October 6, 2001 Altoona Excursion by the
National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) - Harrisburg Chapter


The Harrisburg Chapter, National Railway Historical Society is selling tickets for a train excursion from Harrisburg to Altoona, Pa. and return on October 6, 2001. The excursion will feature coach seating, optional seating at extra fare on a private car, a ride around the world-famous Horse Shoe Curve using of a pair of immaculately restored, vintage passenger diesel locomotives to pull the train.

The chartered train, called the Capitol West, will depart the Harrisburg Amtrak Station at 7:45 am. After a non-stop run to Altoona, where additional passengers may board, the train will climb the Allegheny front, traversing majestic Horse Shoe Curve en route. After tunneling under the crest at Gallitzin, the train will make a loop and return to Altoona for detraining all passengers at 12:15 pm. Riders will then be able to participate in all the activities of Rail fest, a celebration of Altoona railroad heritage.

Riders will receive a return ticket to Harrisburg on regular Amtrak Train 44, the Pennsylvanian, which is scheduled to depart Altoona at 7:04 pm and arrive in Harrisburg at 10:12 pm. Boarding point for the Pennsylvanian is at the Altoona Amtrak station, accessed by a footbridge from the Railfest site. The excursion trainset will not return to Harrisburg until Sunday, October 7, at the end of Railfest. Tickets on the return train are being sold both for coaches and for the private car at one-half the westbound price.

The locomotives for the excursion are privately owned by the Juniata Terminal Company and are restored to their original Pennsylvania Railroad colors and numbers. They were built in the 1950s and were last used by Conrail to power its executive train. The coach cars for the train are air conditioned and restroom equipped. There is no food service available on the train, but guests are welcome to bring their own food along.

If you lean toward riding in style, the private car Kitchi Gammi seating just 20 passengers and located on the rear of the train, is your answer. You will stay on this car for the trip around the Horse Shoe Curve.

Railfest 2001 is a two-day event centered around the Railroaders Memorial Museum and the Norfolk Southern locomotive shops in Altoona. Free shuttle bus service between the two facilities is included with the ticket. The Museum houses numerous exhibits and displays of the rich railroading tradition of Altoona and its citizens. At the shops, visitors will see full-sized equipment and vendor displays, as well as be able to talk to employees about shop functions where locomotives are built. Railfest admission also includes free entry to the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site and the newly opened Staple Bend Tunnel, both of which must be reached by car from Altoona.

Fares for the Capitol West are $100 for coach seats and $200 for the private car. Included in the cost is the train fare in both directions and around the Curve, admission to Railfest, and the shuttle bus in Altoona. Children under the age of two sitting on the lap of a parent or guardian are free. If you are staying overnight, tickets for the return trip of the excursion train on October 7, called the Capitol East, are also available, at half the cost of the Capitol West. Coach seats are priced at $50 each and private car seats are $100 each. The departure from Altoona is scheduled for 3:50 pm and arrival in Harrisburg should be approximately 8:00 pm.

Tickets may be ordered from Harrisburg Chapter NRHS, Railfest Trip, 637 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-1924. Checks must accompany an order and should be made payable to "Harrisburg Chapter NRHS." Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for mailing of your tickets. Tickets may also be ordered by credit card by leaving a call-back phone number on the answering machine. There are no refunds given on purchased tickets.