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Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad
The equipment Dr. Groman purchased consisted of No. 38, a consolidation type, 101 ton, 2-8-0 locomotive built in April, 1927 by The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA, a 63 ton tender, a former Brill electric combination passenger and baggage coach (#27), an all steel railroad post office and baggage coach (#5436), a 4 wheel "bobber" caboose with wood body and steel under frame (#17), one mile of 60 pound rail from the Shoups Run branch line, two tool cars, one motor car and miscellaneous parts from the Saxton Shops.
"Old 38" as it appeared on the H&BT track siding when Dr. Groman visited Huntingdon, PA on April 10, 1954. J. L. McGrath poses on the running board while Dr. Groman's wife, Doreen (in checkered jacket), chats with railroad workmen. The Pennsylvania Railroad's mainline track is off to the left of the crossing gate. [Photo by Stanley Groman, RCHM Photo Collection].
The Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad and Coal Company was formed in 1852 to haul coal from Broad Top Mountain. The line extended south from Huntingdon, PA through Saxton, Riddlesburg and Hopewell. Branch lines extended from each of these three towns into the Broad Top Mountain coal fields. The main line then continued on to Bedford, PA, a total distance of 52 miles from Huntingdon. The Pennylvania Railroad had connections at both ends of the H&BT line, i.e. in Huntingdon and Bedford. Huntingdon, PA is located 33 miles east of Altoona, PA along the former Pennsylvania Railroad. The H&BT had its headquarters, roundhouse and shops in Saxton, PA.
A former resident of Pennsylvania and founder of the Colorado Railroad Museum, Robert W. Richardson, informed Dr. Groman of the bankrupt H&BT railroad. He was familiar with the operation as he had photographed it when he lived in Pennyslvania. He now lived in Alamosa, CO collecting railroad equipment for his Narrow Gauge Motel and Museum. Just a year earlier Richardson met Dr. Groman in Alamosa and recommended that if he wanted a narrow gauge locomotive he should purchase the one in Gallup, NM as Rio Grande equipment in Colorado was hard to acquire.
Locomotive #38 made railroad history on June 6, 1954 when it made the historic "Last Steam Passenger Run" on the New York Central's Watertown line from Syracuse, NY to Lacona, NY. It was the last steam passenger train on the Central as well as the last steam passenger train to depart the Central's Syracuse Station. The previous week (May 29, 1954) the train also made a historic 'last run' on the Central's "Old Auburn" road from Canandaigua to Syracuse. It was delayed three hours in reaching Syracuse due to the fan fare associated with trip.
Promotional photograph sold at Rail City Museum in 1955. The caption reads: "Historic 'Old 38' that made the Final Steam Passenger Run in New York State on the New York Central Railroad June 6, 1954 as she steams into Syracuse, N.Y. Dr. Groman Founder of Rail City Museum waving from the cab window. (Picture from Wirephoto, Associated Press News)" [RCHM Photo Collection]
H&BT train in Huntingdon, PA on February 14, 1953. Locomotive No. 37 was built for the H&BT to the same specifications as No. 38 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in April, 1927. Behind No. 37 is the railway post office coach No. 5436 and the former Brill electric passenger coach No. 27. [RCHM Photo Collection]