The historic EBT railroad shops at Rockhill, seen on the right, are apart of ongoing restoration activities of the new EBT Foundation Inc. To aid in that work, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has awarded a $100,000 grant to the foundation for the installation of a critical fire suppression system in the machine shop complex.

A state grant to supports public safety while assuring adequate water supply for combating fires has been awarded to the East Broad Top Foundation Inc., it was announced last week by state Sen. Judy Ward and state Rep. Rich Irvin (R-81).

The $100,000 grant, which is originating from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), is earmarked for the installation of a fire suppression system at the EBT machine shop complex the legislators noted, adding that the funds will also be used to overhaul the railroad’s historic water network in order to assure an adequate supply of water.

The improvements will make it possible to offer public demonstrations in the railroad shops as well as epairs necessary for the reopening of the EBT in 2021.

The grant came from the PHMC’s Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program, a funding stream which provides money to nonprofit organizations and local governments involved in planning and development of historic resources that are open to the public. The historical resources must be listed on or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The EBT was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

“Fire suppression is a critical component of our stabilization and preservation effort at the EBT,” remarked Brad Esposito, EBT Foundation general manager. “The PHMC funding represents a tremendous vote of confidence in the EBT Foundation’s efforts to preserve and operate this National Historic Landmark for future generations.”

Esposito expressed the foundation’s appreciation to the state for making the funds available to the EBT.

Both Ward and Irvin, who have visited the EBT to learn about its restoration work including last month’s 60th anniversary of the EBT’s return to service in 1960, agreed that the state funding will be very helpful in the restoration of the EBT including several of the EBT structures which will be used in the future for public tours and demonstrations.

“This PHMC funding will help with the ongoing efforts to revive the EBT ad restore its steam locomotives to operation,” noted Ward. “The enthusiasm and commitment of the new ownership group, along with the tremendous support of community groups and volunteers, has generated great excitement for the future of this historic asset representing our area’s rich railroad heritage.”

Added Ward, “It is heartwarming to know that, through hard work, commitment and collaboration, this national treasure will be preserved for future generations.”

Also praising the grant award was Rep. Irvin who mirrored Ward’s words, adding that the announcement of the PHMC funding was “particularly timely” as the EBT gears up for its 2021 grand opening.

“Awards such as this will allow the EBT railroad to continue to be a culturally significant landmark and tourist attraction in Huntingdon County,” remarked Irvin. “Sen. Ward and I hope we can continue to support this new ownership group’s efforts to revitalize the EBT railroad … their efforts and vision for the future of the railroad are already paying off.”

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