National Endowment for the Humanities Awards $10,000 Grant to Support the East Broad Top Railroad Archives and Special Collections

Blueprints and maps in the vault

The EBT Foundation is proud to announce the receipt of a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of The East Broad Top Railroad Archives and Special Collections Disaster Response Planning and Environmental Monitoring Project. 

The East Broad Top Railroad Archives and Special Collections, a joint initiative of the EBT Foundation and the Friends of the East Broad Top, was established in 2021 to care for an astonishingly rich and nearly complete trove of documents and artifacts related to the East Broad Top Railroad, a National Historic Landmark. To date, the archives team has estimated that the railroad holds over 5,000 linear feet of records, maps, drawings, and more. In May 2022, a Preservation Needs Assessment completed by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts of Philadelphia addressed critical collections care concerns, highlighting the need for disaster preparedness, and monitoring the conditions of the collections.

The project funded by this grant encompasses two vital components to begin addressing those concerns. The 18-month disaster response planning phase will provide comprehensive online training and hands-on disaster planning and recovery support to first responders and cultural heritage institutions along the historic right-of-way of the East Broad Top Railroad. This effort will not only benefit the local communities surrounding the EBT, but also contribute to a broader cultural heritage disaster response program for the region by involving other organizations such as museums, historical societies, and first responders. The second phase of the project focuses on environmental monitoring aimed at safeguarding the EBT’s invaluable archival material by purchasing monitoring kits and equipment. 

Julie Rockwell, EBT Archivist and Project Director, expressed her gratitude for the NEH grant saying, “It is a great honor to receive this prestigious federal grant so early in the development of the East Broad Top Railroad Archives and Special Collections program. This project is a win-win not only to support our community cultural heritage organizations in Southern Huntingdon County, but for protecting the unique archival collections of the East Broad Top Railroad.”

One of 61 recipients nationally, The National Endowment for the Humanities’ selection of the East Broad Top Railroad Archives and Special Collections for this grant underscores the project’s significance and aligns with NEH’s mission to support research, education, and preservation across various fields of humanities. This funding is part of NEH’s ongoing commitment to promoting valuable educational and cultural initiatives that enrich communities nationwide.

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Learn more about the grant here.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities:

Established as an independent federal agency in 1965, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) plays a pivotal role in advancing research, education, and preservation in history, literature, philosophy, and other humanities disciplines. Through peer-reviewed selections, NEH funds projects that contribute to the nation’s intellectual and cultural growth. For more information, please visit 

About the East Broad Top Railroad:

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 steam train rides, guided tours, special events, and more! Tickets and more info can be found at 

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About the Friends of the East Broad Top:

The Friends of the East Broad Top is an organization of over 1,100 supporters and enthusiasts who believe the East Broad Top Railroad is a historic treasure of national significance. The organization is committed to its mission for the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of the East Broad Top. This commitment takes a number of forms. This includes advocacy, events, fundraising, research, and hands-on-restoration. More information can be found at