THE Semi-Centennial of the Loyal War Governors' Conference was celebrated in Altoona on September 24, 25, 26 and 27, 1912. It was the greatest and grandest demonstration in the history of the city. The ALTOONA MIRROR'S reports were in keeping with the importance of the jubilee, being full and complete. Extra editions of the Mirror were issued to give the people the news on the day it happened.
Because of the historic value of the event, and in compliance with a demand for the four-days' proceedings in compact form, the Mirror Printing Company has compiled this souvenir for free distribution to Mirror subscribers. In a work of this character it was necessary to omit the side issues and confine the subject matter to the chief features only. But in addition to these, the booklet also contains a history of the Conference and incidents leading up to it, sketch of the present-day Altoona, a description of the Mirror's New Home, the Fire Alarm Boxes, the Building Associations, the Interest Table, Newspaper Circulation Figures, and other interesting local data.
HARRY SLEP, President, Mirror Printing Co.
Gem of The Alleghenies.
Altoona in Keeping With
as "High Land of Great Worth"---Will Be
Among Greatest Inland Cities in the Country.
ALTOONA, adapted from Allatoona, an Indian word, meaning "high land of great worth," in every respect is in keeping with its aboriginal significance. It is the gem of the Alleghenies and is destined to become one of the greatest inland cities of the country.
Altoona is just thirty miles southwest of the geographical centre of the great State of Pennsylvania. It lies at the eastern base of the principal range of the Allegheny mountains, is near the bead waters of the far-famed "Blue Juniata" river and is on the mainline of the great Pennsylvania railroad system.
The lowest point in the city is 1,120 feet above the level of the sea and in and about the city are knolls which rise to from 100 to 150 feet higher, enhancing the surroundings with picturesque scenery. Stretching on every side are fertile valleys where agricultural pursuits are carried on extensively.
The water that is supplied to the city is drawn from the mountain springs and there is none purer in the state. The high altitude renders the health conditions ideal and in every respect the city is one where the home seeker, the health seeker and the wealth seeker finds opportunities of the best.
Altoona is the creation of the Penniylvania Railroad company. The extensive shops of the big corporation, the biggest of their kind in the world, were not located here by chance. The character of the traffic from the level stretches eastward to the mountainous gradients of the west changes at this trains point. It is here that heavy trains from the east must either be broken up into smaller trains or be furnished with additional power in being taken over the mountain. Altoona, thus naturally is a terminal point for the division of the railroad extending eastward and the division extending west ward, and it is just as natural that the repair shops as well as construction plants should be located at this point.
The Pennsylvania Railroad company started to erect their shops here in 1850. The road was opened up through to Pittsburg a few years later. Homes sprung up on both sides of the tracks until today the mainline passes through the heart of the city, dividing it practically in half. The shops which originally were a small roundhouse with one or two other departments have increased until they now comprise both repair and building plants which stretch from Bellwood on the northeast to South Altoona on the southwest.
The shopmen, together with the men employed on the road, comprise the largest body of railroad men to be found in any other city in the United States. These men are among the best paid workmen in the world, and they are likewise above the average in intelligence. Labor conditions are excellent and there are no disturbing elements.
A floating population which is generally attracted to cities where large industries are found is practically unknown in Altoona. Work being regular and pay good, workmen remain in the city to make it their home. Eighty per cent. of the people live in their own homes, Altoona having a larger number of home owners than any other city of its size in the country.
One has but to point to the splendid homes, the magnificent churches and the fine school system to prove that the citizenship of Altoona is of a uniformly higher grade than is to be found elsewhere. There are few very wealthy people and still fewer very poor people.
In addition to the half million dollar High school and the Central Grammar building, fine school buildings are found in each of the twelve wards. In the High school is found a $20,000 manual training equipment, which was donated by the Pennsylvania Railroad company, and trade teaching receives unusual attention. Graduates of the High school are admitted to the best colleges and universities of the land on the strength of their diploma. In addition to the public school system, parochial schools of a high order are maintained by the different Catholic parishes, and the enrollment in these schools is near the 3,000 mark.
Altoona may be said to be a city of churches, as structures devoted to public worship dot every section. Almost every denomination is well represented. The city is the Episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Altoona.
Close to two million dollars, all approved by the voters, have been spent within the past decade in the way of public improvements. Lake Altoona, the third and largest of a series of storage reservoirs, has already cost $600,000, and upon being entirely completed will mean an expenditure of almost a million. Within the past five years more than a million dollars has been expended in paving the streets, with the result that there are miles and miles of the finest thoroughfares to be found anywhere.
The average amount paid to the workmen of Altoona by the Pennsylvania Railroad company alone, each month, is over one million dollars. This goes for healthy growth and permanence in business. Altoona is the logical trade centre of all Central Pennsylvania, and the merchants and business men are gradually extending their activities to all the surrounding districts.
The trolley system is one of the best in the state, its branches extending in every direction. New spurs are in view and, upon being completed, will give the people all the transportation advantages that could be. The electric lighting system not only extends to all parts of the city and suburbs, furnishing power and light, but has reached many miles away to surrounding towns. A large part of the current is obtained from dams on the Juniata river at Warrior Ridge, and because of this natural advantage in the manufacturing process, can be delivered cheaply.
While the census of 1910 gave the city proper a population of 52,127, the surrounding boroughs and towns which touch on the city, and which are in reality a part of it, will bring the population up to at least 75,000. In contrast to many cities, there are not a large number of foreigners. The majority of the number here have imbibed the home-owning impulse and are among the most worthy and law-abiding inhabitants.
The Altoona railroad shops represent the highest development of such industries, being famous the world over. There are five big departments, or divisions---the machine shops, the car shops, the Juniata shops, the East Altoona shops and the South Altoona shops.
In the machine shops, at Twelfth street, are repaired the company's big locomotives. At the car shops, extending from Second to Seventh streets, are built and repaired both passenger and freight cars. At the Juniata shops are turned out the big locomotives that are used on the road for both passenger and freight service. At East Altoona is found the largest roundhouse in the world, in addition to repair shops. At South Altoona are found the extensive foundries of the corporation, where brass and soft iron equipment and wheels are turned out.
The machinery and equipment maintained in these various shops, which comprise more than one hundred buildings and cover about fifty acres of ground space, is the best to be found in the world, and the quality of work turned out is not surpassed anywhere. In addition to the employes of these shops, the company employs thousands of clerks and road men, all of whom are well paid and who look upon Altoona as their home.
Of but recent date is the official announcement that extensive improvements are to be made by the Pennsylvania Railroad company along the mainline line in the vicinity of Twenty-nine street. Here a roundhouse, turntable, coal tipples and repair shops are to be established, involving an expenditure of several million dollars and making a sixth great department in this city. Still more improvements are said to be planned for the city by the great corporation, and official announcement will be made in due time.
While Altoona is distinctly a railroad town, there are a number of other industries where employment is to be had the year around. At two big silk mills thousands of girls and women are employed and there are likewise a number of minor industries.
Of recent announcement is the fact that the Altoona Northern Railroad company, which has just been chartered, is planned to give the New York Central lines access to our city. The new railroad will run from Altoona to Wopsononock over the Wopsy road, and from that point will extend to Patton. The road will be electrified and will likewise be built for steam traffic.
Work has already been started to convert Wopsononock, which has an altitude of 2660 feet and is the high point in Central Pennsylvania, into a summer resort such as is found in the east. For years Lakemont park, three miles from the city, has been classed among the finest summer resorts in the country, and for years to come will likely be one of the city's most popular breathing spots.
A sketch of the city, however brief, would not be complete without calling attention to the health record. With pure air, pure water and altitude, the public health is of the best and few cities of the country have a record that approaches the conditions found in Altoona. An epidemic of disease is practically unknown.
Sheltered on all sides by mountains, the climate is agreeable both summer and winter, the extremes of cold and heat being unknown. This, together with the fine mountain scenery on every side and the excellent industrial conditions makes Altoona a desirable city in which to live.
A Retrospect Fifty Years After.
By SAMUEL R. MILLER.
Up from the fields a-sweep with flame;
Up from the red-dyed plains of war:
From Shiloh, shrine of bootless fame;
From Malvern, vainly battled o'er;
From Bull Run's bloody shambles, and
Antietam's hillocks, pierced and torn---
Up fr om the south, that reeking land,
Wild is the news this autumn morn!
Wild the rumor from camp and field;
Wild the reports of sick and slain;
Wild the alarm, now ill-concealed,
Lest gold and blood be spent in vain.
The nation's heart is filled with woe.
Long had she with the rebel strove,
But, e'er alert, that dauntless foe
Backward the front of battle drove.
The widow and the fatherless
Shall see no more their idol's face;
The maid, in utter wretchedness,
Has met her lover's last embrace;
The brother grieves now for the one
Who whilom was his joy at play;
The weeping mother mourns her son,
Lost in the sick camp or the fray.
The dashing Kearny leads no more
His host against the rebel van:
His name is writ, his battles o'er,
With Wayne, Murat and Sheridan.
And Stevens, famed the country wide;
And brave Reno, who victor led;
And Mansfield, Pennsylvania's pride*---
All numbered with the mighty dead.
But hark! Out from the ominous gloom,
A voice of firmness, yet elate.
Our Curtin calls! He bids thee come,
Thou head of every loyal state!
Come from the commonwealth remote!
Come from the borderland of war!
Hear Freedom's rich, entrancing note!
Rise to the fullness of thy pow'r!
Many a beardless youth has paid
The fatal toll of chivalry;
Many a noble sire is laid
Beneath the soil he fought to free;
But legion after legion wait
Thy call to arms and valor now.
Unmoved by fear, untouched of hate.
They'll sweep triumphant on the foe.
- From Altoona Mirror, September 24, 1912.
*Major General Joseph K. F. Mansfield was born in New Haven, Conn. At Antietam Mansfield commanded a division composed largely of Pennsylvania troops, by whom he was greatly beloved. The noble One Hundred and Twentyfifth regiment, recruited in Altoona and vicinity, was part of this division, and when in the severe fighting near the Dunker church the general received his death wound, it was an Altoonan, Mr. John Coho, who helped carry him from the field. Because of these facts and of his heroic last hour, when the Army of Northern Virginia was rolled back after the tide of rebellion had carried it almost to our border, it seems but small stretch of the imagination that Pennsylvanians should confer on this great general the compliment here given. Later in the war Mansfield's fame was eclipsed by sons of the Keystone state, several of whom, however, won renown such as the world's great warriors but rarely achieve.-S. R. M.
The Altoona Conference.
Famous Meeting of Loyal Governors
of the North
Strengthened the Hand of President Lincoln
During the Darkest Period of the Civil War.
ON an equality with Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation and the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, the conference of the Loyal War Governors of the North, held at Altoona on Sept. 24 and 25, 1862, stands out as one of the most important and decisive events of the Civil war. A conference unheralded and unsung, an event barely mentioned by the newspapers and magazines of the day, it was one of the determining factors of that momentous period in the national life, a thing that, more than any other, upheld the hand of Abraham Lincoln at the time when his great task was hardest.
After a year and a half of war, during which the South had gained most of the important battles and the North was hard pressed on every hand, just when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and Lincoln needed the support of every loyal man in the North to carry out its provisions and when, on every side gloom and discouragement met the chieftain instead of the enthusiastic support and encouragement he needed, the famous conference of the governors was held, his opinions and plans approved and the day was saved.
Probably none knew the really desperate character of the situation at that time better than Andrew Gregg Curtin, Pennsylvania's great war governor, who---when the forces of the Confederacy lay within a day's march of Washington and despair was deepening throughout the North, the Federal armies having as yet been unable to gain any very decisive victories, saw that President Lincoln needed a stronger moral backing on the part of the loyal states than had yet been accorded him--- conceived the idea of having the governors of the various states meet and offer him their united and continued support. Accordingly, on Sept 14, 1862, in connection with Governor Todd of Ohio and Governor Pierpont of Virginia, Governor Curtin issued a call to the governors to assemble in conference at the Logan House in Altoona, this city being chosen on account of its central location and excellent railroad facilities, and, on Sept. 24, fourteen of the governors met here, remaining in conference for two days and discussing the situation from every standpoint.
There were no newspapermen at the meeting and no official records were kept, but, on the second day, the governors drafted and presented to President Lincoln an address, in which they tendered him their assurance of personal, and official confidence, suggesting that he call upon them for additional troops and promising him their constant support in the pursuit of the war and in the preservation of the Union.
It was this conference and this address which, more than any other thing, strengthened Lincoln's hands in the darkest hour of the war period, and it was the Semi-Centennial of this conference that the City of Altoona determined to observe with a magnificent three days' celebration.
No more perfectly planned and executed, no more spectacular and splendid, no more magnificent and history making celebration was ever held in Altoona than the one which marked the semi-centennial of the Conference of Loyal War Governors on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept. 24, 25, 26 and 27, 1912, respectively
The formal opening of the celebration took place at noon on Tuesday with the firing of the governor's salute of seventeen guns from Gospel Hill park, the highest point in the city. Tuesday evening in the tented auditorium at the cricket field the patriot carnival was the attraction for thousands.
Wednesday, President and Governor's day, was replete with interest. In the forenoon a pageant of school children and soldiers passed before William H. Taft, president of the United States, and John K. Tener, governor of Pennsylvania, together with many other celebrities of the state and nation.
In the afternoon patriotic exercises were held in the tented auditorium. Ten thousand people were present. Addresses were made by President Taft, Governor Tener, Mayor Simon H. Walker, Hon. J. D. Hicks, and Dr. Edwin E. Sparks, president of State College. An original poem was read by Mrs. Frances Pierpent Siviter, daughter of the war governor of West Virginia.
The civic and industrial parade held Thursday forenoon was one of the longest and most gorgeous pageants to ever traverse a city in the state outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The automobile parade held Friday afternoon was a brilliant procession and the grand dress ball held in the tent in the evening brought the celebration program to a close.
In the pages following will be found the full account of the celebration as reported by the Mirror's staff of reporters and published in the Altoona Mirror on the days the exercises and parades took place.
The Semi-Centennial Poem.
By ANNA PERPOINT SIVITER.
[In commemoration of a meeting of the Loyal War Governors at Altoona, in 1862, after severe Union reverses, for the purpose of pledging the support of their states to President Lincoln, enabling him to call 300,000 additional troops, thus insuring the success of the North.]
My country, O my country,
dark and dread now war clouds
And the traitor's hand has seized you; you are yielding to his power,
And our mighty Leader trembles: In Columbia's great land
Is there none to send him succor, or uphold his weakened hand?.
Never was there direr peril,
never was there greater
When a nation's life is threatened, shaken as a broken reed;
When her cry for help is stifled---choked by deadly, craven fear;
Victory has fled her standards, and defeat draws swiftly near.
All the world is watching, waiting for an
end that seems not far---
When the hope of oppressed people dies as dies a shooting star---
When a nation that was founded for the freedom of mankind
Shall be racked and torn asunder by foul slavery, fierce and blind.
But our God is still in heaven,
and His purpose may not
Thwarted by man's dumb endeavor; He it was made Liberty!
Loyal states have come together, led by leaders wise and brave,
Who have pledged their best and strongest that the Union they will save!
Hark! Their cry for help is ringing---scarce a
cry, 'tis more than a prayer;
And the answer to their summons seems to come from everywhere.
Every loyal state is hastening, gladly sending forth her best.
Never braver men have answered to stern Duty's swift request.
West Virginia boys are coming,
from her mountains, swift and
Thousands upon thousands marching; you can hear their battle song;
You can see their banners waving! O my country, 'tis for thee
That they lift their voices, chanting, "Mountaineers are always free!'
battalions---hundreds upon hundreds
Massachusetts men are moving, from her hillsides and her shore;
Maine, Vermont and staunch Ohio, catch the battle-cry, and go---
How the Lord of Battles led them forth to victory well we know---
How they saved the mighty Union.
how they gave their lives
In the paths of peace might wander, ever blessed, ever free.
So we come to pay them homage, praying: O, Thou Lord of Light,
Help us, as Thou helped our fathers, to climb up to Freedom's height.
Greed and Lust and Wrong are waiting to withstand us on our way;
Send us leaders, Lord of Wisdom, to uphold and guide Thy sway.