Work on the installation of a new red, metal roof on the former East Broad Top Railroad Depot at Robertsdale is nearing completion, reports Friends of the EBT (FEBT) officials.
The depot, constructed in 1914 to replace the original structure located across present day Route 913 on the former mining hamlet’s “company square,” is owned by the FEBT and used for many years as the nonprofit group’s makeshift museum and gift shop.
The building was vacated sometime back to make way for the opening of the FEBT’s new museum which opened its doors on June 12 in the former two-story Robertsdale Post Office. Additional enhancements to the interior of the depot are planned, reported Jane Clarke, managing editor of the FEBT’s award-winning Timber Transfer newsletter.
The cost of the depot roof replacement project is being absorbed through the FEBT’s 2021 fundraising campaign, noted Clarke, who assist with the museum’s operations at Robertsdale.
The metal roof replacement project, started a few weeks ago by Shirleysburg roofer Ike Covert, duplicates the original tin roof of the depot, adding to the historic appearance of the Robertsdale site, once the southern headquarters of the Rockhill Iron and Coal Co. and the EBT’s eastern terminus until 1891 (when the narrow-gauge tracks were extended a mile south to the coal mining village of Wood).
The one-story, concrete-block railroad station consists of two waiting rooms, a station agent’s office and a baggage room. An important aspect of preparing the EBT coal hoppers for shipment of coal to Mount Union involved weighing the coal shipments for the trip.
Projecting from the eastern side of the depot is a bay window, adjacent to the EBT tracks, which originally encompassed an indicator for the track scale, necessary for weighing the semi-bituminous black diamonds.
Over the years following the cessation of EBT common carrier operations in 1956 the depot has been used for a variety of purposes including a gas station and small convenience store. The structure was acquired (along with the next door former Robertsdale Post Office) by the FEBT both of which became a part of the organization’s restoration overall plan.
Earlier this year, following the creation of the new nonprofit EBT Foundation in 2020 (along with plans for restoring the steam tourist railroad to full service), several original coal hoppers were transported to Robertsdale and placed on restored trackage on the eastern side of the depot.
In addition, a section of the railroad right of way at Robertsdale has been cleared from the depot south to the old No. 1 coal mining site for walking tours and other activities envisioned by the FEBT for the future.
Since its opening this summer, the new FEBT Museum Complex has drew scores of EBT railroad fans and other visitors interested in the steam railroading and coal mining history of Robertsdale and Wood, both National Historic Districts.
As work progresses with the restoration of two EBT steam locomotives and other other rolling stock and railroad structures at Rockhill, as well as FEBT restoration activities at Robertsdale, the entire story of the East Broad Top Railroad National Historic Site will soon become a reality.