Steam Along the Aughwick

 

1. Tuscarora Morning 6. Climbing McMullins Summit
2. A Walk Through the Yards 7. Across the Deep Fill
3. At the Roundhouse 8. Colgate Grove
4. Coaling Up 9. Afternoon Run
5. Readying the Consist

 

Eight: Colgate Grove

 

 

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#14 simmers to
herself on the
Colgate Grove
wye.

 

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The head-end crew
take their ease.

The moment the engineer's call confirmed the stop, Conductor Brightbill busied himself with setting out the step boxes and assisting his passengers to step down from the train. Coolers in tow, several families scattered to the picnic tables located throughout the grove to enjoy a summer luncheon. Picnic trains and the EBT have a long history together. In the earliest days of the railroad, Colgate Grove was a popular destination for Mt. Union and Orbisonia families intent on escaping the summer heat. Development of a larger picnicking area on the railroad's Shade Gap branch put an end to the Colgate Grove trains sometime before the turn of the century, but the revival of the EBT as an excursion carrier has brought the Grove back to life in its original capacity. Now passengers are encouraged to carry their hampers along on the ride, make use of the tables and fireplaces provided by the Railroad at Colgate Grove, and return to Rockhill Furnace on a later train. Joining the picnickers for a few minutes at least were the head-end crew, who climbed down from their hot and dusty perch on the footplate to enjoy a moment's respite on a bench of their own.

 

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#14 strikes her
high iron pose on
the south leg of
the wye.

While the crew took their ease, the railfans clustered at the head of the train for a closer look at #14. Over the years since 1961, the south leg of the Colgate Wye has developed a gentle droop along its inside rail. This ersatz superelevation is a little embarrassing given the circumstances, but it does serve to place the EBT's Mikes in a classic "high iron" pose for the benefit of their admirers. Included in that number on the day of my visit were a Mennonite farmer and his three young boys, all four of them dressed in the simple blue trousers and shirt and hand-plaited straw hats customary to their faith. As they stood admiring the engine, the man and his boys made an unforgettable sight: a rural depot scene straight from the turn of the century, perfect in every detail.

 

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Pulling through the
South Wye turnout
and onto the main.

On the railroad as everywhere else, work succeeds rest sooner than one might like. Before another ten minutes had passed, Conductor Brightbill and the engineer were comparing watches, and agreeing that departure time was nearly upon them. While the engineer and fireman strode off toward the cab and the head-end brakeman lined the turnout for the main, David rounded up those of his patrons who weren't staying in favor of a later train. With two blasts of the whistle we pulled slowly through the drooping curve and back out onto the high iron. The road home to Rockhill Furnace lay ahead.

 


 

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All materials, images, text and presentation copyright 1999 Erik Gray Ledbetter.  See Terms of Use.