Historical societies representing the communities along the East Broad Top line are banding together for a display in conjunction with the railroad’s 60th anniversary celebration this week.

Historical organizations from Orbisonia-Rockhill, Three Springs, the Broad Top area and Shirleysburg welcome one and all to their collaborative display, housed in the Orbisonia Lions Club building along Water Street adjacent to the Lions Club Homecoming Grounds.

The display is open daily, 6-9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 13-15. This particular event is free and open to the public.

Nin Hiles, president of the Orbisonia-Rockhill Historical Society, said visitors can expect to peruse photographs of days gone by, flip through old yearbooks and enjoy an array of other artifacts that speak to the different eras that shaped life Huntingdon County.

For example, Hiles’ father, Nin Sr., will share his extensive collection of memorabilia which includes signage from former businesses in the Orby-Rockhill area.

In addition, Jeff Brown, whose forte is military history, will present his collection of uniforms representing various conflicts and branches of the armed forces.

Also joining the Orbisonia-Rockhill group are the Three Springs Area Historical Society, Fort Shirley Heritage Association and the Broad Top Area Coal Miner’s Historical Society.

Hiles said the three-day event is also a good opportunity for the public to “support the groups preserving our history” by signing up for a membership or purchases one of many fundraising items the societies will offer.

The Orbisonia-Rockhill society, for example, will have ornaments featuring local landmarks and books on the history of the Twin Boroughs and surrounding area.

Hiles said his group will also be on hand with a secret recipe from the vaults.

“We’ll be selling our peanut butter-fudge sundaes, a recipe from an old pharmacist, Doc Allender,” Hiles said. He explained Allender operated a pharmacy and soda fountain on the ground floor of the Allender Building which occupied the corner where Community State Bank of Orbisonia sits.

Hiles said the recipes was handed down to his grandmother, Ann Hiles, who used to work in the soda shop.

“The sundaes,” Hiles said, are “a little taste of history.”

The EBT line is the common thread that ties the four communities together in terms of industry and transportation, and nostalgia and curiosity help keep that past alive and relevant, Hiles said.

“I believe everybody cares about their heritage to some degree and that desire to know more about your family’s history or community’s history grows as you’re exposed to it,” Hiles said. “It’s important for us to know our roots.”

The rest of the EBT 60th anniversary celebration is being held on the grounds of the Rockhill Trolley Museum to commemorate the railroad’s reopening as a tourist attraction and historical experience in 1960.

According to the event’s Facebook page, tickets are sold out for Friday and Saturday, but tickets for Thursday’s festivities are still available.

The narrow-gauge railroad was chartered in 1856 and originally ran from 1873 to 1956, primarily as a coal-hauling operation. The EBT ceases its public excursions in 2011; the railroad’s new owners, the nonprofit EBT Foundation Inc., aims to restore those steam-powered excursions in 2021.

This is just part of the many events that will be held in conjunction of the 60th anniversary of the East Broad Top Railroad, which are scheduled to take place Wednesday, Aug. 12, through Saturday, Oct. 15.

To kick off the festivities Wednesday, there will be a parade at 6 p.m., followed by vesper services at 8 p.m. on the carnival grounds of the Orbisonia-Rockhill Volunteer Fire Co. with guest speaker state Sen. Doug Mastriano. A candlelight service will follow at 9 p.m.

The opening ceremony for the EBT will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, and those who purchased tickets for the EBT and the Rockhill Trolley will be able to ride from 3-7 p.m. The ProHealth Summer Recital event will be held at the carnival grounds with a ticket from 6-8 p.m. Anderson’s Hidden Treasures Photography will be there to take old-time railroad themed photos and ice cream sundaes will be served at the Orbisonia Lions Club grounds.

Those who purchased tickets for the EBT and trolley rides will be able to take rides once again from 3-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, and the 60th anniversary Homecoming Princess pageant will be held from 7-8 p.m. on the carnival grounds. Twisted Roads will also be performing on the carnival grounds at 9 p.m., with admission by ticket.

The Rick Dunmire “Dunnie” Memorial 5K and Fun Run will be held from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at the EBT grounds, and a boys and girls T-ball challenge will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Orbisonia Lions Club building grounds. The Orbisonia-Rockhill Ambulance will hold a chicken barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the carnival grounds. A car show will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Orbisonia Lions Club grounds. The Southern Huntingdon County band will perform at the carnival grounds from 1-2 p.m. The 60th anniversary Orbisonia-Rockhill Homecoming Queen pageant will be held from 2-3 p.m. and a kids dance with special guests and a DJ, sponsored by Amanda Jenkins State Farm Agency, will be held from 2-4 p.m. at the Orbisonia Lions Club grounds. A Kids Komedian workshop, sponsored by Jenkies Joint, will be held from 4-5 p.m. at the carnival grounds. The Southern Huntingdon County High School all-class reunion will be held from 5-6 p.m. at the Orbisonia Lions Club. An Old King Coal Pageant will be held at 7 p.m. at the carnival grounds. A comedian show, sponsored by Community State Bank, will be held at 9 p.m. at the carnival grounds.

Rebecca and Kylie can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.



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