EBT heraldShade Gap Branch

In 1876 a section of track called the Rockhill Iron and Coal Tramway was built into Blacklog narrows as far as Groves Quarry to provide raw materials for the iron furnace. It serviced ore mines in the narrows and hauled limestone from Groves Quarry just east of the narrows. Expansion into Shade Valley had been planned since 1875, but did not materialize.

In 1883 in retaliation for the acquisition by the Pennsylvania Railroad's acquisition of a line paralleling the New York Central in New York, the NYC commenced plans to build a line across southern Pennsylvania to compete with the Pennsy. In 1884 the EBT, in it's excitement to become a bridge line between two major carriers and reap revenue from building material transportation, began grading for track to meet the South Pennsylvania Railroad. To insulate the EBT finantially, the branch was built under the aegis of the Shade Gap Railroad Company. From the Rockhill Iron and Coal Tramway, the branch departed at the west end of the narrows, proceeded down Blacklog Valley and through Shade Gap. It then went west to Neelyton then south towards Burnt Cabins where it would meet the South Penn at the western poratal of the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel. By late 1884 rail had been laid to Shade Gap and trains stared in early 1885. When the railroad war was ended and the South Penn stopped construction in July 1885 the roadbed was complete to Burnt Cabins as well as a yard site near Tuscarora Tunnel and timbers ready for needed trestles like the huge one over the valley at Burnt Cabins. In 1886 the branch was put to some use by building north from Shade Gap along the east side of Shade Mountain to the Rockhill Iron and Coal mine at Stair, and subsequently to Goshorn and Richvale. Traffic flowed on the branch until the 1893 shutdown of the iron furnaces and the termination of ore traffic. The shade Valley branch, which was at that time part of the Shade Gap Railroad, was abandoned north of Goshorn in 1902 and the remainder about 1904, thus leaving the railroad ending at Shade Gap again. Until 1908 the RI&C tramway had remained the property of the iron and coal company until it was, as a part of finantial manuverings, sold to the EBT. In 1909, the same track was sold by the EBT to the SGRR. Also in 1909 the branch as it existed then was relaid with heavier rail, likely 60 pound. Additionally that year, following rumors or the Wabash or B&O occupying the South Penn grade and possible competition with the Tuscarora Valley for the traffic, the branch was extended to Neelyton on the old 1885 grade to Burnt Cabins. The track proceded an additional mile or so south of Neelyton to Wiley's Sawmill until about 1914 when it was presumably removed. Late in 1913 the Shade Gap Railroad was absorbed into the East Broad Top Railroad as part of a corporate simplification. From then on it was the EBT Shade Gap Branch. In 1918-19 a branch was built from Neelyton north about a mile and a half to a point known as Stanton, where a gannister quarry was located for GRefCo in Mount Union.

The branch made a modest profit in its early years but was never a big earner. In 1943 the Shade Gap to Neelyton section was dismantled. 1945 was the last year revenue freight was handled on the line and in 1948 Blacklog to Shade Gap was abandoned. The last section was removed by Kovalchick Salvage likely in 1956. A section of the branch from the Rockhill Wye was relaid in standard gauge by the Rockhill Trolley Museum about 1964. After at least two extentions the line now reaches to Backlog and is fully electified as a trolley demonstration ride. Railways to Yesterday, which runs the museum, leases parts of the branch as far as Shade Gap which are still owned by the EBT. In 2001 and 2002 court hearings took place regarding the reconstruction of US route 522 in Blacklog Narrows. The plan required raising the grade of the highway about six feet, cutting of any expantion to the remainder of the old Shade Gap Branch.

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