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Railroaders Memorial Museum (Pennsylvania Railroad Master Mechanics Offices and Testing Department)
After 1850, the daily rhythm of Altoona was regulated by the whistles of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Even after a series of mergers, buyouts, and failures, the railroad remains the city's heart. At its peak, 17,000 Altoonans worked for the railroad in three separate shops and one foundry. There have been hundreds of railroad buildings constructed here, but most have been demolished, altered, or reused. For example, all the roundhouses have disappeared. This museum is located in the former Master Mechanics building, part of the original Altoona works of 1882 adjacent to 12th Street. It is one of only three remaining buildings in that complex, and was adapted by Wallace Roberts and Todd of Philadelphia for its present use as a focal point for the city. As a railroad known for its standardization and efficiency, the PRR engineers allowed the machines to dictate the design of the buildings. Just as the locomotives and cars were standardized, so too were the buildings, which are invariably red brick and gable roofed with slightly depressed bays of segmental-arched windows separated by brick pilasters, and with brick corbeling at the cornice line and in the gable ends. The two rail shops remaining in Altoona are the Juniata Shops, which stretch for nearly a mile north of downtown and east of Chestnut Street, and the South Altoona Foundries, now an industrial park west of 6th Avenue. Only the Juniata Shops (which include some of the Altoona Car Shops) still operate as part of the Norfolk Southern Corporation.
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