Layout Tour

The layout follows the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad westward out of Altoona, around the famous Horseshoe Curve and Gallitzin Tunnels into Johnstown. Even with a 15' x 18' space at my disposal, a good bit of selective compression was necessary. I'm also taking a bit of creative license, which is explained in greater detail below. I will update the photos as scenery is completed.





 Our tour begins in Altoona, PA, the east end of the modeled portion of the line. In real life, Altoona was a major shop complex, where the Pennsylvania Railroad manufactured many of its own steam locomotives. The shop survives today, servicing the diesel locomotives of PRR successor Norfolk Southern.

On the layout, Altoona is primarily a staging yard. While I'm not trying to duplicate the city exactly, scenery will be evocative of the area.

Upon leaving Altoona, the line begins climbing a steady 2% grade toward Horseshoe Curve and the summit of the Allegheny Mountains.


Laying just a bit west of Altoona and in the shadow of Horseshoe Curve is a small station for Kittanning Point. The real Kittanning Point station, a beautiful stone structure, was sadly torn down in 1939. Today, the only evidence of the station is a wide, open area next to the tracks.

Since the prototype station was long gone by the time period I model, I figured I could take some creative license and use this Atlas passenger station.


Perhaps the most prominent landmark on the line is the famous Horseshoe Curve. My model is not to scale, because even in N Scale, the curve would have to be eight feet in diameter.

Eventually this area will contain the trackside visitor's center, reservoirs and steep mountains.

Upon leaving the curve the trains head for the Gallitizin Tunnels.




If Horseshoe Curve is the most famous landmark on the line, then the Gallitzin Tunnels are a close number 2. Just prior to the town of Gallitzin, the east and westbound tracks split. The eastbound tracks pass through the steeper New Portage Tunnel, while the westbound tracks pass through the
Gallitzin Tunnels. This is duplicated on the layout.

In the real world there are actually two tunnels in Gallitzin. In PRR days one track used each bore.  However, under Conrail, one bore was enlarged to allow the passage of double stack container cars and other tall rolling stock as well as fit two tracks. The other bore was subsequently abandoned.On the layout both tracks will pass through one bore and the other bore will be omitted in the name

Gallitzin is home to four of the layout's industries incuding a feed, seed & implement dealer, a metal fabricator, a brewery and a cement plant.


The next stop after Gallitzin is Cassandra. In the real world, the railroad passes through the towns of Cresson and Lilly. However, those two towns have also been sacrificed on the alter of selective compression.

Cassandra is a tiny little town of a few hundred people just off Route 53. So why include it on the layout? Well, it's a really good place to watch trains and I've spent many a happy hour railfanning there with my dad.

This scene will include a short bridge across the Little Conemaugh River. The tracks will pass under an old bridge, which is now used by railfans, and the through a long rock cut.


The Johnstown/Summerhill area marks the end of the modeled portion of the line. Like Altoona, it's primarily a staging yard. However, there will be a number of industries here and a chance for some switching.




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