Railroads & Locomotives Timelines & Book Reviews Post-World War II East Broad Top timeline

Post-World War II East Broad Top timeline

By | February 1, 2005

Read "Mr. Kovalchick's Full-size Train Set" in the Spring 2005 issue of Classic Trains

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East Broad Top 2-8-2 No. 12 pulls into Orbisonia station for another load of riders on Oct. 14, 1960, during the narrow-gauge’s reopening weekend.
Don Wood photo

June 24, 1951
Last of seven chartered railfan trips, dating to 1936, operates on EBT.

Jan. 1, 1952
C. Roy Wilburn, who eventually would lead the railroad’s day-to-day operations in its tourist years, becomes EBT’s operating vice president.

Nov. 21, 1955
EBT files for abandonment with the ICC.

Feb. 16, 1956
ICC approves abandonment.

Feb. 21, 1956
Rockhill Coal Co. notifies EBT it will cease mining operations.

April 6, 1956
Final revenue freight train operates, pulled by 2-8-2 17.

May 1, 1956
Rockhill Coal Co. and EBT are sold to Kovalchick Salvage Co. of Indiana, Pa.

May 16, 1960
Wilburn announces that the railroad will reopen to help commemorate a bicentennial celebration for Orbisonia.

Aug. 13, 1960
EBT reopens about 3.5 miles of track for tourist service.

1961 season
Serviceable track is extended northward more than a mile to a picnic area, and a wye track is constructed from the remnants of EBT’s former Clay Spur.

July 6, 1963
Railways to Yesterday begins trolley operations from Rockhill Furnace eastward on the right of way of EBT’s former Shade Gap Branch.

James B. Stevenson, then-chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), conceives the idea of a statewide railroad museum. EBT’s Mount Union yard is one of three sites considered; the others are Altoona and Strasburg.

Aug. 15, 1964
EBT is designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

Feb. 18, 1965
PHMC votes to locate the state railroad museum at Strasburg because of its proximity to the Strasburg Rail Road and its location in a heavy tourist area.

April 6, 1965
Pennsylvania State House passes a resolution asking PHMC to reconsider its vote. The original PHMC balloting gave Strasburg four votes, Mount Union three, and Altoona one. PHMC sticks by its original decision.

Feb. 1966
First railfan weekend of modern era operates in the form of a “Winter Spectacular,” chartered by Railways to Yesterday.

EBT sells one of its two standard-gauge 0-6-0 switchers, No. 6, to Whitewater Valley Railroad in Indiana.

April 20, 1977
EBT President Nick Kovalchick dies at age 70 and is succeeded by his son Joseph.

Feb. 1981
EBT operates its final Winter Spectacular railfan weekend.

Friends of East Broad Top is organized.

National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record begins documenting physical facilities of EBT with photographs and structural drawings. The work continues in 1989 and 1994.

Congress directs the National Park Service to create America’s Industrial Heritage Project, a framework for preservation and interpretation of southwestern Pennsylvania’s industrial history.

FEBT leases former EBT Robertsdale station and former Robertsdale post office for museum use.

EBT tourist operation schedule reduced from daily in July and August, weekends in June, September, October, with trains running hourly throughout the day, to weekends-only during June-October, with trains at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission is formed as a federal agency to promote and, where feasible, manage heritage tourism as a tool for economic development. National Park Service approaches EBT to discuss partnerships and support. NPS rangers provide on-site interpretation.

C. Roy Wilburn retires and is succeeded by Stanley Hall.

NPS study of alternatives for ownership, management, and full restoration is published. Rehabilitation of entire 32-mile main line is estimated at $40 million.

FEBT opens museum in former EBT Robertsdale station.

Aug. 31, 1991
C. Roy Wilburn dies.

National Park Service budget cut ends direct NPS involvement.

June 16, 1995
Boiler explosion on Gettysburg Railroad’s ex-Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No. 1278 triggers a tightening of federal regulations on steam boiler operation, maintenance, and inspection, ultimately forcing EBT by 2002 to reduce operations to a single steam engine, No. 14.

Sept. 1995
A refined study of the NPS alternatives for restoration and ownership options is released by a consortium. Estimated cost of full restoration of the line is $46 million.

National Trust for Historic Preservation places EBT on its “11 Most Endangered Places” list.

May 1999
EBT is included in a state heritage park designation. None of the proposals for public operation pans out, and the Kovalchick family continues to own, operate, and subsidize the line.

Aug. 12, 2000
EBT celebrates 40th anniversary of tourist operation.

Aug. 17, 2001
Railways to Yesterday, now operating as Rockhill Trolley Museum, opens 2800-foot-long track extension to Blacklog Narrows.

FEBT begins active volunteer restoration work on shop buildings and other structures, and track, at Rockhill Furnace.

July 20, 2002
FEBT purchases former EBT passenger cars No. 18 (combine) and No. 29 (baggage-express) from a defunct tourist railroad in Colorado and repatriates them to the EBT shop at Rockhill Furnace.

Rebuilding work progresses on boiler of 2-8-2 No. 15.

December 2011
Last public excursion trains

Kovalchick family sells the East Broad Top to the EBT Foundation for restoration and future operations.

For more information

East Broad Top Railroad

Friends of the East Broad Top

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