The East Broad Top Railroad's "iron age" is the focus of the 2005 FEBT Early Bird Exploration on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3. Both days FEBT tour organizers Christopher D. Coleman and Patricia J, Coleman. with assistance from FEBT vice president and EBT historian R. Lee Rainey, will conduct combined driving and walking tours to accessible points along the EBT right of way connected with the operation of the two–stack iron furnace at Rockhill Furnace. The final itineraries for the driving and walking tours have not been completely determined, but a walking tour around the remnants of the iron furnace and coke ovens at Rockhill Furnace and visits to the sites of iron mines in the Blacklog Creek narrows are planned. Mining sites in Shade Valley may be added to the tour if we can obtain the necessary permission from current property owners.
Tours will begin in Rockhill Furnace on both Saturday and Sunday. A slide show at the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale is scheduled for 6–8 pm Saturday evening. We have made arrangements with the Rockhill Trolley Museum for lunch at 12 noon on Saturday and breakfast at 8–9 am on Sunday to he available for registered "early bird" explorers. (Additional payments to RTM will be required for FEBT tour participants who wish to take advantage of these meals.) Contributions will be collected for pizza at the slide show on Saturday evening.
Advanced registration fees for our 2005 spring exploration are $15 per adult for FEBT members and $20 per adult for nonmembers. On–site registration will cost FEBT members $20 and nonmembers $25. Advance registration forms for the 2005 Early Bird Exploration should be mailed to the following address:
FEBT Early Bird Exploration
c/o Patricia J. Coleman
3416 Lowell Drive
Columbus OH 43204
For additional details about the tour consult the FEBT web site as we get closer to the April weekend of the tour, or contact Chris Coleman by e–mail at email@example.com or by telephone at (614) 351–7338 (evenings).
While the EBT is primarily known for its success as a transporter of coal from mines on Broad Top Mountain to a modern cleaning and interchange plant at Mount Union, the railroad's founders constructed the EBT to bring the coal readily available at Robertsdale to an iron furnace they established in Rockhill Furnace. There the coal was converted to coke and used to smelt iron from ores mined nearby in the narrows of Blacklog Creek; other iron ore came from mines near the railroad's main line at Saltillo and along the Booher mine and Shade Valley branch lines. In addition to moving coal, iron ore, and limestone to Rockhill Furnace, the EBT carried the pig iron produced at the furnace to Mount Union.
As Lee recounts, construction of the iron furnace started in 1873, but production did not actually begin until January 1876. Thereafter iron production at Rockhill Furnace fluctuated with the booms and busts of the expanding, US iron industry. After the economic slump of 1893, furnace operations became more intermittent, finally ending for good in 1908. Lee discusses the EBT’s "iron age" in considerable detail in a series of articles published in 1990 in Railroad Model Craftsman.
The iron furnace established by the Rockhill Iron & Coal Company at Rockhill Furnace was only one of a number of similar enterprises in which the organizers of the EBT invested. In the early 1850s, Percival Roberts and Richard D. Wood were actively engaged in various iron rolling mills and manufacturing plants. The increasing market for iron in the early 1860s attracted the interest of, among others, J. Gillingham Fell and Ario Pardee. Eventually they, with a variety of partners, invested in iron mines, furnaces and mills in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina. Roberts's Pencoyd iron and steel plant and bridge works eventually became a component of the American Bridge Company and thus US Steel, and the cast–iron pipe plant of R.D. Wood & Co. continues in operation under different owners today. However, except for Joseph Wharton's Pennsylvania iron companies (where Fell and Pardee appear to have played minor roles), most of the iron companies in which Fell and Pardee were actively involved enjoyed little or moderate success. Iron furnaces in New Jersey and Buffalo, New York failed financially soon after Fell's death in 1878. Others in Virginia and Tennessee–like that at Rockhill Furnace–survived into the early years of the 20th century.
In addition to our Early Bird Exploration in April, we have planned the following FEBT events for the coming year.
On Saturday and Sunday, June 4–5, we will hold our 2005 Summer Celebration at the East Broad Top Railroad and the FEBT museum in Robertsdale. Look for more information in the next FEBT Newsletter.
On Saturday, August 13, FEBT will participate in the East Broad Top Railroad's 2005 Anniversary and Homecoming Celebration, which will mark the 45th anniversary of the resumption of railroad operations on the EBT. Preliminary plans call for FEBT–guided tours, demonstrations of ongoing restoration work by the FEBT Rockhill Furnace work group, and a day–long open house at the FEBT Museum.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 7–9, we will hold our 23rd FEBT Fall Reunion in conjunction with the East Broad Top Railroad's 2005 fall celebration. An announcement of our plans for this special weekend will be mailed to all FEBT members at the end of August.
Current information about all FEBT–sponsored events is regularly posted on the FEBT web site www.febt.org.
FEBT vice president Lee Rainey reports that our restoration work session on February 5–6 at Rockhill Furnace got this year's effort off to a good start. In the paint shop, FEBT volunteers continued clean–up work inside the building to ready it for conversion to our car restoration shop. In the boiler house, we have started to remove the interior scaffolding and begun preparations for repairs to the coal bin. Good weather permitted our restoration volunteers to begin clearing brush 30 feet on either side of the center of the track along the right of way toward Colgate Grove.
Even though the FEBT car restoration shop is still in the planning stage, our restoration work on historic EBT freight and passenger cars continues. In February our volunteers removed the remaining rusted metal components from side–dump hopper car no. 802. We have obtained new sheet steel replacement pieces, which we will transport to Rockhill Furnace for installation on the hopper car, starting at the March work session. Last month we also removed the benches and sections of railing required to replace deteriorated wood deck boards on flat car no. 114. The new decking and other minor repairs to this car should be completed before June, so that the converted flat car can substitute for EBT combine no. 14 in regular train service this year. We can then proceed with needed work on this historic passenger car in 2005.
As mentioned in the last FEBT Newsletter, other work planned at Rockhill Furnace this year includes final repairs to the brickwork, windows, roof. and coal bin (including paint) for the boiler house, roof repairs and touch–up trim paint for the electrical shop more window repairs, roof work, and paint for the car shop and machine shop; and additional track work. Halting the erosion behind the sand house caused by Jordan Creek, deferred from 2004, is also on the agenda. Additional repairs are proposed for displaced posts in the Rockhill Furnace lumber shed and for damaged stonework on the Pogue trestle abutments.
For more information contact Lee Rainey at (814) 867–7878 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our directors will approve the final 2005 restoration budget at the April meeting of the board. As in past years, this budget is based primarily on the restoration funds now on hand and the donations we anticipate we will receive in the current year of our fund–raising campaign. To support our progress, please mail your donation to our restoration fund to the following address:
FEBT Restoration Fund Treasurer
513 Shady Avenue, No. 12
Pittsburgh PA 15206–4447
Remember that any donor who sends us a contribution of S50 or more before August 31, 2005, receives one of our reproductions of John H. Coker's Leaving Robertsdale, Pennsylvania.
FEBT director John R. Snyder recently confirmed his intention to retire from the board of directors in April, when his current term ends. This is actually John's second stint as a director, since he previously served on the board in 1987–1990. Several times John stepped in to provide major assistance to us at the FEBT Company Store, most recently serving as its manager in 1999–2002. John also participated in our early restoration efforts at Rockhill Furnace, helped organize the informal walks which eventually evolved into our annual Spring Explorations, assisted us at Fall Reunions, and served as FEBT secretary and restoration fund treasurer. John will continue to administer our "new rider" EBT ticket program.
John, 53, teaches European history at the 11th and 1212
grade levels at Hershey (Pennsylvania) High School. John indicates that he intends to spend
more of his lime working on his railroad modeling, but he also plans to become more actively
involved at the FEBT Museum and as a restoration volunteer.
-Hank Inman, FEBT president
Aa this newsletter is printed our mailer has delivered the next two issues of the Timber Transfer (volume 20. issue number 4, and volume 21, issue number 1) to the post office. Assuming no significant delays at the US Postal Service affect this mailing, most FEBT members should receive these issues of our magazine later this month. FEBT members who experience problems with missing or damaged issues of the Timber Transfer should contact Peter A. Clarke at the FEBT membership office by telephone at (301) 482–1136, by entail at email@example.com, or by writing to the return address on the last page of this newsletter.
Kevin C. Strong, editor of the Timber Transfer, reports that he plans to send the next two issues to our printer in May.
We're looking for additional volunteers to help us with the operation of the FEBT Museum in 2005. Museum volunteers answer visitors' questions and handle sales at our gift shop. FEBT members interested in volunteering at our museum one or more Saturdays or Sundays between June and Labor Day are invited to contact FEBT assistant vice president Vagel C. Keller at (412) 441–7881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEBT members are requested to vote to elect four persons to the nine–member board of directors of Friends of the East Broad Top, Inc., using the ballot included with this newsletter. All FEBT members holding regular, family, sustaining, associate, life, senior, and student memberships are eligible to vote in this election. The directors chosen by FEBT members in this election will serve two–year terms of office.
The nominating committee for this election cycle consisted of FEBT director Thomas A. Diehl, Jr. (chairman), and FEBT members David C. Brightbill and William E. Grant, Jr. The committee received the names of five potential nominees, including the four incumbent directors holding seats up for election. FEBT director John R. Snyder, however, indicated that he did not wish to run for reelection. The four other potential nominees confirmed to the nominating committee their interest in serving as directors of Friends of the East Broad Top, and the nominating committee has placed their names on the official ballot.
As in the past, the candidates selected by the nominating committee were asked to provide information for distribution to FEBT members for this election. Each candidate was asked to provide a written statement of 100 words or less summarizing his or her past and present contributions to Friends of the East Broad Top and indicating what he or she would do if elected. These responses are reproduced below (minimally edited), in the randomized order in which the candidates' names appear on the official ballot. An asterisk (*) denotes an incumbent director running for reelection. Write–in votes are permitted, and space on the ballot has been provided for such votes.
I have been a member of FEBT for as long as I have known of the organization, and have attended as many of its functions as time permitted. I have participated in reunion activities and modeling contests, and frequently familiarize other railfans with both the EBT and FEBT. I have assisted in securing materials for the reunion auctions and historic EBT artifacts for our museum collection. I would expect to use my skills and experience to further the interests and public awareness of both the EBT arid FEBT
I have supported FEBT since its founding, starting with the initial Rockhill restoration efforts. I have supported the restoration fund and participated in the Robertsdale and current Rockhill restoration projects. I have served on the board of directors since 1999, have served as vice president and currently as secretary. While vice president I represented FEBT in its successful effort to purchase combine 18 and baggage–mail car 29. I will work in the next two years to complete our work at the Robertsdale post office to provide FEBT with a permanent home, marking an important milestone as our organization matures.
I have served as an FEBT director and officer since 1993 and president since 1997. The primary tasks facing our board of directors are (1) continuing our current efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of FEBT operations and initiatives, and (2) raising the necessary funds from within and outside FEBT to maintain our progress on these activities. In the short term this includes completing work on the next stages of our current restoration projects, expanding our present education initiatives, building on the cooperative relationship we have established with the EBT, and continuing the development of our museum and collections.
Since 2000 I have staffed the FEBT summer celebrations and fall reunions, contributed articles to the Timber Transfer and staffed an FEBT booth at a Greensberg's train show. I have worked for the board of directors on the photographic collection scanning project, a Trains magazine grant application, and created artwork for brick and block papers for the FEBT Company Store. I helped with work on the old post office and Saltillo station documentation. I have been a regular volunteer for the Rockhill restoration effort since 2002. If elected I will support FEBT's restoration work, with an eye toward increased attendance and efficiency, and continue work on the photographic collection.
We are pleased that former EBT brakeman and retired Huntingdon County commissioner Lee R. Wilson has again agreed to serve as judge and count the ballots for this election. All 2005 election ballots must be mailed to FEBT Directors Election, c/o Lee R. Wilson, Election Judge, RR 1 Box 1156, Three Springs PA 17264. Only ballots received by March 30, 2(}05, will be counted.
Thanks to last–minute cancellations, FEBT members James A. Vliet, Leighton B. Carlson, and Jon E. Radder were able to set up FEBT's first display table at the 2005 Amherst Railway Society's Big Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 29–30. Jim reports that our table at this, the largest train show in New England, proved very successful. An unanticipated benefit of our participation at this show is that the Amherst Railway Society has invited FEBT to apply for one of the 2005 railroad preservation/restoration grants to he awarded in June from the show's proceeds.
Jim Vliet's education efforts on behalf of FEBT and the EBT continued at the Greenburg's Train Show at Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, on February 12–13; the Spring Thaw Trainmeet in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on February 26–27; and the Greenherg's Train Show in Edison, New Jersey, on March 5–6. Jim indicates that he plans to set up an information table at the Great Scale Model Train Show in Timonium, Maryland, on June 25–26, instead of the April show announced in the December newsletter. FEBT members interested in helping Jim at this show can contact him by telephone at (516) 771–1038 (home) or by e–mail at email@example.com.
We are also looking for FEBT members interested in helping us distribute FEBT and EBT information at the 2005 Narrow Gauge Module Meet in Kimberton, Pennsylvania, on May 20#8211;22; the National Model Railroad Association's 2005 national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 3–9; and the 2005 National Narrow Gauge Convention in Dearborn, Michigan, on August 31–September 3. FEBT members willing to help us in Dearborn should contact FEBT vice president Lee Rainey by e–mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (814) 867–7878 (home). FEBT members who can assist us in Kimberton or Cincinnati should call FEBT president Hank Inman at (804) 353–0817.
We are always happy to provide literature and information about the EBT and FEBT to FEBT members for distribution at train shows, conventions, and other events. Interested FEBT members should call Hank at the telephone number given above; please provide as much advance notice as possible.