Teach PA History
Altoona Horseshoe Curve: A Vital Link
What to Know
Teaching Time
2 45-minute sessions
Grade Level
High School
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • History
Historical Period
  • The Great Depression and World War II - 1929-1945
  • Post-WWII Pennsylvania - 1946-1974
In this high-school level lesson, students will look at the relationship between Pennsylvania railroads and World War II. Through the examination of photographs and informational readings of the Horseshoe Curve and the Third Reich sabotage effort, students will uncover the historical and strategic importance of the Horseshoe Curve. Then, using this new knowledge, they will construct a plan of action for the Department of Homeland Security on the appropriate security for railroads in the United States, particularly the Horseshoe Curve. Finally, students will create an appropriate memorial for Pennsylvania Railroad workers who lost their lives in World War II and compare their ideas to the powerful and emotionally compelling Angel of Resurrection memorial located at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.


Students will be able to: 1. Identify and explain the significance of the Horseshoe Curve with specific reference to its historic, strategic, and popular cultural importance. 2. Reconstruct key elements of an aborted 1942 German plot to destroy the Pennsylvania Railroad's Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Standards Alignment

  • History

    8.1.12. C. Evaluate historical interpretation of events.
    8.2.12. C. Identify and evaluate how continuity and change have influenced Pennsylvania history.
    8.2.12. D. Identify and evaluate conflict and cooperation among social groups and organizations in Pennsylvania history.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.5.11. A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus.
    1.5.11. B. Write using well-developed content appropriate for the topic.

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