Wednesday, October 10, 2007

East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company

East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company 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, 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.

Being in Orbisonia around the EBT is like stepping into the late 1800's or early 1900's. These photographs were taken at the fall spectacular Saturday October 6, 2007. It was not the best day to shoot as the fog was very heavy and when it burnt off the sun was harsh. The top two photos were worked over extensively in photoshop to enhance detail and give them an art work effect. I hope you enjoy them.

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