The Glenn White coke ovens are a neat little treasure hidden just one mile west of Altoona’s iconic Horseshoe Curve. These ovens provided coke—not the soda nor the drug, but a fuel made from carbon and coal—for trains running in the area during the height of the railroad.
There were originally 80 ovens, producing roughly 32,000 tons of coke a year. Founded in the mid 1800s, the Glen White Coke Works was named after the town that used to lie directly across the street from the ovens, about 50 yards into the woods. This small coke and coal town ceased to exist after the ovens, and then the mines, stopped production in the 1940s. Only a few remains of the lost town still can be found, for those willing to navigate the surrounding forests and streams.
The remains of the coke ovens are more easily accessed, and many are still largely intact. You can even see some of the foundations of the bridges the workers took from Glenn White to the ovens near the largest stream. Though the coke works has not been as well preserved as this bit of history deserves, it’s still a worthwhile little trip to remember those who worked hard to keep the railroads running.
Know Before You Go
Go to the Horseshoe Curve parking lot, turn around as if leaving, and make the right towards the stoplight. (Don't blow this or any stoplight, this one funnels through a one lane tunnel). Drive roughly one mile up the road till you reach a small green 'No Trespassing' gate, (don't worry, you won't need to trespass, just crossing the stream). Once there, walk a little into the woods, cross the streams, and follow the bottom of the ridge line to your right near the edge of the woods, and you'll come across the ovens.