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COPYRIGHT December, 2003 

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Steam in the Juniata Valley


"RAILFEST 2003, Altoona, Pennsylvania"

By Jack W. Miller Sr.
and Theresa Wilt

Excitement and enthusiasm were beginning to build the week before the Railfest 2003 event was to take place and all eyes and ears were watching and listening to all broadcasts on the weather reports for the week. Fingers crossed and toes as well, we all were all hoping for the best weather Mother Nature could bestow upon the Altoona area. The morning of Oct. 4th,you guessed it, we were all wet and then some.

Keeping our fingers crossed again we were praying that it would be a shot lived downpour and clear up for the possibility of firing up the steam locomotives so we could hit the mainline and haul some revenue for the Museum. Four hours later we got our wish and our prayers were answered. The rain stopped and the skies started to brighten up a bit and the fires were lit in the boilers and the running commenced.

The balance of the day seen a lot of steaming activity and a lot of smiles from the engineers and the riding public. The following day Oct.5th started off cool but the skies were a welcoming shade of blue and the live steamers were all smiles from ear to ear. It wasn't long before the pleasant aroma of coal smoke was filling the air. Like the day before the trains were hauling passengers young and old alike, all having a good time. Many were riding for the first time behind a real fire breathing locomotive. The Railfest days have been going on for about 8 years in the Altoona, Pa area and is produced by the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum.

This is the second year that the Independent Live Steamers of Pennsylvania, Middle & Pittsburgh Div. have participated in the Railfest event in Altoona. The first year we had 5 - 1 1/2" scale steam locomotives consisting of a PRR B6sa, PRR G5s, PRR K4sa, PRR I1sa, PRR M1b. The second year has seen a growth in locomotives and rolling stock. For Railfest 2003 we had a PRR FP7 w/stripes, passenger service, PRR B6sa, Reading A5a Camelback, PRR G5s, PRR K4sa, PRR I1sa, PRR M1b, PRR GEG415, Gas-Electric Doodlebug and 1 speeder.

The cars consisted of a complete PRR Express Train with 3 B60b Baggage Cars and a P70 Coach (all riding) and various freight cars (all riding) with a beautiful PRR N5c Cabin w/ antenna. We also had Ed Woodings' beautiful 1" scale PRR T1 No.6110 along with Joe Mastroroccos' 1 1/2" scale PRR Q2 on display in Memorial Hall at the Museum. We are hoping that all live Steamers interested in participating in the 2004 Railfest contact Jack W, Miller Sr. at 814-495-5277 or E-Mail at
or Ed Wilt at 814-943-5952 or E-Mail at

We are operating an 1 1/2" scale,7 1/2" gauge railroad in the Museum yard along with the static displays in Memorial Hall.

Railfest is an annual celebration of railroading that won't be forgotten. 2004 brings the 150th Anniversary celebration of the famous Pennsylvania Railroad Horseshoe Curve. It will be a year long celebration ending with Railfest 2004.

The Curve is noted as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Along with all these Live Steaming activities at the Museum, one of the sponsors of Railfest, Bennett Levins' Juniata Terminal Co. traveling from the Philadelphia area to Altoona with his beautiful PRR E8's and a train to take passengers from Altoona up and around the Horseshoe Curve and to the top of the hill at Gallitzin, Pa. and through the tunnels and back down around the curve and into Altoona to conclude the trip. Three of these trips are done each day of Railfest. 

This is Mountain Railroading at it's best.


Live Steam activities at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in the yard. Dick Poole seen with his PRR FP7 ready to pull out onto the mainline and Tom Wietling preparing Wayne Godshall's PRR B6 for the days work.   
click to enlarge

Future engineers looking over the locomotives in the yard. Don Godshalls PRR Doodlebug in the background with Les Shaffer's PRR I1sa in the middle and Jack Miller's PRR M1b in the foreground.    click to enlarge

Ed Wilt engineer on Dick Pooles' PRR FP7. Ed is the president of the K4sa restoration group that is over seeing the work done on the K4 No. 1361. The group expects to have the locomotive back at the Railroaders Memorial Museum by the next 2004 Railfest event completely rebuilt and ready for the road.   click to enlarge (photo by Ray Hilgret)

Jack Miller Sr. on his M1b and Les Shaffer in the rear preparing to shove a freight on the mainline up and around the curve and over the top of the hill. Running helper service today. click to enlarge (photo by Ray Hilgret)

Tony Mastrorocco,standing talking to Brain Hilgert,sittng on the G5s. John Detrick in the background getting the K4sa ready for service. Les Shaffers' I1sa sitting in the yard. click to enlarge (photo by Ray Hilgret)

Andy Pullen, engineer on the Reading A5a leading Wayne Godshall on the PRR B6sa pulling a freight train. click to enlarge (photo by Ray Hilgret)

Don Sweger on the lead engine which is a PRR K4sa and Brain Hilgert on the PRR G5s heading the express train. (photo by Ray Hilgret)
click to enlarge

click to enlarge
Side view of the 1.6 scale PRR Q2. Joe Mastrorocco the builder on the rt. showing locomotive to Fred Connacher one of the ILS members. (photo by Ray Hilgret)

click to enlarge
Ed Wooding, Builder of the T1, No.6110 on the left with a retierd Pennsylvania Locomotive Engineer Bill Haxel. Bill used to be an engineer on those Big Engines on the Pittsburgh Div. Bill lives in the Altoona area .(photo by Ray Hilgret)

click to enlarge
The happy couple, Ruth and Ed Woodings, builders and owners of this beautiful locomotive. (photo by Ray Hilgret)

By Jack W. Miller Sr.
and Theresa Wilt


the end


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