Altoona is a city in Eau Claire County. The population was 6,698 at the 2000 census. The city is a railroad terminal on the Union Pacific Railroad.
The settlement of Altoona began in 1881 when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway selected the site for a new terminal to replace the overcrowded existing terminal in Eau Claire. The railroad had originally planned to put the new terminal in Fall Creek, but the city of Eau Claire lobbied for a site closer to the existing one, and representatives from Eau Claire and the railroad walked the tracks from Fall Creek to Eau Claire to determine a suitable site. When the location of present-day Altoona - approximately three miles east of the existing Eau Claire terminal - was found to have sufficient flat land and access to water (via the Eau Claire River), the railroad began construction of the new terminal and the community of "East Eau Claire" was platted in October.
Residents began moving into the community in early 1882 and the railroad terminal became operational in May of that year. However, confusion between the "Eau Claire" and "East Eau Claire" stations quickly caused the railroad to rename the new terminal "Altoona" on October 14, 1882. Altoona was incorporated as a city on April 5, 1887.
Continued growth in both Altoona and Eau Claire over the past century has left the two cities adjacent to one another, with Fairfax St. and Bus. 53 providing a general boundary between the two, although the actual border is irregular. Altoona is bounded on the north by Lake Altoona and the Eau Claire River. To the south, the city limits generally follow U.S. Highway 12 and Otter Creek.