By Alex Mayes/photos by the author
Work to rehabilitate the yard tracks, buildings and other essential infrastructure has been proceeding at a brisk pace at the East Broad Top Railroad in Orbisonia, Pa. After sitting dormant since 2011, the EBT was purchased by The EBT Foundation, Inc. in February 2020. The group plans to resume operations in 2021. Much work is needed to accomplish this goal, including overhaul of two 100+ year-old steam locomotives, rebuilding five miles of three-foot gauge track between Rockhill Furnace and Colgate Grove, and other major projects.
Over the past 20 years volunteers of the Friends of The East Broad Top, a non-profit group dedicated preservation and restoration of the EBT, has stabilized or entirely rebuilt much of the main shops complex, along with the foundry, sand tower, and the freight house. This work has been most beneficial, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.
On May 27, 2020, a long cut of EBT coal hoppers was pulled from the south end of the Rockhill yard and placed on a leg of the wye utilized to turn EBT’s steam excursion trains. These cars were idled 64 years ago; over the years trees and thick vines surrounded them and some of them became badly rusted. The cars that are in relatively good shape will be restored, the ones that are in a highly deteriorated condition will be scrapped. The sides of some of the cars are completely rusted through, as shown here.
After the EBT shut down as a coal hauler in 1956 it came back to life on August 13, 1960 when a five-mile long segment was reopened for excursion service in connection with a local bicentennial celebration. Today’s EBT Foundation, Inc. hopes to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this event this August; for details check the EBT website or on their Facebook page. See the April 2020 edition of Railpace for more on the EBT’s revival.