Details of the 2006 FEBT Early Bird Exploration on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26, are still not completely finalized. But according to event organizer Christopher D. Coleman, tentative plans call for the Saturday tour to focus on the EBT's branch line in the Shade Valley, and the Sunday tour to follow the railroad's final common–carrier operations of April 1956. On both days combined driving and walking tours will visit accessible points along the EBT right of way.
Tours will begin in Rockhill Furnace on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Pizza and a slide show at the FEBT Museum in Robertsdale are scheduled for 5–7 pm Saturday evening. Tour registrants may chose to eat some other meals at the Rockhill Trolley Museum. (Additional payments to RTM will be required for FEBT tour participants who wish to take advantage of this option.) Contributions will be collected for pizza at the slide show on Saturday evening.
Advanced registration fees for our 2006 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. Please see the registration form inside this newsletter for more information. Advance registration forms for the 2006 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
The EBT's Shade Valley branch line was constructed by the Rockhill Iron & Coal Company northward from Shade Gap to reach several iron mines along the valley's adjacent ridge. The branch was not transferred to the EBT until after the iron furnaces in Rockhill Furnace ceased operation and train service ended. At that point the railroad acquired the right of way in one of several similar transactions between the EBT and RI&C.
The EBT's final operations as a common carrier occurred in April 1956 (see related story elsewhere in this newsletter). The final narrow–gauge train ran from Rockhill Furnace to Saltillo, to Mount Union, and then back to Rockhill Furnace.
Permission to visit private property and the weather may obviously affect tour arrangements. For additional details about our 2006 Early Bird Exploration, please consult the FEBT web site as we get closer to the actual weekend of the tour, or contact Chris Coleman by e–mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at (614) 561–2671 (evenings).
In addition to our Early Bird Exploration in March, the following FEBT events are scheduled during the coming year.
On Saturday and Sunday, June 3–4, we will hold our 2006 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 12, FEBT will participate in the East Broad Top Railroad's 2006 Anniversary and Homecoming Celebration, which will mark the 46th 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 6–8, we will hold our 24th FEBT Fall Reunion in conjunction with the East Broad Top Railroad's 2006 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 member James A. Vliet informs us that the display he organized at the Amherst Railway Society's Big Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 28–29, with assistance from FEBT members Leighton B. Carlson and Jon E. Radder, was highly successful. Jim exhibited his display again at the Spring Thaw Train Meet in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on February 25–26. FEBT members interested in the possibility of helping Jim at the Mid–Atlantic Narrow Gauge Guild Module Meet in Kimberton, Pennsylvania, in May can contact him by telephone at (516) 771–1038 (home) or by e–mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer the National Model Railroader Association's 2006 national convention will be held in Philadelphia on July 2–9. The 2006 National Narrow Gauge Convention will be held in Durango, Colorado, on August 21–26. FEBT members in the Philadelphia area and Colorado—or who plan to attend either of these conventions—interested in the possibility of setting up FEBT displays at these conventions and associated train shows should contact FEBT president Hank Inman at (804) 353–0817, so we can arrange to reserve space at these events as soon as possible.
The Fall 2005 issue of the Timber Transfer (volume 22 no. 2) has been printed and is now at our mailers. Assuming no difficulties, we expect all current FEBT members will probably receive this issue sometime in March. 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 e–mail at email@example.com, or by writing to the return address on the last page of this newsletter.
FEBT vice president Lee Rainey reports that FEBT restoration volunteers began serious work on East Broad Top Railroad combination baggage–passenger car no. 14 during our January and February work sessions at Rockhill Furnace. Obvious structural problems caused the EBT to remove this historic passenger car—one of six wooden passenger cars the EBT acquired in 1916 front the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad—from train service last year.
For more information contact Lee Rainey at (814) 867–7878 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The EBT spotted combine no. 14 in our paint shop car restoration facility at the end of 2005, and during our first two 2006 work sessions FEBT volunteers removed the car's window sashes, doors, wood siding, and most of its metal roof covering. A portion of the wood floor in the baggage section has also been removed to expose the top of the body bolster at this end of the combine. Preliminary examination of the car's now–exposed structural framework has uncovered at least two broken internal truss rods inside the car's wall and extensive damage to the car's roof. Structural repairs will begin after further investigation of combine no. 14's current condition and consultation with EBT general manager Stanley G. Hall. The experience we gain from working on this car will clearly prove useful when we start restoration of our own EBT passenger ears, EBT combine no. 18 and baggage car no. 28.
In addition to their work inside our paint shop facility, FEBT volunteers also made minor repairs to metal roofing on shop buildings damaged by winter winds. A schedule of future 2006 work sessions at Rockhill Furnace, revised to reflect a change in the date of work planned in May, can be found nearby.
Preliminary work with architect John R. Bowie on final plans and specifications for completing the rehabilitation of the old Robertsdale post office is progressing, reports FEBT president Hank Inman. Discussions with contractors will commence while the necessary formal reviews are being completed, so actual work can start as quickly as possible later this year. FEBT director Larry H. Williams is currently handling arrangements with our heating and air–conditioning contractor to replace a malfunctioning thermostat.
A schedule for 2006 work sessions at Robertsdale will be published in the next FEBT Newsletter, after we have a better sense of how and when contracted work in the post office will be handled.
Additional site work for our documentation of the EBT enclosed water tank at Coles Station is anticipated soon, depending on the weather and historic architect John R. Bowie's schedule. Completion of this project is expected later this year.
At the end of 2005 the FEBT executive committee authorized our purchase of a tie insertion machine from the Wilmington & Western Railroad, at a cost of $500. This machine, which must he converted to three–foot gauge, will allow more efficient repairs to track at Rockhill Furnace and—eventually—Robertsdale. Our friends from the Bucksgahuda & Western Railroad have used a similarly converted tie machine during their visits to the EBT. FEBT member Shawn E. Stauffer, with assistance from FEBT member Larry M. Freeman, is handling the purchase and coordinating the conversion work for us.
In September our board of directors approved including repairs to EBT motor car M–3 in our current restoration program, at the request of FEBT member, Larry M. Freeman. The M–3, an inspection motor car constructed by the EBT front a 1928 Nash automobile, has been stored at the railroad in inoperable condition for many years. FEBT president Hank Inman has appointed Larry to serve as coordinator for this project. No budget has been adopted for the M–3, since Larry and the other volunteers working on it will donate the parts and materials required.
As in past years, the success of our restoration program in 2006 (and future years) depends on the resources our ongoing fund raising campaign generates for it. 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 $5O or more before August 31, 2006, may receive one of our reproductions of Ted Rose's On the Hill.
FEBT's board of directors has agreed to suspend operation of the "new rider" East Broad Top Railroad ticket program—at least temporarily. This initiative, a component of our education program, distributes EBT train tickets and information about the railroad to first–time riders. This encourages visitation to the railroad and public support for its preservation and restoration. The ticket program has been funded primarily from donations collected at the FEBT fall reunion dinner. These donations were then used to purchase tickets from the EBT and for printing, postage, and other minor overhead costs.
Former FEBT director John R. Snyder, who administered the ticket program in recent years, decided to relinquish responsibility for the "new rider" program last October, citing his uncertainties about the time he could devote to this project this year. FEBT directors will review the effectiveness of the program and determine whether and how it should continue.
FEBT members are requested to vote to elect five 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, including 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 William L. Adams (chairman), and FEBT members William E. Grant, Jr., and Nancy E. Jacqmin. The committee received the names of seven potential nominees, including the five incumbent directors holding seats up for election. One potential candidate, however, indicated that he did not wish to be considered for nomination by the committee. The six 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 ridden, hiked, photographed, and written about the East Broad Top Railroad since first encountering it in 1953. But the greatest thrill of all has been the opportunity in the last four years to roll up my sleeves and help save it. As coordinator for the Rockhill Furnace restoration efforts on behalf of FEBT and the railroad, I’ve organized and led work sessions which to date have contributed over 10,000 volunteer hours to the preservation of EBT rolling stock and Rockhill Furnace facilities. I ask you to reelect me so that I can continue to lead this critical work.
I have worked with the Rockhill Furnace restoration crew since the latest establishment. Before this I worked with the Robertsdale program. Although now dormant for lack of interviewees, for several years I headed FEBT's oral history program. I have led EBT machine shop tours for the past several years. I have been a volunteer at Steamtown National Historic site, both in the interpretation and roundhouse crews and most recently with the PRR K–4 restoration crew. In conjunction with and upon completion of closing the EBT machine shop against the weather, I would like to establish a better display of the machinery in simulated operating condition, possibly even restoring key machines to service.
I feel that I have served as a responsible member of the board in the past and will continue to contribute my thoughts and actions toward the successful completion of the goals we have established.
For the past five years. I have been a restoration volunteer at both Robertsdale and Rockhill Furnace and have enjoyed every minute. I have assisted in FEBT Company Store operations and at the fall reunions over the past six years. I have been a fan of the railroad since age 5 after riding the train with my grandfather, who had worked for the EBT at Mount Union yards. If elected I will support the further restoration of the FEBT and EBT rolling stock and structures, along with the educational programs of FEBT.
I have been fascinated with the EBT since my Penn State days, which has been too long ago to think about. I joined FEBT in 2002 after issues between the railroad and FEBT were settled and became a life member the following year. I have attended most Rockhill Furnace work sessions since 2002. During those work sessions, my major accomplishments have been the rebuilding of track no. 3, planning and execution of the no. 802 hopper refit back to service, and assistance in planning and execution of the FEBT restoration shop. If elected I will use my project management skills to help continue the restoration projects at both Rockhill Furnace and Robertsdale equally, as well as getting the most front the minimum investment. We need to continue working smarter not harder. However, this call only he accomplished by our continued effort, support, and partnership with the railroad's management, which I vow to continue
I will attend all board meetings, working to help restore the structures and rest of the railroad. As time permits, I'll work on a documentary DVD for fund raising, and work to spread knowledge about the EBT to a wider community.
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 2006 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 23, 20%, will be counted.
On April 6, 1956, conductor Henry Steninger, engineer Drue Colyer, fireman James Pheasant, and brakemen Steve Painter and Charley Hooper operated the last mainline freight train on the East Broad Top Railroad, using 2–8–2 locomotive no. 17. With the engine and combine no. 15, the crew ran light to Saltillo, where they brought 10 cars of ganister from the quarry and collected the boxcar of sand spotted at the Saltillo depot. They dropped the boxcar at Rockhill Furnace, and then the train ran to Mount Union. The crew completed its run by returning to Rockhill Furnace with a boxcar of less–than–carload lot freight and some empty hopper cars. The boxcar was unloaded at the station and the empty hopper cars and combine were switched into the yard before the crew cleaned the locomotive's fire and returned it to the roundhouse.
With the approval of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, on April 9 the railroad issued formal notice to the public that its operations would officially end on April 14. On April 13 conductor John Hooper, engineer Otis Scott, fireman Drue Colyer, and brakemen James App and Gene Ulsh used EBT 0–6–0 locomotive no. 3 to move standard–gauge cars in the Mount Union yard to the Pennsylvania Railroad interchange track, ending work at 3 pm. As Lee Rainey and Frank Kyper observe in their history of the EBT (the source of information for this note), the end of common–carrier operations occurred just three days short of the 100th anniversary of the date of the EBT's charter.
Although the EBT requested and received permission for abandonment from the ICC, the railroad was never actually abandoned. After the Kovalchick Salvage Company purchased the railroad and the assets of its associated mining company, the ICC agreed to a petition seeking to postpone formal abandonment. The Kovalchick family has defended the EBT' right–of–way front intrusions, and the railroad continues to operate under its original corporate charter.