ROCKHILL FURNACE, PA – On Thursday, August 10th, the historic one-room Coulter Schoolhouse was relocated from the Southern Huntingdon County High School in Cromwell Township, Pennsylvania to property adjacent to the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Landmark.
The schoolhouse was originally constructed in 1856 and served students in the Blairs Mills area until its closure in 1953. The building sat dormant until faculty members of the Southern Huntingdon County School District, with support from the local community, came together to save, restore and relocate the building to the Southern Huntingdon County High School campus in 2003. There, it served as an immersive museum, allowing students to experience a class in an early educational setting. In 2022, it was announced by the school district that the Coulter School had to be moved again to make way for the construction of a new elementary school and the various stakeholders began looking for a solution. Leadership from the East Broad Top Railroad proposed that the schoolhouse be moved approximately two miles north to the borough of Rockhill Furnace and sit on property owned by the railroad adjacent to the historic Orbisonia train station.
“The members of the Southern Huntingdon County Education Foundation are very excited about the new partnership with the EBT Foundation involving the Coulter One-Room School Museum. The new location beside the railroad station will provide visitors with an additional learning experience,” said Lorraine Hamilton, Chairman of the Southern Huntingdon Education Foundation who manages the schoolhouse museum. “They will experience more of our cultural history and be immersed in an educational setting from Huntingdon County’s past. At the new site, the well-furnished Coulter School will be available to many more visitors beyond the Southern Huntingdon County school students and faculty, which will benefit both organizations.”
Once the move is complete, the East Broad Top will work with the Southern Huntingdon Education Foundation to operate the school in conjunction with the railroad’s field trip programs and special events, including the popular PEANUTS™ Pumpkin Patch Express trains and Christmas in Coal Country experience.
“The addition of the Coulter School is just one more piece of the already expansive historic fabric that makes the EBT so special,” said East Broad Top Railroad General Manager Brad Esposito. “It creates an unparalleled educational opportunity, allowing students to learn inside an authentic one-room school house, take a steam-powered train ride, ride a vintage electric trolley, and tour a belt-driven machine shop all in one field trip. The EBT Foundation is thrilled to work with our partners to continue the Coulter School’s legacy for years to come.”
The EBT Foundation wishes to thank the Southern Huntingdon County School District, the Southern Huntingdon Education Foundation, the Three Springs Volunteer Fire Company, Earl Miller & Sons House Moving, and the private donors who contributed to making this project possible.
“I am thrilled that the EBT Foundation had the foresight to save this unique educational museum,” said Rick Knepper, former chairman of the Coulter School Committee and former chairman of the Southern Huntingdon Education Foundation. Mr. Knepper oversaw the original move of the schoolhouse in 2003 and was on-site to witness the school move to its new home this week. “It will be an asset to the EBT and continue to be a great asset to our community that many will be able to see and appreciate.”
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 eastbroadtop.com.
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