Huntingdon, PA (HGD)
Situated on the banks of the Juniata River, the passenger shelter sits adjacent to the Italianate-style brick combination depot erected in 1872 by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Fourth and Allegheny Streets
Huntingdon, PA 16652
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2017): 5,673
- Facility Ownership: Amtrak
- Parking Lot Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Platform Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Track Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
Located about halfway between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, the Huntingdon station sits on the banks of the Juniata River where Fourth Street crosses the waterway. The modest building is covered in siding and sports a simple gabled roof; a caretaker opens it before the arrival of the two daily trains.
A large brick passenger and freight station stands to the north of the Amtrak structure, and was erected in 1872 by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) to replace a smaller depot. The two story building is marked by a strong rhythm of bays created by the regular placement of stylized pilasters across the facades. Many of the building’s features, such as the paired, round arch windows and the brackets at the roofline, belong to the then-popular Italianate style of architecture that was associated with idealized country or suburban settings.
When the station was first built, it was actually oriented to the north because the land to the south was occupied by the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. After the waterway suffered flood damage in 1889 and was closed, the railroad removed the tracks from Allegheny Street and relocated them to the canal bed to take advantage of its greater surface area, level gradient and generous curves. The station served passengers until 1965 when it was shuttered by the PRR.
When European-Americans first began to settle in the mountains of central Pennsylvania in the mid-18th century, the area was primarily controlled by the Iroquois Confederacy of American Indians, based to the north in the New York region. The Oneida, members of the confederacy, settled in the Juniata River valley because it was known as a rich hunting ground. By the 1730s, traders from the east began to move in and set up commercial posts, but formal settlement was illegal since William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, had recognized the Iroquois’ claim to land in the center of the colony. Not until the Penn family purchased a large tract from the Iroquois in 1754 did the area open up to colonists. Growth was halted by the French and Indian War of the late 1750s-early 1760s, but picked up again at the close of that conflict.
The first known claimant to the land that now contains Huntingdon was Hugh Crawford, who had taken part in the conflicts between the British colonists and the French. He is recorded as having claimed the land by 1753, and seven years later sold it to George Croghan. At that date, the tract was known as “Standing Stone.” Early histories recount that the Oneida—whose name translates to ”standing stone”—occupied a village at the point where the Standing Stone Creek empties into the Juniata River and two walking paths intersected. European-American travelers recalled a stone monolith that marked the center of the village. Written accounts describe it as about 14 feet high and incised with carvings. The stone was supposedly removed after 1754 when the American Indian community moved westward.
In 1766, the Standing Stone tract was sold to Reverend William Smith, who was provost of the College of Philadelphia, an institution of higher learning that later became known as the University of Pennsylvania. Smith did not move to the area, but he quickly laid out a town grid and advertised plots on the condition that settlers make improvements to the land—including a house—within a few years. The site was advantageous, as it not only provided river access, but also water power to run grist and saw mills. The fledging village was later named for Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon. Smith had met her on a trip to England where he strove to raise funds for the college. Hastings, a fervent supporter of religious reform within Protestantism, donated generously and therefore the reverend decided to name the new town in her honor. In 1768, the first settlers erected their own standing stone carved with their names; destroyed a century later, it was replaced with the current version at Penn and William Smith Streets in 1896.
Huntingdon did not expand greatly until after the Revolutionary War, and was not incorporated until 1796 when about 100 families were living in town. Iron ore deposits begat the construction of furnaces within the region, and Huntingdon developed into a trading hub. The rolling hills were dotted with agricultural valleys; grain and other produce were brought to Huntingdon on a rudimentary road network and then floated down the Juniata to the Susquehanna and beyond to ports as far as Baltimore. Demand for better transportation routes resulted in the construction of a turnpike from Lewistown that was finished in 1817. Hotels were established to care for travelers making their way across the state from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh; the former was Pennsylvania’s key Atlantic port while the latter gave access to the riches of the Ohio River Valley.
As early as 1786, regularly scheduled stage trips began between the two cities, but the grueling journey took three weeks, as poor roads made night travel nearly impossible. Looking for a better link across the state, the legislature was dismayed by the opening of the National Road in Maryland and the Erie Canal in New York during the 1820s—transportation routes that threatened to siphon off trade from Pennsylvania.
The state quickly devised its own transportation scheme: the Main Line of Public Works. At a cost of more than $10 million, it included a series of roads, railroads, and canals built from 1826-1835. Upon completion, travel time was cut to only four days. Huntingdon benefitted because the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal generally followed the path of the Juniata River, one of the only waterways to cut across the mountainous central section of the state. The Juniata Division of the canal started at the Susquehanna River in the east and ended at Hollidaysburg in the west where freight was then transported by railroad over the Allegheny Mountains.
Begun in 1827, the canal was put into service at Huntingdon in November 1830. The activity of the turnpike and the canal necessitated the construction of warehouses for goods storage, while shops catered to the needs of travelers. The dramatic reduction in time devoted to transit and the resulting savings to both passengers and shippers left everyone looking for an even better travel option, and the railroads held the most promise.
The PRR was chartered by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1846 to construct a rail line between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh in order to bypass the slower canals and roadways. Four years later, work crews had reached Huntingdon from the east. By 1854, the all-rail route linking Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was opened, and the entire trip could be accomplished in an amazing 15 hours for $8. Although eclipsed by the railroad, the Juniata Division of the canal stayed open to boat traffic until the flood damaged it to a point where it was uneconomical to repair.
In May 1852, the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad (H&BTM) was chartered. The 45 mile long line was built to transport good burning, semi-bituminous coal from the Broad Top Mountain area to Huntingdon where it was then transferred to the PRR main line and shipped across the state. In addition, the road also carried lumber and iron ore, as well as passengers. At Huntingdon, they used a small depot located on the south side of the main line. The H&BTM operated until 1954, and the depot stood until it was demolished in 2001.
Railroad links to the great cities of the nation allowed Huntingdon businesses to ship their goods across the country. The town played host to manufacturers producing shoes, brooms, furniture, carriages, and other goods. Raw materials such as fire clay and sand used in the production of glass were mined. Tourists were attracted to the Warm Springs north of town which were visited for their healing properties.
Huntingdon also became a center of learning with the establishment of Juniata College in 1876. Founded by the Church of the Brethren, it was coeducational in a time when most schools endorsed single-sex education. The school is noted for its strong liberal arts curriculum and a “Program of Emphasis” that encourages students to choose and create their own path of study in keeping with personal interests.
Juniata’s campus is located northwest of downtown and was once connected to the train station by an electric trolley car route. The college also maintains a nature preserve with a Peace Chapel designed by noted landscape architect Maya Lin. One portion of the site includes a 40 foot diameter circle of stones set into the earth atop a hill that offers glorious views into the surrounding mountains. Every fall since 1896, students have enjoyed “Mountain Day.” The unannounced event is highly anticipated because all classes are cancelled so that students and faculty can travel to a local state park to partake in nature walks, crafts, music, a picnic lunch, and the famous faculty/staff versus seniors co-ed flag football game.
Car buffs stop by Huntingdon to visit the William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum. Begun in the 1920s, the private collection contains more than 150 historic and classic cars, as well as displays of license plates and radiator emblems. Local history is presented at the McMurtrie House Museum which is decorated to the period of the 1880s and includes furniture and a large display of children’s toys. The society also runs a research library prized for its Civil War collection and genealogical material. The love of history continues each spring during Mayfest. Revelers are offered a chance to step back in time, as each block is set up to represent a specific historical period from the Renaissance to the Woodstock Era. Costumed interpreters offer demonstrations of period music, dancing, and games that attract a wide array of participants for an educational and entertaining day of time travel.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station which is served by two daily trains.
The Pennsylvanian is financed primarily through funds made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- No Short Term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park for the day only not overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the station platform.
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
Baggage storage is an area where passengers may store their bags equivalent to 'left luggage' in Europe. A storage fee may apply.
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- High Platform
A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train with the exception of Superliners.
Self-service lockers are available in select stations for passenger baggage storage
- Long-term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lift is a platform-mounted lift for loading passengers from low platforms onto trains that do not have onboard ramps.