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The original residents, Native Americans of the Iroquois Confederacy, called it Allatoona, the Cherokee word meaning, “the high lands of great worth.” In the mid-1800s, the Pennsylvania Railroad proved that point by building the famed Horseshoe Curve, the national historic landmark that breached the Allegheny Mountains and opened the gateway to the American west. Welcome to Altoona, Pa., and thousands of towns like it, where the excess and surplus line insurance market thrives.

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