Railroad Artist to Appear at East Broad Top Railroad and Rockhill Trolley Museum on Book Tour

ROCKHILL FURNACE, Pa. – Nationally known railroad artist J. Craig Thorpe (jcraigthorpe.com) will appear at the East Broad Top Railroad and Rockhill Trolley Museum on Saturday, May 6, to speak about his new autobiography and to sign books and art posters.

His newly released 194-page book, Railroad, Art, and American Life (Indiana University Press, 2023), describes his 30-year career as an illustrator and painter. In it, he describes how he paints subjects of the past for nostalgia, the present for documentation, and the future for projecting rail-based possibilities for enhancing transportation and community life.

Thorpe will display artwork and sign books and posters on the EBT station platform throughout the day, and will present a free program at the trolley museum pavilion at 2 p.m. Some of his East Broad Top artwork, and stories of his early involvement with EBT and the museum, appear in the book.

He will also discuss “Back at Work,” his recently completed painting (oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches), showing EBT steam engine No. 16 and the M-1 gas-electric car near the Rockhill Furnace coal dock. The painting was commissioned by rail and electric-railway historian Robert Alkire of Rockford, Ill., who donated it to the EBT Foundation, Inc. Sales of prints of the painting scene will benefit the Foundation. Alkire will accompany Thorpe during his visit to Rockhill, one of nine stops on the book tour, which began at Chicago Union Station and continues through Pennsylvania and Maryland at railroad museums, tourist railroads, and railroad historical societies.

Thorpe is a native of Pittsburgh’s South Hills. When he was a child, his grandfather often took him to ride Pittsburgh Railways “PCC” streetcars, as well as the Baltimore & Ohio’s Rail Diesel Cars between Pittsburgh and McKeesport. These experiences imprinted on him the value of what he calls “ethical transportation choices” that are both friendly to the environment and contribute to the values of a civil society.

In the early 1960s, he and his parents often visited EBT and became well acquainted with former Operating Vice President C. Roy Wilburn, General Manager Stanley Hall, and Conductor (and original EBT employee) Steve Painter. Thorpe produced drawings, sketches, and maps for both EBT and the trolley museum, and redesigned the railroad’s brochure in 1969-1970. In addition, he sometimes served as an on-board announcer, detailing the line’s history for passengers.

In 1970 he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in design, and continued to use artwork to illustrate railroad and transit projects. After working for architects, he relocated to Seattle and began doing architectural renderings. A commission to portray a proposed train station for Olympia, Wash., caught the attention of Amtrak, which featured the painting on its 1993 national calendar.

Since then, his portfolio has centered almost exclusively on railroad subjects. These include not only historic themes and present-day scenes, but also concept portrayals of future trains, services, and facilities for agencies, state DOTs, and railroad museums. Corporate and private-commission work includes images produced for Amtrak; BNSF Railway; GE Transportation Systems; Union Tank Car Co.; Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad; Grand Canyon Railway; White Pass & Yukon Route; East Broad Top; Pennsylvania Trolley Museum of Washington, Pa.; Railroaders Memorial Museum of Altoona, Pa.; Northern Central Railway of York; and many other commuter, transit, excursion, and museum operations. This work has appeared on calendars, posters, reports, book covers, and commemorative items.

Thorpe and his wife Cathy live in Bellevue, Wash. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.<


Rockhill Trolley Museum Granted $10,000 from John Emery Rail Heritage Trust | Ceremony June 1, 2018

The Rockhill Trolley Museum, located at 430 Meadow St., Rockhill Furnace, PA 17249, has been granted $10,000 from the John Emery Rail Heritage Trust in Illinois towards the restoration of one of their unique cars, the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wooden interurban electric trolley Car 315, built by the Kuhlman Car Company in Cleveland OH in 1909.

Ornately decorated with stained glass windows and fine woodwork, it was built to reach 80 miles an hour. The Rockhill Trolley Museum acquired it in 1961 and it has been one of their most popular operating cars. Interurban car 315 is currently being restored to the condition it was built in 1909 through the 1920’s. Museum President, Joel Salomon, explained that Car 315 is an excellent example of the grand splendor of interurban travel experienced at the beginning of this century for everyday people.


Funds Sought to Return Open Trolley Car #1875 to Service

The Rockhill Trolley Museum is kicking off a campaign to raise funds for mechanical work needed to return our open trolley car to service.

It is our most popular trolley on a hot summer day, however, after more than 45 years of service at the museum, car 1875 needs major mechanical work.

The goal of this campaign is to fund a total overhaul of the car’s running gear. This overhaul will involve complete reconstruction of the trucks and complete overhaul of the electric motors. The wheels also need to be replaced. We are estimating that this work could exceed $70,000.

Please help
return open trolley car 1875 to service
at the Rockhill Trolley Museum

We are fortunate to have been approved for a generous matching grant from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation. This grant will match $35,000 in contributions from other sources. We have raised approximately $15,000 of our portion of the match.