The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad
Last update 3/2002
Mention Broad Top Mountain in south central Pennsylvania, and every railfan thinks of the East Broad Top narrow gauge railroad, once a coal hauler, and now a tourist operation. The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain (H&BTM) Railroad is less well known than its narrow gauge cousin. The H&BTM, a standard gauge line, ran on the west side of Broad Top Mountain, from a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Huntingdon to a connection at State Line, north of Ellerslie, Maryland with the both the Cumberland & Pennsylvania (C&P) and the Georges Creek and Cumberland (GC&C) Railroads.
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) completed track to the Maryland State line, near Ellerslie, Md, in 1872. The C&P extended to meet it from Kreigbaum. The State Line Branch was completed in 1872 by the Consolidation Coal Company, and ran from Kreigbaum (Corriganville) to State Line to connect with the Bedford Division of the PRR. The PRR maintained a yard and shops at State Line. The facilities included a seven stall engine house, a water tower, and coaling facilities. The State Line facilities closed in 1956, and disappeared by the 1980's. The C&P ran on the west side of Will's Creek, along with the B&O. At times, up to 15 trains of coal cars per day were handled at the interchange. The loaded cars were hauled over the Bedford & Bridgeport RR, then controlled by the PRR, to the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain at Mt. Dallas, Pa. The traffic was hauled by that road to Huntingdon, and the connection with the PRR main. A tower at this location still stands, and contains a museum. Thence, coal went to the dock at South Amboy, N.J.
The connection to the Maryland State line from Mt. Dallas came through the Bedford & Bridgeport RR, built under the auspices of the mighty PRR. The connection was viewed from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line as providing an alternative to the B&O for coal traffic out of the Georges Creek region of Western Maryland, and West Virginia.
A highly profitable operation, the H&BTM was long an acquisition target of the PRR. When the shareholders declined to sell, the PRR built an alternate line (the Bedford & Hollidaysburg), that strangled the coal lifeline of the H&BTM. The road operated until 1954, and a portion was then operated as the Everett Railroad. A short line freight and sometimes excursion hauler, the Everett Railroad was rumored to be in talks with Jack Showalter of the Allegeny (Allegany) Central. These discussions didn't work out, so we don't get to ride behind Pacifics 1286 and 1234 on the Everett. The engines are in Virginia.
The Bedford & Bridgeport RR, later purchased and operated by the PRR, connected with the C&P and later the Georges Creek & Cumberland (GC&C) at State Line, north of Ellerslie, Md. This line provided a bridge service to the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain RR (H&BTM), and via that line, to the rest of the PRR system at Huntingdon, Pa. The Pennsylvania RR in Maryland provided access for the GC&C and the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg from the west end of the Cumberland Narrows, to the state line. The H&BTM hauled more Georges Creek and West Virginia coal than that from its own local mines. H&BTM and PRR car loads were found in the Georges Creek region, and C&P and GC&C cars in interchange service ventured to New Jersey and New York.
The H&BTM had some forty numbered engines on the roster, mostly from Baldwin. There had been twenty-two named engines, from manufacturers such as Winans, Norris, and Baldwin. The maintenance headquarters of the H&BTM was located at Saxton, Pa., where there was also a turntable. The buildings were still in existence through 1999. The H&BTM rostered some 2,400 coal gondolas at the turn of the century, mostly wooden 30 ton cars. It had 12 cabooses (cabin cars), and a rail crane.
In a town park in Dudley, PA. can be found a lot of H&BTM property. There is the Dudley water tower, the Broad Top City depot, and a section house, from Cove. Resting on a section of rail is engine #39, a 0-4-0 switcher, old, tired, and the victim of long inactivity out in the elements. The engine is not originally H&BTM, but came from the PennView Railroad at Blairsville, PA. H&BTM #39 was actually a Brill Motorcar. Both Dudley and Saxton are worth the trip to see.
1. Baughman, Jon D. & Morgan, Ronald L. From Coal to Glory The History of the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad & Coal Company, 1852-1874, 1988, Vol. I Saxton, Pa.
2. Baughman, Jon D. & Morgan, Ronald L. From Coal to Glory The History of the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad & Coal Company, 1874-1900 , 1992, Vol. II, Saxton, Pa.
3. Hicks, W. Ray, "Pennsylvania Railroad in Maryland," R&LHS Bulletin No. 85, March 1952 pp. 9-10
4. Mellander, Deane Rails to the Big Vein, the Short Lines of Allegany County, Maryland,"January 1981, Potomac Chapter, NRHS, Inc.
5. Adams, Richard D., "A Project in PRR History - the Bedford Branch," Keystone, June, 1980, PRR Tech & Historical Society, Upper Darby, Pa.