FEBT Restoration Projects
Rockhill Furnace Restoration Projects
2013 Rockhill Furnace Work Schedule
May 20-24 (work week)
Work sessions at Rockhill Furnace meet one weekend each month except for October and December and twice in June for a total of eleven work sessions each year. Rockhill Furnace is the center of both the historic EBT and the current tourist incarnation of the railroad. The complex includes the railroad's shops and other maintenance facilities a yard and the Orbisonia station.
Crews at Rockhill Furnace are involved in the preservation and restoration of the complex's various buildings, involving structural repair and facade (painting and windows) rehabilitation. Crews also work on the track, both passenger and freight rolling stock and clearing brush. In 2006 there was some limited work on the restoration of the the EBT's 2-8-2 steam locomotive #15.
Rockhill Furnace is about 20 minutes north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and about ten minutes south from Mount Union. Work sessions at Rockhill Furnace start at 9am on both Saturdays and Sundays and continue until 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays.
Robertsdale Restoration Projects
Work sessions at Robertsdale usually occur on various weekends during the year to work on restoration of the buildings of the FEBT Robertsdale Museum Complex, the Old Post Office and the former EBT Station. Robertsdale was the original southern terminus of the East Broad Top Railroad and the center of the Rockhill Iron and Coal Company's coal mining operations on Broad Top Mountain. Crews at Robertsdale are involved in carpentry, painting, roof repair and other maintenance activities on the two buildings. Major work at Robertsdale is being handled by outside contractors, but there is plenty of other work for everyone interested.
Robertsdale is about 30 minutes north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and about 40 minutes southwest of operating segment of the EBT at Rockhill Furnace. Work sessions at Robertsdale start at 9:30 am and continue to 5:30 or 6 pm on Saturdays. Work on Sundays at Robertsdale will be based on the state of work at the end of the previous day and will be scheduled to accommodate the volunteers available.
Rockhill Iron and Coal Company Post Office Restoration Project
The FEBT purchased the old Rockhill Iron and Coal company Post Office in 1987 and has been bit by bit making it habitable again and restoring the structure to its EBT common carrier era appearance. Although work over the years has been slow, it is now entering the final stage and the FEBT expects to be finished with the restoration within the next year or two.
It is planned that the Post Office building will become the permanent home for FEBT's museum and extensive collection of EBT items
EBT Robertsdale Station Restoration Project
The FEBT secured a 50 year lease on the Robertsdale station in 1987 and rapidly brought it to a state where it could, in 1991, be opened as the current museum. Since then restoration focus has been on the Old Post Office with the EBT station receiving necessary maintenance to maintain its current condition. In 2007, the FEBT completed the purchase of the former station, meaning that the Friends now own both of the museum buildings and two of the three remaining buildings forming the Robertsdale "Company Square." Once the work on the Old Post Office is completed, the resulting move of the museum collection to that building will allow us to complete the restoration of the former EBT station.
EBT Combine Passenger Car #16 Restoration Project
Combine #16 was one of the East Broad Top Railroad's earlier cars, very similar in design to combines #17 and #18. Combine #16 was retired in 1941 and passed through different owners until being purchased by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation's Pine Creek Railroad in Allair State Park, Farmingdale NJ. By the time the car arrived there it was missing it's trucks and had been stored outside for many years. In 1986 FEBT acquired a 99 year lease on EBT combine #16 with the intention of restoring her to operating condition.
The current emphasis on combine #16 is completing the construction of the reproduction trucks. This work, which involves skilled casting and machining, has been contracted out to professionals. For further information or to volunteer for this project please contact:
FEBT Combine #16 Restoration Project
Stephen W. Jacobs
33 Pennwick Drive, Lititz PA 17543
Telephone: (717) 627–4121
EBT Combine Passenger Car #18 and Baggage #29 Restoration Project
The origin of EBT combine #18 is unclear. It may have been constructed by the railroad in 1876, making it the oldest EBT passenger car still in existence. The car was sold by the EBT in 1954 and traveled to Michigan and then Colorado, where it was purchased at auction by the FEBT in 2002. EBT baggage-express car no. 29 was amongst the second-hand passenger equipment the EBT purchased in 1916 from the Au Sable & Northwestern Railroad. The railroad sold the car in 1956 and it too traveled to Michigan and then Colorado before being purchased by the FEBT at the same 2002 auction as combine #18 and brought home to Rockhill Furnace.
Both cars are now in temporary storage in the car shop at Rockhill Furnace awaiting restoration
Join A Crew
Any FEBT member in good standing is welcome and encouraged to assist our efforts as a member of one of the restoration crews. If you are interested in helping, contact the appropriate crew chief for more information.
We have essential jobs for every level of skill and strength. In 2002, one of our most active volunteers did all his work from a wheel chair. If you can handle a paint brush, a shovel, or a hammer, or just hold the other end of a measuring tape, you can help save the EBT. If you have other skills such as carpentry, masonry, joinery, millwrighting, sheet metal fabrication, welding and track work, your skills would be a very welcome addition to our work sessions. But please don't let a lack of skills deter you from helping out. We are all learning new skills as we tackle new, bigger and more difficult tasks. One of our regular female volunteers has added window glazing to her repertoire of skills, something she has learned while working at the EBT.
You are welcome to come to the work sessions as much or as little as you want or are able. Some of our volunteers have planned work session attendance around family vacations or business trips. You are welcome to come for one or all days of any particular session, as your schedule permits. While advance notice that you are coming helps us plan tasks, we can always accommodate walk-ons. We do have two requirements. First, all participants must be members of the FEBT (or must sign up as members onsite prior to starting work at the session). In addition, due to regulations imposed on the EBT by their insurance carrier, all volunteers must be at least 18 of age. We would like to point out to those of you with children or spouses not so enthusiastic as you are about the railroad that there is plenty for the rest of the family to do in the area. The Huntingdon County Visitor's Bureau is a great place to start planning that family trip to EBT country for the next FEBT work session.
Please note that dates and times or work sessions are subject to change depending on the progress of work and the demands for volunteers' time. Volunteers should contact the crew coordinators to confirm the date and time of the session(s) they are interested in attending prior to traveling to Robertsdale or Rockhill Furnace. You may also consult the restoration projects pages above for information on upcoming work planned for the crew. Please remember that all restoration crew volunteers must be FEBT members. Membership material will be available at the work sessions.
Donate to the Restoration Efforts
Restoring a railroad is expensive. We need funds to keep our crews supplied with material, or to buy specialized tools and we need funds to pay our contractors who are doing specialized work beyond our current skill levels. Your donation to the FEBT Restoration fund will ensure that this priceless piece of American history is available for us and our future generations to enjoy for many years to come. Our current multi-year fundraising campaign has successfully raised over one hundred thousand dollars so far to keep our restoration work going. You can even receive a fine limited edition EBT art print as a thank-you for your donation. Please visit the donating page for details and then send your tax deductible donation to:
Friends of the East Broad Top
Restoration Fund Treasurer
12-513 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15206
We need your volunteer labor to save the EBT! Hammers, not talk, will save the EBT. Consult Restoration Crews Information above for details on how to volunteer your time.
We need just about any type of material and tool that might be associated with carpentry, metal work, track work, painting, glazing and brush clearing. The following materials and tools would be particularly helpful if you should be able to donate them to the FEBT restoration crews. You should contact the Rockhill Furnace or Robertsdale Restoration Crew Coordinator listed above to arrange donation of materials or tools.
Note: The following items should be in either serviceable or repairable quality to be useful to us. While we can repair most minor mechanical problems with any of the following equipment, except in very limited exceptional cases, we do not have the resources to rebuild "basket cases."
If you would like to donate any of the items below, or you know an individual or organization who would be willing to donate them, even if they don't currently work, please contact the Rockhill Restoration Coordinator. We will be happy to work with the individual or organization donating the items to determine if we can repair and use them.
Our Completed Restoration Projects
The Friends of the East Broad Top have been involved in a number of restoration and documentation projects that are now completed. Some of these date back to the early years of the FEBT, others are more recent.
EBT Saltillo Station & Coles Tank Documentation Projects
The East Broad Top Saltillo Station sat at the north end of the EBT's mountain grade up Broad Top Mountain. It marked an important division point in the line and was the largest source of traffic north of the coal fields and a watering and sanding stop. The Saltillo Station was built in 1882 and was moved and modified on at least three occasions. After the end of operations the building served for a time as a furniture warehouse before standing empty and derelict. By 2006, the building had deteriorated to the point that it had become a community hazard and was torn down by the railroad. Although the building is gone, the extensive documentation done by the FEBT has resulted in a detailed set of plans for the station that are available from the FEBT Company Store and are also on the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record website.
A recently completed project is the Coles Station Water Tank. This tank, built around 1920 by the EBT, is the last standing EBT water tank. It is of an enclosed design and was spring fed with a gas powered water pump to move the water into the tank. Located on a remote segment of the dormant line between Saltillo and Robertsdale the Coles Tank has suffered from the ravages of time, but is in much better condition and is not liable to collapse in the near term. Nevertheless, as the last remaining example of the EBT enclosed water tank, the FEBT felt it necessary to document this relic and in 2005 began the process. The fieldwork is now completed and when completed by our architect, the measured drawings and large format photographs will be deposited with the HABS/HAER project and copies will be available from the FEBT Company Store.
EBT Motorcar M-3 Restoration Project
In late 1923 and 1924 the East Broad Top constructed the M-3, a small enclosed motorized line inspection car. The EBT built the car primarily from Maxwell automobile parts and components fabricated in the EBT shops. In 1928 it was significantly rebuilt using the drive train and other parts from a Nash automobile.
The M-3 served during the rest of the railroad's operating lifetime and for a short while after the railroad reopened in 1960 as a tourist carrier. Since the 1960s the car sat derelict in the Paint Shop. In 2005, with the approval of EBT management, the car was removed from the railroad and taken to an FEBT member's shop for a complete restoration. There a team of FEBT members, donating their own money and time completely rebuilt the little car from the ground up. The M-3 returned triumphantly in the summer of 2006 and is now a regular member of the EBT's operating equipment.
East Broad Top Buda Handcar
The last remaining original EBT handcar was purchased by the Friends of the East Broad Top from a private collector. The car has been restored and is cared for by the Friends. In 2006, the handcar was transported to the FEBT car restoration facility in the EBT Paint Shop in Rockhill Furnace for some needed maintenance, such as new wheel bearings. On completion of this maintenance, the handcar was returned to the FEBT museum in Robertsdale.
East Broad Top Fairmont Speeder "The Spider"
In 1984 Bruce Saylor and a team of FEBT volunteers rebuilt and restored the EBT's small Fairmont motored MOW speeder. The single cylinder "pop" car is now part of a stable of restored EBT speeders that the railroad uses to provide its very popular Rockhill Furnace Yard speeder rides.
East Broad Top Rockhill Shops Maintenance
In 1982-1984 FEBT Volunteer crews met at the EBT Rockhill Furnace Shops and performed maintenance duties on the historic structures there. Among other jobs, volunteers cleaned and lubricated the machines, repaired and repainted windows in the Paint Shop, Roundhouse and Shops buildings, and repaired brickwork in the Roundhouse.