EBT Saltillo Station Documentation Project
The East Broad Top Saltillo Station sits at bottom, or north end of the EBT's mountain grade up to Robertsdale, Alvan, Wood and the coal fields on the Broad Top Mountain. Saltillo marked an important division point in the as it was the transition from the relatively level running of the north part of the railroad along the valleys of the Aughwick and Three Springs creeks to the grade up through Sideling and Wrays hills and along Trough Creek as it climbed the side of Broad Top Mountain. Saltillo was the largest source of traffic north of the Broad Top coal fields and was a watering and sanding stop for trains going heading up the grade.
The Saltillo Station was originally built in 1882. It was moved and modified on at least three separate occasions. After the end of operations the building served for a time as a furniture warehouse before standing derelict. By the time that the documentation project got under way, many years of no maintenance had cause severe deterioration of the structure. The roof had deteriorated to the point that it no longer kept the weather out. The result was a severe sagging of the roof and an outward buckling of the front and rear walls as well as the partial collapse of the floor structure. By the late nineties, the structure was on the point of collapse and a number of febt members realized that something needed to be done to stabilize the structure while investigations were carried out to determine if it was restorable, or failing that to document the structure to the degree that it could be recreated, if necessary, at some future time.
In December 1998 the FEBT received permission from Mr. Joe Kovalchick, President and Owner of the East Broad Top Railroad, to enter and document the present condition of the station, pending stabilization work.
During the previous fall, again with the permission of Mr. Kovalchick, FEBT contracted with enginner Gary Young to examine the station and recommend steps to stabilize the building.
Through an agreement directly between FEBT member Conrad Meyer and Joseph Kovalchick, Rex A. Smith General Contruction began stabilization work in March. In order to pull the walls back todgether several 2x8s were applied to the top of the front and rear walls and cable was strung through the building between them. The cable is wrapped around some 1 1/2" pipe at the front and connected to some threaded eye bolts at the rear. House jacks were used to raise the roof peak while the walls were cranked back into position. The cables and internal supports were then left in position.
In August FEBT members William Grant, William Adams and Deane Mellander conducted internal measurements and photographed several sections of the structure as part of the documentation project. Also Rex Smith and his crew performed additional cleanup. During the work the ceiling of the baggage room, which had mostly collapsed, was hauled away.
During October FEBT members William Grant and Hank Innman performed additional documetation on the building. The cleanup of the baggage room allowed for more detailed documetation of that portion of the building.
Subsequently, Rex Smith and his crew installated additional reinforcements. The reinforcements, as recommended by Grant after a previous inspection, consisted of a new central beam from which diagonal and vertical members were attached to the roof trusses.
During July and August FEBT member and architect William E. Grant, Jr., continued to coordinate our documentation of the East Broad Top Railroad's Saltillo Station. With assistance from FEBT members William Adams and Hank Inman, Bill has completed most of his measurements of the building's interior; only one wall of the agent's office and the toilet have yet to be measured and photographed.
In late November consulting engineer Richard I. Ortega visited the station. FEBT commissioned Mr. Ortega to perform an engineering assessment of the present condition of this historic building and to recommend feasible options for saving, rehabilitating, or reconstructing the building. This initial assessment represents only the initial stage of the work that must be completed before any site work can be undertaken.
During his site visit Mr. Ortega examined the exterior and interior of the station building including the station's walls and roof structure and the foundation and floor supporting structure.
In April the FEBT board of directors reviewed Richard I. Ortega's preliminary report. In summary: The board–on–board construction of the building's original exterior walls, the manner in which these walls were cut apart and reassembled when the building was placed on its present foundation, the inadequate support this foundation has provided, and damage caused by water entering the building through its deteriorated roof prevent preserving the building as it now stands by making repairs to the existing walls and roof. Mr. Ortega observes that the building could be disassembled and its doors, windows, interior, and other features of historical significance saved and attached to a new framework constructed on the existing foundation—after it has been suitably elevated and reinforced.
Another option is to insure that a permanent record of the existing building is created. The Historic American Engineering Record advises that the small scale of the project ruled out their direct involvment, but they would happily accept documentation material if we wished to obtain it and donate it to HAER. This contributed material would eventually be deposited in the Library of Congress as a supplement the East Broad Top Railroad material previously assembled by HAER.
Late in the year FEBT indicated an interest in obtaining a proposal for the development of documentation of the station to HAER standards as well as the cost of dismantling the station and storing the materials on site preparatory to reconstructing the station at some future point. In November, FEBT accepted a proposal from architect John R. Bowie to combine the data from previous FEBT documentation work with his own observations to measured drawings and obtain large–format photographs of the building that meet Historic American Engineering Record specifications and standards.
Initial versions of the measured drawings for the station were completed by the end of July. Architect John R. Bowie provided copies of his preliminary drawings to FEBT and HAER for review. Corrections and revisions, as well as details of the building’s floor structure, not yet documented, will form part of the final version. Prelimiary drawingas consist of five sheets of measured drawings for the station building following the format and standards set by HAER. The first sheet introduces the project, locates the station using maps of Saltillo and the EBT, and provides space for a brief history of the building. The other four sheets present a detailed ground plan of the building, two cross–sectional views, four exterior elevations, and full–size details for windows and doors, together with additional interior views.
Final measured drawings of the EBT station building at Saltillo were forwarded to FEBT, along with large–format photographs, and copies of his field notes. Except for making copies of this material for our use and transmitting the drawings and photographs to the Historic American Engineering Record office, our documentation of the Saltillo station is now finished.
In early November the EBT received notice from the Saltillo borough council requesting that the railroad take final action on this building. Because the extremely poor condition of the station foreclosed any realistic alternative, the EBT engaged a local contractor to raze the building and arrange for its disposal at an appropriate landfill. With the permission of the railroad, FEBT volunteers William Adams, Hank Inman, Tom Kozub, R. Lee Rainey, Richard Ullery, and Charles Wootton spent several hours on November 20 removing samples of siding and trim, window sashes, doors, and other significant architectural details from the Saltillo station building. Now safely stored at Robertsdale and Rockhill Furnace, these physical artifacts supplement the drawings, photographs, and other documentation we have already assembled for a more complete a record of this EBT building.
By the end of December, Saltillo Station had been demolished and the site leveled.