We learned late last week that the East Broad Top Railroad will not be operating in 2012. The historic narrow-gauge railway has been in operation for around 140 years, including the last five decades as a tourist railroad. Operating a tourist attraction using century-old equipment in century-old buildings, on a century-old right-of way presents a unique set of challenges. We don’t know all of the details of the decision why not to operate this summer, but we know that some significant investments are needed to keep the steam operation running smoothly and safely for the general public.
Railroad officials have stated on their Facebook page, that they still hope to be back up and running full-steam in 2013. There are several organizations who support the East Broad Top Railroad, its preservation and promotion, including the Friends of East Broad Top, Broad Top Area Coal Miners Historical Society, East Broad Top Preservation Association, Railways To Yesterday (operators of the Rockhill Trolley Museum), and the Kovalchick family, who have owned the railroad since 1956, just to name a very important few.
Tours of the railroad shops in Rockhill will continue to be available to groups of 20 or more people this summer. These tours are amazing in and of themselves. The twin communities of Rockhill and Orbisonia will continue to hold their homecoming and Christmas in Our Hometown events, and the Rockhill Trolley Museum will continue its weekend operations beginning this Memorial Day weekend.
In other words, there is still a lot of history and activity to be explored in the Rockhill-Orbisonia area. Please don’t let the absence of steam excursions keep you away! If you’d like help planning your trip, give the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau a call at 888-729-7869.