Friends of the East Broad Top
A nonprofit society dedicated to the preservation and restoration
of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark
Things we do

2003 FEBT Reunion
Restoration projects hightlight this year's gathering

by Hank Inman
Richmond, VA
photos as noted

Originally published in the Timber Transfer, Vol. 20, No. 2, Fall 2003

Section Sheds
The north track shed, opposite the coal tipple in Rockhill Furnace was one of the recent restoration projects showcased by the FEBT during the 21st FEBT Reunion.
William Adams photo

Over 120 members of Friends of the East Broad Top and guests joined us in Orbisonia, Rockhill Furnace, and Robertsdale on the weekend of October 11-12, 2003, to help us conclude the celebration of our twentieth anniversary at our 21st FEBT Fall Reunion. Since FEBT was formally organized in 1983, the year of our first fall reunion, FEBT's "twentieth birthday" actually fell between our 20th and 21st fall reunions. And while we may have started our "birthday celebration" at the 2002 Fall Reunion, the party mood happily continued unabated at this Year's gathering.

As usual, activity early Saturday morning began at the Orbisonia Lions Hall, where reunion registrar Pat Coleman arid her assistants set up and handled the Fall Reunion registration table. Elsewhere in the hall, contest chairman Bob Beebe and Bill Blomgren registered entries and organized the model and photo contests. While all this was going on, Fall Reunion registrants and members of the public wandered by the FEBT Company Store sales tables, organized again this year by FEBT vice president Rich Keller and Ruth Kosowski. Bill Wade of BTS and Jim Garts also had their own sales tables set up in the Lions Hall.

Throughout the day FEBT volunteers provided information about the EBT and FEBT to visitors at the FEBT information tent, erected in its usual spot near the EBT roundhouse. At the information booth, FEBT restoration fund treasurer Nancy Jacqmin displayed a sample of the art reproduction of Frank Veitor's original painting, October Evening, Orbisonia, which we are providing to donors who contribute $50 or more during the third year of our fund-raising campaign. The FEBT information tent also served as the meeting place for Lee Rainey's guided walking tour through the EBT Rockhill Furnace shops. Lee, who coordinates the FEBT work sessions at Rockhill Furnace, used his one-hour tour to demonstrate the work performed this year by FEBT volunteers and to again emphasize opportunities for future work. Among the projects Lee described during this year's tour were the repaired brick walls of the boiler house, repairs to the north wall of the car shop, the foundation repairs and exterior restoration of the electrician's shop, the almost-complete restoration of the north section shed opposite the EBT's coaling tipple (at the south end of the yard), and the new ties inserted under yard track no. 3.

MUCRR Plymouth Diesel
Now cohabitating with EBT #3 in the Mt. Union enginehouse, the Mt. Union Connecting's Plymouth locomotive is getting a complete overhaul before rail service can begin.
Jon Radder photo
EBT #15
Complimenting the FEBT's restoration work to the shop complex, the EBT crews have been busy with their own restoration projects. Mikado #15 waits patiently in the roundhouse while she gets a complete makeover from the inside out.
Jon Radder photo

On Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, FEBT members and visitors attending the EBT’s 2003 fall celebration were invited to enter the EBT car shop for a "tour” of our restoration program at Rockhill Furnace. FEBT members Bill Adams, Chris Coleman, and Tom Diehl, Jr., organized displays and exhibits illustrating the accomplishments of our Rockhill Furnace restoration volunteers. During the FEBT open house, visitors could view the exhibits inside the car shop and examine the two East Broad Top Railroad passenger cars FEBT purchased in 2002.

On Saturday afternoon FEBT assistant vice president Vagel Keller opened the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale, so that Fall Reunion registrants who were unable to attend the Sunday open house could still visit our museum. In the middle of the afternoon Chris Coleman conducted a walking tour of the EBT's Mount Union yard. Back at the Lions Hall voting for the contests proceeded, and visitors had another opportunity to examine the items displayed on the sales tables of the FEBT Company Store and the other vendors.

For most Fall Reunion participants it was then time to head to the buffet supper at the Orbisonia-Rockhill Fire Hall, prepared by the volunteer fire department's ladies auxiliary. In addition to plenty of good food, the Fall Reunion dinner provided the occasion to salute and thank the FEBT members who worked as volunteers in 2003. Vagel Keller recognized the volunteers who helped operate the FEBT Museum, Lee Rainey thanked the volunteers who worked as members of our Rockhill Furnace restoration work group, and in my role as FEBT president, I recognized the many other FEBT members who contributed time and effort to the Robertsdale work group, to the FEBT education program, and to our other business operations. I also had the pleasure of announcing three special awards for volunteer service presented by the FEBT board of directors to FEBT members John Coker and Rick Shoup, for their contributions to the second year of our current fund-raising campaign, and to John Bucher, father of FEBT member David Bucher, in appreciation for his assistance to our work on the reproduction passenger truck project. FEBT secretary John Snyder provided a brief summary of our "new rider" EBT ticket program, and he received almost $500 in donations from those attending the dinner (and the FEBT business meeting the evening before) to support this initiative in 2004.

EBT #15's Tender
While #15 awaits repairs, her tender was pressed into service so that #14's tender could undergo needed repairs to it.
Jon Radder photo

After dinner and–for most Fall Reunion participants–a ride on the EBT's special night trains, it was time to return to the Lions Hall where the awards for the model and photograph contests were announced. A last-minute emergency kept auctioneer Craig Williams from coming to the reunion, but fortunately we were able to press Deane Mellander into service. Deane, with assistance from John Snyder, Shawn Stauffer, and Michael Swinnerton, successfully handled this year's record-setting auction. Primarily due to the generosity of the family of late FEBT member John Meeneghan, FEBT realized $6,303 from the items donated for sale. In addition to the Meeheghan collection of EBT books, photographs and virtually every HOn3 brass EBT locomotive, caboose, and hopper car ever imported, the items sold at the 2003 auction included a framed and autographed reproduction of Frank Vietor's October Evening, Orbisonia: several BTS model kits donated by Bill Wade; a recent volume of The RGS Story autographed and donated by Bob Richardson; and many additional modeling items, books, and pieces of EBT and railroad memorabilia donated by Wayne Baldwin, Bob Bergstrom, Wally Francis, Jim Garts, Mark Henderson, Gene Milgram, Shawn Stauffer, and Michael Swinnerton.

On Sunday morning, the focus of the 2003 Fall Reunion shifted to the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale, where Nancy Jacqmin again organized and supervised our annual open house. Between 9 am and 2 pm visitors enjoyed coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, and donuts while viewing the exhibits and displays in our two museum buildings. Vagel Keller and EBT/RI&C mine historian Ron Pearson conducted their annual tour around the accessible surface remains of the former Rockhill Iron and Coal Company mines in “greater Robertsdale,” again sharing information and occasional light comedy with their audience. George Cook's driving tour along points of the old right of way of the McKelvey brothers logging railroad began in Robertsdale, and after stops in Plum Run valley, near Fort Littleton, and Locke Valley, concluded at the EBT in Rockhill Furnace. (Between 1922 and 1928 the McKelvey Brothers Lumber Company cut mine props, railroad ties, and other lumber using a portable saw mill and small pin and lumber mills in Rockhill Furnace, using two Shay locomotives on their logging railroad. The EBT erected its overhead Timber Transfer gantry crane in Mount Union to handle transshipment of the McKelvey's wood products to standard-gauge railroad cars.)

Logging Railroad Tour
George Cook leads a tour of FEBT adventurers over the remnants of the McKelvey Brothers old logging railroad.
William Adams photo

Meanwhile, back at the railroad, our volunteers distributed information about FEBT and the EBT at our information booth and hosted the final installment of the FEBT car shop open house. Late on Sunday afternoon FEBT volunteers struck the information tent, gathered up our information and supplies, cleaned up at the Lions Hall, and transported our equipment back to the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale.

In addition to the event coordinators and volunteers mentioned above, we would like to thank the following individuals who spent parts of their Fall Reunion weekend helping us. Assisting us at the registration table were Jane and Peter Clarke, Fran Godwin, Max Godwin, Frederick Heide, Stephen Jacobs, Henry Oberding, and John Snyder. Helping with the FEBT Company Store sales table were Bruce Bowie, Leighton Carlson, Shawn Stauffer, and Wade Woodcock. Helping us at the FEBT information booth were Bruce Bowie, Leighton Carlson, Jane and Peter Clarke, Douglas Logan, Gene Milgram, Henry Oberding, Shawn Stauffer, Ann Stroth, and Peter Stroth. Frederick Heide helped us during the FEBT Museum open house. Dennis Straub helped track and transport auction donations, Mike Mitzelfeld provided useful advice for the auction, and Dennis McCoy obtained the contest awards.


2003 Reunion Contest Winners

Best in Show
Contest Winners
  HO Woodvale Company Store – Ron Pearson
  1st    On3 Sunset EBT #16 – Gary Hart
2nd   G Scale Shade Gap & Neelyton M-13 – Lee Carleson
  1st    HOn3 EBT Combine #15 (FEBT Kit) – Pete Clarke
2nd   HOn3 EBT Combine #17 #8211; Pete Clarke
  1st    On3 EBT Hopper – Dave Bucher
2nd   HOn3 EBT Gondola – Charles Wootton
3rd    HOn3 Hancock & Calument Hopper – Jane Clarke
  1st    On3 M-3 – Kevin Hartman
2nd   On3 M-3 – David Bucher
  1st    HO Woodvale Company Store – Ronald Pearson
2nd   HOn3 EBT #29 Returns Home – Bill Adams
Photos – Color
  1st    “Different Approach” – Robert Harris
2nd   “#15 Leaving Coal; Docks” – Pat Coleman
3rd    “Assembling the Consist” – Allan Patterson
Photos – Black & White
  1st    “Hard at Work?” – James Vliet
2nd   “Whistle Salute Instructions” – Allan Patterson
Contest Winners
Model photos all by Bob Beebe

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