East Broad Top
The East Broad Top Railroad
And Coal Company
The last original narrow gauge railroad east of the Rockies, and the oldest surviving narrow gauge in America.
What is the EBT? Today the EBT is a tourist hauler offering steam excursions on five miles of track, but the story of this time capsule goes much deeper. The East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company was a short line narrow gauge railroad built in 1872-74 to service the coal fields of the remote Broad Top Mountain area of south-central Pennsylvania, and haul the coal to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Mount Union or to on-line iron furnaces. The EBT dutifully and, for the most part, profitably performed this duty for over eighty years. The Broad Top coal business faded in the mid 1950's as oil and gas replaced coal power in many applications and the need for Broad Top coal haulers came to an end. On April 14, 1956, the line officially ceased freight operations.
Even at that time the EBT was the last original narrow gauge east of the Rocky Mountains. As with it's contemporaries, the EBT was closed and sold for dismantlement and salvage. Unlike them, the EBT was never dismantled. Nick Kovalchick of Kovalchick Salvage purchased the line in 1956, but did not dismantle it immediately. The entire line laid dormant until 1960, when at the request of the Orbisonia Bicentennial committee, the EBT began operating excursions on a short portion of the line. The rides were so popular Nick decided open the railroad as a tourist attraction the next year and since then 5 miles of the line has served as tourist hauler while the remaining 28 miles of the road went into a kind of stasis for the next 40 years. For more information see http://www.spikesys.com/EBT/intro.html.
At the Galveston Model Railroad Club and Museum we are reconstructing the route of the East Broad Top Railway. The layout spans the entire length of the front of the building. Using web sites and the many publications available, we are attempting to recreate the EBT to the realism of the latter days.