Originally published in the
Timber Transfer, Vol. 16, No. 4, Summer 2000
On a beautiful June evening in Robertsdale, noted American narrow-gauge railroad authority Robert W. Richardson recalled his previous visits to Robertsdale and the East Broad Top Railroad for an appreciative audience of 30 FEBT members and guests, who had registered for the 2000 FEBT Summer Celebration. And Bob's memories of Robertsdale and the EBT go back quite a way. Bob boarded his first EBT train at Robertsdale during an Independence Day holiday weekend visit to the EBT in 1935. Bob and his friend Bruce Triplett rode the M-1 gas-electric from Robertsdale to Mount Union, and then returned to Rockhill Furnace where EBT operating vice president C. D. Jones took the two young railfans on an escorted tour of the EBT shop complex. Bob also recounted return visits to the EBT in the years between 1935 and 2000: The railfan excursions he organized as president of the Akron Railroad Club, the trip on the EBT while on his way home from overseas service in World War II, postwar fan trips, and many more recent visits since 1991, when he retired as executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum and relocated to Pennsylvania.
The Summer Celebration evening program maintained its Colorado-EBT connection with a slide show of transparencies made by Colorado narrow-gauge historian John W. Maxwell during a July 31, 1949, trip on the East Broad Top Railroad - provoking more stories about the EBT and the early years of preserving Colorado's narrow-gauge railroad heritage and history. Bob Richardson noted, for example, John Maxwell's consternation when, during his documentation of Colorado narrow-gauge equipment, it was brought to his attention that the "at rest" measurement of the length of a railroad car with a wooden underframe may not have been its actual length, which varied with the stress put on the car as it was pulled and pushed by movement of the train.
The slide show and Bob's reminiscences concluded the Saturday evening picnic and program, but earlier in the day Summer Celebration participants enjoyed a two hour tour through the East Broad Top Railroad shops conducted by EBT general manager Stanley Hall. The tour included both new stories and some new endings to old stories based on Stanley Hall's 40 year EBT career. A Sunday walking tour around the Rockhill Furnace yard and shop complex led by FEBT member Christopher D. Coleman and our summer open house at the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale on Saturday and Sunday added to the Summer Celebration activities together with the flawless operation of the East Broad Top Railroad trains on both days.
The FEBT volunteers who organized the 2000 Summer Celebration were David S. Bucher, who handled advance registration, and Vagel C. Keller and Christopher D. Coleman, who handled walk up registration and on site coordination. Gary R. Altschuler donated a copy of Robert W. Richardsonís Narrow Gauge News (Colorado Rail Annual no. 21), which Bob graciously autographed, to FEBT for an impromptu auction on Saturday evening, with the proceeds going to the FEBT Restoration Fund. With help from Bob, Dave, Vagel, Chris, and Gary, good weather, and the East Broad Top Railroad, an enjoyable time was had by all.