Despite the challenge of worse than usual winter weather, our restoration work at Robertsdale and Rockhill Furnace is steadily advancing. Snow forced us to cancel the December work session in Robertsdale and the February work session at Rockhill Furnace, but our volunteers have still accomplished a great deal so far this year.
At Rockhill Furnace, FEBT vice president Lee Rainey, who coordinates our restoration work at the East Broad Top Railroad, reports that work in January focused on our restoration of East Broad Top Railroad baggage-passenger combine no. 14 and preparations for major roof repairs in the shop boiler house. In our car restoration shop, our volunteers have repaired the wood sills on one side of the combine, and sill repairs on the other side will begin soon. New wood body bolsters have been fabricated; they will be installed as work on the car’s underframe continues. FEBT volunteer Steve Jacobs and his team have begun fabricating brake components for our reproduction wood-frame passenger trucks. Inside the main shop complex, FEBT volunteer Jim Bacon and his crew have constructed a temporary work platform above the boilers that will allow us to dismantle the existing roof structure for replacement later this year. (The roof has deteriorated so badly that this work cannot be performed safely from above.) Repairs to exterior walls and windows of the main shop building, work at the locomotive coal tipple, and other projects will resume as the weather improves.
Tentative work week May 17–21. For more information contact
FEBT Rockhill Work Crew Coordinator
R. Lee Rainey
784 Tanager Drive
State College, PA 16803-2502
Telephone: (814) 867–7878 (evenings)
FEBT Robertsdale Work Crew Coordinator
2016 A Park Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
Telephone: (804) 353–0817
In January and February work sessions at Robertsdale, our volunteers installed the supporting grid for the new metal ceiling to be installed in the two main rooms on the ground floor of the old post office. FEBT president Hank Inman, who coordinates our work at Robertsdale, indicates that work on the pressed-metal metal ceiling and cornice should begin in March or April. Much of our effort in the next several months will be devoted to stripping, preparing, and reinstalling wood interior trim in the post office. This summer we plan to paint the upstairs wood floor, the new metal ceiling as it is installed, and all interior walls and trim. While this work is under way our electrical contractor should be able to finish his work, and our volunteers will begin tackling the downstairs wood wainscoting and preparing for installation of new wood exterior doors. The final task in our rehabilitation of the old Robertsdale post office is installation of the alarm system, which our contractor can complete after all work on the wainscoting and doors is completed. Our goal is to complete work on this building to the point that we can start to move museum operations into the post office by the end of 2010.
Funding for our restoration program is based primarily on donations we receive from FEBT members and other individuals, with limited additional financial support from grants. According to FEBT restoration fund treasurer Nancy E. Jacqmin, donations we received in December and January, combined with the income we realized last year from the sale of the models donated by FEBT member Douglas C. Taylor, will cover approximately half of the anticipated 2010 costs of our restoration program. We thank those of you who responded to our year-end appeal, and we ask all FEBT members for your continued financial support for our restoration efforts. Later this year we will specifically ask for the additional support we will need for our restoration work this year, but contributions to our restoration fund are always welcome. Please mail restoration donations to this address:
FEBT Restoration Fund Treasurer
513 Shady Avenue, No. 12
Pittsburgh PA 15206-4447
Company Store manager Richard M. Ullery reports that photographic prints of additional historic images from the Mount Union Area Historical Society and copies of FEBT’s drawings of the East Broad Top Railroad water tank at Coles Station for the Historic American Engineering Record are now available from the FEBT Company Store.
With help from FEBT vice president and EBT historian R. Lee Rainey, we have added eight new images from the photo collections of the Mount Union Area Historical Society to those already available from the Company Store. All photographs are sold as 8 x 10-inch digital photo prints. One of the new images features the Mount Union tannery, circa 1889 (MUAHS-29). Three show portions of the General Refractories Mount Union brick plant, circa 1918 (MUAHS-30, 34, and 36). Three others provide different 1918 views of the East Broad Top Railroad’s “middle yard” at Mount Union (MUAHS-32, 33,and 25), and one shows the EBT’s Mount Union engine facility, circa 1918 (MUAHS-31). Each digital photo print costs $10.00. (A $5.00 charge for postage applies to each order for photographs, regardless of quantity.)
Full-size copies of the five sheets of measured drawings prepared for FEBT by historical architect John R. Bowie to document the EBT’s last surviving enclosed water tank can now be purchased from the Company Store. Each 24 x 36-inch sheet depicts are different aspect of the Coles Station water tank. The set of all five drawings costs $20.00, or individual sheets cost $5.00 each. (A $5.00 charge for postage applies to each order for drawings, regardless of quantity.)
As we noted in the December newsletter, we are still waiting for Semaphore Records to overcome the problems which have delayed production of audio CDs of sound recordings made in the 1960s at the East Broad Top Railroad. The first of these re-releases, the 15-minute Sounds of the East Broad Top, was supposed to be in our hands last October. While we obviously hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible, we have no further information at this time.
Information about several other items currently available from the Company Store is included as an insert in this newsletter. A revised catalog listing all books, video and audio recordings, plans and drawings, model kits and supplies, historic photographs, and back issues of The Timber Transfer available from the FEBT Company Store is now on hand. The 2009-2010 catalog is available by mail for $3.00; it can also be viewed online. For more information about products, prices, and ordering information, contact Dick Ullery at
FEBT Company Store
c/o Richard Ullery
PO Box 145
Leetsdale, PA 15056
Telephone: (412) 259–8020
Please remember that payment for shipping and handling must be included with all orders. FEBT members may deduct a 15% discount from the prices—but not shipping charges—stated above. Pennsylvania residents must include 6% sales tax calculated on the total cost of merchandise and shipping charges with their orders. Refer to the FEBT web site or contact the FEBT Company Store for more information.
Longtime FEBT member James G. Mersereau is donating his large collection of O-scale models of East Broad Top Railroad equipment and other items to Friends of the East Broad Top. Like the models donated last year by FEBT member Douglas C. Taylor, revenue generated from the sale of Jim’s models will be used to support our restoration program.
Included among the donated items are 13 imported brass models of EBT 2-8-2s (assembled models and kits), brass models of the EBT’s M-1 and M-3, and 94 EBT passenger, freight, and nonrevenue cars (brass models and assembled kits). The items Jim has donated to us also include other O-scale standard-gauge brass locomotives, motor cars, freight cars, and nonrevenue equipment. O-scale custom-built models of EBT structures, On3 EBT Vulcan freight truck parts, unassembled kits, and EBT books are among the remaining materials Jim is donating to FEBT.
We assume that most of these models and books, which we are now in the process of collecting from Jim, will be sold at our 2010 Fall Reunion auction. Further information will be published in the next FEBT Newsletter and on the FEBT web site www.febt.org.
In 2010 the FEBT Museum will be open on the first and third weekends of each month, May through October. Regular museum operating hours are 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and 1 to 5 pm on Sundays; the museum will be open special hours during 2010 FEBT and EBT events. FEBT assistant vice president Vagel C. Keller, who coordinates our museum operations, reminds FEBT members that volunteers interested in helping us at Robertsdale are always needed. If you think you would like to join us there, contact
Vagel C. Keller
FEBT Assistant Vice President, Museum Operations
PO Box 5130
Pittsburgh PA 15260-0130
Telephone: (412) 441–7881
Friends of the East Broad Top continues to work with the East Broad Top Railroad to provide guided tours at the EBT conducted by FEBT volunteers during all of the railroad’s regular operating weekends. Our volunteers offer visitors to the railroad tours inside the shops and around the Rockhill Furnace yard complex, similar to the guided tours FEBT volunteers provide to the public during special events. The goal of these tours is to encourage a better understanding of the railroad’s history and to foster greater public appreciation for the EBT as a historic resource.
Last year FEBT members Lawrence Biemiller, John Cameron, and Dennis R. Straub handled most of our tours at the EBT. FEBT members interested in joining us as 2010 EBT tour guides should contact
FEBT Tour Coordinator
Telephone: (202) 494–7670 (cell)
E-mail: Lawrence Biemiller
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 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 secretary William L. Adams (chairman), FEBT member Ronald L. Pearson, and FEBT Company Store manager Richard M. Ullery. Based on the names of potential nominees the committee received, including three incumbent directors holding seats up for election, the committee has placed seven FEBT members on the official ballot
Each candidate was asked for a written statement of 100 words or less summarizing his or her past and present contributions to FEBT 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.
After serving as a tour guide at the East Broad Top most operating-season weekends for the past three years, I've come to appreciate its strengths, weaknesses, and quirks and how they have simultaneously moderated its appeal to riders and contributed to its preservation. Going forward—especially if the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association succeeds in its ambitious plans—I think one of the most delicate tasks we face will be balancing the need to draw paying visitors with our strong desire to preserve this unparalleled historic site. I look forward to contributing as best I can, whether on the board or not.
I have had an affiliation with the EBT in one capacity or another for most of my life. More recently as an active FEBT volunteer I have become interested in helping to continue development of a sustainable and effective FEBT. Much of my day job requires project planning over the next decade and as part of the board I'd pursue the establishment of a long term plan and work to see it followed. The established relationships between the FEBT, the railroad, and the operator as well as RTY are critical components to the strength of the FEBT and must be fostered.
My interest in FEBT extends from my family background—generations of employees of the Illinois Central Railroad on one side and support of significant historic preservation and restoration efforts on the other. For ten years I have responded to all donors who sent money to the Restoration Fund Treasurer and I have developed a strong network of non-members who regularly contribute funds for our restoration work. After attending board meetings over the past five years I understand the work done by the board to support our activities. I would like to help FEBT explore appropriate grant opportunities: Our demonstrated ability to raise funds and complete major endeavors positions us to receive serious consideration for external support for our work. I would also like to see the teamwork that has been so effective in our restoration efforts applied to the business side of our operations.
I have been an active volunteer at Rockhill since the spring of 2003. Some projects I have worked on include track work, side dump ballast hopper 802, combine 14, coal tipple, handicap coach, floor in the locomotive shop, work on the shop roofs, and the retaining wall along Jordan Creek.
I have been a regular volunteer at both Rockhill and Robertsdale. I previously served on the board and have assisted with the FEBT Company Store. I would promote a good working relationship with the new East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Association and expand the restoration beyond Rockhill.
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 seven years to roll up my sleeves and help save it. As coordinator of the Rockhill restoration efforts on behalf of the FEBT and the railroad, I've organized and led work sessions which to date have re-conditioned five pieces of rolling stock and numerous buildings at Rockhill. Two of these cars ran everyday of the 2009 operating season. I ask you to reelect me so that I can continue to lead this critical work.
I have been heavily involved in the rehabilitation of several Rockhill projects, as well as other special projects, including the annual May work week. I have represented the FEBT members for two terms as Director and will continue to do so as long as I'm needed and wanted by the membership.
We are pleased that former EBT brakeman and retired Huntingdon County commissioner Lee R. Wilson has again agreed to serve as election judge. All 2010 election ballots must be mailed to FEBT Directors Election, c/o Lee R. Wilson, Election Judge, 10642 Wilson Road, Three Springs PA 17264. Only ballots received by April 5, 2010, will be counted.
Members of Friends of the East Broad Top continue to assist our outreach efforts by representing us at recent and upcoming train shows and conventions. In January FEBT member James A. Vliet organized a display and distributed FEBT and EBT information at the 20th Annual Winter Train Show and Exhibition in Freeport, New York. With help from FEBT member Russell B. Norris, Jr., Jim also set up his FEBT display at the Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, Massachusetts, at the end of January. In February Jim and FEBT member Robert L. Harris, Jr., represented FEBT at the Spring Thaw Train Meet in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
On March 20 FEBT members John Cameron, Robert L. Harris, Jr., and Dennis R. Straub plan to distribute FEBT and EBT information at the Harrisburg Railroad Show and Collectors Market, sponsored by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. James A. Vliet anticipates setting up his FEBT display at the Great Scale Train Show in Timonium, Maryland, on April 10-11; for show information visit www.gsmts.com. FEBT members interested in helping Jim at one of these shows can contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (516) 771-1038 (home).
FEBT has reserved space at the 2010 National Narrow Gauge Convention, which will be held in Saint Louis, Missouri, on September 1-4, but we still need volunteers to help us organize our efforts at this show. One of our directors has volunteered to transport material for a FEBT display to and from this convention, but he cannot supervise the display. FEBT members who plan to attend this convention and are interested in helping us with a display table should contact Dennis Straub as soon as possible, so we can finalize our arrangements.
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. Please contact FEBT outreach coordinator Dennis R. Straub at
Dennis R. Straub
722 Alexander Spring Rd
Carlisle PA 17013
Telephone: (717) 249–4239
providing as much advance notice as possible.