About the Museum

The Railroaders Memorial Museum is dedicated to revealing, interpreting, commemorating and celebrating the significant contributions of Railroaders and their families to American life and industry.

The Altoona Pennsylvania Railroad’s contribution to the nation’s transportation infrastructure, and to production standardization, marks it as one of the most important contributors to America’s industrial revolution. By the 1920s, the Altoona railroad works employed 15,000 workers, and by 1945 the Pennsylvania Railroad’s facilities at Altoona had become the world’s largest rail shop complex.

About Altoona, Pennsylvania

For more than a century Altoona was one of the most important rail facilities in the United States. The city was home to the Altoona Pennsylvania Railroad’s repair and maintenance shops, its locomotive construction facility, and its test department.

Altoona’s location at the foot of the Allegheny front and its proximity to the Horseshoe Curve route over the mountains, made the city a key location in the Altoona Pennsylvania Railroad’s operations.

Today, Altoona is one of the hubs of the area’s growing tourist industry. Many significant cultural resources are within the city itself, and most of these resources are linked directly to the city’s long history as a railroad center. Altoona is in a section of southwestern Pennsylvania that is home to a number of significant cultural and historic resources.

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Horseshoe Curve National Historic Site, Staple Bend Tunnel (America’s first railroad tunnel), and the historic iron furnace at Mt. Etna are all within 25 miles of Altoona.

Building the Museum

When Altoona lost the bid for the Commonwealth of Altoona Pennsylvania’s Railroad Museum in 1965, that didn’t stop local people from pursuing a Railroad Museum for Altoona.

66An ad is placed in the Altoona Mirror searching for parties interested in establishing a Railroad Museum for Altoona.

67The group forms the Altoona Railway Museum Club and adopts the name Altoona Railway Museum Association.

68The National Railway Historical Society grants a charter to the association. Chapter members begin collecting railroad memorabilia and displaying historical objects at civic events, etc.
72The name Railroaders Memorial Museum is officially incorporated.

75Museum acquires the private rail car of Charles M. Schwab – The Loretto. The Altoona Redevelopment Authority sells the former Penn Central Railroad shop complex land to the Center Associates with an agreement providing that Center Associates make a 5-acre plot available for the Museum.

79Ground-breaking ceremonies are held on May 12th.
80Museum celebrates grand opening on September 21st.

85Museum acquires the PRR K4′s #1361 locomotive and moves it from the Horseshoe Curve to Altoona for restoration.

87K4′s excursions haul thousands as the “Pride of Altoona” returns to the rails.
93Museum acquires former PRR master mechanics building and an adjoining parcel of land.

95Renovations to the master mechanics building begin.

97Exhibit fabrication and installation work begin.

98Grand opening of the new Railroaders Memorial Museum held on April 25th.

Take a Virtual Tour

Inside the Railroaders Memorial Museum

Take a step back in time and experience the daily lives of America's Railroaders ... at work, at home, and in the community.

Take a Virtual Tour