Monday, January 30, 2012

All Aboard! The Secret Valley Line

The Colebrookdale Railroad in its heyday.

The Secret Valley Railroad is looking for a few good people, 10 to 15 of them to be exact.

"What," you ask "is the Secret Valley Railroad?"

Well, if you have ever driven down West King Street, past Pottsgrove Manor, you've driven right over it.
A bridge on the line near Ironstone Creek

And if you've driven down West High Street, chances are you've driven right under it.

You see the Secret Valley Railroad is the tentative name being given to the idea of establishing an historic excursion tourist railroad on what is now known as the Colebrookdale Spur.

A group of people, led by a very focused young lawyer named Nathaniel Guest, is spearheading the effort to establish one more thing to attract people to Pottstown.

(You may have read about this effort in the local newspaper, The Mercury.)

The idea is to establish a regular running tourism train, similar to those at New Hope or Strasburg, that attracts people to Pottstown and Boyertown, the two ends of the 8.6-mile run through some of the prettiest landscape in eastern Pennsylvania.

The next phase is to establish a board of directors for the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust and a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m., March 13, at Pottstown Borough Hall is designed to do just that.

A bridge on the Colebrookdale Spur
"We are seeking 10 to 15 people experienced in planning, marketing, accounting, law, fundraising, etc., willing to commit substantially of their time and resources to build the organization," read an e-mail I received from Harry J, Tucci Jr., who is assisting Guest.

"There will be minimum board contribution levels for time and donations," he added. "Directors will be doing the heavy lifting of getting the trust organized and attracting fundraising opportunities for implementation of the action plan. We estimate that $385,000 will be required to implement phase one of the plan."

Those interested in being considered should RSVP to Tucci by Feb. 23 and, if possible, include a resume or brief bio with relevant experience.

Tucci can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 610-427-3348.

A second meeting, later in March, will be held in Boyertown and open to all interested parties.

Goals include refurbishing equipment
The idea behind that meeting, Tucci said, will be to create a "membership body" of people who will support the effort through contributions and volunteer labor, as well as to "establish next steps for the organization after reviewing and formally adopting the current action plan."

More details about the proposal can be found in the 53-page prospectus available at this link.

Goals for the project are many, not the least of which include acquiring and restoring historic passenger cars from the 1900-1916 era; construction of passenger facilities in Boyertown and Pottstown; setting up preliminary excursions in 2013.

Guest has made presentations about the project to Pottstown Borough Council, the Pottstown School Board, the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee and the Carousel at Pottstown board of directors, all of which enthusiastically endorsed the idea.

The rail line is currently owned by Berks County and is used infrequently to supply raw material to Drug Plastics, which manufactures plastic bottles for prescription drugs and is located north of Boyertown.
The route of the original Colebrookdale Railroad

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