Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania tourist railroads’

Ex-Pennsy Steamer Toils in Obscurity

September 3, 2022

A former Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 switch engine is being steamed up is pulling excursions over the Williams Grove Railroad in Pennsylvania in relative obscurity.

The engine operates over a mile of track about 10 miles south of Harrisburg. It is the only operating ex-Pennsy steam locomotive currently in operation.

No. 643 was built in June 1901 at the Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, as one of 133 class B4/B4a engines built in Altoona or by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia between 1892 and 1904.

The excursions include two former Everett Railroad open cars and a steel PRR Class N5 cabin car.

The excursions are sponsored by the Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association.

A report on the website of Railfan and Railroad magazine indicated the 643 is equipped with a three-chime PRR passenger whistle, which it would not have had during it working life.

The excursions are 25 minutes and fares are $7.

The current west end of track ends alongside the former Reading Company Lurgan Branch, now part of Norfolk Southern’s New Jersey-to-Atlanta Crescent Corridor.

The excursions pause next to the NS tracks in hopes of seeing an NS train pass by.

No. 643 spent four decades of its working life at Central Iron & Steel Company of Harrisburg (later, Phoenix Iron & Steel).

The 643, which operated as No. 5 at the steel mill, was found inside a building when the mill was dismantled in 1961.

The Williams Grove group purchased it and began restoring it to operating condition.

Williams Grove trains run intermittently with certain exceptions during the year. The schedule can be found at

Ride in 2022 For 1997 Prices

August 17, 2022

The Pennsylvania-based West Chester Railroad plans to offer trips on Sept. 25 for the same fares as the railroad charged in 1997.

The event is part of a celebration of the railroad’s 25th anniversary of operation.

West Chester operates over nearly eight miles of former Pennsylvania Railroad track between its namesake city and Glen Mills.

At the time of its founding, trains were pulled by an Alco S-2 built in 1949 for the Chesapeake & Ohio.

That locomotive is still on the property and recently received a new paint scheme to celebrate its heritage.

The motive power fleet has since expanded to include a GP9, Montreal Locomotive Works C424 and RS-18 units, and a GP38.

The Sept. 25 excursion will feature former Reading Blueliners, built in the early 1930s. Tickets will be $8 for adults and $4 for children.

Tours of the yard and locomotive cabs will be available, along with technical demonstrations.

The events will be held at the station and the yard in West Chester, with shuttles service between the two points.

R&N Offering New Class of Service

August 12, 2022

The interior of the new Crown Class coach on the Reading & Norther. (R&N photo)

Pennsylvania regional railroad Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern has added a new class of seating for its tourist train operations.

It has converted a former Illinois Central Railroad heavyweight passenger car into “Crown Class” service for its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway excursions.

Car No. 450 has been named the Pagoda after the seven-story Reading Pagoda near Reading, Pennsylvania, that was built in the early 20th century.

In a news release, R&N said it acquired the car at an auction of the assets of the bankrupt Iowa Pacific and its shop workers have given it a thorough cleaning and installed new seat upholstering.

Most R&N passenger cars feature open air seating, but the Pagoda has air conditioning, added this year by railroad contractors and employees.

EBT Takes Deliver of New Passenger Car

July 21, 2022

New passenger cars designed to appear to be from the 19th century have begun to arrive at Pennsylvania’s East Broad Top Railroad.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the dark green cars are being built in Bellingham, Washington, and transported by truck to the EBT.

They are being built by Hamilton Manufacturing and resemble cars built in the 1890s that were used by the EBT in the first half of the 20th century. They are the first new passenger cars for the EBT in more than a century.

EBT’s existing fleet of passenger cars include open air cars built from former boxcars and flatcars. The railroad also uses two cabooses to carry passengers.

The narrow-gauge EBT has a Billmeyer & Small office car built in 1907 and a 1926-built Brill steel gas-electric car that are operable.

Three 19th century passenger cars are still on the property but were described as well worn even as they are being restored to operating condition.

EBT plans to buy four of the Hamilton cars, which are 53 feet in length.

The new car order will include three coaches and a combine that will have a wheelchair lift and meet federal standards for accessibility.

The coaches will be numbered 21-23 while the combine will carry roster number 17.

All of the new cars will have steel underframes  and are constructured with a composite material that provides the appearance of tongue-and-groove wood siding. Wood paneling in the interiors of the cars gives the appearance of a vintage look.

The first of the new Hamilton passenger cars is expected to begin revenue service next week.

To read more visit

EBT No. 16 Fired Up This Week

June 25, 2022

Pennsylvania narrow gauge tourist railroad East Broad Top fired up one of its steam locomotives this past week.

On Wednesday 2-8-2 No. 16 was placed on the roundhouse turntable and operated in steam for the first time since 1956.

However, much work remains to be done before the 16, which never pulled any trains during the first tourist train era on the EBT, is ready to move under its own power.

On the “to do” list is installation of the superheater, throttle, cab and a new boiler jacket.

Additional work remains to be done on the locomotive’s tender as well.

For more about the firing up of EBT No. 16 visit

EBT Begins to Restore Southern Half of its Route

June 7, 2022

Pennsylvania-based tourist railroad East Broad Top has begun restoring its southern mainline.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the line, which has been out of service for about 70 years, is being rebuilt with workers from the EBT Foundation, volunteers from the Friends of the East Broad Top, and workers employed by contractor G&H Anderson Excavating.

Plans are to remove brush and trees, replace damaged culverts and install new ties along with other track work. The existing 85-pound rail was described as being in good condition.

The first phase of the restoration project will involve a nearly 8-mile stretch between Rockhill Furnace and Saltillo.

Eventually, EBT wants to reopen the route for another 12 miles to Robertsdale and Woodvale.

The southern end of the EBT contains some of the best scenery along the 33-mile narrow gauge railroad.

The report can be read at

EBT 2-8-2 No. 16 Getting Closer to Running

June 1, 2022

No operating date has yet been set but East Broad Top 2-8-2 No. 16 is nearing completion of its restoration, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The Baldwin-built Mikado type locomotive is one of six on the roster of the historic Pennsylvania narrow gauge railroad.

An EBT official told Trains that work on the boiler is complete and the locomotive successfully passes a Federal Railroad Administration hydrostatic test.

EBT master mechanic Dave Domitrovitch told Trains the next steps include timing the engine and finishing the air-brake work.

That will be followed by reinstalling the locomotive cab and painting the firebox with heat-resistant stove paint.

The tender for No. 16 has been painted with a flat-black base coat but still needs a finish coat and orange “E.B.T.” lettering to be applied.

EBT began its 2022 operating season on May 6 with diesel motive power pulling trains on Wednesday through Sunday.

The story and photographs can be viewed at

EBT Buying 4 New ‘Vintage’ Passenger Cars

February 26, 2022

Pennsylvania narrow gauge tourist railroad East Broad Top has ordered four new passenger cars, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The cars are being built by Hamilton Manufacturing Company of Sedro-Woolley, Washington.

Three of the cars are coaches while the fourth will comply with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. All of the cars will feature a vintage appearance.

EBT has three passenger cars built in the late nineteenth century and all of them are out of service for rebuilding.

Currently EBT is using converted boxcars and flatcars with seats to carry passengers. It also has a caboose that accommodate riders.

Parlor car Orbisonia, is operational but only used during special events.

EBT Sets Events for Winter Spectacular

February 5, 2022

Historic Pennsylvania narrow gauge East Broad Top Railroad has announced the schedule of activities for its annual Winter Spectacular to be held Feb. 18-19.

Events include a two-hour photographers’ event featuring posed scenes with steam engine No. 12; rail car trips with a caboose between Rockhill Furnace station and Colgate Grove; trips on a motorcar between the same points; tours of Orbisonia station; and a roundhouse tour.

Tickets for the events range from $50 to $30.

Photography and videography will be prohibited during certain areas of the roundhouse tour.

EBT spokesman Jonathan Smith told Trains magazine that this primarily applies to locomotives and rolling stock that is being restored.

He said the restrictions were put into place to allow EBT to “show the public our progress but channel the excitement [of restoration] appropriately at the right time.”

Tour participants will be permitted to photograph equipment that is not in the process of being restored.

Also slated for the weekend is an archives benefit fundraising dinner and movie night to be held at the Orbisonia-Rockhill Furnace Volunteer Fire Company dining hall.

Tickets for that event are $50 per person. The dinner will feature a presentation by archivist Julie Rockwell, who will describe her work cataloging EBT records.

The movies are 16mm color films shot by the late Clarence Weaver and will show original EBT operations as well as those of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and assorted short line railroads.

More information and ticket sale links can be found at

Concurrent with the EBT winter event the Rockhill Trolley Museum will operate its Winter Trolley Spectacular that will feature historic and modern streetcars running  on the former EBT Shade Gap Branch

Tickets for that event are $15 for adults and $10 for children. There also will be car barn tours. More information is available at

R&N Sets 4 Excursions for Reading 2102

January 22, 2022

Pennsylvania regional railroad Reading & Northern will begin selling tickets next month for a series of excursions pulled by former Reading Company 4-8-4 No. 2102.

The trips will be dubbed “Iron Horse Rambles” as a nod to the name used by the Reading Lines in the early 1960s for its own steam excursions.

Railfan & Railroad magazine reported on its website on Friday that trips pulled by the 2102 are expected to run from Reading to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, on May 28, July 2, Aug. 13 and Sept. 3.

Tickets are expected to go on sale on Feb. 15. R&N officials told the magazine that more excursions are expected to be added to the schedule with many of them operating in the fall.

The R&N has been restoring No. 2102 to operating condition in recent years and that work is nearly finished.

The 2102 has not operated for 30 years. It pulled a few excursions on the R&N in the 1980s and early 1990s before being retired in 1991.

As part of the restoration efforts, R&N workers fired up the 2102 in January 2021 for the first time since its retirement.

For more information visit

To view announcements and information about the R&N excursions visit