HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The East Broad Top Railroad is officially open for the season and is riding back to Rockhill with some new improvements.

“2022 has been a landmark year for our restoration efforts so far, in the sense that a lot of the major projects that we have been working toward are either close to coming to completion or are nearly there,” Director of Sales and Marketing Jonathan Smith said.

The EBT has worked on maintenance of 4 ½ miles of operational track for the trains to carry passengers on daily excursions.

“There’s actually a lot more track at the East Broad Top that have not seen a train since 1956,” Smith said.

The East Broad Top Foundation used drone technology to examine parts of the track that are not currently in use, monitoring what work needs to be done to bring them back into operation.

“We did start clearing just a bit of brush south of here toward the Three Springs, Saltillo area in preparation for hopefully getting track work underway,” Smith said.

One exciting feature that is coming in the future is the return of the steam engine.

“Right after we purchased the railroad, we started work on Number 16,” Smith said. “Number 16 was chosen  because it has not operated for the past 60 years and it was actually in better shape to go through the restoration process.”

Residents living near the station may have heard a steam whistle for the first time in 66 years when the EBT recently lit a fire in the engine. This was for a preliminary test prior to the train’s final assembly.

“Sometimes steam restoration can take decades,” Smith said. “Here, it was our mission to get it done safely, efficiently and hopefully bring steam back to the East Broad Top as soon as possible and that’s what our crews have been working toward.”

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The Baldwin Locomotive is 106-years old. While the EBT does not have an official date for its return, Smith said the railroad has other events for visitors to enjoy in the coming months.

“How long that’s going to take and when the engine will actually be able to pull a train, we aren’t sure quite yet,” Smith said. “We are just as excited as everybody to see steam back on the rails and we hope it will be sometime in the near future.”