By Hank Inman, President
Friends of the East Broad Top
We have much to be proud of as Friends of the East Broad Top starts the fourth year of our campaign to raise funds for our restoration and development programs. Since our campaign began in September 2001, we have purchased and returned home to the East Broad Top Railroad two historic passenger cars. We have successfully tackled larger and more ambitious projects as part of our continuing restoration work at Rockhill Furnace, including restoration of EBT caboose no. 28. We have progressed in our rehabilitation of our two historic buildings at Robertsdale. We have completed documentation of the EBT station building at Saltillo. We have obtained wheels and axles for our reproduction passenger car trucks. We have acquired interesting material for our museum collection. And we continue to reduce the debt we assumed for the first phase of our rehabilitation of the old Robertsdale post office.
More information about these projects, the work we have accomplished, and our plans for the future, can be found in the following pages. But none of this work would have been possible without the donations we received since starting our campaign three years ago.Here is a preliminary summary for the income our campaign has so far generated:
|Contributions received since September 2001|
|Pending matching contributions||150|
|*Value of securities at time of donation.|
Not all of this income can be applied to our restoration and development programs, however. The costs of printing, postage, advertising, and other expenses incurred for the first three years of our campaign total approximately $40,500. And we continue to hold the stock donated to us (its current value is about $11,000). Thus our campaign has so far generated approximately $142,000 in available funds for our restoration and development projects.
How have we spent the money you and others have so generously contributed to FEBT? Below you will find a summary that includes what we have actually spent and funds we have committed to our current projects, as of October 2004. (Committed funds are those needed to cover costs of contracted work and materials for which payment has not yet been made.) There are necessarily some uncertainties here, but this summary is as accurate as our current knowledge permits. Taking into account funds we obtained from other sources, you can see that we have spent or committed slightly over $106,000 of the donations we have received.
|Restoration expenditures since September 2001|
|Robertsdale site survey||$2,367|
|Robertsdale post office||9,831|
|Rockhill Furnace restoration||20,131*|
|Saltillo station documentation||9,827|
|Combine no. 16 trucks||16,133§|
|Passenger cars nos. 18 and 29||52,300±|
|Car restoration shop||524|
|Post office loan repayment||7,399|
|Total funds expended:||$121,372|
|*includes restoration of caboose no. 28|
|§includes $5,000 grant received from NHRS|
|±Includes $10,000 borrowed from life member account.|
So where does this leave us? Last November our directors set preliminary 2004 budgets for each of our current projects, based on the results of our campaign's first two years and anticipated third–year contributions. The $36,000 in funds still available will cover the remaining budgeted costs of our restoration program through the end of this year, but it will not carry us much further—even when we add the additional resources we obtain from our annual Fall Reunion auctions and from donations we receive at our museum. Thus this November our board of directors will base our restoration program budget for 2005 on the contributions we expect to receive during the fourth year of our campaign.
And with your help we are poised to make significant progress during the coming year. After numerous delays, we believe we are ready to finish our rehabilitation of the old Robertsdale post office; now we need to complete work on this building so it can become the center of our museum operations, as we have long planned. We have found space at the EBT for our car restoration shop; now we need to convert it into a facility we can actually use. We have advanced our efforts to preserve and maintain the EBT's historic shop buildings and tracks at Rockhill Furnace; now we must continue this progress. But we still need your help.Please send your tax–deductible donation to the following address:
FEBT Restoration Fund Treasurer
513 Shady Avenue, No. 12
Pittsburgh PA 15206–4447
Contributors who make donations of $50 or more before August 1, 2005, may receive an authorized reproduction of John H. Coker's original painting Leaving Robertsdale, Pennsylvania. I take this opportunity to thank John, a FEBT since 1995, for creating this painting especially for the fourth year of our fund raising campaign.
We continue to make progress in preparing the old Robertsdale post office for the final phase of its rehabilitation, although not without minor complications. One challenge is bureaucratic: Pennsylvania is in the process of reorganizing how its building code will he enforced; this complicates which authorities—local, state, or both—must review and inspect the work we have planned for the old post office. Our other problem is the result of Hurricane Ivan's visit to Robertsdale on September 17, 2004: Within hours over ten inches of rain fell, causing flooding throughout the Broad Top Mountain region. Overflow from Trough Creek and the storm sewer along Main Street seeped under the doors of the post office, causing our wood floor to swell, hump, and buckle. Fortunately neither of these complications should set back our goal of starting contracted work inside the post office early in 2005.
A week after the damage occurred our Robertsdale volunteers had cleaned up the floor, and our primary contractor, Rex A. Smith of Huntingdon, had removed the wet insulation under the floor and installed a new sump pump. In early November our heating contractor is scheduled to replace all water damaged flexible ductwork. Repairs to the floor will begin after we remove the remaining moisture. All things considered, the damage we suffered could easily have been worse.
In the meantime we are finalizing the specifications for the work we need to finish to convert the post office into the usable museum space we need. Pending the necessary approval, we will relocate a ventilation duct, repair plaster on the inside faces of the block walls, convert the first–floor rear addition to a new public bathroom, complete all plumbing, and install all electrical wiring and lighting. We also need to fill in the air conditioner opening in the north wall with matching concrete block, construct the sidewalk on the east and north sides of the building, and install an emergency escape ladder. The remaining work, like inserting new and replacement insulation, finishing the partition walls and ceilings, and cleaning and reinstalling the building's wood wainscoting and trim, we can address once the other tasks have been completed. Some of this work will require contractors who know what they're doing, but the rest our volunteers will handle.
In the old post office, the focus of our 2004 work sessions has been on repairing the tongue–and–groove second floor and straightening and repairing the interior wall framing—installing blocking and fire stops to meet current building and safety codes. Routine maintenance has not been ignored, including our annual repairs to the metal roof of the former EBT station.
With your continuing support we believe that—despite Ivan— the Robertsdale post office will start to look very different to visitors to our museum next year.
In addition to restoring East Broad Top Railroad caboose no. 28 (discussed elsewhere), our Rockhill Furnace volunteers tackled two ambitious new projects in 2004. Together with work on our ongoing projects in the railroad's shop and yard complex, our efforts continue to produce visible results.
After successfully repairing the deteriorated brickwork in the east wall of the boiler house, reconstruction of the upper boiler house wall began in 2004. Using the scaffolding we purchased last year—supplemented with additional rented scaffolding—our volunteers inserted temporary bracing to support the boiler house roof, then removed the entire upper wall structure. Our volunteers cut new posts and beams—reproducing the original mortised construction—and muscled them into position. Working 15 feet above the ground, members of our Rockhill Furnace work crew cut and attached new wood siding to the new posts and beams. Red paint applied to the exterior protects the new wall, which will be anchored to the main shop framing by reattaching the existing truss rods and braces. Window openings have been framed to hold the sashes removed from the original wall, after they have been repaired and reglazed. Rafters and roof decking above the boiler house, rotted by the years of water leaking into this section of the shop, have also been replaced.
In 2004 work started in earnest on another roof project. As constructed, water from the roofs of the car shop and machine shop ran onto a lower roof inserted between the two buildings. At one time this runoff was directed into a cistern feeding the shop boilers, but more recently it has entered the shop buildings, causing significant damage and deterioration. In the first two years of work at Rockhill Furnace, our volunteers made numerous interim roof repairs, but the problem of the "canyon" still needed a solution. This year new framing and decking have been installed over the existing roof structure, over which roll rubber rooting will be installed. The new roof will direct water draining from the adjacent roofs toward the south end of the buildings—keeping it out of the shop complex.
Meanwhile our volunteers completed final work on the north section shed at the south end of the yard, inserted more ties and performed additional track repairs, and cut away years of brush and overgrowth along the southeast wye track and Jordan Creek. In 2004 our window repairs, which began in 2002 on the cast side of the car shop, continued around to the north wall of the main shop building. New screening fastened over the refurbished windows protects the reglazed and repainted sashes. Then it's time to apply more exterior red paint to the wood siding before moving on to the next section!
What's next? More roof work, more brush clearance, more window repairs. And more red paint, of course.
On August 14, 2004, Joseph Kovalchick, president of the East Broad Top Railroad, and Hank Inman, president of Friends of the East Broad Top, signed a letter of agreement for our lease of space inside the railroad's paint shop building, where we will establish our car restoration shop. This agreement allows FEBT to make improvements needed for our facility; other terms include cooperative use of space inside the building and continued storage of FEBT equipment, like EBT passenger cars nos. 18 and 29, elsewhere on the railroad's property. FEBT will pay the EBT a nominal $1 annual rent for our use of the paint shop. We have already had electrical contractor and FEBT restoration volunteer Charles Wootton install new electrical service wiring to the paint shop, so we call be billed directly tot the electricity we use.
Other work needed to convert the paint shop into usable space will begin this winter. The most obvious task is to repair and reglaze the building's many window sashes, from which most of the glass has disappeared. The metal roof and brick walls appear to he in good condition. Almost certainly we will need to have the concrete foundation sills and floor inspected to determine the scope of any required repairs, after the EBT relocates equipment now stored inside the building. The wood door sheathing needs attention, but these repairs do not appear difficult. We will be able to provide more information about what's needed as our work advances.
Lack of our own shop facilities, however, did not deter our volunteers from starting, and successfully completing restoration of historic EBT caboose no. 28. Starting last December, members of our Rockhill Furnace work group stripped the car's exterior wood sheathing, removed the wood end platforms, replaced metal plates attaching the car's metal framework to its steel underframe, made other needed repairs, and installed the end platforms and new custom–milled sheathing. Our volunteers then discovered damage to the caboose's roof, leading to further work on the roof and cupola before new roofing was applied. Final work on the car ended at 11 pm the night before the caboose returned to regular operation.
Meanwhile, our friends at the Strasburg Rail Road completed fabricating the new wheels and axles needed for our reproduction passenger trucks. In 2004 Strasburg Rail Road performed additional contract engineering work for us, producing drawings needed to assemble our trucks. We had hoped to start assembly of the reproduction trucks last year, but our directors have delayed this work while we resolve questions related to our lease for combine no. 16 raised by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. The body of the combine itself is still stored at the New Jersey museum. All original truck components from EBT coach no. 5 (leased from the Tweesie Railroad) and reproduction truck parts are now stored at the Strasburg Rail Road.
We may not yet be ready to start restoration of our EBT passenger cars. but we're getting closer!
Earlier this year historic architect John R. Bowie completed the final inked versions of his measured drawings for the East Broad Top Railroad's station building in Saltillo. The six measured drawings and large–format photographs of the Saltillo station, together with copies of John's field sketches and photo captions, are now in our hands. In June our directors agreed that we will transmit the original drawings and photographs and copies of the field sketches and captions to the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), US National Park Service, after we obtain copies of this material for our own use. Ultimately the Saltillo drawings, photographs, captions, and field sketches will join the other HAER material related to the East Broad Top Railroad in the collections of the Library of Congress.
John's drawings represent the final stage of work on a project that began in 1998. That year, with permission from the EBT, FEBT commissioned Huntingdon County engineer Gary L. Young to inspect the station building and recommend bracing and other reinforcement needed to keep the building standing. In 1999 FEBT member H. Conrad Meyer arranged with the EBT for contractor Rex A. Smith to install the ties and braces that Gary and FEBT member and architect William E. Grant, Jr., recommended. Bill and other FEBT volunteers then began recording details of the station's interior.
Realizing that an engineering evaluation of the building's condition was necessary to develop any plan to save and preserve the Saltillo station, in November 2001 FEBT engaged engineer and architect Richard 1. Ortega to inspect the building, assess its condition, and recommend possible plans for its preservation. Because of the structural damage the building had already suffered, the conclusions Ortega reached in his 2002 report were not encouraging. At this stage FEBT directors determined that we should concentrate our efforts on preserving as much accurate information about the building as possible, since it appeared that saving the building itself was becoming increasingly unlikely. Conversations with Rick Ortega, then HAER chief Eric DeLony, and various individuals at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission led FEBT to engage John Bowic Associates in November 2002.
John initially proposed to produce five sheets of measured drawings based on a single visit to the station site. As it turned out, he actually produced six sheets of drawings based on five visits to Saltillo. The sixth drawing (reproduced here) details how the station's walls were constructed.
Although our directors have determined that FEBT—given our other commitments—cannot lead an effort to save the Saltillo station, we continue to cooperate with the EBT and the borough of Saltillo in discussions about the building's future.
As of October 2004, Friends of the East Broad Top has made 78 of 120 monthly payments of $192.13 each to the Allcgheny Heritage Development Corporation toward repayment of the $20,000 low–interest loan we received for the first phase of our rehabilitation of the old Robertsdale post office. The annual interest rate for this loan is three percent. The total amount we have so far repaid includes $12,309.19 in principal and $2,754.17 in interest. Thus the balance of the loan remaining is $7,690.81. (This does not include, of course, the additional interest due.) During the 2005 calendar year we are scheduled to make 12 loan payments totaling $2,317.44; of this amount $2,126.24 represents the repayment of principal and $191.20 the payment of interest.
In addition to the debt we assumed for previous work on the old post office, in 2002 our directors authorized borrowing $10,000 from the FEBT life member (contingency or reserve) account to cover part of the cost of purchasing and transporting East Broad Top Railroad passenger cars nos. 18 and 29 "back home" to the EBT. Our directors took this action because the donations we had received for the return of these passenger cars fell short of the actual resources required. In August 2004 our directors agreed that, starting this year, $2,500.00 of the contributions we receive each year to support our restoration and development programs will be used to "repay" these borrowed funds, until the entire $10,000 has been returned to the FEBT life member account.
We take this opportunity to remind you that the deadline for obtaining one of our authorized reproductions of Frank Victor's October Evening, Orbisonia was August 31, 2004. The reproductions of this painting that remain in our hands, like those of Ted Rose's Mount Union Train and John H. Coker's Afternoon Call remaining from the first two years of our campaign, will be offered again at the conclusion of our present fund–raising campaign. Until then, a few reproductions of October Evening, Orbisonia, as well as Aftenioon Call and Mount Union Train, may be available—for the usual donation of $50 or more—at some special shows or events. Our restoration fund treasurer cannot make exceptions to this policy, so please don't ask!