Well despite all of the predictions ALTO was not "closed by December" so it seems that my rush to get out and take photos, rail or shine, was short sighted. So as the gray days of winter came to an end and spring sprung up around me I once again got in the car and drove the three hours to Altoona one bright sunny morning in late April. This time I made sure to drive around a bit to capture everything that I needed to as I suspected that I would not be getting a third chance so instead of just ALTO interlocking and the station area I went out to SLOPE, HOMER and the grade crossing at Fostoria.
If you are interested you can see the full set of 500 some odd photos here after you are done looking at the ones that have trains in them below.
We begin with a bit of a treat as I was tipped off by a railfan hanging out on the ALTO road bridge that an NS Heritage unit was go out momentarily with a train of empty coal hoppers. Unfortunately the unit in question was not something appropriate like Conrail, Penn Central or PRR, but I Nickel Plate unit #6100 is better than the standard NS fare here seen coming and going past the classic PC signal bridge and the tower itself.
In this video clip we can see 6100 knock down the 2371 automatic signal at SLOPE.
At end end of the long hopper train was one of the many sets of 6300 series SD40-2 locomotives that make up the helper pool for the stretch of track between Altoona and Johnstown. In this set we find 6304 and 6301.
Here we see ALTO tower standing by itself. The tower is suposidly going to be moved over to the nearby Altoona Railroaders Museum, however because NS couldn't just have the tower preserved in situ it now sits unoccupied and is already falling prey to thieves and vandals. Probably only a matter of time until someone sets it on fire.
Here we see the rear of the 12RA signal on the old eastbound signal bridge, with the bagged westbound track 1 signal for CP-ALTOONA behind it and the 2371 automatic at CP-SLOPE displaying Clear far in the background.
Shown here at the head of a long crude oil train is NS 2530, an END SD70 basic with no stupid side nose cab.
Following close behind was Amtrak's Train 42, the eastbound Pennsylvanian.
Which made its Altoona station stop while the long crude oil train rolled through.
Here is a video of Train 42 starting up and taking off past the long string of tank cars and the 6328/6329 helper pack on the rear.
Side view of the tower and rear view of the eastbound signal bridge.
Video of the 6327/6309 helper pack drifting past the tower.
Here we see 6327 as it rolls under the PC signal bridge and the front of 6309 as it passes the tower.