It’s been nearly a decade since East Broad Top Railroad fans have had the opportunity to photograph vintage steam locomotives and other vehicles comprising the EBT roster. But all that will change for select rail photographers when the EBT sponsors several photo-ops on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, Nov. 2, at the railroad headquarters in Rockhill.

According to an announcement released recently by the EBT, narrow gauge steam locomotive No. 17 and the railroad’s gas-electric M-1 unit will be on display for 30 lucky photographers. Two sessions have been announced for Nov. 2, the first one taking place at 1 p.m., followed by a dusk and night photo op.

“I’m happy to report about the first event at the EBT in ages,” explained Lawrence Biemiller, EBT railroad tour guide and publicist. “The Nov. 2 event marks the first EBT photo event in nearly a decade.”

Limited to 30 photographers, the event also includes a dinner break around 4:30 p.m. The cost of the event is $149 per person with dinner to be available at the neighboring Iron Bed & Breakfast at Rockhill for a donation of $15, explained Biemiller who announced Tuesday morning that the event is now sold out.

The stars of the special photo sessions are the Baldwin-built Mikado No. 17 steam locomotive, built in 1918, and the EBT’s gas-electric unit M-1, which was constructed at the EBT railroad shops at Rockhill using plans and components from Brill and Westinghouse.

The M-1, capable of towing a railroad coach or several coal hoppers, was used to transport passengers, the U.S. mail and other items along the original 33-mile EBT right of way between Mount Union and Robertsdale-Wood during the railroad’s common carrier period and after 1960 for various railroad excursion activities between Rockhill and Shirleysburg.

EBT’s No. 17 steam locomotive once pulled narrow gauge consists, including coal shipments from the deep mines at Robertsdale and Wood until March of 1956 when the railroad ceased common carrier operations only to be put back into service for tourist operations in 1960. In 2001, the locomotive made its last run, noted Biemiller.

The two pieces of EBT rolling stock will be on display on the turntable where photographers will have ample positions from which to take photos.

“During the event antique vehicles and costumed crew members will be on hand and lighting experts will help create nighttime shooting opportunities in and around the roundhouse,” added Biemiller. “The EBT will spot other equipment around the yard for the event and some may be moved during the day to provide variety for photographers.”

It was stressed that no rides will be offered on any of the railroad equipment.

The EBT, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, has been closed since the end of 2011 and is for sale by its longtime owners, the Kovalchick family of Indiana, Pa.

The Kovalchick family, beginning with the late Nick Kovalchick who purchased the railroad in 1956, have preserved the railroad for decades and is presently owned by Joe and Judy Kovalchick.

The EBT was opened to Robertsdale in the fall of 1874 followed by an extension to the deep mines in the Woodvale area in 1891. After 1953, the EBT earned the reputation of being the only remaining narrow gauge railroad east of the Rocky Mountains.

“The railroad has also enjoyed years of support from the volunteers of the Friends of the East Broad Top,” concluded Biemiller.

Ron can be reached at


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.