Thursday, November 20, 2014

East Broad Top Trains

On Saturday Barb traveled up to PA with me. I was meeting DCUE for a private tour around East Broad Top, a closed railroad, and Barb was visiting her sister who lived in the same town, or village as Barb pointed out; it's really small. We drove up the back way, enjoying the scenery and lack of interstate traffic that the rest of the group would be part of. The morning was very enjoyable until I spotted a couple of old cars rusting in a hedge, and stopping to take a photo, discovered that my camera battery was still charging on the kitchen wall at home. I was distraught. A Google search and a call to Barb's relative illuminated the fact that we were in the Boondocks, there wasn't a camera store around for miles. But then Barb offered me the use of her camera, which I didn't even know she had with her, and my day brightened again. It was a darn sight better than my iPhone and once I had a look at it, even thought it didn't have a Manual setting, it had a lot of interesting modes, so I experimented throughout our visit.
We stopped in at Barb's niece,s house first since they lived a 2 minute walk from the train depot. Andy and Debbie were very friendly and my ears pricked up when Barb told me about Andy's passion, turkeys. apparently he has a few of them, stuffed, in the basement, and an amazing collection of turkey callers. This is an aspect of the world which I didn't even know existed and I was intrigued to learn more. Andy's Facebook page is here. I didn't have time to see his collection as I had to meet my group so I left Stuart for Barb to use and I met up with the crew.
East Broad Top is the last original narrow gauge railroad east of the Rockies and the oldest surviving narrow gauge in America. A steam train used to run for tourists but now the place is closed and the owner wants to sell. It opened in 1856 and at its height, it had over 60 miles of track and approximately 33 miles of main line used primarily for transporting coal. It was sold for scrap a hundred years later when the coal industry declined but its new owner decided not to scrap it and in 1961 opened it as a tourist attraction which ran trains until 2011 when it closed. The EBT was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and is also on America's Most Endangered Places List. Currently, the East Broad Top Preservation Association is working to acquire and preserve the railroad. 
We were allowed in the expansive tool shop and the shuttered buildings that housed the steam trains.
One of the 'magic' filters on Barb's camera had a fascinating reflection filter, and I had a lot of fun with that. It was weird not setting up any of my shots but as I played around with the camera more, I discovered that there were a lot of aspects that could be controlled, so my photos got better as the day progressed.
It was bloody cold walking around and my back was still hurting quite a bit so any ground level photos were not an option. I didn't even bother to get my tripod out of my backpack. After a couple of hours we walked across the road to the only bed and breakfast in town where we were going to be given lunch.
I was very glad to be in the warm and even happier to sit down and rest my back. Lunch was better than I'd bargained for, A homemade beef and vegetable soup served with a piping hot grilled cheese sandwich. We were given hot coffee and then offered seconds of the grilled cheese, followed by a piece of homemade cake.A sumptuous feast!
After lunch we went back across the road to take our group photos, where I found it very comfortable lying on the ground. I had also realized that my phone battery was completely dead from unsuccessful searching for service. I had no way of calling Barb to get her to pick me up so I decided to walk up the road to Debbie and Andy's.
There was no one at home, and I sadly realized that I wouldn't get to see Andy's turkeys, but I did take a photo of the one outside!
I walked back down the road wondering if the folks at the B and B would have a cell phone number for Andy or Debbie so they could call Barb, or whether I was just going to have to just wait until God knows when  for her to come back for me. I got to the bottom of the hill and couldn't believe my luck when I spotted Stuart crossing over the railway lines at the other end of town. I stuck my thumb out and Barb pulled up, wondering why on earth I was standing there. Only by a fluke had she decided to come this way, she was planning on heading out to Andy and Debbie's son's birthday party, which I had forgotten about.
We walked back over to the EBT buildings again which were now closed up and found the others.
After walking around and snapping some more photos we all decided to try and find the abandoned rail cars that were at the other end of town. Barb and I left first and on the way stopped at the birthday party to give Zaiden our best wishes and meet some more of the family.
We then caught up with the others and found the cars, but I thought it was a bit of an anti-climax. The rusted old cars looked like they had been there for years, some with trees growing up through them, but it was cold and dusk was heading in, so I just played around with the reflection filter again. I really liked the way I could make everyone's heads 'float'
We stood around for a bit, gradually getting colder and colder, and then decided to grab a beer before the drive home. It was an easy journey home and Barb helped with the driving. It had been a fun day, which it definitely would not have been if I hadn't had a camera. We're hoping to come back at a later date as nobody felt that they had covered the premises fully. I just hope the owners don't scrap the place...

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