The east broad top railroad

720 views
12 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
The east broad top railroad
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, September 30, 2017 10:07 AM

The east broad top really needs to be purchased by the state of pa ( Yes I know the state is broke, I'm a resident )  to ensure that it remains intact. It's an amazing historical gem tucked into a depressed area of the state.

Then it could be turned over to a group or company to operate. Much the way that Colorado and new Mexico manages the c & t asset's. The state owns the railroad, hires an operating company, which in turns works with a awesome group of volunteers.

Thier is a near by trolly muesum that would make the trip down state even more interesting.

The preservation of the last intact narrow gauge in the east should not come down to underfunded groups or companies that may lead to it be broken up, sold piece meal and the remains scrap.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,074 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, September 30, 2017 10:51 AM

Good points.  I think one of the EBT's problems is it's, well, I won't say it's in the middle of nowhere, but it is off the beaten track.  I checked a map and saw it's maybe a third of the way between Harrisburg an Pittsburgh, with no major population areas around it, at least not that I can see, and besides the trolley museum no other tourist attractions I'm aware of.

Listen, if I had eight big ones to spend I'd buy it, but wouldn't we all?

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 918 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, September 30, 2017 11:00 AM

It is certainly a gem.

The enormous hurdle it has to overcome, probably more than anything, is the market competition in the area.

There are so many competing venues within "competition range" to the East Broad Top.

Just to name a few:

Strasburg and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Steamtown

Gettysburg Railroad

Western Maryland Scenic

Then, since it is not really that close to major population centers, besides the Trolley Museum, are there any other "entertainment venues" that could attract people to the area - wineries, camping, canoeing, golfing, etc. - things that would make it a destination for a weekend getaway of which the East Broad Top is one of the entertainment options?

To generate enough revenue to actually preserve the whole railroad, facilities and equipment, and pay for operating costs, will take a lot of people - a lot of non-railfans - coming through the turnstiles.

I hope they can figure it out somehow.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, September 30, 2017 3:59 PM

Firelock76

Good points.  I think one of the EBT's problems is it's, well, I won't say it's in the middle of nowhere, but it is off the beaten track.  I checked a map and saw it's maybe a third of the way between Harrisburg an Pittsburgh, with no major population areas around it, at least not that I can see, and besides the trolley museum no other tourist attractions I'm aware of.

Listen, if I had eight big ones to spend I'd buy it, but wouldn't we all?

 

all good points.   The area is depressed. A solid attraction might help spur some economic develoment and jobs. Steamtown certainly help the Scranton area. 

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,231 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, September 30, 2017 9:02 PM

PA already has Steamtown NP and The Railroad Museum of PA at Strasburg.  Back in the 90s when they were doing a gov't study of the EBT, a common refrain was "not another damn rail museum".  The uniqueness of the last NG in the east, is lost on the politicians and the general public who would have to fund it.  Besides, if you thing the state buying it would insure its salvation, check out the Adirondack Scenic thread.

EBT has struggled for over 60 years since freight shut down.  The time for a bail out of the entire line seems to have passed.  To save a significant portion, perhaps the Friends should concentrate on saving the Mt. Union-Orbisonia segment.  They have not been able to keep all the steam engines active, so they could let 1 or 2 go, hopefully to another significantly historical NG operation such as the Colorado RR Museum or Tweetsy.  If they don't come up with a realistic plan, they may loose it all.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, October 01, 2017 8:40 AM

MidlandMike

PA already has Steamtown NP and The Railroad Museum of PA at Strasburg.  Back in the 90s when they were doing a gov't study of the EBT, a common refrain was "not another damn rail museum".  The uniqueness of the last NG in the east, is lost on the politicians and the general public who would have to fund it.  Besides, if you thing the state buying it would insure its salvation, check out the Adirondack Scenic thread.

EBT has struggled for over 60 years since freight shut down.  The time for a bail out of the entire line seems to have passed.  To save a significant portion, perhaps the Friends should concentrate on saving the Mt. Union-Orbisonia segment.  They have not been able to keep all the steam engines active, so they could let 1 or 2 go, hopefully to another significantly historical NG operation such as the Colorado RR Museum or Tweetsy.  If they don't come up with a realistic plan, they may loose it all.

 

I'm not entirely sure if the time to save the ebt has passed, or if it's rescue has just become more urgent.

Either way selling off asset's would not be the way to go. It simple would not raise  enough capital needed to bring even a portion of the line back.

It's going to cost millions before the first wheel is turned to marginally bring the road back. And millions more  before the operation can cover even operating cost.

The ebt is more than a failed rail muesum. It's an intact piece history that can never be replaced or duplicated.

An $ 8000000 investment by the state to begin a private/ public partnership, is an investment in it self in a depressed portion of the state.

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 5,863 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, October 01, 2017 9:41 AM

kgbw49

It is certainly a gem.

The enormous hurdle it has to overcome, probably more than anything, is the market competition in the area.

There are so many competing venues within "competition range" to the East Broad Top.

Just to name a few:

Strasburg and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Steamtown

Gettysburg Railroad

Western Maryland Scenic

Then, since it is not really that close to major population centers, besides the Trolley Museum, are there any other "entertainment venues" that could attract people to the area - wineries, camping, canoeing, golfing, etc. - things that would make it a destination for a weekend getaway of which the East Broad Top is one of the entertainment options?

To generate enough revenue to actually preserve the whole railroad, facilities and equipment, and pay for operating costs, will take a lot of people - a lot of non-railfans - coming through the turnstiles.

I hope they can figure it out somehow.

 

To add a couple more Tourist RR attractions to the list provided by KGBW49

 Steam into History @ New Freedom, Pa [ AN 1860'S TRAIN RIDING EXPERIENCE]

 The WK&S RR [Wanamaker,Kempton & Southern] This line is an old Reading RR property, operated as a tourist railroad, from Kenpton Pa,[ one years ago, I got to ride, from a friend who had a home on it in Trexler,Pa.]

Then there is the Reading,Blue Mountain & Northern RR, a functioning railroad, that does offer tourist excursions from time to time..

I ma sure that either, Firelock 76. or Paul North can probably add to this list, or furnish more information on these tourist Operations in the Eastern half of Penna. Whistling

Sam

 

 


 

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 918 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Sunday, October 01, 2017 3:00 PM

Orbisonia has a population of a little over 400.

There is a relatively limited number of operations where the EBT equipment could have a boomer career.

Cumbres & Toltec, Durango & Silverton, and Georgetown Loop in Colorado come to mind, as well as the Sumpter Valley in Oregon and the Tweetsie Railroad in North Carolina.

Of course, there are the amusement park railroads - Dollywood, Disney World, Knott's Berry Farm, and the Huckleberry, and the Colorado State Railroad Museum.

Whether a railroad like the Sumpter Valley or Tweetsie or the Huckleberry would be interested in a coal-fired unit as a second 2-8-2 remains to be seen.

 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Monday, October 02, 2017 12:20 PM

kgbw49

Orbisonia has a population of a little over 400.

There is a relatively limited number of operations where the EBT equipment could have a boomer career.

Cumbres & Toltec, Durango & Silverton, and Georgetown Loop in Colorado come to mind, as well as the Sumpter Valley in Oregon and the Tweetsie Railroad in North Carolina.

Of course, there are the amusement park railroads - Dollywood, Disney World, Knott's Berry Farm, and the Huckleberry, and the Colorado State Railroad Museum.

Whether a railroad like the Sumpter Valley or Teetsie or the Huckleberry would be interested in a coal-fired unit as a second 2-8-2 remains to be seen.

 

 

 

what does the population of orbonisona have to do with saving the ebt?

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • 918 posts
Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, October 02, 2017 6:14 PM

There is not much else there for people to do, unfortunately. It will be difficult to support the East Broad Top to a break-even level with only rail fan riders who will make the trip to a small out of the way location. A 33 mile railroad, or even half that length, will need tens of millions to become operational again.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 12:54 PM

[quote user="kgbw49"]

There is not much else there for people to do, unfortunately. It will be difficult to support the East Broad Top to a break-even level with only rail fan riders who will make the trip to a small out of the way location. A 33 mile railroad, or even half that length, will need tens of millions to become operational again.

 

[/quote we are all guessing on the viabilty of a future ebt. It is off the beaten track, how ever it's sister rail operation, the Rock Hill trolley muesum, survives just Minutes from ebt station.

The ebt is not only rich in railroad history but tied to the development of Pennsylvania. It's structures, stations, foundry and roundhouse goes back to the 1890's. The locomotives slumber in the same stalls since they were delivered by Baldwin just 3 hours north in Philly.

It seems to be a state and local issue. Pa needs to be as forward looking as the state of Colorado and new Mexico when they faced with the abandonment of the rgw narrow gauge. I am sure there were plenty of negativity at the time, but folks were smart enough to realize the cost of purchasing a portion of the line  was far cheaper than walking away from the history.

It's wasn't easy for the c&t either. It had many operators that failed. It too is located at the far southern corner of co. But with the dedication of states and the the friends, it has survived the odds. 

Saving the entire ebt is out of reach. ( Same with the rgw )  much of the western end of ebt is gone as well as it's branches,it's been 62 years now. But saving as much as possible is not impossible.

It's going be a sad  day if they scrap out the railroad. Rail fans will blame the tree hugger in wanting to turn the road bed into a walking trail.  We will blame the politicans for selling out. we will blame the economy. But the true blame will  rest with us, when rail fans and non rail fans a like, realize far too late what he had when it's gone. In the big picture 8 million seems very  much like a bargin.

The ebt is teetering, after 65 years of decline it's time to act. I know I've email my state politicans, we all need to get involved.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 3,876 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 1:59 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
The locomotives slumber in the same stalls since they were delivered by Baldwin just 3 hours north in Philly.

This is a nifty sentiment... but Baldwin is nowhere near "north" of Orbisonia.  East, and south.

Why is it that no one here is mentioning that the East Broad Top HAS been in the hands of the scrappers for decades ... it just happens that the Kovalchicks were involved, and they preserved the equipment even at the height of the Chinese scrap craze that 'did in' the last Baldwin Shark B-unit and so much else.  They should be recognized as heroes and not denigrated collectively as dread enemies of preservation.

One issue that has been discussed is whether this happy state of affairs will continue when the company passes through succession.  That might be much more gainful to investigate, and perhaps attempt to influence, than trying to extract tourism money from a hard-up state government or contributions from the hereditarily-underfunded preservation community in the Pennsylvania area.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 2:57 PM

North,east ,south or west. It brings home how much has changed and how much hasn't. 

No one is trying extract money from pa. But an infusion of state money could certainly help that cornor of the state. The state just needs to purchase the asset's and turn them over to an operater.

The orginal trains article points out the fact it's been the hands of a scapper.  Who had leased the road up to recently to varies operating groups.

Seteiment aside, 8 million bucks is a bargin to obtain the last intact narrow gauge railroad in the east. An investment not only in history but in

the local economy.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy

Search the Community