Photo shoot at EBT is first in a decade

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ORBISONIA, Pa. — The first East Broad Top Railroad photo event in nearly a decade will offer afternoon and evening shots of a 1918 steam locomotive on the EBT turntable and of the Pennsylvania narrow-gauge railroad’s 1927 gas-electric unit in multiple locations around the Rockhill Furnace yard. Antique vehicles and costumed crew members will be on hand, and lighting experts will help create nighttime shooting opportunities in and around the roundhouse.

No. 17, a Baldwin-built Mikado, is expected to have pride of place on the turntable, allowing it to be in the foreground or background of shots from numerous angles in the yard and in the roundhouse. No. 17 pulled the EBT’s last mainline coal trains in March of 1956, and was a popular draw after the railroad reopened as a tourist line in 1960. The locomotive last ran in 2001.

The gas-electric unit, M-1, was built in the East Broad Top’s shops with plans and components from Brill and Westinghouse. The M-1 carried passengers, mail, and packages, and could tow a coach or pull several coal hoppers as needed. It was the only such piece of equipment built for an American narrow-gauge railroad, and remains operable today.

The East Broad Top will spot other equipment around the yard for the event, and some may be moved during the day to provide variety for photographers. No rides will be offered on any equipment.

The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 and will be limited to 30 photographers. It will begin at 1 p.m., with a dinner break about 4:30 and dusk and night photo opportunities afterward. The cost will be $149 per person. Dinner will be available at the neighboring Iron Rail Bed & Breakfast for a $15 donation. To make a reservation or seek further information, send an email to Lawrence Biemiller (

The 33-mile-long East Broad Top was built from 1872 to 1874 to bring coal to a big new iron furnace then under construction, but it also carried general freight as well as passengers and the U.S. mail. Although the furnace closed in the early 1900s, demand for clean-burning Broad Top Mountain coal kept the railroad busy into the 1950s. After 1953, the EBT was the only remaining narrow-gauge railroad east of the Rocky Mountains. The line is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The EBT has been closed since the end of 2011 and is for sale by its longtime owners, the Kovalchick family of Indiana, Pa., who have preserved the railroad since Nick Kovalchick bought it in 1956. The current owners are Joe and Judy Kovalchick. The railroad has also enjoyed years of support from the volunteers of the Friends of the East Broad Top.

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