Posts Tagged With: East Broad Top Railroad

Step Back in Time This Weekend in Rockhill, PA

If you like ragtime music, here’s your opportunity to hear some that great music played by some of the top ragtime musicians in America.

July 20th to 22th, 2012 are the dates and Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania is the place to be to hear great ragtime, just like it was played in grandpa’s time. You’ll be carried back to the good old days on the early 20th century  trolleys at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

For you amateur and budding ragtime players there will be opportunities to showcase your talent during the festival. Check the Directions page for motel information in the area.

Our festival is shaping up to be one of the premier East Coast venues for ragtime this year.

Mr. Bryan Wright will be discussing  “Ragtime past and present” during the festival. Watch for details at

Your 2012 Festival Itinerary

Note: All concerts will be at the United Methodist Church in Orbisonia, 613 Cromwell Street, Orbisonia, PA.


Friday Afternoon Concert

7:00 pm. Details to follow

Friday Afternoon Concert Tickets: $20.00

Meet and Greet Reception

Friday evening after the concert, the doors of the Iron Rail Bed and Breakfast will be open for a drop in reception. Come and meet and mingle with the performers and fellow fans. We hope to see some impromptu playing during the evening, but if not, your hosts, Dave and Cindy Brightbill, have lots of rolls for the player piano!! Snacks will be served and the evening will be a great opportunity to hear some ragtime stories as well as music.

Friday Evening Meet & Greet: $5.00

After Hours

For late night ragtime fans ten o’clock at the Iron Rail is the place to be for more music, chat and good times.

Friday After Hours: $5.00


Saturday Morning Breakfast at the Iron Rail Bed & Breakfast   (NEW!)

Have breakfast with the performers at the Iron Rail at 9am. David and Cindy Brightbill will host a buffet breakfast. for $6 per person. Contact David for reservations. Visit with the stars while having a great breakfast.

Afternoon Amateur and Free Venues

Again this year the festival will hold free concerts at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on Meadow Street in Rockhill Furnace. Our featured artists will perform. Walk-up talent is encouraged, so here’s your opportunity to not only hear the pros in an informal setting but to showcase your talent. Times will be announced later. The pavilion next to the gift shop is where to go to enjoy the trolleys rolling by while listening to ragtime on the piano there.

Trolley Rides

Back in the golden age of ragtime music, the trolley was the most popular methods of travelling around town. Experience what it was like to travel in those days by taking a ride on some of America’s Historic trolleys at the Rockhill Trolley Museum, just across Meadow Street from the station. Trolley time is any time from 11:00am to 4:00pm.

Trolley tickets: Adult: $7.00, Children: $4.00 (2 to 11), Under 2: FREE!

Saturday Afternoon Concert

Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm our performers will be in concert.

Saturday Afternoon Concert Tickets: $20.00

Saturday Evening Concert

Saturday evening at 7:00pm our performers will be in concert.

Saturday Afternoon Concert Tickets: $20.00


Sunday Morning Services  (NEW!)

Adam Swanson will provide music at the 9:30 am service at St Luke Lutheran Church in Mt Union. Mount Union is straight north on 522.  Adam will provide prelude, offertory and postlude selections all with a gospel flavor. The main part of the service will be a local southern style gospel group known as “Forever Gospel” in 4 part harmony. David Brightbill is the Organist  Attire is informal.

Amateur and Free Venues

Our free concerts will continue on Sunday at the piano at the Rockhill Trolley Museum. Our featured artists will again perform, subject to their time constraints. Walk-up talent is again encouraged, so here’s another opportunity to showcase your talent. Times will be announced later.

Trolley Rides

The Trolley rides continue on Sunday on the Rockhill Trolley Museum. Trolley time is any time from 11:00am to 4:00pm.
Trolley tickets: Adult: $7.00, Children: $4.00 (2 to 12), Under 2: FREE!

Sunday Afternoon Concert

Our Sunday afternoon concert will start at 4:00 pm. The Golden Voice of Ann Gibson, accompanied by Fredrick Hodges. Ann is going to feature music from the Great War era. She is sure to please!

Sunday Afternoon Concert Tickets: $20.00 per person.

Special Combined Event Passes

All-Concert Pass is $70.00. This does not include entry into the after hours events.

Deluxe Pass: $80 for All Piano and Vocal Concerts, and entry to the After hours Events.

Categories: Events, History, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rockhill Trolley Museum to Continue Operating in 2012

The Rockhill Trolley Museum has been associated with the East Broad Top Railroad and the Kovalchick family since 1960. It was in October of that year that Johnstown Traction Company # 311 was moved to Rockhill Furnace and became the first trolley in what is now known as the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

During 2012, the trolley museum will continue to operate on its normal schedule of weekends only, starting Memorial Day weekend through the end of October. The winter holiday events will take place in late November and early December. Additional special events will be held throughout the year. Please check our website at for a complete listing of all of our 2012 events.

While associated with the EBT Railroad for over fifty years, the trolley museum is a separate non-profit corporation operated by Railways To Yesterday, Inc. The Rockhill Trolley Museum is deeply grateful for the many years of support from the East Broad Top Railroad and the Kovalchick family. We are looking forward to many more years of mutual help and cooperation. The trolley museum is staffed entirely by volunteers that are responsible for all aspects of the museum. We are deeply disappointed to hear that the EBT will not operate during 2012. The Rockhill Trolley Museum looks forward to the operation of East Broad Top Railroad in the future.

Rockhill Trolley Museum photo by David Schwartz

The Rockhill Trolley Museum will continue normal operations on weekends Memorial Day Weekend through the end of October 2012, as well as special holiday events in late November through December! (photo by David Schwartz)

Categories: Events, Group Travel, HCVB News, History, Things to Do, Tourism Industry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

High Iron Hiatus

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.

Categories: Events, Group Travel, HCVB News, History, Things to Do, Tourism Industry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Huntingdon County: A History of Transportation and Industry

By Ron Morgan

Visitors to scenic and historical Huntingdon County will quickly identify with the area’s down home atmosphere, quaint country settings and an abundance of outdoor beauty and recreational opportunities. What many travelers may not realize is that the Raystown Lake Region of The Alleghenies, including Huntingdon County, boasts of an exciting transportation and industrial heritage that can be experienced by a visit to many attractions in the region.

The development of historic Huntingdon County is traced back to its transportation resources which started out as rugged Native American “paths,” or “Indian Trails.” These early transportation routes, used for both military and civilian purposes, cut into the heart of the mountains and valleys of central Pennsylvania. The “paths,” which included the north-south Warriors Path that closely paralleled Raystown Lake and Tussey Mountain, played prominent roles in the region’s history during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

With the close of the Revolution, settlers pushed west, first crossing the Alleghenies by wagon and on foot, or utilizing some of Pennsylvania’s major rivers and smaller streams, including the Juniata River system. Locally, a number of “toll roads” were established which connected Huntingdon County with its neighboring counties.

During the early years of the 19th century, rival canal systems like the Erie Canal to the north and the C&O to the south forced the state to construct its own Pennsylvania Canal, which “Middle Division” passed through the heart of Huntingdon County, helping to boost the economy and growth of Huntingdon and Mount Union.

By the early 1850s the canal system was replaced by the trend-setting Pennsylvania Railroad. Branching off of the main line PRR at Huntingdon was the standard gauge Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad, constructed to haul coal from the tri-county corners of Broad Top Mountain. A short, two decades later the narrow gauge East Broad Top Railroad was built from Mount Union to the eastern side of the Broad Top Mountain and Coal Field to haul the “black diamonds” to the PRR.

With the advent of America’s industrial age and new transportation technologies, the steam railroad locomotive was replaced by diesel engines and the horse and buggies relinquished their place in rural Huntingdon County to the arrival of automobiles and airplanes. Today, the railroad continues to stop in Huntingdon to pick up passengers while freight from all parts of the nation roll through the region. Not far away, a busy U.S. Route 22 passes through the county making connections with major roadways like U.S. Route 522, state routes 45, 453, 26 and the celebrated Pennsylvania Turnpike which passes through the southeastern corner of the county.

At the heart of the county’s road, canal and railroad development was a growing economy which roots were planted in local industries like iron making, coal, coke and brick production, as well as agricultural and timbering interests. Although the industrial history of the county has seen many changes since the American Revolution the heritage of those early industries can be experienced at a number of historical attractions throughout Huntingdon County and at a variety of seasonal activities and events sponsored by nonprofit historical organizations.

The Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau encourages visitors to stop by several, well known and time-honored transportation and industrial heritage attractions. More information about these attractions and other activities can be obtained at the HCVB’s visitor center at the Seven Points Recreation Area, or other visitor information facilities in the area.

Some of the attractions include: East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark at Rockhill Furnace, Rockhill Trolley Museum, located across from the EBT’s Orbisonia Station; Swigart Antique Auto Museum, east of Huntingdon; Isett Acres Museum, Huntingdon; a unique transportation and heritage exhibit found at the Raystown Lake Visitor Center; Allegrippis Trail system at Seven Points recreation Area; Lower Trail, near Alexandria; Greenwood Furnace State Park, in northeastern Huntingdon County; former PRR HUNT Signal Tower, in downtown Huntingdon and the nearby Huntingdon County Historical Society; Mount Union Area Historical Society, Fort Roberdeau, in Sinking Valley; Thousand Steps hiking trail near Mill Creek; and the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Museum and Friends of the East Broad Top Museum, both located in Robertsdale.

Numerous other historical societies in Huntingdon County also promote local history while several attractions have indirect links with the county’s history. They include Lincoln Caverns, Huntingdon; Indian Caverns, Spruce Creek; Penn’s Cave, near State College; Juniata College in Huntingdon and numerous state parks, scenic areas of the Rothrock State Forest District and a host of recreational trails scattered across the region.

About the Author

Ron Morgan is a native of Robertsdale, PA, and is a semi-retired reporter for the Huntingdon Daily News.  Ron is a founding member and current president of the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Heritage Association, which operates a museum in Robertsdale.

Categories: 2010 Visitors Guide, History, Things to Do | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Triple Sorrow

It has been said that death comes in threes.  That has certainly been the case in the past week in the tourism community of the Raystown Lake Region.  In the seven days from January 20, 2012 to January 26, 2012, we said goodbye to three remarkable men, who each made our tourism product offerings better even if that wasn’t their primary goal, or even within their thoughts.

Larry Way at Miller's Diner, photo by Abram Eric Landes

Larry Way at Miller's Diner, photo by Abram Eric Landes -

On Friday, January 20th, Larry Way, owner of Miller’s Diner 3 miles east of Huntingdon, succumbed to a heart attack.  Larry was an ardent supporter and promoter of Raystown Lake.  He would engage anyone who would listen in conversation about the lake, its tremendous impact on the local economy, and its potential to increase that impact.  Larry had an infectious smile, and was not shy about speaking his mind on any topic.  His restaurant has a hometown air about it, and it is very common, and oddly welcoming for conversations to be taking place between booths, tables, and even the counter seating, engaging every patron there at the time.

On my first day as Executive Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, my staff arranged to have lunch delivered by Miller’s Diner to the Visitors Center.  This isn’t a normal service that the Diner provides, but Larry was eager to meet me and help to shape my vision of the area and its tourism industry, so he brought the meal out himself.  We wound up sitting at our conference table engaged in conversation for more than two hours.  I was already enthusiastic about my new job, but Larry’s viewpoint helped me to put into perspective the tremendous opportunities that exist here for residents and visitors alike.

Much local and national publicity has surrounded the second death that affects Huntingdon County’s tourism industry, that of Joe Paterno on Sunday, January 22nd.  While not directly involved in HCVB, there is no denying the overwhelmingly positive impact he has had on our tourism industry.  Six weekends per year, more than 100,000 people flock to Beaver Stadium in State College to experience a game day at the best show in college athletics.  Joe Paterno is singly responsible for that volume of visitors to Central Pennsylvania.  The lodging establishments of Huntingdon County have no trouble selling their rooms on those weekends.  It is entirely likely that  JoePa never considered his impact on the rural county to his south, but it certainly exists.

I am not an alumnus of Penn State, nor have I ever shaken hands with the man, although I have been in the audience while he addressed an assembly of high school student government participants more than two decades ago.  However, I am and always have been a Penn State Nittany Lion fan.  And I for one, will always remember the beloved coach, philanthropist, educator and family man fondly.

On Thursday, January 26th we lost a man whose dedication to his job rivaled that of coach Paterno in its loyalty and longevity.  Stanley Hall started with the East Broad Top Railroad in 1959 as a painter, fresh out of high school.  He was charged with preparing the narrow-gauge railway’s cars and engines that had been dormant since it ceased operations in 1956, for an excursion to celebrate the Orbisonia/Rockhill bicentennial.  From that moment he dedicated his life to the EBT, doing every job involved in running a steam railroad, including serving more than two decades as its general manager.  The monumental task of maintaining 32 miles of railroad right-of-way, century-old machinery, acres of wooden and steel structures, and running weekend excursions with all of it for 50 years, boggles the mind, yet that’s what Stanley did.

Stanley Hall being inducted into the Keystone Society for Tourism.  Photo by Ed Stoddard

Stanley Hall (center) receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Keystone Society for Tourism in 2010, presented by Deputy Secretary J. Mickey Rowley (left) and Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (right). Photo by Ed Stoddard

I had the great fortune to nominate and witness Stanley Hall’s induction into the Keystone Society for Tourism, Pennsylvania’s tourism honor society.  He had amazing stories to tell about the railroad over the years, and quite literally dedicated blood, sweat, and tears to its operation.  As I sat in the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg with the Hall family, and listened to all of Stanley’s accomplishments read as the award was presented, and saw the pride in their eyes, and the sense of satisfaction in his for recognition of a life of dedicated service, I was nearly brought to tears.

I consider it a true blessing to be promoting an area that has been so greatly influenced by these three great men.  My heart, and those of the entire tourism industry in Huntingdon County is saddened by their passing.  To their families, please know that their impact on the area they loved so much, is sure to be felt for generations to come, and will not be forgotten.

Matt Price
Executive Director
Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

Categories: Lifestyle | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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