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Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust

Post Office Box 492
Boyertown, Pennsylvania 19512
610-367-0200
Toll Free 866-289-4021



WE BELIEVE in the power of our communities to use the treasures of their past to secure a better future. WE BELIEVE the best route forward for our region is along the iron path of the Colebrookdale Railroad. WE BELIEVE a new day is dawning for the Secret Valley Line and people of Berks and Montgomery Counties.

WE'RE ABOUT TO CHANGE THINGS.   It will provide jobs and a much-needed economic boost.  The Colebrookdale Railroad Tourist Railroad Project connects two counties, two boroughs, and thousands of people along a right-of-way with a storied past and vast potential for the future.  Bringing 20,000-30,000 new visitors annually to the region, the Project will catalyze the good work the citizens in Pottstown, Boyertown, and Beyond have done over the past three decades to build local business, to preserve local heritage and culture, and to make Southeastern Pennsylvania a place worth investing in, working in, and calling home.
 

 RESPONDING TO A REGIONAL NEED.   The Colebrookdale Railroad responds to an opportunity gap for marketing and tourism development identified by a recent study by the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.


A PROJECT TO TRANSFORM THE REGION.  30,000 new visitors to Pottstown and Boyertown each year;  $8M economic impact at start up and $1M annually thereafter;  200 new jobs.  This is the promise of the Colebrookdale in Our Communities. With the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Borough of Pottstown, the Borough of Boyertown,  the Berks Mont Business Association, and the Redevelopment Authority of Berks County, the Trust commissioned Stone Consulting to complete an Implementation Plan and Economic Impact Analysis for a tourist railroad on the Colebrookdale.  See a summary of the results here.

CAPITALIZING ON A NATIONALLY-SIGNIFICANT STORY   The Railroad connects the earliest ironmaking sites in Pennsylvania and among the earliest in the nation.  The Colebrookdale is a core corridor within the only region in the United States where visitors can explore iron industry vestiges from its 18th century infancy, observe 19th century technological innovations and industrial expansion, and learn about 20th century international steel markets - all within a radius of 35 miles from the Pottstown and Boyertown stations.  Unspoiled by time, the Colebrookdale's Secret Valley looks much the same today as it would to the iron-willed pioneers of three centuries ago.    Learn more about the Iron Heritage of the Secret Valley Line.

GET INVOLVED  Check out photos and Like us on our Facebook page.  Read more about the project on the About Us page and send us a note if you'd like to volunteer!  Send in a letter of support and we'll post it on this site. 

HISTORY AND PROMISE--FURTHER EXPLORATION.    A Virtual Tour of the Colebrookdale:  Watch a short video on the history of the Colebrookdale Railroad hereProspectus: Find out more about the proposal for a tourist railroad on the Colebrookdale Line hereColebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust Brochure:  Download  hereHighway Tour of the Colebrookdale Railroad:  Find a guide to seeing selected bridges and crossings by automobile here.  The Trust assumes no responsibility for you nor is this document meant to induce you to take a tour of the line.  Never, ever trespass on railroad property. 

LETTERS  OF SUPPORT.    The following organizations have expressed their support of this project:  the Borough of Pottstown;  the Borough of Boyertown; the Pottstown School District; the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Commission; the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area;  the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative;  the Boyertown Musuem of Historic Vehicles; the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society; the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau; Pottstown Downtown Improvement District ; Cole's Tobacco; the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, TriCounty Area Chamber of CommerceRobert Evans, LLC, Lewis Environmental, Gretchen Lea Interior Design, Durango's Saloon, and Clothes to Home.  

Download and submit your own letter of support here.

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This is the official website of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to establishing an on-going tourist passenger operation on the Colebrookdale Railroad.  The Trust will assist the line's designated operator, the Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, and the line's owner, Berks County, to restore and enhance this remarkable resource for the benefit of the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania now and into the future.

The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future. Post a comment below and tell us your idea for the Colebrookdale Railroad!



 Colebrookdale Railroad Spur Branch Reading Company rail railroad Pottstown Boyertown tourist heritage recreational recreation history train steam train Ironstone  Secret Valley line railway historic Strasburg revitalization community economic development Pennsylvania PA Carousel Manatawny Park Memorial Park Museum Schuylkill Highlands Iron and Steel


Scenes Along the Colebrookdale
Leaving Boyertown

Leaving Boyertown

Autumn woods

Autumn woods

Approaching Ironstone Creek Bridge

Approaching Ironstone Creek Bridge

Approaching the Phoenix Bridge Company bridge over the Ironstone Creek on a rainy April day in 2012.
Iron Journey into the Past

Iron Journey into the Past

Summer along the Manatawny

Summer along the Manatawny

Autumn on the Ironstone

Autumn on the Ironstone

Another curve

Another curve

Ironstone Park 3

Ironstone Park 3

Deep Rock Cut

Deep Rock Cut

One of the line's many deep rock cuts lavishly carpeted with mosses of every shade of green.
Ironstone Park

Ironstone Park

Great bend

Great bend

Near Glasgow

Near Glasgow

Autumn Majesty

Autumn Majesty

Manatawny, fall

Manatawny, fall

Pottstown Siding

Pottstown Siding

Rock Cut, Fall 3

Rock Cut, Fall 3

Rock Cut, Fall 2

Rock Cut, Fall 2

Looking Backward

Looking Backward

Rock Cut, fall

Rock Cut, fall

Evening

Evening

Autumn

Autumn

Confluence Bridge

Confluence Bridge

Waterfall at Colebrookdale Foundry

Waterfall at Colebrookdale Foundry

Old Boyertown Station

Old Boyertown Station

Historic Phoenix Iron Crane, Boyertown

Historic Phoenix Iron Crane, Boyertown

Bridge timbers

Bridge timbers

Through the rocks.

Through the rocks.

Greenery!

Greenery!

View to Pottsgrove Manor

View to Pottsgrove Manor

Racing Home

Racing Home

Into the Light

Into the Light

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Green Canopy

Green Canopy

Manatawny Run

Manatawny Run

Ironstone bridge

Ironstone bridge

A Secert Behind Every Turn

A Secert Behind Every Turn

Rainy Day Rock Cut

Rainy Day Rock Cut

Headed toward Pottstown

Headed toward Pottstown

Secret Valley Splendor!

Secret Valley Splendor!

Through the Woods Near Colebrookdale Station

Through the Woods Near Colebrookdale Station

Colebrookdale Works Siding Junction

Colebrookdale Works Siding Junction

Deep Rock Cut

Deep Rock Cut

Falls at Colebrookdale Works

Falls at Colebrookdale Works

Climbing Toward Boyertown

Climbing Toward Boyertown

Manatawny and Rock Cliff

Manatawny and Rock Cliff

Douglas Park Trestle

Douglas Park Trestle

Pine Forge Bridge

Pine Forge Bridge

Heading toward Ironstone Creek

Heading toward Ironstone Creek

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

Back in time:  Boyertown Rail Yard

Back in time: Boyertown Rail Yard

This photo, provided by Adrianne Blank, shows the Boyertown Rail Yard adjacent to Chestnut Street in the area where the line's locomotive is currently stored. 
Approaching Glasgow

Approaching Glasgow

Rounding a tight curve heading toward Pottstown just before Glasgow Manor
Stone Slab Bridge

Stone Slab Bridge

This little bridge is constructed entirely of huge stones. To give you an idea of scale, a person can comfortably walk through the channel. Once solid lintel carries the weight of the railroad over the creek.
The Culvert in Springtime

The Culvert in Springtime

Imagine building this massive stone culvert using only horses and hand tools.
Tunnel Under the Colebrookdale

Tunnel Under the Colebrookdale

This massive work of engineering rests far below the Colebrookdale Railroad. It directs a small creek under the line through a large, S-curve tunnel.
Colebrookdale Station Road

Colebrookdale Station Road

These abutments once supported a bridge connecting Farmington Avenue with the Colebrookdale Station near the present day site of the Colebrookdale Iron Works. The bridge, the road, and the station are gone but their remnants can be seen from the train.
Glasgow Street Bridge

Glasgow Street Bridge

Glasgow Street ducked under the Colebrookdale using this little bridge. The abutment was orginally built to support two tracks, as the passing track for Glasgow Station also crossed over Glasgow Street. The bridge connecting Glasgow Street to Manatawny Street was washed away by Hurricane Agnes and now the road is merely a driveway.
Red Shale Road Bridge

Red Shale Road Bridge

The line towers over Red Shale Road on this bridge dating from the late 1860s.
Rock Cut Approaching Rattlesnake Hill

Rock Cut Approaching Rattlesnake Hill

The line has many deep rock cuts who presence evidences both the geology of this magic place and the tenacity of the line's builders.
A Gentle Curve in the Secret Valley

A Gentle Curve in the Secret Valley

Thomas Edison--A Frequent Colebrookdale Passenger

Thomas Edison--A Frequent Colebrookdale Passenger

Edison rode the Colebrookdale regularly. The mines along the line were sources ore found no where else.
Into the Secret Valley

Into the Secret Valley

Legend says the Colebrookdale Railroad was laid down along an old Indian trail into the deep woods to a secret, magical land.
Along the Manatawny

Along the Manatawny

Timber Trestle 2

Timber Trestle 2

Timber Trestle 1

Timber Trestle 1

Boyertown Crane Restoration
close up at night

close up at night

Photo by Len Shaner
In dress black at the end of the day!

In dress black at the end of the day!

Photo by Len Shaner
Our Volunteers!

Our Volunteers!

Photo by Len Shaner
Mechanism nearly fully painted

Mechanism nearly fully painted

Photo by Len Shaner
Close up

Close up

Adding the first top coat

Adding the first top coat

At work!

At work!

Working on the hook

Working on the hook

Preston McEvoy, project coordinator, gives the hook some attention
Work continues

Work continues

Photo by Len Shaner
After day one

After day one

Priming the crane

Priming the crane

The crane received a hefty coat of rust converter after an intensive rust-removal process.  Then, it was primed with rusty metal primer. Photo by Len Shaner.
Scaffolding erected thanks to Trevor!

Scaffolding erected thanks to Trevor!

Photo by Len Shaner.
1860s Phoenixville-Built Crane

1860s Phoenixville-Built Crane

The crane at the very early stages of restoration. Photo by Len Shaner


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Robert E. Reiff07/20/2014
So much to remember and so much to tell. One of the men's clubs in Boyertown used to take us kids to Hershey Park in the summer. My grandfather, Lyman Engel would take my brother and me for walks one Sunday afternoons. Let's do it!
Chuck Mattis07/19/2014
Where is a map on here that shows the railroad in relation to the streets and creeks it passes? maybe we could setup a google map data entry for it?
John Grier 07/19/2014
I can't be there to be a volunteer as I live in Colorado Springs,CO.I am really impressed on what has been accomplished .My Mom lives in Temple,PA so now I will have a railroad to ride when I am at my Mom's. I will join as a member to help support The Colebrookdale RR
malcolm radford07/19/2014
it looks very beautifull around there.ilove railways and preservation.i hope you are very succesfull in your endevers and you get many tourists to see this historic place.all the best for the future...malc
BRUCE LANDIS06/28/2014
Many fond memories of train station which I walked past every day on my way to BHS before Third St was opened to Washington st
BRUCE LANDIS06/28/2014
I grew up on S Reading Ave in a house dating back to the iron mine days in Boyertown Lived there from 1938 thru 1950 I remember the days of the steam engines that had problems negoating the ice and snow during the winter Many a day we walked the tracks to fish in the Ironston Creek and foundry dam
Damon Schlegel06/05/2014
I grew up on those tracks all along Mill St. area My father played on the trestletracks growing up, and even my grandfather jumped off the trestle into the Ironstone as a kid - amazing it used to be so deep. Many fond memories for my family.
kathy tauber05/22/2014
Another idea for rides - movie tie-ins such as Hitchcock with films with trains with a showing at the State included in the package.
sandra rhoads janda04/12/2014
I was raised along the railroad in Pine Forge, played in the tunnel at the thrusle back by the ironstone creek. We would walk the train tracks from our house into the village of Pine Forge where my Grandmother lived. So many fond memories of my childhood. I was part of the secret valley.
Matthew Skros03/28/2014
Railroads have always fascinated me, especially their history. Even though the times of mighty steam locmotives have faded, there are still places where they live on in our memories and our hearts. Let's make the Colebrookdale Railroad one of those such places!
Judith Mercer Sheridan03/24/2014
My early childhood home was on South Reading Avenue near Apple Street. We played outside, and the railroad tracks were a magnet. I can remember many times shudderwhen my fiends and I walked south on the tracks to the first bridge where fear stopped us. Great adventure, not safe-smart.
Clayton M. Leister02/19/2014
When my father, Clayton B. Leister, left the family farm at the age of twenty-one, he went to work upon the Colebrookdale Railroad at Barto with station master Charles Hersh. He learned the international morse code, book keeping, and accounting while even subbing as a conductor.
Joe Marra01/07/2014
Thank you for your endevors to bring another beautiful, historic railroad back to life. In the past several years of traveling to the St.Pio Shrine in Barto,I have said to my wife when crossing the tracks At Rt. 100 this would make a beautiful tourist railroad. I can't wait to be a passenger.
Henry Heimbach01/02/2014
I lived in Morysville near the tracks, back then we had steam engines on the line , I remember the first diesel engine that came up the line. At night I would blink the porch light to engineer and he would give the whistle a short blast then the conductor in caboose would wave his red lantern to me.
sandra rhoads janda11/14/2013
I lived in Pine Forge, all theses wonderful pictures bring back such great memories of my childhood, waiting for the train everyday to go past our house, I remember playing in the little cave back along the ironstone creek, those were good old days

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