Friends of the East Broad Top

Friends of the East Broad Top Dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark
The Friends of the East Broad Top, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt educational and historical society dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
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05/10/2020

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Friends of the East Broad Top is cancelling the Work Weekend scheduled for May 16-17, 2020 as well as the Work Week scheduled for May 18-22, 2020.

Our first priority must be keeping our volunteers, members, and global community as safe as possible. The work will wait. FEBT leadership will continue to monitor the situation and government guidance and determine the right course for future work sessions. We are eager to return and hope to do so in June. We will also be rescheduling our work week to later in the year.

In this unusual time, folks are ordering online more than ever. If you order from Amazon, you can make a donation to Fri...
03/28/2020

In this unusual time, folks are ordering online more than ever. If you order from Amazon, you can make a donation to Friends of the EBT at NO COST TO YOU! Before you check out, change www.amazon.com in the address bar to smile.amazon.com . Amazon will ask you for the charity you wish them to support. Search for "Friends of the East Broad Top" and select it as your charity. That's all to setup! Just make sure each time you purchase from Amazon that the address is smile.amazon.com (not www.amazon.com or just amazon.com .) We appreciate your support!

Here is an image of the early Mount Union PRR station. The lack of three rail track  on the third track from the station...
03/21/2020

Here is an image of the early Mount Union PRR station. The lack of three rail track on the third track from the station indicates the image may be from prior to the construction of the East Broad Top in 1872-74. The Pennsylvania Railroad was built through this area around 1850 and trains were operating to Pittsburgh in 1852.

Pennsylvania Railroad Depot along Pennsylvania Avenue in the town of Mt. Union, Huntingdon County in the early 1900's.

03/21/2020
store.febt.org

In keeping with the order from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to close all non-essential businesses, shipping of all merchandise from the FEBT Company Store has been suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, you will be unable to order any merchandise requiring shipping until shipping is restored. Orders for membership renewals and new memberships as well as donations to the FEBT are not affected. Persons who have pending merchandise orders which have not been fulfilled will be contacted directly. We will post further updates on our website and page when this situation changes. We appreciate your patience during this challenging time and look forward to resuming normal Company Store operations!

Membership renewals, new memberships, and donations to the FEBT can be submitted at the FEBT Company Store at this address:
https://store.febt.org/

03/19/2020

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Friends of the East Broad Top is cancelling the Work Weekend scheduled for April 4-5, 2020.

We would like to thank all of you who turned out on March 14th and 15th to get more done than we have accomplished in any one weekend previously. FEBT is eager to build on that success.

However, the first priority must be keeping our volunteers, members, and global community as safe as possible. The work will wait. FEBT leadership will continue to monitor the situation and government guidance and determine the right course for future work sessions.

We have some great projects going in today at the East Broad Top, including replacing the tie under the three-way stub s...
03/14/2020

We have some great projects going in today at the East Broad Top, including replacing the tie under the three-way stub switch.

03/12/2020

Our March FEBT Rockhill Work days will still take place on March 14th and 15th, 2020. We ask that members who plan to attend take proper precautions. If you are sick, have possibly been exposed to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), or qualify as high risk to this or similar illnesses, please stay home and plan to attend future sessions. There will still be plenty of work to do in the coming months. Friends of the East Broad Top needs you to be strong and healthy.

03/10/2020
febt.org

The March Restoration Session is almost upon us! March 14-15 at Rockhill, PA. Work will include prepwork for righting the Machine and Boiler Shop; paint stripping, window installation and milling trim for Combine #14; repairs to the Lumber Shed roof; various building prep for paint; brush cutting; building documentation; track work on the Car Shop leads; and flatcar work.

More details on this work session:
https://febt.org/2020/03/09/febt-rockhill-restoration-session-march-14-15/
More details now to volunteer with FEBT:
https://febt.org/volunteer/

It's a beautiful day in Orbisonia. The East Broad Top is making great progress so far on rebuilding the track into Stall...
03/07/2020

It's a beautiful day in Orbisonia. The East Broad Top is making great progress so far on rebuilding the track into Stall 8 of the roundhouse.

#FanArtFriday. Gary Devonshire drew this image ten years ago of #14 hauling boxcars. Note the two stacks in the rear of ...
03/06/2020

#FanArtFriday. Gary Devonshire drew this image ten years ago of #14 hauling boxcars. Note the two stacks in the rear of the drawing.

#FanFriday. Elisa Campbell created this wonderful watercolor image based off of Darryl Rule's recently shared photograph...
02/28/2020

#FanFriday. Elisa Campbell created this wonderful watercolor image based off of Darryl Rule's recently shared photograph.

Have you created #EastBroadTop artwork? Share it below!

A lot of folks have asked about how to join Friends of the EBT. You can find info on joining at the link below. Regular ...
02/27/2020
Join - Friends of the East Broad Top

A lot of folks have asked about how to join Friends of the EBT. You can find info on joining at the link below. Regular Memberships start at $35.00 but there are many other membership levels to choose from!

http://febt.org/join/

Join the FEBT The FEBT needs your help to continue our mission of preserving and restoring the East Broad Top Railroad, a priceless historic resource located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and a U. S. National Historic Landmark. In Rockhill Furnace, the shops — originally built in the 19th ce...

Nick, Zac, and Ray are onsite in Monroeville PA at the Greenberg's Train & Toy Show. Stop by today or tomorrow to say he...
02/22/2020

Nick, Zac, and Ray are onsite in Monroeville PA at the Greenberg's Train & Toy Show. Stop by today or tomorrow to say hello!

Representatives from FEBT will be attending Greenberg's Train & Toy Show in Monroeville PA tomorrow and Sunday. If you a...
02/21/2020
Monroeville

Representatives from FEBT will be attending Greenberg's Train & Toy Show in Monroeville PA tomorrow and Sunday. If you are interested in becoming a member or volunteering, stop by and we'll be happy to answer any questions! http://trainshow.com/monroeville/?fbclid=IwAR2Hl5STElXHGKsYJqfF3fUgojyduvUvS53RC7LoctqvxoTJBdOoNSadTss

Purchase Discount Tickets HereUse coupon code W11 for $1-off online tickets! Kids 11 & under are FREE and do NOT need a ticket Click here for help To purchase tickets following these steps: - Enter the number of tickets you want in the box above and press the NEXT button. - Enter your discount code....

Want to see how we prepared for the big announcement in February? Read the latest Rockhill Report!
02/19/2020
February 2020 Work Weekend - Friends of the East Broad Top

Want to see how we prepared for the big announcement in February? Read the latest Rockhill Report!

With the coming rejuvenation of the railroad, the decision was made to shift attention to the shop area during the February work session. The Woodford Brothers will return to the railroad to right the walls that surround the shop alleyway as they did with the blacksmith shop years back. This meant t...

02/18/2020
East Broad Top

Board member Nick Ozorak created this trailer for the new era of the East Broad Top. #JoinTheFriends #JoinTheMovement

In case you haven't seen the terrific video that Nick Ozorak did for our new website, here it is. Nick is an FEBT board member and one of the volunteers who regularly turn in top-quality work on all sorts of projects, from stabilizing structures and rebuilding cars to producing FEBT's quarterly magazine and organizing the annual FEBT Fall Reunion (which will take place Columbus Day weekend).

Another fine TV article about the sale of the EBT to a non-profit, this time WJAC in Johnstown: https://wjactv.com/news/...
02/15/2020
East Broad Top Railroad makes comeback almost decade later

Another fine TV article about the sale of the EBT to a non-profit, this time WJAC in Johnstown: https://wjactv.com/news/local/east-broad-top-railroad-makes-comeback-after-almost-decade

ORBISONIA, Pa. (WJAC) -- Hundreds of people gathered in Orbisonia Friday to show love to the East Broad Top Railroad as it looks to get engines like "Millie" back up and running. The East Broad Top Railroad has been nonoperational since 2011. A new nonprofit, the East Broad Top Foundation has purcha...

Great news! The East Broad Top Railroad has been sold to the nonprofit EBT Foundation.Details can be found at the EBT's ...
02/15/2020
East Broad Top

Great news! The East Broad Top Railroad has been sold to the nonprofit EBT Foundation.

Details can be found at the EBT's page, EBT Foundation's website at http://eastbroadtop.com And the friends of the East broad top website at http://febt.org .

Nonprofit Buys East Broad Top Railroad, Plans to Renovate and Reopen

Pennsylvania’s storied East Broad Top Railroad has a new owner, a nonprofit foundation
organized by a small group of prominent rail-industry figures and longtime EBT fans. The new
organization will offer several EBT events in 2020 — the 60th anniversary of the start of tourist
service on the railroad — and hopes to resume regular operation in 2021.
The organization, called the EBT Foundation Inc., will own approximately 27 miles of the line,
from the south end of the concrete-arch bridge over the Aughwick River below Mount Union to
the road crossing in Wood Township. The foundation will also own the narrow-gauge railroad’s
shops, rolling stock, and equipment. The East Broad Top is a National Historic Landmark and is
listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This is the best possible outcome for
the railroad, which has been in my
family for two generations,” says
Joseph Kovalchick, whose father, Nick
Kovalchick, purchased the East Broad
Top Railroad & Coal Company after its
coal mines closed in 1956. “It is with a
combination of pride and relief that we
pass the torch in its second
reincarnation.” The Kovalchicks will
continue to own coal-company property
that had been jointly owned with the
railroad.
“When my father bought the company, it was never his intention to scrap the railroad. At the
time he was the only one to stand for the EBT, and his role in the history books is assured. My
generation has struggled to balance the need to preserve this national treasure with running it
as a business, and I take pride in our role in its survival. But it is clear that a for-profit business
model is not sustainable. Our faith in the new model is reflected in both the sale and the
Kovalchick family’s ongoing role on the board of the new non-profit.”
Financial details of the purchase will remain confidential.
Brad Esposito, a 20-year veteran of the Buffalo &
Pittsburgh Railroad, a Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.
company, led the effort to purchase the EBT, along with
longtime EBT enthusiasts David Brightbill, Lawrence
Biemiller, and Stephen Lane.
Backers of the new organization include three
rail-industry and rail-preservation heavyweights: Wick
Moorman, former chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern
and former CEO of Amtrak; Henry Posner III, a former
Conrail manager who is chairman of the Iowa Interstate
Railroad and the Railroad Development Corporation, of
Pittsburgh; and Bennett Levin, a retired mechanical and
electrical engineer who owns the Juniata Terminal
Company, which operates two Pennsylvania Railroad E8
diesel locomotives and three private cars.
Esposito will become the general manager of the railroad. He says the EBT Foundation has a
three-part mission. It’s committed, first, to preserving and operating the East Broad Top as a
steam railroad; second, to educating visitors about the role of railroads in local and national
history; and, third, to promoting local and regional tourism and economic growth.
Esposito says the new organization will immediately begin work on several fronts. The EBT has
been closed since late 2011, and before operations can resume, the railroad will need to
overhaul track and equipment, including locomotives and passenger cars. A fire-suppression
system will be installed in the historic machine shops and roundhouse, and several structural
stabilization projects will be undertaken in the railroad’s Rockhill Furnace complex.
“The East Broad Top is a unique national treasure unmatched anywhere in the United States,”
says Esposito. “It has been impressively preserved for over 60 years by the Kovalchick family.
We are excited to pick up the torch and ensure that the railroad is preserved for future
generations.”
“Our close partners will be the volunteers of the Friends of the East Broad Top,” he says. “They
have contributed countless hours of work and significant amounts of money to help preserve the
historic fabric of the EBT since 1983.”
“Also, we look forward to working with the Rockhill Trolley Museum,” says Esposito. The
all-volunteer trolley museum dates to 1960 and operates over the former Shade Gap Branch of
the EBT. “This will be an exciting opportunity to promote and further develop tourism in the
area.”
“The East Broad Top is a remarkable survivor from the age of steam railroading,” says
Moorman. “I’m delighted to have the chance to be a part of its revival, both for the preservation
of such an important part of our industrial heritage, and for the economic benefits that it will
provide to an area of Pennsylvania that is so closely linked to the railroad industry.”
Levin notes that the EBT runs through a bucolic landscape almost unchanged since the early
1900s. “The railroad’s historic fabric is an important component of the region’s industrial
archaeology, and the educational possibilities here are almost limitless.”
The new organization’s advisors include Linn
Moedinger, former president of the Strasburg
Rail Road — one of the most successful tourist
railroads in the U.S. — and Rod Case, a partner
at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman who leads
their railway practice. Among the organizations
providing support is the Allegheny Ridge
Corporation, which manages the region’s
state-designated Heritage Area. The corporation
“is thrilled to participate in the rebirth of this
great asset,” says Astride McLanahan, a
longtime board member of the organization.
“The EBT is a jewel in the Allegheny Ridge
Heritage Area and its revitalization will bring economic opportunity to this rural community.”
Built from 1872 to 1874 to haul coal to a new iron furnace in the center of the state, the
33-mile-long East Broad Top survived the collapse of the local iron industry at the turn of the
20th century because the top-quality coal it carried had found other markets, thanks in part to
close cooperation with the Pennsylvania Railroad. When the last of the coal mines closed in
1956, the East Broad Top was purchased by the Kovalchick Salvage Company of Indiana, Pa.
Despite being in the scrap business, the company left the railroad intact and in 1960 reopened a
portion of the line for steam-powered tourist trains that proved widely popular.
With rails just three feet apart — 4’ 8 ½” is the industry standard — the EBT is the only original
narrow-gauge railroad surviving east of the Rocky Mountains, and it is well known as one of the
world’s finest preserved railways. The railroad’s shops complex, which dates to the 1880s and
was greatly expanded from 1905 to 1907, is among the most complete early-20th-century
industrial facilities anywhere in the U.S.
Still in the railroad’s roundhouse in Rockhill Furnace are six narrow-gauge steam locomotives
built for the EBT by Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works between 1911 and 1920. They
share the building with the unique M-1 gas-electric, constructed at the railroad in 1927 with
plans and parts from Philadelphia’s J.G. Brill Company, a leading streetcar manufacturer, and
Westinghouse Electric. Other EBT equipment includes several passenger cars believed to date
to the 1890s and numerous steel freight cars built in the EBT shops. The East Broad Top was
the only American narrow gauge to convert to an all-steel freight car fleet.
Remarkably, track remains in place over nearly the entire
33-mile main line, which connected the coal mines in
Robertsdale to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Great Broad Way
in Mount Union. The former PRR main line is now Norfolk
Southern’s core east-west route between Harrisburg and
Pittsburgh.
“The East Broad Top Railroad is a unique historic asset that is
a national treasure representing our area’s rich railroad
heritage,” says Sen. Judy Ward, who represents southern
Huntingdon County in the Pennsylvania Senate. “The sale of
this railroad to this group of longtime EBT enthusiasts who are
committed to preserving and operating it as a steam railroad is
very exciting news for the region because it preserves this
irreplaceable treasure for future generations while opening up significant tourism and economic
development opportunities.”
Says Posner: “August 13, 2020, will be the 60th anniversary of the East Broad Top’s first
reopening, which took place during the bicentennial of the founding of what became the ‘twin
boroughs’ of Orbisonia and Rockhill Furnace. This was an era of revised expectations in the
face of the decline of the railroad industry nationwide. At that time Nick Kovalchick could not
have imagined the possibility of reopening the entire line, but fortunately our industry’s
renaissance has helped create an environment in which this important and audacious project
can succeed. We are honored to follow in the footsteps of two generations of the family that has
made this all possible.”
“This will be a monumental undertaking,” says Esposito, “and I encourage anyone interested in
helping us to join the Friends of the East Broad Top and come work on buildings, track and
equipment.”
The railroad’s new website can be found at eastbroadtop.com.
Editors: For interview opportunities, photos, and more information, contact Lawrence Biemiller
( [email protected] ; cell 202 494 7670).
About the EBT Foundation
The EBT Foundation, Inc., was incorporated in January 2020 to acquire, preserve, and operate
the East Broad Top Railroad. It aims to restore the railroad for tourist operation and to educate
visitors and fans about the history of the railroad and the region. It also aims to expand
opportunities for tourism and economic development in and around southern Huntingdon
County. The foundation has filed an application for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal
Revenue Service.
Founding board members are:
Henry Posner III, chairman of the Iowa Interstate Railroad and the Railroad Development
Corporation, of Pittsburgh. Initially, Mr. Posner will chair the foundation’s board.
Wick Moorman, former chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern and former CEO of Amtrak. Mr.
Moorman will be the foundation’s first president.
Bennett Levin, owner of the Juniata Terminal Company.
Brad Esposito, former assistant general manager of the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, a
Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., company, and a longtime member of the Friends of the East Broad
Top. Mr. Esposito will be the railroad’s general manager.
David Brightbill, office manager of the East Broad Top Railroad and a longtime volunteer at
the Rockhill Trolley Museum. Mr. Brightbill will be the foundation’s treasurer and will continue as
the railroad’s office manager.
Lawrence Biemiller, a former senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education and a member
of the Friends of the East Broad Top board. Mr. Biemiller will be the foundation’s secretary.
Questions we’re pretty sure will be frequently asked:
— Are you going to go all the way to Robertsdale? To Mount Union?
Right now our focus is on reopening the railroad as far as Colgate Grove and on reconditioning
locomotives and cars. In the future we look forward with enthusiasm to discussing possibilities
for expanding our operations, which would be tremendously exciting. But before that we have a
lot of work to do on the portion of the EBT that’s operated since 1960.
— What about the Friends of the EBT and the trolley museum?
We are excited to have both the Friends and the Rockhill Trolley Museum as partners, and we
look forward to working very closely with both to make Rockhill Furnace a great destination for
railfans and casual visitors alike. As you know, the trolley museum got its start very soon after
the East Broad Top reopened in 1960, and its volunteers have built a tremendous operation that
was able to survive and grow during the railroad’s recent shutdown. We look forward to planning
and cross-promoting events that will benefit both the railroad and the trolley museum.
And the Friends have been invaluable. Much less of the East Broad Top would survive today for
us to acquire without their tireless work to stabilize buildings and equipment. And their efforts to
record the history of the line have been just as important. It’s hard to imagine that any other
33-mile railroad has ever had the benefit of so much well-researched interest.
— Are you connected to the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association?
We are not associated with the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association.
— Are you going to preserve all of the surviving hoppers?
Our goal is to preserve as much of the East Broad Top as we can responsibly maintain and to
present visitors with a full picture of the railroad as it appeared in common-carrier days. But at
this point many of the remaining hoppers have been sitting out in the weather for more than 60
years, and they’re in rough shape. It may not be possible to preserve them all.
— Will you own No. 3 in Mount Union?
Mr. Kovalchick sold No. 3 before we began negotiations with him, although we believe it is still
in the Mount Union enginehouse.
— How soon can we ride to the picnic grove? What will the fare be?
As soon as we’re certain we can safely carry passengers, we’ll make an announcement. Our
tentative plan is to use the M-1 at first, and possibly a coach or caboose, while we continue
overhauls on other equipment. We have not yet discussed fares. But we emphasize that all our
plans are tentative at this stage.
— Will you bring back the Polar Express?
We will certainly offer some kind of Christmas train, but probably not in 2020.
— What locomotive will you restore first?
We’re currently evaluating several locomotives, with advice and help from people who have lots
of experience with steam locomotives. While we understand and appreciate that many people
have their own favorite EBT engines that they would like us to return to operation, we’ll have to
make our decisions based on the engines’ condition and our operating needs. Our hope is that
we will eventually be able to use all six locomotives, along with the M-1, the M-3, our speeder
cars, and diesels M-4, M-6, and M-7, but that will take some time.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lrmyers/49240927796/in/photolist-2i2fCiJ-2i2dctE-2i2fCk7-2i28j8e-2i29qtj-2i1ShK9-2i2fCm9-2i29qvJ-2i1ShLG-2i1Trh8-2bRG5wT-Pu3oHV-N4ULpL-MvEnaZ-oyu16h-oyu19o-iG8gtk-iG8jLv-izmHWX-2i1PSbR-2gw6Ene-2gw6Ei1-2gw6EkF-2gw6hDi-2gw6Ecj-2dfkpDc-2dfkpJn-Pu7arg-2bRG5Ei-2bRG5o6-Pu7azT-R6JeNy-2c8uGMf-R6JeUW-2aqtcVz-i4ijK3-i3aZd5-hwTHBT-dySVRQ-kJMyUt-LhCfrT-pqmCeE-qnkMUe-i4ikoN-fcC9Jo-f4N8ve-f53oyJ-f4N8Ht-f53oEU-f53oKq

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550 N Main St
Robertsdale, PA
16674

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Comments

Any thoughts on the work week scheduled for may?
Hi Everybody. This "pandemic" has given me a lot of reading time, and I've bought a number of books about the EBT. I have been a member of the FEBY for over 30 years. One thing that I never thought about- did the EBT have any kind of snow plow?
Photo is my grandfather at the tipple.
The spur to Jollar, The picture is Wes,and Annie Lane,and child Josephine The farm in the back ground is on the muel shoe curve at Cole's Smmmit.
Hi Everybody, I have been a member for over 30 years but just started following FEBT online. I went to log into the company store, but I don't know what my membership number is- Im assuming it would be on the envelope that my magazine comes in? Is there any other way I can get it?
Good morning! Will there be any organized tours of the railroad like there have been in the past? Looking through Chris' website, "spring fling, winter hop, summer celebration etc" all offered tours of both operating and non operating parts of the railroad. Would be great to tack on to a work weekend perhaps? Friday before all the work starts? Looking forward to joining a crew when life gets back to normal. Thanks!
Hi Everybody, I have been a member of the FEBT for over 30 years, but just joined the page. I have read a number of books about the road but have never seen a full map of the system. Something that can be read without a magnifying glass would be nice.
Is there a place where I can see a map of the entire system, sidings and all? I have several of the books, but they only show the main areas.
what is the height and width of a typical coupler on the EBT?
Is there any r.v. parks near Rockhill Furnace for some one that come for work sessions?
Hurts so good!!!! I feel bad that Pete has to try to keep up a gold standard of membership duties while the memberships have suddenly increased, but I am super happy that they are and with everything that is happening!!!! SOOOOOOO Pete, do the best you can, we understand!!!!!!!
Anyone know someone who paints brass engines? I have the Sunset EBT # 16. I have painted & lettered the tender and am pleased with it but don't quite have the nerve to take the loco apart and risk messing up the rods etc. to paint it.