Horseshoe Curve, Altoona, PA. September 2022

In the early 1850s, the massive front of the Allegheny Mountains, standing 2,161 feet above sea level, blocked westward advance. This obstacle culminated in the creation of the Gallitzin Tunnels and the Horseshoe Curve, both of which were dug out of near-impenetrable geographic formations. Using switchbacks, excavations, and pure innovation, engineers reduced grades and effectively conquered the mountains. To conduct these laborious endeavors, the Pennsylvania Railroad hired job-hungry Irish immigrants. The hazardous work lasted three grueling years.

The end result was nothing less than monumental. The Curve became known as one of the eight engineering marvels of the world. The completion of the Curve was widely celebrated and heralded throughout the state as a grand opportunity. The now-iconic railroad link opened for business on February 15, 1854. Over the next century-and-a-half, the landmark also became a tourism destination, a target of Nazi spies, and one of the primary east-west arteries of railroad travel in the nation.

Camping at Coopers Rock State Forest

A few weeks ago Sophia and I went camping and rock climbing at Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia. Coopers Rock is one of my favorite places in the world. I used to go there at least once a month back in my climbing days, and now I finally had an opportunity to bring my daughter with me. Even if you are not a climber, the park has amazing hikes and the sunset view of the Cheat River valley is absolutely incredible.

Sunset over Cheat River valley, view from the Coopers Rock State Forest Overlook. Fujifilm XT-3 with a Fujinon 23 f/2 lens.
Photo courtesy of my 10-year-old daughter Sophia.