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Best Cities: Railroad History And Jobs In Altoona, Pennsylvania

Updated on October 17, 2015
Fairview Neighborhood, west of Downtown Altoona.
Fairview Neighborhood, west of Downtown Altoona. | Source

Operation Our Town - A Great Place to Live

Altoona is an interesting and historic town in Blair County, Pennsylvania, as well as home to approximately 126,000 people in 2008 and increasing to 127,089 for 2010. Altoona is growing! The County Seat of Blair County is Hollidaysburg, also a part of the larger Altoona Metro Area.

Altoona was originally founded in 1849 by the Pennsylvania Railroad to house a railroading shop complex and was incorporated on February 6, 1854, just days before the opening of the Horseshoe Curve in mid-February (see below). The city grew as the demand for railroad lines and trains for the North expanded during the American Civil War. The Curve was important to the railroading industry in World War II as well and was targeted for destruction unsuccessfully by Nazi spies.

The City of Altoona is famous for its trains and is, in fact, often called the Train City. It is recognized by economists and financial magazines as one of the Top 25 Best Small Cities for Jobs and Business in America. As the Headquarters for Sheetz Supermarkets, Altoona is home to many of these stores that are found around the city and county area. The revitalized Downtown area of Altoona is largely on the National Register of Historic Places and a big tourist attraction, although living spaces Downtown are becoming more popular.

Unique Train-City Attraction


Off Beat Attractions

Displaying a definite personality and an open mindedness of its own, the City of Altoona offers a unique institution named Atheist Station in its Gallitzin suburb at 320 Railroad Street, Gallitzin, PA 16641.

Located near a double railroad tunnel, this facility is billed as Central Pennsylvania's only official meeting place for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and humanists.

The sponsoring group stated that it hoped that President Barack Obama would bring believers, non-believers, and the uncertain together beginning in 2009 for the common good.

The web site is defunct, but Atheist Station and offered entertaining columns like Zingers for Zealots, Ask Elmo (or Edna), Wishes for World Peace, Humor, and others.

Altoona Attractions

Atheist Station:
320 Railroad St, Gallitzin, PA 16641, USA

get directions

Altoona Curve:
Horseshoe Curve, Glenwhite Rd, Altoona, PA 16601, USA

get directions

Llyswen Historic District

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Llyswen Station
Llyswen Station
Llyswen Station | Source

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods

A successful movement toward prevention in the areas of at-risk youth, substance abuse, and violent crime in Altoona is called Operation Our Town: Taking Back Our Neighborhoods.

This is an initiative taken by numerous towns in America to bring together businesses, community and charitable groups, and individuals and families in order to attend to these issues in a positive way. In Altoona, it seems to be working well.

Sheetz Supermarkets and several of the large Healthcare concerns that are major employers in the area are backing this movement in Altoona's 19 districts and dozens of neighborhoods.

As a result, Altoona is aided by Operation Our Town to maintain a position on the 25 Best Small Cities list mentioned above. Grants of $200,000 in 2007 were awarded to Law Enforcement in Altoona for related projects that increased patrols and arrests, prosecutions, and rehabilitation outcomes in drug-related cases.

In 2007 - 2008, crime rates decreased, deaths related to drug abuse decreased and the number of volunteers and successful program initiatives increased to assist youth in education and job training and to counteract the draw of gang membership. Newly funded K-12 after school programs have also added punch to these programs.

  • Faith-Based organizations have joined the program and the Altoona Helpline at 814-946-9050 is useful in coordinating prevention efforts and crisis assistance along with the
  • Altoona Regional Community Crisis Center at 814-889-2279.

Best Altoona Metro Area Attraction: The Curve and Curve Park

Altoona Curve:
Horseshoe Curve, Glenwhite Rd, Altoona, PA 16601, USA

get directions

Altoona PA:
Altoona, PA, USA

get directions

Horseshoe (Altoona) Curve

Altoona, Pennsylvania - The Altoona Curve

The Altoona (Horseshoe) Curve. Photo by A. P. McDowell, 1509 11th Ave., Altoona, Pa., 10-12-'34.  National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, 2004.
The Altoona (Horseshoe) Curve. Photo by A. P. McDowell, 1509 11th Ave., Altoona, Pa., 10-12-'34. National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, 2004. | Source

The Railroaders Memorial Museum

The Railroaders Museum of Altoona PA is a large community facility that offers concerts and other events year around. As part of its exhibits, it offers touring information to the breathtaking Horseshoe Curve, pictured below.

A small incline cable car travels up and down the slopes of the curve. Programs, events, and excursions are available at

Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum

Transit Center and Altoona Horseshoe Curve

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Altoona Transit CenterAerial view of Horseshoe Curve
Altoona Transit Center
Altoona Transit Center | Source
Aerial view of Horseshoe Curve
Aerial view of Horseshoe Curve | Source

Jobs Spiked Before President Obama Took Office


Largest Employers in the Altoona Area

The largest major employers in the Greater Altoona Area include the industries of Healthcare, Government/Military, and Education. Retail and Manufacturing are the next largest sectors.

  • Altoona Regional Health System
  • Blair County Public Administration - County Government
  • Pennsylvania State University (PSU) - Faculty and Staff
  • PA Dept. Of Military & Veteran Affairs -- Health & Social Assistance
  • Veterans Administration Hospital - Physicians needed.
  • Altoona Area School District - Teachers and others needed
  • Wal-Mart Associates Inc. - Retail
  • Appleton Papers Inc - Manufacturing
  • Skills Of Central PA Inc. - Health & Social Assistance programs

Altoona Regional Health System

Altoona Regional is the only Primary Stroke treatment facility between Lancaster and Pittsburgh PA. The Hospital and Medical Center offer a variety of ongoing programs to the community to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke among residents.

HEARTAWARE risk assessment test is an easy online tool that consumers can use to look at their own risk possibilities. The portal for this assessment in on the home page at Altoona Regional Health.

Employment opportunities are also available for review at the website.

Top 10 High Demand Jobs in Altoona PA Expected to 2016

The jobs most in need of additional or new workers are in the Healthcare and Social Services Industries, followed by Education and Food & Beverage Services.

  1. Careers in clinics and hospitals - includes Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), assistants, and support staff.
  2. Physicians (MD, DO)
  3. Nursing & Residential Care Workers - includes retirement homes.
  4. Social Workers and Social Work Assistants
  5. Education Services, Teaching, and Teacher's Assistants - includes K-12 and College Level,
  6. Combined Food & Beverage Preparation and Service Jobs
  7. Professional & Technical Services Jobs
  8. Computer Systems Design & IT Services
  9. Electronics Market Agents & Brokers
  10. Truck Transportation and Freight

Warehousing and Cable Programming are also high demand job sources.

Leading Job Listings Expected Short-Term 2016 - 2018

  1. CRST Companies - Trucking
  2. American Professional Truck Drivers
  3. NHS Human Services - Health and Human Services
  4. Skills of Central PA - General labor, nurses, and other
  5. UPMC - Nursing home agency jobs
  6. Dollar General and Family Dollar - Retail management, cashiers, stock
  7. Hoss's Steak and Sea House - DIning
  8. Sheetz - Major Grocery store chain
  9. Advance Auto Parts
  10. Pizza Hut
  11. Medical Staffing Network - RN licensed Nurses
  12. DICK'S Sporting Goods
  13. Manpower - Employment agency
  14. JJ Powell, Inc. & Snappy's Convenience Stores
  15. EMG Wireless

Most Frequent Job Listings

Highest In-Demand Jobs in and Around Altoona PA:

  1. Truck Drivers & Owner-Operators - Jumped from 14th Place. Look for work at Swift Transportation, CRST, Barr-Nunn Transport, STI, Hogan, and USA Truck.
  2. Registered Nurses (RNs) & LPNs, especially for home care and hospital care.
  3. IT, Mechanical, Electrical Engineers
  4. Physicians: Internal Medicine, Hospitalists, Family Practice, ER
  5. Financial Advisors
  6. Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists
  7. Store Managers and Assistants
  8. Restaurant Crew and Management
  9. Warehouse Jobs, Logistics
  10. Retail Salespeople
  11. Marketing Sales Representatives
  12. Automotive Center Managers
  13. Appliance Repair People
  14. Insurance Agents
  15. Certified Nursing Assistants (STNA,CNA, other)

Pennsylvania State University

Penn State Altoona offers a variety of Associate and Bachelor's degrees. Degree programs also provide an Honors Program and a number of Internships, as well as study abroad. Major courses of study include Biology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Communications, K-Elementary Education, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Technologies, English, Environmental Studies, History, Human Development and Family Studies; Letters, Arts, and Sciences; Mathematics, Nursing, Psychology, Security and Risk Analysis, Science and others.

Website: Pennsylvania State University at Altoona.

Minor League Park

Football & Basketball Facilities Altoona
Football & Basketball Facilities Altoona | Source

Sports Teams

  • Altoona Curve - Baseball club, affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Penn State Lions - Penn State University
  • Keystone Girls Softball League
  • East End Little League

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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