BA HISTORY 101: Bellwood Train Station

The importance of the Pennsylvania Railroad on the Bellwood area can’t be overstated. It was  important to the Central Pennsylvania region to help people travel back and forth and to move goods, while at the same time it was an important cog in the national railway system.

Bellwood exists because of the railroads. Back in1846 workers carved a 60 mile swath out of the steep mountainside using picks, shovels, wheelbarrows, and horses and/or mules. Bellwood passed through Lloydsville, Blandsburg, and Lajose and ended in Punxsutawney mostly hauling coal to the mainlines. In 1902 the Pennsylvania Railroad began operating on the lines. 

In fact, Bellwood  used to have a train station near what is today the Irvins on Main Street. Built between 1899 and 1904, it is where today one would find the pedestrian bridge.

There was also a freight station and roundhouse on the northwest side of the tracks near Cambria Street. Fourteen tracks ran into the yard, which had a roundhouse and maintenance shops. A tunnel connected one side of the tracks to the other.

As the railroad grew, so did the town. A thriving commercial area stretched the length of Main Street. Eighty-nine residents people worked for the railroad from 1925-1972, including Bellwood’s mayor and a lifetime resident Clarence Hostler, who was the engineer. People called him a “goldmine”.

Bellwood’s first two decades of the Twentieth Century were good ones until a railroad strike in 1924. After the strike, the railroad moved most of the shops to Chambersburg and Altoona. It was the end of an era.