Day Is Done #14940

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The Story

At the EBT roundhouse at night, the last steam locomotive of the day comes across the turntable into its roundhouse berth with its headlight beaming. Night has fallen at the end of another workday on the East Broad Top Railroad and sister locomotives on the left and right are already berthed and done. Soon the mechanics will be in the open inspection pit under the locomotive to look her over. Working into the early dawn, hostlers will be on duty all night to keep the locomotive fires going. There’s more railroad work and trains to run in the morning.

With this picture, it’s easy to imagine the year could be 1926 at Rockhill Yard. Overall, making this recreation of the EBT roundhouse at night in Rockhill was a great experience to craft something from a bygone time done in a sort of Hollywood style by creating nostalgic scenes

This picture was made during a special one-day reenactment and the locomotive wasn’t really steamed up and running. It was serving as a passive actor in scenes set up for a photographer’s group. To make different views, a volunteer crew moved it around with a small narrow gauge diesel shifter and turned it on the turntable. With a little creative input from the photographers, they put the locomotive into various settings around the roundhouse for both day and night images. A little extra realism was added by having the headlight on, powered by a very long extension cord run out of the roundhouse. The photos wouldn’t have been the same without it.

There was a problem shooting in the turntable area at night from a very large, bright streetlight ruining the pictures. The quick solution came in two parts. The first was to go inside the roundhouse and put one of the large door pillars in front of the annoying light. It’s behind the rightmost pillar. The second part was to light paint the roundhouse interior with a small flashlight trying to balance out the overall lighting.

Of course, to portray the EBT roundhouse at night, it was best to have the locomotive headlight aimed right down the track and the nearby red shop buildings to show up well in the picture.

As of this writing, these old steam locomotives have been housed inactive under roof inside the roundhouse for some years since the last short summer tourist trips were run in 2011. It is unknown when any of these old steam locomotives might operate again; the little railroad’s future is in limbo.  A true throwback in time, the East Broad Top Railroad is a strong tie directly back to Pennsylvania’s industrial past. The 33 mainline miles of this little narrow gauge railroad are still in place and the operational state charter still stands. As seen in this picture, all the maintenance and shop facilities are still there and intact. At a standstill today, these narrow-gauge engines wait for fires to be lit that will power them to life once again.

Looking the other way on a different daylight visit to Rockhill Yard, again with special permission, I made an outdoor panorama of this roundhouse called Stillness In The Roundhouse #14193. The big doors were rolled open and I shot from the weathered wooden deck of the creaky manual turntable. That picture will give you a good look at the roundhouse in daylight with all the old locomotives showing except #16.

For more information about all things East Broad Top, see the website of The Friends of the East Broad Top. Their volunteer efforts keep things afloat and preserved until hopefully, this railroad gets another chance to run as a tourist railroad again. There’s some deep industrial history here at the East Broad Top that’s worth preserving.

Location: Rockhill Yard roundhouse and railroad shops, Orbisonia, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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