The Juniata Shop Power Plant


In the year 1886, Pennsylvania Railroad officials started designing plans for additional repair shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The purpose of these shops would be to repair and build new locomotives.

The site selected would come to be known as the Juniata Shops, located in Juniata, a suburb of the city of Altoona. This site, comprised of approximately 62 acres, would consist of numerous buildings (shops) and each shop would be assigned specific components to fabricate new or repair, for the then, steam driven locomotives.

Construction began on September 15, 1888 and most of the construction was completed by 1890. The boiler house, as it was referred to then, supplied steam and compressed air to all of the shops including many steam driven presses and auxiliary equipment, for example: 5,000 lb steam hammers and iron shears capable of cutting through cold steel 3" thick within seconds. The cabinet shop used steam to bend and mold wood into various sizes and shapes.

Because of ever-increasing changes of technology and increasing demands, in 1945 a manager named Grimshaw suggested that the Juniata Shops would need to construct a new boiler plant. Therefore, in the early years of the 1950's, construction began on a new Juniata power plant building. This new power plant was built inside the shell of the existing boiler house to avoid any interruptions of all the other shops producing and repairing locomotive components. This new plant housed three new coal-fired, stoker-fed, 600 lb Riley boilers capable of producing 4.32 million lbs of steam each 24 hour period, two Westinghouse 1875kw steam turbines capable of producing 90,000kw of electricity each 24 hour period, as well as exhausting low pressure steam to heat the entire complex and operate auxiliary equipment.

One Ingersoll-Rand and three Chicago Pneumatic electrically-operated, reciprocating air compressors were installed to supply compressed air throughout the shops. Five packaged gas boilers were also installed as backup to the Riley coal boilers. Later in 1970, a baghouse filtration system was installed to control exit gasses and fly ash emissions from the Riley boilers as per EPA requirements. Again in August 2010, another improvement in emissions was cut in. A new scrubber system and smoke stack were tied into the existing bag house and Riley boilers at that time. In this case, "smoke stack" is a misnomer due to the fact that most of the white stuff exiting the stack is steam.

In conclusion, this power plant is operated with numerous employees who must communicate constantly to maintain an efficient and safe work environment. The majority of the employees are comprised of stationary engineers, firemen, water treatment operators, and coal and ash personnel (represented by the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers).

Juniata also employs a minute maintenance repair force made up of machinists and pipefitters, all supervised by the United Railway Supervisors Association.

This power plant continues to serve the Juniata Shops to this day for all intended purposes, but there have been some changes to the equipment housed inside.

Source: Conrail Historical Society

Copyright 2007-2010 L.R. Myers. All rights reserved.

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