Large Scale Central

Friends of the East Broad Top Annual Reunion - Lots of pics

For the first time in over 20 years, I made the trek to South Central PA to attend the Annual Reunion of the Friends of the East Broad Top Railroad. On day one (Friday) I took pictures with my digital camera which I have yet to unload and edit. This is the photo dump from my phone of activity on Saturday and Sunday.

My motivation to tow our trailer for 8 hours then set up camp a half hour West of EBT was to see first hand all of the progress that has been made since the East Broad Top Foundation purchased the railroad from the Kovalchick family in 2020. There was also a possibility that we might witness the first steam on the EBT since 2011. That was not to be, but there were plenty of firsts.

The first of 4 new replica passenger cars was in-service. They look great inside and out and ride very nicely…

The view of the shops and yards in Rockhill has changed as well. Most noticeable are the shortened stacks (to prevent them from falling), the split rail fencing protecting the yard from foamers and the generally great appearance of the entire complex…

The EBTF ran some rarely seen equipment out to Colgate Grove including motor car M-3 and the shop built gas/electric M-1 shown here crossing Meadow Street…

The foundation also ran a special train SOUTH with passengers for the first time since 1956! The trip was limited to 30 passengers, but multiple trips were run over two days so everyone that wanted to make the trip could do it. Seen here is some of the recently re-built track well South of the coal dock…

The current end-of-track is the PA Route 475 crossing. The ROW has been cleared for another mile or so to just beyond Jordan Summit…

The plan is to continue clearing and track rehabilitation to allow trains to reach Pogue Station by this time next year. Funds are already on-hand for professional help rehabilitating the Pogue Trestle.

Another milestone was seeing the first lost structure to be re-created. This is the hopper shed atop the coaling dock in Rockhill. The design was modified slightly adding doors on the East (right) side to allow trucks to dump coal into the dock when it returns to service in the near future. Funds are in place to rebuild the retaining walls on either side of the concrete dock and rebuild the track to allow a hopper to be spotted in the shed…

An overview of Rockhill from atop the coal dock…

Our Southbound Restoration Tour train was pulled by the mighty M-4…

Our tour allowed us unprecedented (since EBTF purchase) access to the yard and shop buildings. This is a look into the Car Barn. Do you spot something brand new? That shiny black iron pipe is the new fire suppression system installed throughout the shops complex…

Nearly every building in the shops complex has been painted by the Friends. This is the Sand House…

Most every inch of track in the Rockhill yard has been rebuilt. This is the Paint Shop lead…

16’s Cab and Tender wait outside the roundhouse for installation. 16 has been steamed and they are finishing up a few loose ends. The EBTF is hopeful that they will be running steam before the end of this season - possibly for the Christmas in Coal Country trains which are all sold out!

The Friends are restoring this steel box car to be used as a mobile shop for the March to Saltillo. Background work has already begun to re-create the Saltillo station and tank funded by the FEBT…

Here is a rarely seen view of the disassembled buffer and draw bar on 16’s tender…

15’s cab has been sandblasted and primed. Restoration work on 15 and 14 has begun as well…

Well all this was happening, the Rockhill Trolley Museum ran their Fall Spectacular. Unfortunately I missed seeing most of the rarely seen equipment they brought out…

I also took the Guided Shop tour that began in the roundhouse. Here, our very knowledgeable young guide (who works as an Archivist during the week) tells the story of #12 being christened as Millie in the 1960’s…

This is as deep as they would allow us to go since crews were actively working on 16 just out of view…

Moving on to the main shop, The restored steam engine that drives the overhead belt system. Currently the engine runs on air. I’m hopeful that one day they will install a modern stationary boiler to once again power the shops on steam…

I have never seen the shop this bright. Last time I was in here a good number of the windows were boarded up. The Friends have now restored over 50% of the windows in the shops complex…

Coach 8 and locomotive 14 are in the Locomotive Shop. Coach 8 was being repaired, however, like us modelers, they ran into a snag and lost momentum. New beams had been installed, but when they were tightening the truss rods, the new beam shattered. There were hidden interior flaws in the beam. They now have to completely start over :frowning:

Engine 14’s running gear was shot. It has been dropped and sent to Strassburg for complete rebuilding. Meanwhile the boiler has had it’s ultrasound test and found to be in good shape. Work on 14 will get serious when 15 nears completion. If you were a long time EBT fan, what you will notice is that funds are plentiful compared to the late 90’s / early 2000’s. This is thanks to a dedicated group of investors, and extremely generous fans contributing to the FEBT. Coach 8 and Engine 14 in the Locomotive Shop…

The newly aligned overhead belt system in the Car Shop…

Just a cool looking shot of a workbench…

Back in the Machine Shop. A number of these machines have been made operational and are being actively used to restore locomotives and cars…

The original twin Babcock Boilers will never see fire again. They are too far gone from rain intrusion and lack of care when they were shut down in 1958 or so…

Back outside, the EBTF has brought in a Standard Gauge PRR X-29 Box Car which is the type commonly moved over the line on narrow gauge trucks. The long term plan is to restore this car to operation and put it on a set of transfer trucks and move it in a train! Shown here next to a narrow gauge box and hopper…

To adapt the PRR standard couplers to the diminutive EBT couplers, coupler adapters were designed and cast in-house from Aluminum and Manganese…

On Sunday we spent a lot of time driving around the North End at Mount Union. This area and the track to the South end of the Augwick Mills bridge is currently owned by the dormant East Broad Top Preservation Association. EBTPA has sold off some of the commercially viable land resulting in new development on what was once railroad property in Mount Union. Here we see recent land clearing to build a Stihl dealership. Unfortunately, the clearing (and removal of a boney pile) pretty much destroyed the end abutment of the Local Delivery Trestle…

As if that isn’t enough for one thread, I will get my camera pictures dumped and edited to post up some of the sights I visited on the South End including recently cleared track for over a mile toward the mines from Robertsdale.

If you are interested in helping out with volunteer labor and/or a financial contribution, please consider joining the Friends of the East Broad Top and/or making a donation. More information can be found at the Friends website FEBT.ORG

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AND - If you are on Facebook, the FEBT is currently having a little friendly competition with the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec. They are trying to beat the number of Likes received by the C&T group. Please go to the FEBT Page on Facebook and give them a like :smiley:

FEBT Facebook Page

Jon, great pics. I couldn’t make it this year but maybe next.
(P.S. I think you can edit your title with this forum software.)

Jon

I was there as well, Fri and Sat and had a great time, other then our speeder ride out of Robertsdale, your photos covered it all. Great job!

Jerry

Oops. I never was good at that I before E stuff :smiley: Thanks; all fixed.

That’s what is on my digital cam, still waiting to be unloaded. I saw you going into the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale while I was walking my dog; Right?

Holy cow Jon, wow!! What a wonderful experience, and thanks for sharing it with us!!

Those pics of the shop interior, with the engine and boilers and belting, are amazing.

I gotta bring me and my wife up there for sure! Amazing stuff!

Cliff

With chores all done for the day I got out the digital camera and dumped the photos. Here is a relatively small sample of pictures I took on our Friday visit to Robertsdale, and Rockhill Furnace, PA.

We were camped just outside of Saxton, PA, about 15 minutes West of Robertsdale. On the way to Robertsdale we happened on to what I believe are relics of the Huntington and Broad Top, a standard gauge coal hauler that worked the West side of Broad Top Mountain. In Dudley, PA there are a few stations, a tank, and an 0-4-0 on display…

Then it was on to Robertsdale, the southern end of the EBT. Robertsdale Station sports a new roof, a recently reclaimed scale track and a short string of display hoppers…

Across the street is the original office of the Rockhill Iron and Coal Company. The second floor offices are still intact, but not open to visitors. The first floor is occupied by the US Post Office. The building also sports a matching new roof…

The EBT Foundation and volunteers from the FEBT have cleared over a mile of track toward the mines and and made it passable with hand cars and speeders. The foundation offered free speeder rides to FEBT members to the current end of cleared track in Wood…

The following shots were taken from the speeder…

They even built a temporary bridge to span a washed out culvert…

My final speeder ride shot is of the current end of passable track in Wood…

After the speeder ride I toured the recently completed FEBT Museum in the old Post Office building which also has a new matching roof…

Next to the old post office, land clearing revealed the gates to a playground/park the railroad built for the mine worker’s children…

We then ventured North to explore some previously un-seen (by me) sites and a few I know well. We couldn’t locate the extant tank at Coles as the brush has completely obscured the road bed. Just as well as all of these sites are now off-limits. We drove through Saltillo, but I didn’t take pictures as there is really nothing to see there; YET.

Our first photo stop was in Pogue at Rutter’s Cash Store AKA Pogue Station…

This is the goal destination for next fall…

Venturing just a little North, we found Pogue Bridge where lot of tree clearing was done a little over a year ago to assess the bridge and piers…

Yet a little further North is the current end of reclaimed track. Looking North from PA Route 475…

And looking South where land has been cleared and track moved aside in preparation for road bed grading…

And in the distance, the road bridge at Jordan Summit. Track is cleared to the South a little but beyond the bridge…

Continuing North, the Odd Fellows Cemetary Road is the next cross road which is now a legal grade crossing and signed as such…

Looking North from the crossing we can see the Rockhill yards and facilities…

Looking South is newly re-built track. Currently only every other tie is being installed to support the work train. Additional ties will be inserted and ballast placed before heavy trains can pass…

Hopefully this huge photo dump hasn’t bored you too much :smiley: Thanks for looking.

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You’re sure making me jealous, Jon! Wow, what fun you’re having exploring!

Thanks for all those shots, they really help in understating the EBT.

That is my friend Dave (who owns the Case steam tractor) and his son Josh (speeder engineer). Wish I would have know you were going as I was really debating it but I had other things to do. So I did the responsible thing and stayed here. Great pics !!!

Cool! As we passed the Mechanicsburg exit I thought of giving you a call. But with our far West destination we needed to get to the campground in time to set up before dark and we had just cleared two big traffic jams on 78. It was over 8 hours with only gas stops door-to-site. Nice campground, but too far.

Jon,

What an awesome series! It is amazing that they found the donor, investors, and volunteers (to include those with the correct skills!) to accomplish all of this! What really impresses me is that they are looking beyond just getting trains moving on tracks to include preserving the buildings and sights of a bygone era! Your pictures at the end where development had forever destroyed a piece of history was quite poignant. I was tangentially involved with similar controversies surrounding Civil War sites years ago, and those controversies are ever present here where limited land, multiple cultures, and multiple epochs only complicate things further. The tension between preservation and responsible development is very real.

I worry about the fate of our own little railroad, as the ahupua’a / land division through which it runs has been redesignated from agricultural to commercial and residential. Even if the current views are not cane fields, they are quite sweeping and evocative. Will folks pay to ride when all they see are backsides of stripmalls and condos?

Sorry to wax philosophical! Again, thanks so much for sharing!

Eric

Thanks Eric. This truly was a stars aligned kind of thing. Many of the long term Friends members, many much longer than me, were all but convinced it would never be more than a static display ever again, if even that. Through the dark days they kept at it, restoring what they could with limited funds and manpower. We all hoped that some day the stars would align, but it was little more than hope. Those closely involved from decades ago never gave up searching for and finally found sympathetic ears within the preservation philanthropy community and the East Broad Top Foundation was born.

On Valentines Day 2020 the purchase of the railroad was announced and almost immediately membership in the Friends began to swell and the fund raising campaigns shot past goals. In the middle of all this excitement COVID happened. It really is nothing short of amazing what has been achieved and what is yet to come.

Jon, Thank you so much for the photo essay. It was terrific. I hoped you had a good time. :innocent:

It is the first time since the EBT RR closed in 1956 that a powered vehicle has been seen on the Robertsdale tracks.

Like me. I joined in the 1970s and visited many times, even in the dark days. This pic is the mid-70s with my wife and #14.

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(late reply, been steaming this weekend)

Yes Jon we indeed saw you with your dog at the museum. I remarked later to my wife that you were the only person I think I recognized that entire great weekend.

Jerry

I have been trying to get Jimmy Braum to upload his speeder video to Youtube, or send me the file so I could post it here. It is the ride I took and the back of my head is in most of the video :roll_eyes: So far no luck. If you are on Facebook, go check it out here Jimmy’s Facebook Video

If your don’t do Facebook, there is this video of a different run…

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That’s awesome Jon !
I know my above video is not at EBT but I thought I would post it for a whistle salute from a proud father to his son whom was running the speeder. I understand there is in inside(father/son) joke about polishing the rails going up that 2% grade. I just think it’s fantastic that the younger generation is grabbing hold! (Kudos to Josh) .
BTW did you see Randy L. that weekend?

No. He was quite active in FEBT for a while, even on the BOD for a term, but I haven’t heard anything about him in a while.