Drill Team / Honor Guard Reunion – Day Four
(In which our intrepid, although ill, road warrior braves the perils of commercial air travel to return safely home.)
When I drove from Pittsburgh to State College on Thursday, I noticed a sign on I-99 for the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum. Because I love trains (among other huge mechanical things), I decided to visit it on my way back to Pittsburgh. Well, nothing is *ever* as simple as that.
I found the proper exit off I-99 and followed the road into Altoona. But I never saw another sign for the museum, and fearing that I might have gone too far, I pulled into a convenience-store parking lot to find someone to ask. Inside the store, a friendly young clerk did just that, pointing me back in the direction I had been going and telling me where to turn and what to look for. It wasn’t really that much farther, but I was glad to have received confirmation that I hadn’t gotten lost.
The next step was actually getting *in* to the museum, and I failed at that. Not because I couldn’t find the entrance, but because it was closed for the winter and wouldn’t reopen until April 1. *sigh* So I walked the perimeter of the museum and took several photos of the equipment on the grounds. I think that was pretty much all I could have stood, anyway, because it’s a pretty big place, the wind was blowing through me, and my cold was getting worse. So here are a few representative photos of the equipment they have.
I don’t know what this car would have been used for; perhaps there’s a descriptive plaque somewhere that explains. But I can tell you that this would have carried some *seriously* heavy cargo.
This is a “scale test weight car” that would have been used to calibrate a railyard’s scales so the RR could accurately charge customers for the weight of their shipment. This particular car, which isn’t very long, weighs 15 tons. The weight is adjusted by adding or removing lead weights. The sign to the left of the car says that today’s test cars typically weigh 40 tons (80,000 pounds).
There is a very famous horseshoe-shaped curve not too far from Altoona; fittingly enough, it’s known simply as “The Horseshoe Curve.” It was opened in 1854 and is still in use today (albeit, I’m sure, with an upgrade or two along the way). This freight car commemorates the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Curve.
And, of course, out on the back tracks (?), there are the cars that have no current place on the museum’s grounds. They’re all in pretty rough shape and range from passenger cars to maintenance-of-way equipment. Naturally, when I saw those, my first thought was “I want to buy this and restore it.” Why am I afflicted so?!?
My time at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum over, I drove back to Pittsburgh International Airport, turned in my Kia Soul, and checked in. I found a seat at the gate, and was idly wondering whether John and Nancy (Remember them? They flew with me from MDW to PIT) were flying back, as well, when I heard John calling my name. Well, that answered *that* question. We chatted some while waiting for the boarding to begin, but when we got on I chose a seat farther back than where they wanted to sit, so we went our separate ways. I found out later that both John and I had slept through almost the entire flight.
So here I am, safely ensconced back in my home in Tucson, wondering what my next adventure will be. Feedback from the reunion has been uniformly positive, with a couple of folks specifically thanking me for putting it together and expressing the hope that this won’t be a one-time shot. It makes me feel good.