870's
Unfortunately the museum at the tunnels was also closed. It looked like it had some neat RR stuff.
On the way down the mountain to Horseshoe Curve/Altoona, we went through another tunnel. This one had a traffic light to manage traffic.

I stopped at the fire station and asked directions to get back to the main road ( yes I did ask a few times on this trip) and saw this 1947 fire truck.
The Fireman said it was in such good shape because it saw only limited use with the RR until the city of Altoona bought it.

One of the souvenirs I've been collecting on this trip is flat/squashed pennies.I probably already have close to 50 at home. So I decided to count them & take a picture when we got to the hotel. 82 - some are duplicates that I'll give to the granddaughters when we get back so they can start their own collections. I'm sure I'll get some more before the trip is over.

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