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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rockhill Furnace in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

East Broad Top Railroad

 
 
East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, November 2009
1. East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark Plaque
Inscription.
East Broad Top Railroad
Has Been Designated A
Registered National
Historic Landmark

Under the Provisions of The
Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935
This Site Possesses Exceptional Value
In Commemorating and Illustrating
The History of the United States
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
1964

 
Erected 1964 by U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 40° 14.465′ N, 77° 53.952′ W. Marker is in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, in Huntingdon County. Marker is at the intersection of Meadow Street (Route 994) and Iron Street, on the right when traveling east on Meadow Street. Click for map. The marker is across the street from the East Broad Top Railroad Station. Marker is in this post office area: Rockhill Furnace PA 17249, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Admiral Wm Sims (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bedford Furnace (approx. half a mile away); Juniata Iron
East Broad Top Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
2. East Broad Top Railroad Marker
(approx. one mile away); Shadow of Death (approx. 3.8 miles away); Fort Shirley (approx. 4.4 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Shirley (approx. 4.4 miles away); Mount Union Area Veterans Memorial (approx. 9.8 miles away); Stone House (approx. 10.1 miles away).
 
Regarding East Broad Top Railroad. The East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company (EBT) was originally chartered on April 16, 1856 to mine and transport coal from the rich fields of Broad Top Mountain. Due to lack of funding, however, the railroad did not become a reality until fifteen years later when the Rockhill Iron & Coal Company (RIC) was incorporated. The founders, a group of Philadelphia businessmen, bought a controlling interest in EBT stock, and made plans to construct a narrow gauge railway. The line was opened from Mt. Union to Rockhill Furnace on August 30, 1873, and was completed in 1874 to the company town of Robertsdale which was developing around Rockhill No. 1 Mine. In 1891, the tracks were extended to a new mine at Woodvale. Trains made several daily runs to Mt. Union where coal was transferred to the standard gauge cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

At Rockhill,
East Broad Top Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
3. East Broad Top Railroad Marker
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the EBT is the most complete historic narrow guage railroad site in North America. The National Historic Landmark plaque is attached to this stone monument, facing the East Broad Top's Orbisonia Station across the street.
the company built an extensive shops complex and engine house. With its steam-generated and belt-driven machinery, the EBT was almost totally self-sufficient, maintaining its rolling stock and constructing its own freight cars. As the railroad prospered, passenger service was expanded to include public excursions as well as transport of miners. In the early 1900's, the trackage and bridges were substantially rebuilt, including an early concrete arch railway bridge. In 1906 a new passenger station at Rockhill was constructed, which bears the name of the neighboring town of Orbisonia. This building also houses the company offices.

In 1919, the EBT was purchased by Madeira, Hill & Company (MHC). At Mt. Union, MHC established a coal cleaning plant and a "timber transfer." Originally, the timber transfer was used to transfer wood from narrow to standard gauge cars from the McKelvey Brothers Logging Company. After the McKelvey Brothers went out of business in 1933, the timber transfer was used to change the trucks under standard gauge cars to move on the EBT rails until abandonment. In 1938, after MHC's bankruptcy, bondholders reorganized the company as the Rockhill Coal Company. After World War II, rising labor costs, crippling strikes, diminishing coal deposits and a decreasing market took their toll on the EBT. Finally, in April 1956, the last run was made to Mt. Union and
East Broad Top Railroad Logo image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
4. East Broad Top Railroad Logo
the EBT became the last operating narrow gauge east of the Rocky Mountains.

Soon after closing in 1956, the Kovalchick Salvage Company of Indiana, PA, a large railroad scrapper, bought the railroad and all its assets. In 1960, passenger service was restored to celebrate the bicentennials of Orbisonia and Rockhill. The EBT was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and remains the most complete and authentic narrow gauge site in America and the last original narrow gauge east of the Rockies.

The non-profit organization, Friends of the East Broad Top, was incorporated in 1983 to document, preserve, and restore the EBT. In 2002, FEBT volunteers finally began to get their hands dirty with many restoration projects at the East Broad Top.

In 2009 the nonprofit EBT Preservation Association signed a three year contract to operate the trains of the EBT with an option to purchase.
 
Also see . . .
1. East Broad Top Railroad. (Submitted on June 29, 2010, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.)
2. Friends of the East Broad Top Railroad -. The Narrow Gauge Railroad Time Forgot...Preserving & Restoring Living History (Submitted on June 29, 2010, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.) 
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceLandmarksMan-Made FeaturesNotable BuildingsRailroads & Streetcars
 
East Broad Top Railroad Locomotive #15 image. Click for full size.
By John G. Frantz, October 2008
5. East Broad Top Railroad Locomotive #15
The East Broad Top purchased this Baldwin built mikado type engine in 1914.
East Broad Top Railroad M-3 image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
6. East Broad Top Railroad M-3
The East Broad Top M-3 was built in the East Broad Top Shops in 1924 and restored by the Friends of the East Broad Top in 2006.
East Broad Top Railroad #16 image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 10, 2009
7. East Broad Top Railroad #16
#16 is waiting in the roundhouse. The East Broad Top purchased this Baldwin built mikado type engine in 1916.
East Broad Top Railroad M-1 image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
8. East Broad Top Railroad M-1
In 1927 East Broad Top shop employees assembled this motorcar kit fabricated by the J.G. Brill Co. The M-1 has a gas engine and was therefore much cheaper to operate, at about half the cost of a steam engine.
East Broad Top Railroad Shop Tour image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
9. East Broad Top Railroad Shop Tour
A tour of the East Broad Top Shops gives visitors a look at the railroad's machine shop.
Orbisonia Station image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
10. Orbisonia Station
Purchase your tickets for a historic steam excursion here.
East Broad Top Railroad #15 image. Click for full size.
By John G. Frantz, October 2008
11. East Broad Top Railroad #15
East Broad Top Railroad Crossing Warning. image. Click for full size.
By Howard C. Ohlhous, October 9, 2009
12. East Broad Top Railroad Crossing Warning.
The East Broad Top railroad is an operating railroad and still maintains the vintage grade crossing warnings.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. This page has been viewed 1,498 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on , by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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