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“Not enough time but enjoyed the history”

Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark
Ranked #1 of 23 things to do in Altoona
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: An unusual construction of rail-building that enabled trains to move westward.
Frederick, Maryland
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Not enough time but enjoyed the history”
Reviewed July 22, 2014

Very historic location and need more than an hour to have enough time to see everything and catch the incline on the hour or half hour and hope to see a train. Suggest trying to find out when trains run so you can be sure to see a train. Seems to be more in the mornings but one did come through at 11:55 on a Saturday just as we were riding the incline up. Price is a little hefty to get in but worth it for the experience.

Visited July 2014
3 Thank JenI-AnywhereButHere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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382 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • Any
English first
Cumberland, Maryland
Level Contributor
33 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Too Much Money”
Reviewed July 19, 2014

This is truly a wonder of the world. I've been going since I was a kid. But unfortunately, the museum that operates the park charges far too much, and access can be extremely limited based on weather and any internal museum politics. There was a time when access to the curve was free, intended to be enjoyed by anyone who appreciated this great engineering accomplishment. If the National Park Service operated the park, I'm sure it would be even better.

Visited September 2013
6 Thank RadioDitch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
84 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Beautiful scenery from above but NO Train”
Reviewed July 19, 2014

We visited in June after purchasing the dual ticket to this and the Railroaders Museum in downtown Altoona. The map and directions given to us there were a bit confusing. We got lost and made several wrong turns trying to find this place which was out in the middle of the mountains. Luckily a very friendly garage attendant drew us a new map and got us here 'in the nick of time' just before closing! The 2 employees we encountered seemed tired and ready to call it a day. There is a parking lot, a building with a gift shop, a small display room, a video room. You need to either climb the mountain via winding stairs or take the incline car trolley up. We breezed through a small exhibit room and then had to track someone down to watch a short video of the Horseshoe Curve which explained what it was all about. We didn't have any real idea as to what it was. We were told we'd be able to catch the last trolley up to the curve and spend 1/2 hour up there until the closing at 6 pm. To make a long story short, we heard an announcement, while at the top, from the one employee who ran the trolley that it would be going back down, after we were only up 15 minutes. No trains came around the curve, while we were there, so we just looked at the beautiful mountain view and the locomotive on display at the top. We waited for the trolley to return up to get us (the only visitors there). There was a camera and a call button. We tried both to get his attention. We got scared that they'd close and leave us up there. Luckily, there were a ton of winding stairs you could also take to the top, so unfortunately, we began trecking down the stairs. Halfway down, we heard another announcement up above, saying 'now boarding' for the trolley incline car to return down (at around 6 pm) ! WHEW! Basically, we were told we'd have a half hour up there, then heard an announcement for the trolley sooner than that, came running over to get onto it to see it was still parked at the bottom, then thought they forgot about us! We left the building as another couple was arriving and had to tell them it was closed. The two employees were out the door behind us and basically felt like they were pushing us out of the parking lot, so they could chain it and go home. It was a very rushed, not too welcoming, or exciting a visit, with a lot of uncalled for walking down steps.

Visited June 2014
Thank GRNEYEDgirl3201
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montgomery County, PA
Level Contributor
188 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 184 helpful votes
“Miss seeing an engineering wonder”
Reviewed July 17, 2014

My recent trip to the Horseshoe Curve was a disappointment. I had been here several times in the past and also rode several times as a passenger on the curve. Other reviewers are correct that the former "Pennsy" main line is heavily used with about 60-70 freight trains rounding the curve every 24 hours. But, they are incorrect that one can view the trains extending around the ARC, at least at this time of the year.
NS does not cut the trees that are along the tracks and that block or obscure the view. There is a section about 250 yards in length at track level near the incline and steps where the foliage and trees are cut. Thus if there is a fast moving passenger train, you will get a 30 second glimpse of it. Visitors will see segments of hundred plus car trains moving up and or down the curve . . . but it is impossible (at least at this time of year) to see trains stretching around the arc as was possible in the past.
i drove up to the curve site the evening I arrived in Altoona and noticed the tracks were no longer visible from the road. I thought maybe I had erroneous recollections of past visits. When I visited again the next morning and took the funicular to the top, I realized the missing vista was gone from the track level, too.
Not only was I disappointed but my guest was and so was a visitor who drove in from Ohio to photograph moving trains on the curve.
Anyway, I don't want to discourage people from visiting the site, but don't anticipate, too much. I spoke with the manager and asked why the trees are allowed to block the view. He said NS doesn't allow them to be cut back. He acknowledged that many railroad hobbyists are upset that they can't view trains surrounding the arc any longer.
I recommend visiting this site as well as the Allegheny Portage Railroad site and the Gallitzen tunnels (all near on another) to gain an understanding why the curve was so essential to western development and American industrial history. It is a magnificent engineering work designed in the 1850's that remains operating today. Additionally, visit the related museum in downtown Altoona. There is a combined ticket price available.

Visited July 2014
7 Thank JEDMAD_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
28 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Nice Day Trip”
Reviewed July 14, 2014 via mobile

This is a great place to visit if you know someone who loves trains. We were there for about 3 hours and saw about a dozen trains which made the 3 hour drive worth it, especially since both my husband and our children are train nuts! There are benches and some picnic tables under trees for shade/protection from the elements. Beware thought, there are quite a few steps to get to the top/viewing area, you can take their little transportation but it only goes every half hour (they do give a 5 minute warning before it's supposed to leave). We didn't use it though and we also didn't visit the museum. One cool thing that I enjoyed is the fact that you can hear the engineers over the radio when they're a few minutes away from the curve and there's a corresponding schedule in the gift shop so you know approximately when to expect the trains and what they're carrying. My suggestion is to bring a picnic lunch or snacks, a chair or blanket, a camera and enjoy yourself!

4 Thank NikkieyG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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