Rust and Dust #14221

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The Story

With special permission, I was able to photograph the old steam locomotives inside the roundhouse at the East Broad Top Railroad. There are six narrow gauge steam locomotives stored in the vintage building. They date from the early 1900s and were the workhorses of the daily railroad operations hauling coal, gannister, iron, timber, and people. Those are all the things that built America through the prime time of Pennsylvania’s industrial heyday of resource extraction.

Using just natural window light and a wide angle lens set for long exposure, I was able to get a pretty good portrait of this very dusty steam locomotive. It sits with its exhaust stack under the smokejack roof vent above as do all the locomotives there. A piece of plywood covers the stack to keep any rainwater out. New roofing boards can be seen above, evidence of the preservation work done by the caretaking group Friends of the East Broad Top. One of #18’s five sisters sits behind at the next window with the smokebox door open.

As of this writing, these old steam locomotives have been housed inactive under roof for some years since the last short summer tourist trips were run. It is unknown when 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 thirty-some miles of this little narrow gauge railroad is still in place and the operational state charter still stands. All the maintenance and shop facilities are still there at Rockhill and intact too. At a standstill today, these narrow gauge engines wait for fires to be lit that will power them to life once again.

On the same visit, 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 image shows the tops of the aforementioned smokejacks just above the roofline and the back end of the tenders with their red numbers.

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. It’s a very worthy mission to save this piece of deep history.

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

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