EBT No. 16 Expected to be First Steam Locomotive to Return to Revenue Service

The East Broad Top Railroad expects to have its first steam locomotive back in service sometime in 2021, but officials are not predicting yet when that will be.

The first locomotive that will be returned to revenue service will be No. 16, “sometime next year,” said Chief Mechanical Officer Dave Domitrovich in an interview with Trains magazine.

Officials said No. 16 is in better condition than No. 14, which has also been tabbed for restoration to operating condition.

No. 16 was overhauled during the 1950s and was never used in tourist train operation.

Thus it hasn’t experienced the wear and tear that Nos. 12, 14, 15 and 17 endured.

Domitrovich expects the return of No. 16 to steam to create excitement and interest in the railfan/railroad history community because it last operated in 1956.

EBT workers continue to work on Nos. 14, but it needs boiler work, including moderate minor sheet repair and replacement; new flues and tubes; and considerable running-gear work.

The drivers of No. 14 will be sent to the Strasburg Rail Road for reconditioning.

In the meantime, the EBT expects to operate a few diesel-powered excursions and is eyeing a return to scheduled service next May or June.

The historic narrow-gauge railroad in Pennsylvania was purchased in early 2020 by the non-profit EBT Foundation from the Kovalchick family, which in turn had rescued it from being scrapped in 1956.

The EBT operated as a tourist railroad between 1960 and 2011 before shutting down.

The property includes 27 miles of main line; yards, shops and headquarters; six Baldwin 2-8-2 steam locomotives; and passenger and freight rolling stock.

The EBT Foundation in tandem with the volunteer Friends of the East Broad Top group has been working to rebuild track, renovate a circa-1900 shop complex, and restore the rolling stock.

Scheduled service is expected to operate between Rockhill Furnace and the Colgate Grove picnic area, a distance of about four miles.

Long-range plans are to reopen the main line to Robertsdale and Woodvale. The EBT Foundation is studying reopening a long-abandoned mountainous branch line to offer scenic views.

Thus far track rehabilitation on Rockhill Furnace-Colgate Grove segment is about half done, with some 3,500 ties replaced out of a projected 6,500.

About half of the 18 switches in need of renewal have been completed, including a rare three-way stub switch at the south end of Rockhill Yard.

Other work that remains to be completed includes replacing the Runk Road bridge, which was damaged last spring when struck by an over-height logging truck that dented a beam and shoved the track off center.

The foundation also announced it has hired Jonathan Smith, 22, formerly with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, as a full-time sales and marketing representative.

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