Friends of the East Broad Top
A nonprofit society dedicated to the preservation and restoration
of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark
Things we do
Coles Tank in the 1990s
Coles Tank as it looked in the 1990's.
Christopher Coleman photo

EBT Coles Water Tank Documentation Project

The enclosed water tank at Coles Station was constructed in 1919 to replace an earlier water tank at this location. It is the last intact EBT Tank house. On a relatively inaccessible part of the railroad, it has been spared the vandalism that has resulted in the loss of other EBT structures, but lack of maintenance and the years have taken their toll. Although the building is in fair structural condition, emergency repairs have been necessary at times to keep the structure intact. Because of the historical aspect of this last remaining enclosed water tank, the FEBT commissioned historic architect, John R. Bowie to document the structure to HAER standards with a complete set of drawings, large format photos and photo captions.

The tank structure consists of an elevated round wood tub-style tank supported by heavy wood joists on framed wood bents. The tank and its supporting frame-work are enclosed in a two-story wood-frame building. A one-story annex extending from the rear wall formerly housed a belt-driven pump and its gasoline engine. Water from a nearby spring was pumped from a cistern under the annex to the tank, where train crews could use a counterweighted spout to deliver water to the tenders of the EBT’s steam locomotives.


Documenting Cole Tank
John R. Bowie at work at the Coles Station water tank.
Hank Inman photo

Early in 2005 our directors agreed that FEBT should explore obtaining documentation meeting standards established by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) for the railroad's last surviving enclosed water tank at Coles Station.

FEBT was awarded two grants to support the Coles station water tank documentation project. The Society for Industrial Archeology awarded FEBT a three-thousand dollar grant, and a thousand-dollar grant came from the Amherst Railway Society. These two grants are expected to cover slightly more than a third of the expected cost of this project.

On October 6–7 historic architect John R. Bowie made his first visit to the Coles Station site, where with help from FEBT member William L. Adams and FEBT president Henry F. Inman he began work documenting the water tank. The result of John's work will be detailed measured drawings showing the construction and purpose of the water tank, large–format black–and–white photographic negatives, photo captions, and field notes. FEBT will eventually transmit this original material to HAER at the US National Park Service, after we obtain copies of this material for our own use. Ultimately the Coles Station water tank drawings, photographs, captions, and field sketches will join the other EBT–related HAER material in the collections of the Library of Congress.


Historical architect John R. Bowie continued his work documenting the East Broad Top Railroad's last surviving enclosed water tank at Coles Station. In April, John made a second lengthy visit to Coles Station to take further measurements and supervise the large–format photography. John visited the site again several more times—most recently in October—to fill in additional details as he completes work on preliminary versions of his drawings.

FEBT successfully applied for a third grant in 2006 to support our documentation of the EBT's Coles Station water tank. The thousand dollar grant from the Amherst Railway Society, together with the grants we received in 2005, will cover almost half of the expected cost of this project.


Coles tank detail

The Coles station water tank documentation project is is nearing completion. According to historical architect John R. Bowie, draft copies of the five sheets of measured drawings he is preparing will be in our hands for review at the end of 2007. After making any necessary corrections, John will provide the final inked drawings, large-format black-and-white photographic negatives, photo captions, and field notes for the Coles Station water tank to FEBT. After making copies for our own collections, we will in turn transmit the original drawings, photographic negatives, and other project materials to the US National Park Service. Eventually this Coles Station water tank documentation will be deposited with other Historic American Engineering Record materials held by the Library of Congress, like the similar documentation of the railroad’s station building at Saltillo which we transmitted to the National Park Service in 2006.

With the kind permission of Kalmbach Publishing Company and the John Maxwell Collection we are able to incorporate copyrighted images in the measured drawings of the Coles Station water tank.

The three grants we have received in 2005 and 2006 will cover almost half of the almost $12,000 cost of this project. The major project expense is the $11,050.00 cost of John R. Bowie’s architectural services, which will be paid from the grant and restoration funds already on hand. An additional $250.00 has been allocated to this project in our 2008 restoration budget to cover the costs of project administrative expenses and copies of project materials to the two granting organizations and for our collection.


Copyright © 1999-2018 Friends of the East Broad Top, Inc. All rights reserved
EBT Train
Back to the FEBT Homepage