Introduction: Wow! A lot can change in a year. I am pain free for the first time in almost a year! My hope is to use this time to write another book, this one focused on disability theology. Since I am currently focusing on my writing, you will see less activity here on my blog; however, my goal is to get back to a regular posting schedule. Right now my I’m aiming to start by posting at least once a month.
I am excited to kick off the new year with a guest post from my husband, Jeff Holland. He is also a talented writer, an antiquarian, and a local historian.
Tyrone Trolley Bridge Rediscovered
By Jeffery D. Holland
For about 15 years now, I have been collecting photos, postcards and artifacts related to the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway. In 2005 after reading the book Images of Rail the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway, my interest was sparked. That spark became a roaring fire when a short time late my Uncle gave me my Grandfather’s Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway Company hat badge. I was hooked. Over the years I have found a lot of photos and postcards but one in particular always stymied me. The postcard shown above labeled “Trolley bridge over the Juniata river, Tyrone Pa.” I as well as Dave Seidel and Leonard Alwine had searched for the location of this bridge for years with no success. I had myself spent a lot of time looking at maps of the right of way between Altoona and Tyrone searching in vain for a location that matched the photo. Over time, I despaired and decided I would probably never know.
Recently, I came across a system map of the Logan Valley showing the entire system. My first thought was “where is that bridge!?” No luck. It showed the location of the track and stations but not bridges. One small detail became apparent from this map. I and I believe most everyone else thought the track at the northern most point of the line stopped in Nealmont outside of Tyrone. This map however showed the track going as far as Ironville traveling under the PRR viaduct at that location. That in and of itself seemed like a great discovery.
A few months later, I found myself driving to State College to visit a friend on a Saturday morning and as I approached the fork in the road to turn toward Warriors Mark I passed the small village of Nealmont. My mind went back to the Logan Valley’s newly discovered section of right of way. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. We had all been digging in the wrong place! I had always made the assumption that the bridge in the postcard would be on the Altoona side of Tyrone but I had never looked north of Tyrone. I realized that to get to Ironville from Nealmont you have to cross the river. I kept driving knocking the idea around all the way. After visiting our friend my wife and I stopped for lunch. I finally had a chance to look at Google Maps. I scrolled in on the location I had hypothesized and everything seemed to be a match. It was clear that there was old right of way across the river at the point I had guessed.
On the way home we stopped and took a look and right where I thought a bridge abutment would be. There it was (See photos). I drove to the other side and found intact a second concrete bridge that had carried the Logan Valley track. The straight path of the track was still clear all but for the over grown grass (See photo). I was thrilled! But still a little uncertain.
I got home and immediately pulled out the postcard. Looking at it I remembered that I had found a copy of a photo at the Tyrone Historical Society years ago. The photo showed a bridge. One I had also not identified. I had never put the two images side by side. Doing so I found them to be one and the same. The greatest part was the second photo showed a view in the opposite direction showing the houses in Nealmont, houses that are still there and were a perfect match! This was the final confirmation. I had finally located the bridge from the postcard.
About the Author: Jeffery D. Holland is currently studying to be a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church. He serves two churches in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Jeffery is a member of the National Railway Horseshoe Curve Chapter, the Johnstown Postcard Club, and the Blair County Historical Society, where he serves as board member. He has had multiple articles published by the Blair County Historical Society and given presentations on the history of streetcars in Pennsylvania.