Here is an old narrow gauge harp switch stand still in use in the East Broad Top RR yard at Rockhill Furnace. In the background are several cosmetically restored hopper cars belonging to the railroad, meaning they’ve received a new coat of fresh black paint despite being immobile.
These tall harp switch stands on stub switches are common fare along the yard tracks at Rockhill and they can easily be seen at a distance along the tracks with their red and white panel indicators. But there are other shorter varieties of switch stands there too, low-to-the-ground dwarf switch stands, as seen in Still Standin’ #14194. They use a different mechanism than the harp switch stands to move the switch.
On one visit to the EBT when no one was looking, I moved one of the harp switch stands just to see how one moved and how hard it might be. To my surprise, it was easy and moved the stub switch rails like butter, no doubt due to the great leverage of the tall throwing arm. It’s a simple mechanism but effective enough to still work easily being over 100 years old. Many of these old railroad switch mechanisms still see everyday use when the tourist trains run.
Also note the track condition here as well. This picture is from the days before the long shutdown that began in 2011 and before the takeover by the EBT Foundation. There are very few spikes holding the rails down, the ballast is nearly nothing but dirt, and the ties have seen much better days. Those things have been improved since the picture was created, but the harp switch stand is still there just as it’s always been.
Location: the East Broad Top Railroad yard at Orbisonia, Rockhill Furnace, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks
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