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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23rd reunion logo

23rd FEBT Fall Reunion
Friends gather to celebrate the EBT

by Jane Clarke
Damascus, MD
photos as noted

Originally published in the Timber Transfer, Vol. 22, No. 3, Winter 2006

The Friends of the East Broad Top's 23rd reunion was held October 7-9, 2005. In spite of somewhat rotten weather to start the weekend, a good time was had by all 105 registrants. Our registrar, Pat Coleman, did a great job as always. The best part of the weekend was seeing locomotives 14 and 15 in operation together for the first time in many years.

Rockhill Restoration Display
The FEBT put on a display highlighting some of its restoration projects in the paint shop.
Bob Hart photo

Friday featured talks about documentation of EBT buildings and a history of the independent merchant iron works by John Bowie and Vagel Keller, respectively. John, a historical architect, discussed his documentation of the East Broad Top Railroad's station building at Saltillo. An old-fashioned guy, John refrained from using computer-aided design and did all of the drawings by hand. Since FEBT has also engaged John to prepare in-depth documentation for the railroad's water tank at Coles Station, he spoke a bit about that too. Historian Vagel Keller gave an overview of iron production in the 1800's similar to that in the Rockhill area. His talk was supplemented by photographs from the FEBT collection. The company store was open Friday and Saturday under the supervision of Wade Woodcock, Bob Harris, Shawn Stauffer, and Charlie Wootton. Other vendors included Pete Clarke, Shawn Stauffer and Dave Crement.

At Robertsdale Station
Vagel Keller (second from left) leads a group of FEBT members on a tour of the mines in Robertsdale.
Pete Clarke photo

As usual, Saturday was the busiest day of the weekend. With 14 trains running from 9 AM until 8 PM, everyone had a chance to ride. When not on the rails, registrants had a plethora of tours from which to choose: FEBT members Tom Diehl and Bob Goldby led the traditional shop tours, Lee Rainey guided the EBT roundhouse tours, and Chris Coleman guided the Rockhill restoration tour and the Mt. Union tour. Bill Adams, Fred Kuntz, Bob Harris, Richard Culp, Bob Goldby, Tom Kozub, Deane Mellander, Charlie Wootton, Steve Jacobs, and Reggie Arford assisted with the paint shop exhibits. In addition, special guest Rick Musser, the Strasburg Rail Road superintendent of locomotives, shared his thoughts and experiences with the restoration of #15.

The information table was manned by Bob Harris, Deane Mellander, Gene Milgram, Henry Oberding, Bob Reffner, and Carol Straub. Deane Mellander, Henry Oberding, John Snyder, and Shawn Stauffer helped Pat at the registration table.

Saturday evening began with the traditional dinner at the Orbisonia Fire Hall, featuring a not-so-traditional meal of barbecued chicken and ribs. John Snyder collected a total of $732 for the New Rider Program. This program provides EBT train tickets for first time riders as a means of introducing more people to the railroad. Most folks rode the night train and returned to the Lion's Hall for the contest awards and auction. Contest committee chairman Bob Beebe presented awards for models and photographs submitted by FEBT members. Craig Williams oversaw a successful auction, with help from John Snyder and Shawn Stauffer, and raised $1,393 for the restoration fund. The items which attracted the most interest were three sections of siding With the herald and two numbers from EBT caboose no. 28, removed by our volunteers during the car's restoration. An autographed copy of Robert W. Richardson's Rio Grande: Chasing the Narrow Gauge, vol. 2 – donated by the author, several original railroad paintings and art prints donated by Deane Mellander, and a set of two Barry McClelland EBT art prints from the collection of the late Richard Keller also drew lively bidding. Other donors included: Bill Adams, Wayne Baldwin, Bill Blomgren, Jane Clarke, Pete Clarke, Pat Coleman, Bob Farquharson, Walley Francis, Jim Garts, Ruth Kosowski, Allen Landis, Jesse Meeker, Gene Milgram, Bill Payne, David Phillips, James Rothermel, John Snyder, Shawn Stauffer, Dick Ullery, and Donald Woshlo, Jr.

FEBT Speeder
Charles Wootton shows off the new speeder recently acquired by the FEBT This was original to the EBT, and will he used by FEBT crews for work around the yard and railroad.
Pete Clarke photo

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 2004. 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 FEBT president Hank Inman recognized the many other FEBT members who contributed time and effort to the Robertsdale work group, the FEBT education program, and to our other business operations. Hank noted the loss of FEBT director and Company Store manager Rlchard Keller, who died unexpectedly in April. He also announced the two special awards for volunteer service presented by the FEBT board of directors to FEBT member David Graft and artist Frank Vietor for their contributions to the third year of our current fund-raising campaign. FEBT secretary John Snyder provided a brief summary for our "new rider" EBT ticket program, receiving almost $500 in donations from those attending the dinner (and the FEBT business meeting the evening before) to support this initiative.

Sadly, 2005 brought the loss of long-time member Waiter "Bud" Goldby. Several memorials were in place, for example, a photo collage in the paint shop and a plaque over the handicap restroom in the Rockhill Trolley Museum beanery. Bud was the poster boy for Rockhill restoration recruiting; nobody's excuse for not working held up in the face of Bud salvaging window glass from his wheelchair.

On Sunday, Nancy Jacqmin opened the Robertsdale station and old Post Office and served coffee and doughnuts to hungry FEBT members. Vagel Keller led his traditional mine tour. Bob Farquharson and Dennis Straub kept the museum open throughout the weekend. Back at the railroad, there was a reprise of Saturday's roundhouse, shop, and restoration tours and, of course, many trains to ride.

In the end, a great time was had by all. Thanks to all of the volunteers who made this possible. (Please forgive me if I missed your name.) Mark your calendars now for the 24th reunion on October 68, 2006!

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