Posts Tagged ‘East Broad Top Railroad’

EBT Workers Find Century Old Explosives

February 7, 2021

Workers at the East Broad Top Railroad recently uncovered decaying dynamite as they performed stabilization work on a building.

They found five cases of materials labeled as explosives that experts determined were about a century old.

The discovery halted the work being done and led to law enforcement agencies being called in.

Officials said the explosives posed no imminent danger.

Specialty Professional Services of Washington, Pennsylvania, was called in to remove and dispose of the explosives.

Reviewing the situation has been the office of the Huntingdon County Commissioner, the Huntingdon County Emergency Management Authority, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Authory, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Orbisonia Volunteer Fire Department.

EBT Winter Event Set for Feb. 20

February 3, 2021

The East Broad Top Railroad will conduct a one-day “Winter Spectacular” on Feb. 20 featuring a gas-electric car and a coal stove-heated caboose.

The event is a rivival of a similar seasonal festival held between 1966 and 1981.

Tickets are $30 for a ride aboard car M-1 and $20 to ride in the caboose. Children’s tickets for the same rides are $28 and $18 respectively.

Trains will travel about 2.4 miles from Rockhill Furnace to McMullin’s Summit, the limit of operable track. Departures will be hourly between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Ticket will go on sale at noon EST on Feb. 5 at

The nearby Rockhill Trolley Museum will be operating that day with a separate fare required.

Noted event photographer organizer Peter Lerro is holding a photo shoot for photographs costing $250 per person.

That event will begin at 3 p.m. and run through 8 p.m. with photo opportunities set up on the mainline, in the Rockhill Furnace Yard, and around the roundhouse.

None of the EBT’s six Baldwin 2-8-2 steam locomotives are expected to be posed during the daytime events, but one might be staged for the photographer’s special.

Other scheduled events on the EBT docket include Easter on the Rails, held in conjunction with the Rockhill Trolley Museum on March 27; EBT Goes to War – A Living History Event, on May 22-23; and limited M-7 diesel excursions in May.

EBT Seeking Post-War Era Freight Cars

January 19, 2021

The East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania is seeking a few standard-gauge freight cars.

The historic narrow gauge railroad plans to use the cars to show how during the post World II era standard-gauge freight cars were transformed into use in narrow gauge operation.

That was done using special transfer trucks and cast-aluminum coupler adapters.

EBT officials said the cars they are seeking must be specific to the era that will be portrayed.

Photographs show the EBT made widespread use of boxcars of the New York Central, Reading, and Pennsylvania Railroad, and gondolas of the Erie, Pennsy, and Baltimore & Ohio.

The EBT also hauled tank cars loaded with asphalt used to build paved roads in rural areas. Some cars carried supplies used to construct the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Standard-gauge cars were transformed at Mount Union, Pennsylvania, where the EBT had a connection with the Pennsy.

A gantry crane known as the Timber Transfer would lift standard-gauge cars and workers would roll narrow-gauge trucks beneath them.

The EBT Foundation, which operates the narrow gauge railroad, said those who have leads about available and era-specific standard-gauge cars should call it at 814-447-3285.

EBT Receives $1.4M State Grant

December 31, 2020

The East Broad Top Foundation has received a $1.4 million economic development grant that will be used for several projects and to help retire a mortgage held by the railroad’s previous owner.

The grant was awarded by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget with funding from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Among the projects the EBT will apply the funding toward are building a new events facility at Colgate Grove four miles north of Rockhill Furnace.

Also in the works are extension of the main line northward a mile to Shirleysburg, stabilizing buildings within the Rockhill Furnace machine shops complex, and stabilization of a coal tipple and chutes at the south end of the Rockhill Furnace yard.

EBT plans to replaced deteriorated crossties throughout the yard.

The historic narrow gauge railroad shut down commercial operations in 1956 but operated as a tourist railroad between 1960 and 2011.

The EBT foundation acquired the property earlier this year from the Joseph Kovalchick family and is restoring its locomotives, rolling stock and infrastructure.

Plans are to resume public scheduled service next May or June. Steam locomotives are projected to begin revenue service in 2021.

The EBT owns six Baldwin 2-8-2 steam locomotives.

EBT Foundation General Manager Brad Esposito said the priority of the projects work listed in the grant application is undetermined.

EBT Holds Winter Event for Photographers

December 21, 2020

A major winter snow storm was the backdrop for an impromptu revival of an East Broad Top Railroad winter tradition.

Last Thursday the historic narrow-gauge Pennsylvania tourist railroad staged a free “Winter Spectacular” that featured equipment displays and a diesel-powered excursion for photographers.

On display but not in steam was 2-8-2 No. 17 with a freight consist. That train was later towed out onto the mainline for more photographs.

Between 1966 and 1981 the EBT would steam up three or four of its steam locomotives for the event, but currently all of its steam locomotives are either undergoing restoration or are inoperable.

Central Pennsylvania received 12 inches of snow last week and announced the event on short notice.

EBTGeneral Manager Brad Esposito said the event was a precursor of things to come.

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

December 13, 2020

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.

EBT Regular Service Likely to Begin Next May or June

December 12, 2020

The historic East Broad Top Railroad might be diesel powered when it resumes operating on a regular basis next year.

Railroad officials said this week that the first revenue service trains are expected to roll next May or June.

However, Brad Esposito, the railroad’s general manager, told Trains magazine that those trains will operate with or without steam locomotives.

Also undecided is how often the trains will operate. The railroad does plan to offer a few special events and trains during the winter and early weeks of spring.

The narrow-gauge EBT last regularly operated in 2011. It ran some diesel-powered trips last August to mark its 60th anniversary of its 1960 reopening.

It is currently running a few diesel-powered holiday season trips.

EBT Eyes Reviving Branch Line Dormant Since 1940s

October 28, 2020

A branch line of the East Broad Top Railroad that has been out of service since the 1940s may be rebuilt and host excursion trains the EBT Foundation said.

The branch would provide ridge top vistas and increase the number of destinations available to visitors riding EBT trains.

The 2.5-mile branch is known as the Coles Valley Branch but also has been called the Midvalley Branch and Joller Branch

The EBT ceased public excursions in 2011 and in February of this year was acquired by the EBT Foundation.

EBT officials have said work is underway to rehabilitate four miles of the 32-mile mainline between Rockhill Furnace and Colgate Grove.

The more scenic sections of the railroad, though, lie to the south of there. The foundation owns the southernmost 27 miles of the EBT.

Eventually, the EBT is working to reopen the railroad to the Robertsdale/Woodvale area.

EBT Foundation chairman Henry Polsner III discussed reviving the Coles Valley Branch during a recent reunion of the Friends of the East Broad Top.

Posner said during his remarks that offering multiple rides and destinations would provide more opportunities for tourism investment including attracting visitors who will stay for multiple days in the region.

“We want to appeal to as broad a range of people as possible, to give people a reason to stay and boost the local economy,” he said.

The 1,300-member, nonprofit Friends group recently awarded a $86,000 grant to the EBT Foundation to pay for restoration of carpenter’s shop at the Rockhill Furnace shops complex.

The foundation is still working on a master plan of options without timelines, all of which are dependent upon receiving adequate funding.

The Coles Valley branch diverged from the mainline between the Wrays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels just south of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

EBT officials have said Sideling Hill Tunnel will be easier to rehabilitate than Wrays Hill Tunnel.

Preliminary engineering inspections of all bridges and tunnels on the EBT concluded that the largest span, the 275-foot-long Pogue Bridge located three miles south of Rockhill Furnace, is in much better condition than expected.

Steam Saturday: Narrow Gauge Lines Closer to Home

October 17, 2020

Maybe you often get the itch to venture to Colorado to explore narrow gauge, but making such trip isn’t feasible.

Closer to home, though, are two narrow-guage operations, the Huckleberry Railroad near Flint, Michigan, and the East Broad Top at Orbisonia, Pennsylvania.

The latter is still not back in operation but should be within the next year or two.

In the meantime, here are a images made at both railroads in 1994 and 1995.

The top and next three images were made in September 1994 on the Huckleberry Railroad and feature ex-Alaska Railroad No. 2, formerly the 152.

Following that are image of EBT Nos. 12, 15 and 17 made in October 1994 and October 1995.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

In the Backwoods of EBT

September 14, 2020

The bridge at Pogue over the Aughwick Creek was included in the purchase. Hopefully in the near future it will support the weight of the EBT Mikados.

With the recent purchase of a good portion of the East Broad Top by the East Broad Top Foundation, the potential of an awakening of sleeping remnants in the future is promising. This would apply to anything that was included in the purchase. Whatever was not part of the purchase will continue to rest.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Concrete bridge at Aughwick over Aughwick Creek. From this bridge north to Mt. Union was not part of the purchase.

Standard gauge 0-6-0 No. 3 inside engine house at Mt Union has been sleeping since 1956.

The engine house at Mt. Union behind the McDonald’s restaurant.

Narrow gauge hoppers at Mt. Union have been parked since 1956.