EBT Continues Restoration Work, Planning More

The historic East Broad Top Railroad and allied Friends of the East Broad Top group recently shared some updates on their efforts to get the Pennsylvania narrow gauge tourist railroad in to service.

That included finishing track rehabilitation to the Colgate Grove picnic area and wye.

The work, included removing brush, replacing cross ties and installing ballast, was completed in time for a EBT Friends annual reunion last weekend.

Opening the track to Colgate Grove adds another mile and a half to excursion train service although surfacing work remains to be completed.

Scheduled excursion train service returned on June 11 over three miles between Rockhill Furnace and Runk Road.

The EBT is now turning its attention to rehabilitating the track south of Rockhill Furnace with the goal of providing excursions into a scenic mountainous area once dotted with coal mines.

This is work is getting a boost from the EBT Friends group which recently pledged to assist with this work.

The railroad would like to reopen 20 miles of track in a region that has not seen regular EBT train service since 1956.

Thus far the excursion trains have been pulled by a center-cab General Electric switcher with occasional special appearances of a gas-electric car built by the EBT in 1927.

However, shop workers are seeking to restore EBT steam locomotives to operating condition.

EBT officials say Nos. 16 and 14 may be the first locomotives to begin revenue service followed by No. 15, which was the last steam locomotive to operate on the railroad before operations ceased in 2011.

The EBT Friends group also said it is raising money to rebuild a razed passenger and freight station and water tank in Saltillo, located 7.8 miles south of Rockhill Furnace.

The first step is to raise $25,000 for preliminary work to be done by architect John Bowie of Philadelphia, a longtime FEBT member and author of the Historic American Engineering Record study of the Saltillo depot before it was demolished.

Bowie will donate his time for that phase of the project.

EBT General Manager Brad Esposito said the 275-foot-long 1904 steel trestle over Aughwick Creek at Pogue although it will need abutment work.

He described tunnels at Sideling Hill and Ray’s Hill as “not great, but not terrible.”

The EBT Friends group has been working for years to help stabilize the shops complex in Rockhill Furnace where some structures were sinking into the ground; leaning at precarious angles; and suffering roof, rafter, foundation, and window damage

The East Broad Top Foundation, which owns the railroad, has raised $156,919 thus far this year.

The foundation and the EBT Friends group both said their membership has increased significantly since the foundation acquired the railroad.

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