Friends of the East Broad Top
A nonprofit society dedicated to the preservation and restoration
of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark
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16th Reunion Logo

16th fall Spectacular and FEBT Reunion a Success

by Deane Mellander
photos by the author

Originally published in the Timber Transfer, Vol. 15, No. 2, Fall 1998

US 522 crossing
One result of the new U.S.522 Mt. Union by-pass is another new stretch of EBT track. The new road crosses the EBT just below the south end of the yard. The three-rail continues on about a half-mile to Allenport.

What threatened to be a gray, chilly weekend turned into perfect October weather for FEBT's 16th annual Reunion, held as always in conjuction with the East Broad Top's traditional Fall Spectacular. For those of us who came up Friday, the weather people kept saying that the rain and gloom would be exiting by the end of the day, and the weekend should be nice. Instead, it was more of the same as members assembled at the Lion's Hall on Saturday morning. However, the clouds started to thin by mid-morning, and by noon the sun was winning the day. There was hint of fall color on the hillsides, somewhat subdued by the drought that hit the mid-Atlantic area in mid-summer.

EBT egg crate
Richard Keller donated the egg shipping crate to FEBT at the 16th Reunion. It was used to ship eggs between Three Springs and Mt. Union.

Friday evening featured the annual meeting of FEBT. The Board members in attendance recounted the past year's activities, including progress on the new trucks for Combine 16, the Robertsdale Post Office restoration, and an update on the Timber Transfer. Prime topic of discussion was the proposed revisions to the Articles of Incorporation, the legal instrument that establishes FEBT under Virginia state corporate law. The Board of Directors had previously approved amendments to the By-laws in preparation for action on the new Articles. After discussion, the revised Articles were approved by a large majority, including ballots from members who were unable to attend the meeting.

Pete and Jane Clarke had registration well in hand. There were over 120 preregistered, and more signed up during the day. Ably assisted by the John Snyder and the Bailey family, packets were handed out along with mementos of the occasion. Bill Grant designed a striking T-shirt in dark green with orange lettering, and featuring an end view of his scale plans for Combine 16. Travel coffee mugs, also in green with the FEBT logo were also available. Extras of the T-shirts and mugs will be available through the Company Store while supplies last.

Bob King had the Company Store set up and ready for business. Bill Wade from B.T.S. was also in attendance. He had available Sn3 EBT car kits, the Three Springs depot kit in S and O scales, and a mock-up of the forth-coming Orbisonia depot in O scale, a truly impressive structure in 1/4 inch scale.

The EBT had all four operable locomotives in steam. This, despite the fact that No. 15 had blown a flue the previous weekend. Herculean efforts by the shop staff over the week got her back in action for the Spectacular. Repair of the roundhouse roof, where one of the smokejacks had caught fire earlier in the year, were well under way. The featured train this year was the Shade Gap Picnic train, consisting of all the open flat cars, plus a combine and caboose. This train commemorated the Grand Army of the Republic picnic specials to Shade Gap that were a fixture on the railroad for over 30 years. The passenger train and freight train also operated. Double-headers were featured on a number of trains as well. The visitor count this year did not seem to come up to the last couple of years. This was likely due first to the dubious nature of the weather outlook early Saturday, and the fact that more and more activities in the region are being scheduled on the Columbus Day weekend.

1998 whistle salute
Part of the crowd that was in attendance at the 1998 Fall Spectacular prepares for the annual Whistle Salute on Saturday.

All of the operations on the railroad appeared to operate without a hitch. The schedule ran a bit late as Saturday wore on, but this is not unusual. EBT President Joe Kovalchick, along with son Nathan, led the commemorative whistle salute at noon on Saturday.

The reconstruction of U.S. 522 north of Orbisonia has actually afforded an easier, safer means of photographing the trains lineside. With the new wider shoulders, and in some instances graded areas left from realigning the highway, there was ample space to park off the travel lanes. This project is approaching completion. The next phase, expect within the next couple of years, will be improvements south of Orbisonia through Blacklog Narrows. As noted in the previous TT, this road project will likely obliterate the sites of the Winchester and original Rockhill iron furnaces. These sites are undergoing archeological investigation now to document them before the bulldozers arrive.

The two night trains on Saturday were well-attended. They arrived back in plenty of time for members to attend the evening program at the Lion's Hall, including contest awards and the auction.

The auction featured books, papers, and other items donated to FEBT. When all was said and done, the Restoration Fund was over $1,100.00 richer.

Sunday was Robertsdale day. Coffee and donuts were served at the depot, and members had an opportunity to inspect the progress on the rehabilitation of the Post Office building. There were tours to the mine sites, the Rockhill Furnace area, and the "Thousand Steps" up the side of Jacks's Mountain to the Harbison-Walker quarries west of Mt. Union. The old furnace sites in the Blacklog Narrows were also available for view, with Paul Heberling available to answer questions. Another excellent Reunion.

#14 with northbound freight
No. 14 gets out of Rockhill with a northbound freight on Saturday during the annual Fall Spectacular.
The Rockhill Trolley Museum dťbuted itís SEPTA PCC at the Fall Spectacular. Major work involved having to change the trucks since the museum track is standard gauge and Philadelphia uses Pennsylvania wide-gauge trolley track.
Rockhill furnace dig
Heberling Associates has been excavating and documenting the two original iron furnaces in Blacklog valley. FEBT toured the Winchester Furnace during the summer event. Since then, work has progressed on the Rockhill Furnace, shown here.
#17 on freight train
No. 17 does her stuff with the freight train, heading back to Rockhill.
Company Store
Bob King, the new Company Store manager, had things well in hand at the Lionís Hall during Saturday and Sunday of the 16th Annual Reunion.
Saturday dinner
Some of the more than 150 FEBT members enjoy the Saturday dinner at the Orbisonia fire hall.

1998 Reunion Contest Winners

A modest, but impressive collection of photos and models were featured in this year's contest at the 16th annual Reunion. There were 10 photos and 13 models entered by 14 members. As is almost always the case, the level of craftsmanship in the model contest was very high. There were several instances where only a couple of votes separated the winners

Because some of the categories were under-represented, some models were combined with other categories to provide a contest. Thanks to Bob Bailey and his "staff" for their assistance in running the contest. The results are as follows:

Best in Show
Contest Winners
Daniel McCaffery took first prize in the locomotive category with the beautiful super-detailed Sunset On3 Mike, finished as No. 18.
Contest Winners
Phil Padgett built this exquisite model of the La Palace, hotel in HO scale. The prototype is under restoration in Saltillo by member Mike Swinnerton. The model took second place in the Module/Diorama category.
  HO RI&C #5 Mine diorama – Ron Pearson
  1st    On3 superdetailed #18 – Daniel McCaffery
2nd   On3 #17 – Robert King
Passenger Cars
  1st    HOn3 scratch-built M-2 – David Bucher
2nd   HOn3 detailed Hallmark M-1 – Gary Altschuler
3rd   On3 M-1 – Daniel McCaffery
  1st    HOn3 Caboose No. 27 – Gary Altschuler
2nd   G Scale Boxcar No. 152 – Kevin Strong
3rd    G Scale 3-bay Hopper No. 871 – Kevin Strong
  1st    HO Locke Valley Sawmill – Brian Budiet
2nd   HO La Palace Hotel – Philip Padgett
3rd   G Scale Kimmel Shelter – Jeff Damerst
Best FEBT Kit
  Gary Altschuler received a $10.00 gift certificate for his model of box car No. 175 in HOn3
Photos – Color
  1st    “Rising Early, Taking Water” – Wendy Chesbro
2nd   “No. 12 at the Turntable” – Henry Oberding
3rd    “Night Trains” – John Heitmans
Photos – Black & White
  1st    “#17 at Coal Dock” – Bruce Saylor
2nd   “Front Office” – David Manning
Contest Winners
First prize in the Module/Diorama category went to Brian Budeit for this HO scale replica of the Locke Valley sawmill.
Contest Winners
Dave Bucher took home first prize in the Passenger Car category with this HO model of the M-2. The prototype was acquired from the ET&WNC but was not a success on the EBT.
Contest Winners
Gary Altschuler won first place in the Freight Car category with this nicely finished caboose from Peach Creek Shops.
Contest Winners
This great model of RI&C Mine No. 5 was built by Ron Pearson, and took the Best in Show award at the 16th Reunion Model Contest. Other Photos of the model can be seen in Ronís feature, story on the RI&C deep mines and how to build this mine in the Fall 1998 issue of the Timber Transfer (Vol. 15, No. 2).

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