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George's road trip part four – Dickens, Lind, Grant & Cuhaj

At one of the 2000+ foot peaks of the Allegheny Mountains along Route 22, is the town of Gallitzin, Penn.

The town is named for a Prince-Priest who was the first Catholic Priest fully trained in the United States under the guidance of Baltimore’s Bishop (later Archbishop) John Carroll. Gallitzin traveled the Allegheny area as a Catholic missionary in the 1790s thru 1830s and a staue of him is in the vestibule of the Altoona Cathedral.

It is also the site of the Gallitzin tunnel, built in 1854 and expanded in 1904, which is on the PRR’s main line and part of the same enginering acheivement as the Horseshoe Curve mentioned earlier in the travel log. It was so stratigic a point for railroad travel that there was a German atempt during WWII (which was foiled) to blow the tunnel up.

LemonhouseJPG.jpg

However, the most developed museum in the town is the National Park Services’ Allegheny Portage Railroad. The 32 miles of this operation took canal boats riding on low rail cars over the mountains via a system of inclines.

The featured display at the site of incline number 6 is a re-creation on the excavation site of the steam power house. It also includes a segment of lift track, track mounted onto stone ties (called sleepers), a hillside of the old limestone quarry where the sleepers were cut from, and the two story tavern called the Lemon House.

In addition at the bottom of the incline is the “Skew Bridge” where the canal boats riding on railes passed under an existing turnpike road. The operation was in use from the 1830 thru the PRR opening in 1854. Many of the limestone sleepers are still in place and often are enountered during road excavations. They form many a roadside wall.

Charles Dickens wrote about it, Jenny Lind and U.S. Grant visited, and Cuhaj has returned to the site.

I last visited the site in the early 1980s. Since that visit (which I have photos of) the National Park Service has greatly expanded the exhibits at the visitor center, developed a great movie about the site and should you be traveling along Hwy 22, it is well worth the detour off-the-beaten path to get to it.

George

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