East Broad Top Railroad Shops
The East Broad Top Railroad story could easily be titled “How Geography Saved a Railroad”. Make no mistake, it took dedicated individuals with passion and vision, but the railroad had to survive long enough for those people to come into the picture. While many short line railroads were abandoned and torn up, that was not the fate of this 30-mile narrow gauge coal-hauling railroad. Its steam powered shops and locomotives kept rolling until the very end of coal mining in 1956. Railroads in prime real estate that no longer contributed to America’s growth vanished under a sea of land development, but the Appalachian Mountains protected the railroad long enough for it to be discovered by Nick Kovalchick, who purchased the railroad and turned it into a tourist line.
I took this photo in 2018, seven years after the tourist railroad had shut down. We see the landscape surrounding and protecting the main shops where locomotives and cars were maintained for decades. While the railroad was still owned by the Kovalchick family, it was unclear exactly what the future held. Those of us watching it still held onto an optimism that it had a bright future in store. I felt it every time I drove up to the railroad and looked at this scene, especially the towering beacons of hope that are the smokestacks for the stationary boilers in the shop. That optimism proved to be well-deserved, as in 2020 a new nonprofit organization was formed with the intent of bringing the railroad and its priceless steam locomotives back into operation.
Thanks for looking at my images. I will sign your print unless otherwise specified. Please contact me if you have any custom requests for printing or licensing. – Nick Ozorak
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