Located in beautiful Blair County in the lower middle portion of the state, Altoona, Pennsylvania is also known as the Mountain City because it is located in the Allegheny Mountains. "Altoona" is a misspelling of the Latin word for high up, "Altus." A city of less than 50,000 inhabitants, Altoona is filled with parks, schools, universities and businesses. It houses the headquarters for the Sheetz chain of convenience stores across America's East Coast. Itís also home to the Altoona Curve minor league baseball team. Grammy award-winning saxophonist Paul Winter is perhaps Altoona's most famous native son.
Altoona was originally a place where an iron furnace was built for workers of the expanding Pennsylvania Railroad company. Eventually, the workers decided to stay. Founded by the company, Altoona was officially founded in 1849 and far outlasted the railroad, which merged with the New York Central Railroad in 1968. Trains are still much a part of Altoona, as it has not only a major Amtrak station but a Railroaders Memorial Museum. It also houses Norfolk Southern Locomotive railroad car maintenance and repair facilities. Every year, thousands of train enthusiasts and their wallets flock to Altoona for "Trainfest."
Altoona is the tenth largest city in Pennsylvania. It has all of the major conveniences of a major city but is still small enough to keep its natural beauty preserved. Many historic homes have also been preserved. Although the Pennsylvania Railroad is long gone, there are still plenty of businesses to keep the residents working. These include museums, a branch campus of the world famous Penn State University, real estate market, restaurants, social services, and many retail shops. The Blair County Entrepreneurial Institute, located in Altoona, can help get businesses started. Besides the Trainfest, baseball team and shopping, there are plenty of other things to do in Altoona. It is home to amusement parks, farmer's markets, a tour of historic homes, and several museums. One of the most popular is the Quaint Corner Children's Museum, which allows birthday parties and special events. For more mature entertainment, try the Mishler Theater, headquarters for the Blair County Arts Foundation.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan