Twin Towers of Rockhill #14108

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The Story

A visual landmark above the small side by side towns of Rockhill Furnace and Orbisonia, these twin smokestacks rise from the East Broad Top’s railroad shop. Some old coal cars on nearby yard tracks rust away as a little bit of the snows of March remain on the ground and the mountain behind. The entire EBT is an intact leftover from an earlier industrial age unlike any other and these shop buildings are a big part of that.

As with all railroad companies, the railroad shop took care of all manner of maintenance for the EBT. It was the mechanical heart of the little narrow gauge railroad containing nearly everything to keep it running day to day. If it could be fixed or made, it was done here working in metal and wood by skilled local workers.

All of the old machines are still inside, including the overhead shaft that powered them with belt-driven leather. Large coal furnaces made steam to power those belts and these iconic smokestacks above them let the smoke go into the sky. They’re inseparable from the East Broad Top landscape at Rockhill Furnace, just as are the station, yard tracks, and roundhouse. For that reason, they’re a defining visual feature there.

Inside, all the hand tools and workbenches remain. There is also a brass foundry and all the hand-carved wooden shapes to make the sand molds too. All in all, this railroad shop from the turn of the last century is a complete industrial age time capsule. It has always been worth saving.

Today, after years of not running tourist trains, the East Broad Top is about to revive once again. A new non-profit organization has been formed to revitalize and run the railroad. You can find out more by going to their website www.eastbroadtop.com. A companion organization called the Friends Of The East Broad Top will be working alongside. Over many years, they have been patching and fixing the very old buildings at Rockhill to keep them upright and viable.

From another angle, here’s another picture called Still Standin’ #14194 at Rockhill that shows the smokestacks and other more weathered shop buildings.

Location: Rockhill Furnace and Orbisonia, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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