Modeling the EAST BROAD TOP in Sn3
Narrow gauge railroads are a part of America’s history. They were designed to transport materials
in areas where the terrain was too steep for the standard railroad. Narrow gauge railroad systems
were used throughout the United States. They get their name from the type of track that they were
built to run on. Narrow gauge railroads primarily have a width of three feet between rails, unlike
standard gauge railroads which have a width of four feet eight and a half inches between rails.
There are/were several other widths designated as narrow gauge, including 42” (traction), 24” &
18”.Narrow gauge railroads were primarily used in the mining and timber industries of the late 1800’
s. These short line railroad systems were intended for use in mountainous regions where it was
hard for standard gauge railroads to make it up steep grades. In areas where the grade was seven
percent or more, narrow gauge railroads were used. They were seen as an inexpensive way of
getting gold, silver, and timber out of remote mountainous regions.
It’s sad to think that most narrow gauge railroads are no longer in operation. Most of them have
been converted to the standard railroad system. Others have been taken apart and turned into
scrap. Even though narrow gauge railroads were inexpensive to build, off loading and on loading
became too much of an expense. Each time a narrow gauge railroad met a standard railroad,
shipments would have to be unloaded and reloaded. Only a few narrow gauge railroads are still in
operation today. The best examples of this are in Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Most of those folks modeling narrow gauge in S model Colorado prototypes such as the D&RGW,
Rio Grande Southern Colorado Southern Most of the major modeling scales cover narrow gauge
modeling. After the scale designation there is letter “n” denoting narrow gauge and a number that
coincides with the track width modeled i. e. Nn3, HOn3, On3 and of course, Sn3. It’s interesting to
note that the physical size of Sn3 trains are roughly the same as HO, Hon3 is close to N in size and
On3 is close to S standard. Although my area is modeling PA narrow gauge and will be
concentrating on the East Broad Top, I was a member of the Colorado Springs Narrow Gaugers for
a short time and learned a little about modeling CO narrow gauge.
Those modeling Colorado narrow gauge for the most part have layouts that totally Sn3 since the
prototype lines usually stood alone. The East Broad Top, henceforth known as the EBT, has many
features that an eastern standard gauge railroad might have had. Perhaps the neatest thing is that
at Mt. Union, PA, the EBT interchanged with the Pennsylvania RR at its main line. This gives the S
scaler some interesting options. He can model the EBT entirely in Sn3 or model both S and Sn3.
Also, he can model the steam to diesel era or as I do, model a contemporary railroad and do the
EBT as a tourist line.
Orbisonia Dept and EBT Mike #15 (The Prototype)
The EBT is the last remaining 3 ft (914 mm) gauge line east of the Mississippi River and is
located in Central Pennsylvania. Running from the 1800s until 1956, it supplied coal to brick
kilns and general freight to the towns it passed through, connecting to the Pennsylvania
Railroad at Mount Union, Pennsylvania. Purchased for scrap by the Kovalchick Corporation
when it was shut down, it sat for four years until it was partly resurrected by townspeople of
Orbisonia in 1960. Still owned by the Kovalchick family, trains operate over 5 miles of the
original 32-mile line. As of the end of 2004, only one of six Mikado-type (2-8-2) locomotives is
currently operable: number 14. Locomotive 15 is being rebuilt to comply with current Federal
Railroad Administration requirements. Not too long ago one could see four Mikes under
steam during the Annual Salute which was a traditional part of the Fall Spectacular. Hopefully
we’ll see that again some day. In addition to various freight and passenger cars, the railroad
also has a gas-electric railcar, the M-1. The car operates only on special occasions, such as
the Fall Spectacular, held on Columbus Day weekend every year. The rest of the railroad is
intact, but overgrown with 48 years worth of plant growth. It’s still common to see trees
growing up between the ties of the abandoned mileage.
EBT features to model:
The EBT covered over 32 miles as it made its way from the coal fields at Broad Top Mt. to the
PRR interchange at Mt. Union. Here’s a list of the approximate milestones of the EBT and the
modeling possibilities that they entail:
Mile 32 Alvan – Village near the coal mines.
Mile 31 Woodvale – Village
Mile 30 Robertsdale – The station is in very good shape and today houses the FEBT (Friends
of EBT) museum. There is no kit commercially available for it, but it could be scratchbuilt
Station at Robertsdale
Mile 27.5 Village of Cooks
Mile 25.5 Wrays Hill Tunnel – This is the first of the two tunnels on the EBT. One or both
tunnels could be part of your EBT layout.
Mile 24 Village of Coles
Mile 23 Sideling Hill Tunnel – The tunnel would make a nice model. One end is standard
concrete and the other is hewn out of the rocks.
Mile 19 – We come to the village of Saltillo. B.T.S. makes a laser kit for the station. The
prototypehas recently been demolished due to its deterioration. B.T.S. is planning to come out
with the unique water tower that was located at Saltillo.
B.T.S. Saltillo Station
Mile 17 Three Springs – Another small village serviced by a station. B.T.S. has produced this
Mile 14 Pogue – An iron trestle bridge over the Aughwick Creek is at Pogue. This would make a
The Bridge at Pogue
Mile 11 Orbisonia – “Orby” housed the roundhouse and turntable as well as the shops for the
EBT. The outstanding feature is the Orbisonia Depot. This is the main station on the EBT and
housed offices as well. Today it is where the tourist embark on the 5 mile trip to the picnic
grove at Shirleysburg. It was brought out as a laser kit by B.T.S. My own model was scratchbuilt
using Grandt Line windows. Don Heimberger’s book has plans for the station in S scale drawn
by Lee Rainey and that coupled with my close proximity to the EBT made it possible to model.
The Prototype at Orbisonia, PA
Sn3 scratchbuilt model.
B.T.S. has a laser kit available.
Prototype EBT shops
Sn3 models of the EBT shops. Northeastern batten wood and Clever Models roofing was used to