With an influx of rail fans from all over the U.S. and abroad visiting the East Broad Top Railroad, businesses in and around the twin boroughs of Orbisonia and Rockhill are starting to feel the impacts, beginning with the recent Winter Spectacular.
Brandon Brown, manager of the Sandy Ridge Market, Sandy Ridge Express and A&W Restaurant in the Sandy Ridge Station, stated his businesses saw a significant increase in business during Locomotive No. 16’s debut in February.
“Growing up in Orbisonia, it was great to hear the sound of the whistle. It took me back to my childhood,” he said.
Carla Walker, owner of Walker’s Homestead Goods in Rockhill, stated the Winter Spectacular weekend was wonderful. She was excited to see the little towns of Rockhill and Orbisonia booming again.
“We had many rail fans stop in the shop with their families,” she said.
East Broad Top Foundation (EBTF) president Brad Esposito said he heard many of the community’s businesses did very well during the Presidents Day weekend event. Some Mount Union area businesses also had a successful weekend.
Esposito agreed it is important for the community as a whole to become involved in welcoming the masses of visitors that come to the area to envelope themselves in the wonders of the EBT. For many of them it is their first time experiencing the narrow gauge railroad.
Rockhill Borough Mayor Coreda Walker said the borough was certainly a beehive of activity Feb. 17 and in the days leading up to the main event. The East Broad Top Foundation, she said, has done a wonderful job in the two years they have been working on the property.
“As the mayor of Rockhill, I have noticed many improvements they have made such as painting, tree planting and lots of cleaning up, but nothing can compare to the sound of that first whistle that we heard last summer. It has been an exciting time for the local rail fans, as a lot of us have had family members who worked there when it was a working railroad,” said Walker.
As a community, Walker said residents look forward to all the special train runs they are planning as well as their regular runs. She said it’s a good thing for the community and it looks forward to seeing all the good things that this attraction will bring.
“The East Broad Top Foundation is truly a blessing and will bring a boost to our community,” concluded Walker. “It was a great event for the towns of Orbisonia and Rockhill, it brought back many happy memory of the old days when we held winter spectacular. Future events will be welcome.”
Orbisonia Borough Mayor Linda Clark shared Walker’s sentiments.
“The future of the EBT will be a blessing for the good of both communities for growth,” she said.
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