Friends of the EBT

The history of the East Broad Top Railroad will be recalled Saturday, June 12, when the Friends of the East Broad Top (FEBT) opens its new museum in the former Robertsdale post office, far left. Members of the FEBT recently completed work on the museum which will be followed by the start of a roof replacement project on the EBT Depot, right.

After many years of preparation and restoration work the nonprofit Friends of the East Broad Top (FEBT) will open their new museum in the former Robertsdale post office, starting Saturday, June 12.

Numerous volunteers over the years have dedicated their time and talents to the multi-phase restoration of the former, two-story post office which also housed a barbershop, a small restaurant, a location for accordion lessons and during the heyday of King Coal, a makeshift jail.

Over the years, FEBT members were also involved in improvements to the next door (former) East Broad Top Railroad Depot which originally housed the nonprofit organization’s gift shop. Both structures are owned and maintained by the FEBT which was founded in 1983.

As work progresses at the EBT’s headquarters at Rockhill, including the rehabilitation of steam locomotives numbers 16 and 14, the FEBT has devoted considerable time at both Rockhill and Robertsdale, aiding the new EBT Foundation Inc. in its multi-phase restoration of the legendary narrow-gauge railroad.

The FEBT’s Robertsdale Museum will be open the second and fourth Saturdays of June through October to correspond with the EBT’s schedule at Rockhill. Once the railroad is in full operation, changes in the museum schedule at Robertsdale are expected. The museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Trained FEBT volunteers will be on hand Saturdays to welcome visitors, answer questions and from time-to-time offer special activities including tours of historic Robertsdale, the one-time southern terminus of the coal-hauling railroad which reached Broad Top Mountain/Coal Field in fall 1874.

Another highlight of the museum is a well-supplied gift shop (credit cards will be accepted) located next door to the FEBT exhibits on the first floor of the stone-block structure. The volunteers are also involved in the development of the second floor which will house the FEBT’s research library and headquarters.

Restrooms, internet service and special exhibit lighting were also installed at the museum which aids in displaying the informational panels developed by Andy Van Scyoc and Marjorie Van Scyoc with assistance from other FEBT members.

Also scheduled for this fall is the installation of a new roof on the old EBT Depot. The contract was awarded to Covert Roofing of Shirleysburg. The work is scheduled to begin sometime in August.

Last fall, three original EBT coal hoppers were transported by the EBT Foundation to Robertsdale and placed on restored narrow gauge trackage followed by clearing of EBT right of way from the railroad depot south to the old Robertsdale No. 5 Slope Mine. Current plans call for initially offering rides on a handcar over the restored trackage.

Also, in the hopper are plans to improve the freight station section doors on the depot as well as creation of a “track” system that would permit the movement of the handcar inside the railroad depot.

Tourist information will be available inside the new museum including directions to the FEBT’s partners, the nonprofit Broad Top Area Coal Miners Museum, situated a block away in the former Robertsdale United Methodist Church. The Coal Miners Museum is open weekends May through the end of October and for special tours.

Admission to the museum is free but donations are accepted which will be used to support the FEBT’s restoration fund.

FEBT board president Andy Van Scyoc invites the public to check out the new museum and reminds folks that the organization is always looking for new members/volunteers and donations. The Robertsdale attraction is being overseen by FEBT activists Jane and Pete Clarke of Damascus, Maryland.

To learn more about the Robertsdale project and other activities of the FEBT, log onto www.febt.org or call (814) 635-2388.

Ron can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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