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East Broad Top Railroad Announces Vintage Diesel Locomotive Will Power Early 2024 Summer Season as Maintenance  Efforts Continue on Historic Steam Engine

Rockhill Furnace, PA — The East Broad Top Railroad is announcing today that the first several months of their upcoming 2024 summer season will be powered by a vintage diesel locomotive as repairs and maintenance continue on steam-locomotive No. 16. While the railroad is not estimating an exact date for steam to return to service, all excursion trains from May 3rd through the end of August are now scheduled to be pulled by a diesel locomotive. 

Locomotive No. 16 was built for the East Broad Top in 1916 and ran under its own power for the first time in 67 years on February 1st, 2023. The locomotive operated successfully for 150 days and carried 35,000 passengers last season. This winter, crews planned to use the off-season to conduct inspections and complete a list of preventative maintenance projects. During these inspections, the EBT’s Mechanical Department discovered a cracked driver center, extending the timeline for returning the engine to service further into the 2024 season. All regularly scheduled excursions will continue to operate, pulled by the M-7, a 55-ton diesel locomotive built by General Electric in 1964.

“It’s important to remember that these are normal obstacles when running a 150-year-old railroad and operating century-old equipment,” said railroad General Manager Brad Esposito. “As the stewards of this historic site, it is our responsibility to take as much time as needed to complete the work properly and safeguard years of continued service.”

Railroad officials also emphasized that the East Broad Top experience extends far beyond the scenic train ride, with visitors also able to enjoy guided tours of the railroad’s historic machine shop complex, vintage trolley rides at the Rockhill Trolley Museum, and an exciting program of special events including the popular annual EBT Goes to War! Living History Weekend. For the 2024 season, the railroad has also significantly broadened its offerings to include in-depth tours of the railroad’s historic machine shop complex. A highlight of these new offerings is a three-hour guided tour, which takes visitors through the EBT’s remarkably intact belt-driven machine shop, blacksmith shop, foundry, car shop, and other buildings that have been painstakingly restored by railroad staff and Friends of the East Broad Top volunteers. Additional tours this season include a peek inside the railroad’s vast archival vault and behind-the-scenes looks at mechanical work led by the EBT’s Master Mechanic. The railroad also plans to announce new dinner experiences at Colgate Grove and summer rides on the EBT’s rare M-1 gasoline-electric motor car. 

“It’s business as usual at the EBT this summer,” says Esposito. “Visitors can enjoy a scenic ride on America’s oldest operating narrow-gauge railroad, explore the largest and most intact belt-driven machine shop in the United States, and discover the incomparable national treasure that is the East Broad Top National Historic Landmark.” 

The East Broad Top Railroad was constructed in 1872 to serve the iron and coal industry in Huntingdon County. The EBT is the only original narrow-gauge railroad (rails only 3′ apart rather than the standard 4′ 8.5″) east of the Colorado Rockies. In 1956, the line closed to freight traffic and was reopened in 1960 as a steam-powered tourist attraction until its closure in 2011. In 2020, the non-profit EBT Foundation purchased the line and undertook an extensive restoration effort to bring the trains, tracks, and structures back to life. The railroad now offers scenic train rides, guided tours, special events, and more! Tickets and more info can be found online at eastbroadtop.com