At The Switch #03604

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The Story

On a beautiful Saturday in Fall, switching maneuvers in the East Broad Top Railroad yard at Rockhill Furnace are in motion. The brakeman is about to flip the switch to the other track. Patiently, the engineer waits with his hand on the steam locomotive throttle. This crew has just turned the small train full of tourists on the wye. Soon they’ll be at the station just ahead down the narrow gauge track, ready for another group of tourists to board the train.

Clouds of steam and smoke waft away into the cool sunny air. The big tea kettle hisses away, patiently waiting too. Interestingly, this high view lets all the junk collected on top of the tender to be seen. Over years of use, there are old boards, cans, and even the water cooler for the crew. It’s the unkept backside of railroading if you will, and railroaders probably aren’t known for their housekeeping abilities.

This shot was done pre-digital on slide film years ago. I had climbed high onto the coaling tower above the tracks, scruffing my way up the steep earthen bank using small scrub trees as handholds. Being a great vantage point, I was completely unseen by the crew or any train passengers in the cars thirty feet below.

Historically, this steam locomotive #14 is a 2-8-2 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1912. This locomotive and her other five narrow gauge sisters have only known this railroad as home. They’ve been on the EBT all their working lives and remain stored in the original roundhouse on the property.

You can visit this little railroad virtually at www.eastbroadtop.com. You can also learn more about this historic time capsule of the industrial Victorian-era railroading at Friends Of The East Broad Top website too. There are more steam railroading pictures to see on this site as well.

Try this steam locomotive picture as a digital jigsaw puzzle!

Location: Orbisionia and Rockhill Furnace, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Picture and text © Andrew Dierks.

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