Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Ride on the Colebrookdale

Photos and video by Evan Brandt
The partially refurbished dining car is just one of the delights on the Colebrookdale Railroad's Secret Valley Line.

So I am pleased to report that a ride on the Colebrookdale Railroad, through the "Secret Valley" between Pottstown and Boyertown, was every bit as enjoyable as I have always hoped it would be.
We liked that the tickets were golden...

Although I have written quite a bit about the railroad and confess to being enthusiastic about its potential for the region, I had yet to ride it.

But, when the folks at the Colebrookdale Preservation Trust lowered the ticket price from $27.50 to $20 and offered rides starting in Pottstown instead of Boyertown -- all in honor of the mighty Pottstown Volleyball Rumble -- I could resist no longer.

Although the station that will ultimately erected in Memorial Park is not yet set-up, special arrangements were made to allow passengers to board in Pottstown, so riders could start and end in either location.

Other special rides are this coming weekend for the Independence Limited on Friday for the events in Memorial Park, and the special Star Spangled Express and Fireworks Express Saturday.

The Colebrookdale on its new siding in Pottstown.
Nathaniel Guest, the face and driving force behind bringing the Colebrookdale this far, said the rides that weekend were well-attended.

Its a shame that the Pottstown School Board does not have enough foresight and faith to support the effort by forgiving the taxes on the former Davis Brothers scrapyard the railroad has taken over and will use as its maintenance facility.

A non-profit organization, the group filed its paperwork too late with the Montgomery County Board of assessment to be automatically forgiven this year's tax bill and will not be tax-exempt until next year.

At least borough council had the vision to forgive those taxes, but the school board, which is constantly complaining that not enough is being done to increase the tax base and bring businesses to town, apparently does not recognize the value of an excursion railroad which will attract thousands once it is up and running.

All to save $30,000, which is just two year's worth of the contributions taxpayers will make to Business Manager Linda Adams's retirement account under the new three-year contract they unanimously approved Monday night.
Historic Glasgow Manor is among the sights along the way.

This despite the fact that the railroad is the linchpin in the new recreation and tourism district the borough is trying to create for the exact reason of satisfying the school district's stated desire for more economic development.

Anyway, let's not dwell on a vision-less school board.

Because as shown in the slide show below, created with great technical difficulty by our crackerjack technical staff here at The Digital Notebook, the visions that appear during a Colebrookdale Railroad ride are as superb and bucolic as they are surprising.

It is truly a well-kept secret -- until now.

Unfortunately, I am not so forward thinking myself that I was sure to charge my iPhone to its fullest before my wife Karen and I embarked on our journey.
So first, here is a small sample of video which drained my battery about the industrial history which occurred along the route of the "Secret Valley Line."

Once we got to Boyertown, the battery was very, very low, so I decided to focus the energy that remained on giving a sense of how things work at the Boyertown yard, and the ride back. Have a look.

Hopefully, this remarkable achievement will be preserved and developed to become the attraction it is capable of becoming and help promote both Pottstown and Boyertown as destination locations for everyone from volleyball players, to railroad enthusiasts, to carousel enthusiasts, to history-loving tourists to riders of the Schuylkill River Trail.

That's a future to which we can all look forward.

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