by James Benetzky and Alex Mayes/photos as noted
East Broad Top Railroad and Rockhill Trolley Museum teamed up on February 20, 2021, to bring back to life the legendary Winter Spectacular. The event was once an annual tradition hosted by the two organizations held from 1966 until 1981, when it was dropped from the operating schedule primarily due the challenges of operating historic equipment in snowy and severe weather conditions. Fall Spectaculars, held over the Columbus Day weekend, replaced the Winter Spectaculars.
This was the first Winter Spectacular since 1981, and while it did not include multiple steam engines in action as featured during previous Winter Spectaculars, it attracted many railfans and others. In addition to public rides at both museum operations, a photo session was held by Lerro Productions during the late afternoon and into the night featuring EBT gas-electric M-1. Weather conditions were outstanding for the event, with mostly clear skies, cold temps and a half-foot of fresh snow on the ground.
EBT’s vintage gas-electric motorcar M-1 and wooden caboose 28 prepare for departure from the Orbisonia station on the 10:30 train. These trips were very popular and sold out quickly. Alex Mayes photo
The star of the event on the EBT was gas-electric M-1, built in 1927 at the EBT shops with parts supplied by the J. G. Brill Company and Westinghouse. The M-1 was also the star of the first Winter Spectacular held back in 1966. Passengers rode aboard M-1 and wooden caboose No. 28, which was coupled behind the gas car. The 2.4-mile trips rode over newly-reconditioned track to McMullin’s Summit, stopping right before the overhead farm access bridge. Rides in EBT’s 1928-built inspection vehicle M-3 over yard trackage were also offered and were well patronized. The public trips operated every half hour and were booked on-line though the EBT. Tickets went on sale February 5th at noon and sold out in two hours. Due to popular demand, the East Broad Top decided to add additional trips and have them depart every half hour, instead of hourly as originally planned.
EBT’s vintage 1928 Nash inspection vehicle M-3 made a rare appearance and made short trips from the Orbisonia Depot into East Broad Top’s Rockville Yard and return…