The FEBT Museum
The Friends of the East Broad Top Museum's goal is to present the history of the East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company, the industries it served in the surrounding area and the culture of the railroad, its employees and customers to our visitors. The museum's current location in the historic EBT Robertsdale Station is the showcase for the display of our collection of historic artifacts and documents. We are currently expanding our museum space as we continue restoration of the component buildings, the EBT Station and the Old Robertsdale Post Office. Our ultimate goal is to place most of the displays in the larger Old Post Office building. While this work is underway, visitors may view parts of our collection on temporary display in the old Robertsdale station.
The FEBT has an active acquisition program. We are constantly searching for and acquiring artifacts related to the railroad and its business, resulting in a collection that is constantly growing in both quantity and quality of presentation.
Because our continuing work on the restoration of the Old Robertsdale Post Office will affect our use of space in both of the museum buildings this year, the FEBT museum will be operating under reduced hours in 2008. The museum will be open to the public during FEBT events and on the first and third weekend each month on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 5pm. This reduced operating schedule still provides reasonable opportunities for a visit to the museum while avoiding interference from the work our volunteers and contractors will be making on the final phase of our rehabilitation of the Old Post Office for museum use. Special fall open house hours will apply on during the EBT Fall Spectacular, October 6th and 7th.
For further information, or to contact the FEBT Robertsdale museum, please write or call:
Friends of the East Broad Top Robertsdale Museum
550 Main St, Robertsdale, PA P.O. Box 68
Robertsdale, PA 16674
Phone: (814) 635-2388
Please note that the above telephone number is only answered when the museum is open.
For questions or comments about the FEBT Museum or our collections
including information concerning artifact donations please contact our
Assistant Vice President, Museum Operations at (412) 441–7881 or
Getting to the Museum
The FEBT museum is about forty minutes from the operating portion of the EBT. We invite you to visit our museum during your visit to the East Broad Top Railroad. Directions to the museum from various directions are given below. Primary access to the East Broad Top area from the northwest is provided by US Highway 22 through Huntingdon to US Highway 522 south from Mt Union. (These highways serve as the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission's "Path of Progress" in Huntingdon County.) From the south, west and east, primary access is via the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) and US 522 north from Fort Littleton. By road, the FEBT museum is approximately 31 miles south of Huntingdon (via Pennsylvania State Highways 26 and 913) and approximately 17 miles southwest of Rockhill Furnace and Orbisonia (via Pennsylvania State Highway Rural Routes 994 and 3019). The FEBT museum is also accessible from the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70 via exits in Breezewood, approximately 22 miles to the south.
From the EBT/Rockhill Furnace: Follow PA 994 west (away from Orbisonia) approximately 14 miles through Three Springs and over Sideling and Wrays Hills to Cooks, where a sign marks the left turn to Robertsdale. Turn left onto PA legislative route 3019 and proceed 2.3 miles to the stop sign at PA 913. Turn left on PA 913 (Main Street). Drive about ¼ mile and look for the FEBT museum on your right.
From Huntingdon: Follow PA 26 south approximately 15 miles to the junction with PA 994 at Entriken (marked by flashing traffic lights). Turn left and follow PA 994 east approximately 13 miles to Cooks, where a sign marks the right turn to Robertsdale. Turn right on PA legislative route 3019 and proceed 2.3 miles to the stop sign at PA 913. Turn left on PA 913 (Main Street). Drive about ¼ mile and look for the FEBT museum on your right.
From Breezewood: Follow US 30 east approximately five miles to its junction with PA 915 north. Turn left and proceed on PA 915 north approximately 5 miles to Wells Valley Road. Turn right on Wells Valley Road and continue approximately 5 miles to the stop sign at New Grenada, its junction with PA 913. Make the sharp left turn on PA 913 west and continue approximately three miles up Broad Top Mountain to the stop sign in Robertsdale. Continue to the right on PA 913 west (Main Street), crossing Trough Creek. The FEBT Museum will be on your left.
From Fort Littleton: From the I-76/Pennsylvania Turnpike exit, follow US 522 south approximately one mile to its junction with PA 475 north. Continue approximately four miles on PA 475 north to Hustontown. Instead of turning right to follow PA 475, continue straight to PA 655 north, following the "to Saltillo" signs. Continue on PA 655 north approximately seven miles to its Y-junction with PA 913 at Waterfall. Bear left and follow PA 913 west approximately 4.5 miles (through New Grenada) and up Broad Top Mountain to the stop sign in Robertsdale. Continue to the right on PA 913 west (Main Street), crossing Trough Creek. The FEBT Museum will be on your left.
The Robertsdale Museum Complex
The Friends of the East Broad Top museum complex is located in Robertsdale, Wood Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. During the era of common-carrier EBT operations, Robertsdale was the railroad's southern operating terminus, although the rails continued a few miles farther south, through Wood to Alvin PA.
The FEBT museum site is located on the Huntingdon County sub-loop of the "Path of Progress", a 500-mile driving route that extends through nine southwestern Pennsylvania counties linking various heritage sites.
The museum complex consists of two historic buildings on the west side of Robertsdale's Main Street (Pennsylvania Highway 913) at the crossing of the tracks of the East Broad Top Railroad. These structures are two of what was originally four "company square" buildings erected by the Rockhill Iron and Coal Company (RI&C) and the East Broad Top Railroad in the center of Robertsdale. The FEBT museum site includes the former EBT Depot, located on the northwest corner and the Old Post Office, located on the southwest corner of the square respectively. The other two buildings of the "company square" are the stone Company Store, located on the northeast corner of the square, which was, unfortunately, torn down in 1997, and the Company Office Building, located on the southeast corner of the square, which now serves as the Robertsdale's Post Office.
In its operation of the Robertsdale museum complex, FEBT has four goals, all directly related to its organizational mission:
- To preserve the two historic structures owned by the FEBT which are associated with the EBT's presence in Robertsdale.
- Through restoration and adaptive rehabilitation of these structures, to provide space for the preservation and exhibition of historic artifacts important to public understanding of the East Broad Top Railroad and Robertsdale; and to provide space for the preservation, storage, and research use of historical materials and records related to the history and operations of the railroad.
- Through museum exhibits, interpretive tours, and special events, to enhance public awareness of the unique historical legacy of the EBT, its relationship to the development of railroads in the United States, and its role in the industrial development of southwestern Pennsylvania.
- To encourage public support for the continued preservation and complete restoration of the East Broad Top Railroad.
Also nearby in Robertsdale is the Broad Top Coal Miners Museum of the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Historical Society. This museum, located a short walk from the FEBT museum, presents exhibits on the coal mining heritage of the Broad Top Mountain coal field. The museum is housed in the restored Reality Theater.
History of the Museum Buildings
The Old Post Office was built by Rockhill Iron and Coal Company around 1915. A rectangular two-story building, it measures approximately 20 feet wide and 50 feet long. Its exterior walls are constructed of cast concrete block made to resemble stone. Lintels and sills at door and window openings are also cast concrete, but with smooth surfaces. Doors and windows are wood. The wood-frame hip roof was originally covered with asbestos-cement shingles. A wood balcony porch and a later concrete-block furnace addition are located on the rear wall. The lower floor of this building served as Robertsdale's post office during the era of EBT and RI&C operations. At various times, parts of the lower and upper floors provided space for barber and shoe shops, company offices, apartments and community meeting rooms. During at least one miners' strike, upstairs rooms were used as a company police "lock-up."
The other structure in the Robertsdale museum complex is the former East Broad Top Railroad Depot. Erected around 1917, it is a single-story building also constructed of cast concrete block made to resemble stone. The basic structure is rectangular, measuring approximately 26 feet wide and 44.5 feet long. An operator's bay (40 inches wide and 13.75 feet long) projects from the south wall, facing the adjacent EBT tracks. Lintels and sills are cast concrete, and original doors and windows are wood. The shallow wood-frame hip roof is covered with metal roofing and extends over the exterior walls to provide a wide protective eave around the entire station. The station office housed a scale indicator for the track scales immediately outside, upon which hopper cars loaded with coal were weighed before they made the trip to Mount Union. After railroad operations ceased in 1956, the scale mechanism was removed and the scale pit filled in. In subsequent years, the building saw intermittent use as a general store; during this time gasoline pumps were installed in the concrete platform at the east end of the station.
In 1987 FEBT learned that these two buildings were available for sale or lease as part of another property transfer between the owners of the EBT and a third party. With funds donated by an anonymous benefactor, FEBT purchased the Old Post Office and negotiated a 50-year lease on the EBT Depot. During the next several years volunteer work crews began rehabilitating the two structures. The Depot has been partially restored, and in 1991 it was opened to the public (on a limited basis) as the temporary location of FEBT museum exhibits, museum shop, and visitor information center. During the past several years FEBT has operated the Depot facility on Saturdays Sundays from Memorial Day to mid-October. Substantial rehabilitation of the Post Office was undertaken beginning in 1996, using funds donated by FEBT members and grants and loans awarded to FEBT by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission and the Potomac Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. During this phase of work on the Old Post Office, extensive repairs were made to the roof, gutters and drainpipes, chimney, second-floor, first-floor, crawl-space, balcony, stairs, exterior and interior walls, and doors and windows. Significant drainage improvements were made both within the building and to the site to prevent surface and underground water from entering the structure. An electrical service connection, rough plumbing, insulation, and independent heating and air conditioning systems for each floor were also installed. All work conforms to the Secretary of Interior's standards for rehabilitation of historic buildings, and all work was reviewed and approved in advance by the Pennsylvania Bureau for Historic Preservation. Since then FEBT member-volunteers have continued work on exterior repairs and repainting, while some additional contracted work including the installation of an interior ventilation duct and finishing and painting the new wood first floor was completed in late 1998 and early 1999. In September, 2004, Hurricane Ivan rolled through the EBT area and the Old Post Office was not completely spared. Rising waters entered the crawl space under the building and seeped through the first floor causing damage in the form or warped and buckled floorboards. This damage needed to be repaired before further restoration work could continue. During the summer of 2007, contracts were let to various contractors to conclude the final phase of the restoration work on the Old Post Office. In addition, in 2007, the FEBT, with the approval of the railroad, which held a "first right of refusal" negotiated the purchase of the former EBT station.
When development of the museum complex is complete, it will consist of the restored EBT Depot and museum exhibits, visitor information center, and museum shop located on the ground floor of the rehabilitated Old Post Office. EBT artifacts acquired by FEBT or loaned by FEBT members will be exhibited, together with historic photographs and other interpretive displays. The focus of the museum will be the employees of the railroad and their lives and work. FEBT member volunteers and paid museum staff will provide interpretive guided walks around the Robertsdale "company square" to museum visitors, distribute visitor information concerning Robertsdale and the EBT, and supervise the museum shop. A portion of the upper floor space in the rehabilitated Post Office will be used for safe storage and use of FEBT archival and research collections related to the EBT. Access to this material, now stored in scattered locations, will be provided by appointment to FEBT members and qualified researchers.