The Summit Level Visitor Center, located immediately off of US Route 22 at the Gallitzin Exit, is the best place to start your tour. The park movie is shown in the indoor 60 seat auditorium as requested to give a concentrated overview of the park story. The program lasts approximately twenty minutes. The movie is a dramatic interpretation of what it was like to work and travel on the Portage Railroad. A fictional character, Edgar West, explains life on the canals then speaks of a change of occupation to Portage Railroad worker. Edgar relates a story of blasting the Staple Bend Tunnel as well as general building techniques. He uses written accounts by writers such as Charles Dickens and local newspapers to speak of the value of the Mainline system and the thrill of faster travel.
At the top of incline No. 6 were several buildings. Among them was a building to house the stationary steam engines. While actual plans for the buildings have not been located, remains of the foundation for the engine house are preserved in an unique exhibit structure. Within the Engine House No. 6 Exhibit Shelter are exhibits to explain the workings of an engine house and a "Discovery Room" of interactive exhibits. At the east side of the Engine House No. 6 Exhibit Shelter is a platform that permits you to look down the length of Incline No. 6 to the Skew Arch Bridge. The Bridge can be enjoyed close up by hiking down the trail or driving to the traffic island on which it is preserved. In the area surrounding the Engine House are places for demonstrations of period work skills. When the weather cooperates costumed rangers will help immerse you into the 1840s.
The Lemon House has reopened as of May 10, 1997. A major restoration project was completed restoring the house to its 1840s appearance. This includes the interior first floor as well as the exterior. While it is the original house on its original location, there is a great scarcity of information available about the home. Plans or contracts for building the house remain elusive. Documentary evidence is lacking to explain how the tavern was operated and what the menu may have been. Much of the restoration was founded on archeology work, period artwork, and documentation of other 19th century taverns in the local area. In 2011, a repointing project to replace the mortar between the exterior stones was completed.
There are tables near the park Visitor Center for those wishing to have a quick meal or snack. Or some visitors enjoy using the empty amphitheater (the same as used for Evening on the Summit below) as a resting place. A shaded picnic area with a covered shelter and comfort station is located a half mile walk from the park's historic area. There is parking much closer but it is a separate area of the summit facilities.
For the Picnic Area only, drivers take the Cresson Summit exit of U.S. Route 22. Westbound drivers take the exit marked "Cresson Summit" and turn left at the end of the exit ramp. Eastbound drivers take the exit marked "summit" NOT the Cresson US Route 53 exit that precedes it. The Picnic Area is on the left side of 'old route 22' and is marked with a large wooden sign. At the end of the ramp turn right onto 'old route 22' and watch for the wooden sign on the left as you start down the long hill.
Evening on the Summit:
Evening on the Summit programs are held on Saturday evenings during the summer months. Sometimes a speaker, sometimes a concert, and sometimes both! Check back in spring 2018 to see what evening programs will be going on in summer 2018. All Evening on the Summit programs are held on Saturdays at 8:00 pm.
These Park Ranger led van tours follow the route of the Allegheny Portage Railroad from Hollidaysburg to Johnstown. Check back in spring 2018 to see when these tours will be held in summer 2018.
Due to the length of this tour, it is not recommended for children aged seven (7) years and under. Please be advised that because we cannot ensure that car seats are properly and safely installed on the vans and/or the bus, we cannot accommodate them on van tours. If a child arrived to the park in a car seat, they must always be in a car seat. No allowances will be made for "holding" children while on a van tour. Thank you for your understanding.
Heritage Hikes take participants along sections of the old Allegheny Portage Railroad and nearby canal basins. Check back in spring 2018 to see when these tours will be offered in summer 2018.
"Spirits of the Summit" is usually held on the first Saturday in October and "Spirits of the Staple Bend Tunnel" is usually held on the last Saturday in October. More information on the 2018 spirit tours will be available in spring 2018.