East Broad Top Robertsdale PA Station
The Friends of the East Broad Top secured a 50-year lease on the Robertsdale station in 1987. Initial efforts were aimed at rehabilitating the building sufficient for use as the temporary FEBT museum. Once the initial restoration work was completed, emphasis on restoration activities moved to the Old Post Office and work on the station went into a maintenance mode.
In 2006, with the help of railroad and the EBT owners, the Kovalchick family, the FEBT purchased the building from S&S, the partnership that had originally purchased the building from the railroad in 1987. Now with the approaching completion of the restoration of the Old Post Office, and the subsequent move of the FEBT museum into that building, restoration activites on the station are due to gear up again. The interior of the building has been partially restored however there are still a few items to be completed inside and a new roof is badly needed.
The building is in a good state of affairs and is currently serving as the FEBT Museum.
In 1988 FEBT members started repairs to the metal roof and removed wall coverings and a suspended ceiling installed when the building was used as a convenience store. A water service connection and temporary plumbing was installed.
During the next two years additional roof repairs were completed; windows repaired, reglazed, and protected with screens; the exterior of the building was painted; electrical service connection, circuit–breaker box, and wiring installed; and an oil–fired, warm–air furnace installed to provide interim heat to the building.
The completion of the initial restoration work led to the opening of the FEBT Museum in the former depot in 1991.
During this period work on the station continued. Among other tasks, the interior (except for the baggage room) has been entirely repainted; all windows have been restored to operating condition; and various repairs have been made to the roof, eaves, fascia, soffits, and other parts of the building's exterior to provide a suitable environment for the current level of museum operations.
Water and sewer stubs and lines were run for hookups to the new Wood-Broad Top-Wells Joint Municipal Authority water system by contractors.
In December Robertsdale contractor Robbie Love completed all work related to the installation of connections between the former station and the new Wood-Broad Top-Wells Joint Municipal Authority water and sewage systems. This work, started in April, was delayed throughout the year while the authority and its prime contractor resolved problems with the new water treatment plant.
The new water and sewer connections also proved to be more difficult than we had hoped last year, when we made our preliminary preparations for these connections. As it turned out, the old sewage connection exited the depot through a cast-iron soil pipe extending four feet straight down from underneath the toilet to run under the base of the concrete scale pit to . . . who knows where? Thus our contractor was forced to break though the concrete slab bathroom floor to remove the existing pipe and then to excavate a "tunnel" under a corner of the concrete pump base (between the scale pit and the front wall of the building) to install the new sewer service connection to the lateral line we had installed at the end of 1998.
While less complex, another section of the concrete slab floor had to be removed in the utility closet on the opposite side of the building so that the service connection to the new water line could be made through a new water meter installed at this location. While Robbie Love completed the sewer connection and floor repairs in the bathroom well before the start of the FEBT Museum's 1999 operating season, the water service connection waited on the acceptance of the new water treatment plant by the local authority. This in turn delayed the final repairs to the concrete floor to early December. The total cost of the work performed by Robbie Love for FEBT in 1999 was $1,500.00.
Over the winter FEBT member Sherwood Doughman constructed two exterior benches for the Robertsdale Depot. These simple wood benches will replicate the benches that once supplied outdoor seating on the sidewalk "porch" at the end of the Depot facing Main Street. We invite FEBT members to visit the FEBT Museum to "test drive" the new benches.
In May we cleaned the display cases and exhibits and rearranged the museum and shop displays in the Depot. In subsequent work sessions we removed and inspected most window sashes, reglazing and making other repairs as needed, and then applied two coats of exterior paint (to match the existing color); cleaned, sanded, primed, and applied two coats of exterior gray paint to the wood cover constructed last year for the scale-lever pit; repaired a cracked drain pipe under the sink in the toilet; mounted a new museum donation box onto one of the interior block walls; and repaired the wood sill in one of the exterior doorways. Early in the summer FEBT member Sherwood Doughman, with assistance from Walter Simpson, delivered the station benches he constructed for us. In September Sherwood and Walter installed new telephone jacks and wiring inside the Depot. As part of our preparations for the coming winter, Three Springs heating contractor Hamway Construction replaced a burnt-out blower motor and performed routine furnace maintenance on the interim heating system installed in the Depot.
In March, May, June, and September, members of the Robertsdale work crew handled routine maintenance and continued work on the windows of the depot. After removing and reinstalling all interior sash molding—and a fair amount of the exterior molding, too—we believe work on the windows in this building is finally approaching completion. Because of the way the windows are constructed, the interior sash molding must be removed to remove and work on the upper and lower sashes. The molding was originally attached with nails, making the chore of removing and repositioning the molding each time a window needed work an uncertain process. Now this molding is attached to the surrounding window frames with brass screws, allowing us to tackle future window–work without losing the careful alignment of the guides we previously established. Some of the sashes will receive more attention when we repaint the inside faces of the windows and their trim.
In early 2002, with the cooperation of the East Broad Top Railroad, we commissioned Huntingdon County engineer and surveyor Gary L. Young to make site measurements needed to create a detailed picture of the existing landscape around our two buildings, including adjacent property owned by the EBT. Gary’s untimely death several months later has put this project on hold.
Work on the enlarged survey plan of the entire FEBT museum site, a project initiated last year, has now been completed. John Young and Timothy G. Zdrosky, who have continued the surveying side of the late Gary L. Youngs’s business, indicated they were still committed to completing our survey—but their work on our survey would have to wait on their other projects. Early this year it was finally our turn, but then Mother Nature decided to intervene. At first the problem was snow: At one point last winter the pile of snow covering the ground between our buildings was at least eight feet high! When the snow finally melted, rain became the problem. The field measurements for our survey, which should have taken little more than a single day to compile, eventually required a series of brief visits to our museum site between daily rain storms. And as Tim Zdrosky confesses, on at least one occasion he recorded site measurements while carrying his umbrella! At the end of July Tim had provided a preliminary copy of his survey plan to FEBT for review; several minor revisions suggested by FEBT member and architect William E. Grant, Jr., were added to the plan, and in September our new site plan was finished.
In order to serve as a useful basis for planning the future development of our museum, the site plan incorporates all surface features around both of our Robertsdale buildings. The area covered extends from the alley north of the depot to Trough Creek south of the post office, and from the drainage ditch west of our buildings to the former Rockhill Iron and Coal Company office building on the east side of Main Street. Some features that are currently buried—like the walls of the track–scale pit—or now missing—like the rails that once ran over the scale—are also located on our plan.
During the past year the focus of our work on the Robertsdale depot has been routine maintenance and repairs. Our Robertsdale work crew volunteers repaired sections of the standing seam metal roof damaged last winter, inserted new exterior caulking around all windows and doors, replaced several dysfunctional window shades, and touched up interior and exterior paint. This winter Bill Grant and Hank Inman plan to work on specifications for the next phase of our rehabilitation of the depot. This will include installing a new standing–seam metal roof and repairs to the roof edges, fascia, and soffits; restoring the radiator heating system to operating condition; replacing an existing metal exterior door with an appropriate wood paneled door; and installing new electrical wiring and plumbing. This work may not be on our immediate horizon, but we need to start planning for it now.
With the cooperation of the Kovalchicks, owner's of the EBT and the railroad, the FEBT purchased the Robertsdale station from the current owners.