A recent post on a friend's facebook page noted that ALTO tower in Altoona, Pennsylvania, was closing soon. At the time of this writing, that hadn't happened yet but it was supposed to be only "days away." I've commented here previously about our two trips to Altoona and photographing ALTO so it only seemed appropriate to mark the end of her run.
The tower controlled traffic through the busy rail area of Altoona, which is located at the foot of the mountains separating east & west Pennsylvania. Traffic leaving here went around Horseshoe Curve and through Gallitzin Tunnel on its way to Pittsburgh and all points west. At one time, a full 75% of the traffic headed west went through Altoona so you can see that ALTO tower was indeed a very busy place.
Today, modern signaling has pretty much eliminated the need for manned towers. There are fewer & fewer of them nationwide as the signaling techniques improve and large corporations seek to maintain a healthy bottom line. But still, there are some things that just seem right and a tower like ALTO is one of them. Hopefully, there are plans to move & preserve her. The Altoona area is home to a very nice railroad museum; hopefully they have a place for this venerable structure on their grounds.
UPDATE: ALTO Tower was officially closed in mid June.