Riding the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County

A collage of four photos showcasing the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The first image captures a steam locomotive with billowing smoke at sunset. The second shows a conductor aboard the locomotive. The third depicts the train amidst a winter landscape with white smoke against the hills. The last image is of an open passenger car traveling through a lush green forest.

If you’re looking for information about the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, you’re in the right place!

Steam locomotive pulling a passenger train along the East Broad Top Railroad in February 2023.
Steam locomotive pulling a passenger train along the East Broad Top Railroad in February 2023.

The East Broad Top Railroad is one of the nation’s oldest and best-preserved narrow-gauge railroads.

Engine Number 16 on The East Broad Top Railroad in May, 2023.
Engine Number 16 on The East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County.

The railroad offers steam-powered passenger excursions, shop tours, and visits to the “roundhouse”, where their fleet of six steam engines live.

Engine number 12, nicknamed "Millie".
Engine number 12, nicknamed “Millie”, inside the roundhouse.

As the only surviving narrow gauge common carrier railroad east of the Rocky Mountains, the East Broad Top Railroad has officially been a National Historic Landmark since 1964.

The East Broad Top Railroad has been a Registered National Historic Landmark. since 1964.
The East Broad Top Railroad has been a Registered National Historic Landmark. since 1964.

Whether you’re a railfan or history buff, here’s what you can expect to see and experience when you visit this sprawling “living history museum” in Huntingdon County.

The East Broad Top Railroad M-3 gasoline powered train.
The M-3 gasoline powered locomotive.

Riding the East Broad Top Railroad

We’ll start with what you’re probably most interested in – the chance to ride the rails!

A scenic train ride excursion prepares to depart from the East Broad Top station in Rockhill.
A scenic train ride excursion prepares to depart from the East Broad Top station in Rockhill.

In 2023, after an absence of many years, steam-powered passenger excursions returned to the East Broad Top Railroad.

A beautifully preserved steam locomotive, number 16, of the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, is captured during an evening run. The train, with its headlight aglow, emits billowing clouds of steam against the backdrop of a sunset sky. Period-clad railway staff are seen on the ground, contributing to the historical ambiance of the scene.
Locomotive #16 preparing to depart the station.

Locomotive #16 was the first of the railroad’s fleet to return to active duty, with more scheduled to follow in 2024 and beyond.

Steam locomotive 16 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the East Broad Top Railroad in 1916.
Steam locomotive 16 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the East Broad Top Railroad in 1916.

In addition, the railroad continues to offer occasional passenger excursions using one of their diesel engines as well.

A diesel engine pulls passenger cars along the East Broad Top Railroad line in September, 2021.
A diesel engine pulls passenger cars in September, 2021.

On a recent summertime sightseeing excursion I took, the railroad utilized open-air passenger cars, which allow for beautiful, unobstructed views of the Huntingdon County countryside.

The open-air passenger cars on the East Broad Top Railroad.
The open-air passenger cars.

The train travelled north out of Orbisonia on a 6 mile out-and-back trip, lasting approximately 45 minutes.

Taking a scenic train ride through the Huntingdon County countryside aboard the East Broad Top Railroad.
Taking a scenic train ride through the Huntingdon County countryside.

The attendants were dressed in period garb, which adds to the early-1900s vibe.

View from a passenger car on the East Broad Top Railroad.
View from a passenger.

Of course that vibe is further enhanced now that steam locomotives have returned to active duty!

A majestic steam locomotive, numbered 16, is captured in action on the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Thick plumes of smoke rise into the dusky sky as the train's headlight illuminates the tracks ahead. Winter foliage and frost-covered plants line the foreground, enhancing the early evening, wintry atmosphere.
Steam locomotive number 16 headed south towards Orbisonia.

You can buy tickets in-person at the train station in Rockhill Furnace, or book online at the East Broad Top Railroad’s official website.

Engine Number 17 in front of the East Broad Top Train Station in Huntingdon County, PA.
Engine Number 17 in front of the East Broad Top Train Station in Huntingdon County, PA.

Machine Shop Tours at the East Broad Top Railroad

Maintaining and repairing the locomotives and train cars was the task of the machine shops at the East Broad Top Railroad.

Exterior view of the machine shops.
Exterior view of the machine shops.

Guided tours of those shops are now offered, giving you the chance to see them in much the same state that they were in more than 100 years ago.

East Broad Top Railroad Shop Tours begin at the old freight office.
Railroad Shop Tours begin at the old freight office.

Machine Shop tours start in the old freight office, which is itself a repository of many historical artifacts related to the railroad.

The Freight Office at the East Broad Top Railroad.
The freight office.

Although coal was the primary freight hauled by the East Broad Top Railroad, it also hauled ganister (rocks used for making fire bricks ), timber, farm products, U.S. mail, and passengers.

Inside the freight office at the East Broad Top Railroad.
Inside the freight office.

As you make your way across the tracks from the freight office to the machine shops, note the difference between the narrow gauge and standard gauge tracks.

The narrow gauge rails and standard gauge rails in a side-by-side comparison.
The narrow gauge rails and standard gauge rails in a side-by-side comparison.

Like the locomotives, the tools in the machine shop were steam powered, via an elaborate system of belts and shafts.

The East Broad Top Railroad machine shop.
The machine shop.

The machinists who worked here did everything from small repairs to fabricating entire freight cars.

Inside the East Broad Top Railroad machine shops.
Inside the East Broad Top Railroad machine shops.

Pieces and parts of railcars can be found stored all around the machine shops; some of these parts may not have moved in more than half a century.

Narrow gauge "trucks" stored near the East Broad Top Railroad machine shops.
Narrow gauge “trucks” stored near the machine shops.

Roundhouse Tours at the East Broad Top Railroad

Included in the machine shop tour is a tour of the roundhouse, parts of which date back to 1874.

The East Broad Top Railroad roundhouse.
The East Broad Top Railroad roundhouse.

The roundhouse is where the locomotives were prepared for use, and stored when not in use.

The East Broad Top Railroad turntable.
The turntable and roundhouse.

The roundhouse is also where minor repairs and inspections were performed on the locomotives.

Engine number 15 in the roundhouse at the East Broad Top Railroad.
Engine number 15 in the roundhouse.

More recently, this is where the the railroad’s fleet of steam locomotives are being refurbished for pulling sightseeing trains.

A steam engine undergoing restoration at the East Broad Top Railroad.
A steam engine undergoing restoration.

As with the train excursions, you can book machine shop tours online, or buy them in person at the train station, which conveniently also houses the gift shop!

The East Broad Top Railroad gift shop inside the train station.
The East Broad Top Railroad gift shop inside the train station.

Special Events

The East Broad Top Railroad offers a variety of special events throughout the year, including several holiday-themed excursions.

A train conductor stands on the platform of a vintage black steam locomotive, number 16, at the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. He is dressed in traditional denim overalls and a cap, ready to assist passengers. Steam envelops the train, creating a dynamic and atmospheric scene at the historic railroad.
Christmas in Coal Country.

For example, the Christmas in Coal Country event is a festive holiday experience where visitors can enjoy a ride on a vintage steam train adorned with Christmas decorations and lights, creating a nostalgic journey through the winter landscape.

A vintage steam train with a green caboose adorned with a wreath and Christmas decorations is seen on the tracks at the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Smoke billows from the locomotive's stack as it travels through a leafless, winter landscape.
Christmas in Coal Country event.

Guests can also explore the decorated train station and surrounding areas, which are transformed into a winter wonderland complete with model train displays and holiday treats.

An intricately detailed model train display is set up inside the station at the East Broad Top Railroad in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The display features a miniature steam train circling around a small village with a red-roofed station, snow-dusted pine trees, and a festive Christmas tree to the side. Garlands and a classic pendulum clock decorate the room, adding to the holiday spirit.
Model train set-up in the station.

The event also features appearances from Santa Claus and a brass band, adding to the yuletide spirit with music and merriment.

A brass band performs at the East Broad Top Railroad station in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Musicians with trombones and a tuba play under the wooden shelter of the station, adorned with Christmas garland and lights. Passengers and onlookers gather in the background, enjoying the festive music in the outdoor setting.
Brass band at the Christmas in Coal Country event at the East Broad Top Railroad station.

Getting There

The East Broad Top Railroad station is located in southern Huntingdon County at 421 Meadow Street, Rockhill Furnace, PA 17249.

A historic steam locomotive number 16 from the East Broad Top Railroad is pictured preparing to depart the station in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The train, pulling a series of passenger cars, emits a plume of smoke into the early evening sky colored by the setting sun. The scene captures the nostalgia and romance of vintage rail travel.
The Number 16 on the tracks in front of the train station in Rockhill Furnace.

In other words, 13 miles north of the Fort Littleton exit of the PA Turnpike, or 11 miles south of Mount Union, just off Route 522.


Be sure to check the East Broad Top Railroad official website for the latest tours, special events, hours, and admission prices.

Steam locomotive 16 last ran on the East Broad Top Railroad in 195, before being returned to service in 2023.
Steam locomotive 16 last ran on the East Broad Top Railroad in 1956, before being refurbished and returned to service in February 2023.

Final Thoughts

Riding the East Broad Top Railroad offers a journey back in time through the scenic landscapes of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, aboard one of America’s oldest and most authentic narrow-gauge, steam-powered railways.

A classic steam train from the East Broad Top Railroad winds through a vast, open landscape in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The train, emitting a long trail of white smoke, travels across a barren winter field with a backdrop of rolling hills and a cloudy sky, conveying a sense of historical travel through a serene rural setting.
Engine #16 steaming across the Huntingdon County landscape.

Here you can experience the charm of early twentieth-century travel, complete with the sights, sounds, and ambiance of a bygone era in railroading.

The East Broad Top Railroad steam locomotive number 16 is engulfed in a dramatic cloud of steam and smoke as it prepares to depart from the station in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The powerful black engine, with its bright headlight and crew visible on board, is a stirring image of historic railway travel against a backdrop of a clear sky and distant mountains.
Departing the station at Rockhill.

The Everett Railroad offers captivating steam train excursions from its nostalgic station in Hollidaysburg, Blair County.

This collage features four images from a steam train excursion on the Everett Railroad in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. The top left photo shows a steam locomotive emitting plumes of smoke at the station, with the "HOLLIDAYSBURG" sign visible. The top right image displays a bright red caboose with "EVERETT RAILROAD 91517" on the side. The bottom left picture captures a line of passenger cars at the station, decorated with Christmas greenery and a festive tree in the foreground. The bottom right photo shows the train passing under a bridge, with steam enveloping the cars, creating a dynamic scene of movement and activity.
Scenes from the Everett Railroad in Hollidaysburg, Blair County.

Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton is both a museum and an active railyard, dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich heritage of steam-powered locomotives in America.

A four-image collage from Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. Upper left shows a vintage steam engine number 26 inside a roundhouse with steam rising. Upper right features two locomotives, including engine 790, displayed on a turntable with a modern building in the background. Lower left is the Union Pacific 'Big Boy' steam engine number 4012, a large black locomotive parked outside. Lower right is the National Park Service round emblem displayed at the historic site.
Scenes from Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.

The Northern Central Railway offers sightseeing excursions through the picturesque landscape of southern York County, using both a replica 1860s steam locomotive and a 1959 GP9 diesel engine to pull the trains.

Collage of four photos taken at the Northern Central Railway of York. Top left: Two steam locomotives, Number 17 and Number 85, are on display in front of the New Freedom Station, with steam billowing into the blue sky. Top right: Number 85 steam locomotive pulls a yellow passenger car and red caboose along the tracks, surrounded by green trees. Bottom left: View from the locomotive showing the train tracks and the adjacent trail, with smoke trailing behind. Bottom right: People standing on the gondola car platform near the E.K. Krebs building, a historic red and white building, as they enjoy the scenic ride.

Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the Strasburg Rail Road offers scenic sightseeing excursion trains pulled by majestic steam locomotives.

A collage of 5 photos showing scenes from the Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County, PA.
Scenes from the Strasburg Railroad.

Riding the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe is a fabulous Pennsylvania sightseeing train excursion in the Poconos.

The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe, PA.
The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe, PA.

The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in Blair County celebrates the lives of both railroad workers and railroading communities in central Pennsylvania.

Exterior of the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in Blair County Pennsylvania.
The Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in Blair County.

Unlike many “train museums” that focus primarily on engines and cars, the Railroaders Memorial Museum focuses primarily on the men and women who kept the engines running and the cars rolling.

Exhibit showing some of the various jobs performed by employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum.
Exhibit showing some of the various jobs performed by employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The World-Famous Horseshoe Curve was considered one of the “engineering wonders of the world” at the time of its completion in 1854.

Westbound train passing through the viewing area at the Horseshoe Curve.
Westbound train passing through the viewing area park at the Horseshoe Curve.

In conjunction with the Allegheny Tunnel mentioned above, the Horseshoe Curve allowed trains to cross back and forth over the steep Allegheny Mountains, something that had been impossible before 1854.

One of the many exhibits inside the Horseshoe Curve Museum and Visitor Center.
One of the many exhibits inside the Horseshoe Curve Museum and Visitor Center.

The Allegheny Tunnel (known originally as the Summit Tunnel) in Gallitzin (Cambria County) was the longest railroad tunnel in the world at the time of its completion, at 3,612 feet.

A westbound Norfolk-Southern train exiting the western portal of the Allegheny Tunnel in Gallitzin.
A westbound Norfolk Southern train exiting the western portal of the Allegheny Tunnel in Gallitzin.

Completed in 1854, the Allegheny Tunnel is still in use to this day, and the Gallitzin Tunnels Park next to it is a popular spot for railfans to congregate and watch trains enter and exit this historic tunnel.

Tunnels Park and Museum in Gallitzin, PA.
Tunnels Park and Museum in Gallitzin, PA.

The Western PA Model Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving the railroading history of western PA through the use of a massive HO scale model train layout, said to be one of the largest in the United States.

Exploring the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum in Gibsonia PA.
The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

Nearby Attractions

The Rockhill Trolley Museum is literally right next to the East Broad Top Railroad, and gives visitors a chance to ride antique electric streetcars through the Huntingdon County countryside.

The Rockhill Trolley Museum offers visitors the chance to ride antique electric trolley cars through a scenic Huntingdon County valley.
The Rockhill Trolley Museum offers visitors the chance to ride antique electric trolley cars through a scenic Huntingdon County valley.

Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County is home to many beautiful natural attractions, including waterfalls, unusual rock formations, and scenic overlooks.

The Ledges Trail Overlook in Huntingdon County at Trough Creek State Park.
Ledges Trail Overlook at Trough Creek State Park.

The 1000 Steps in Huntingdon County is one of the most famous (and challenging) hikes in central Pennsylvania!

The 1000 Steps near Mount Union in Huntingdon County.
The 1000 Steps near Mount Union in Huntingdon County.

Saint Mary’s Covered Bridge is the last remaining covered bridge in Huntingdon County.

Saint Mary's Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County, PA
Saint Mary’s Covered Bridge in Huntingdon County, PA.

Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County is home to four magnificent scenic overlooks.

Observation area at Hawn's Overlook above Raystown Lake.
Hawn’s Overlook at Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County.

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Rusty Glessner
Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and a frequently-cited authority on PA's best travel destinations.