Trolley and Railroad Heritage Authors to Visit During Fall Spectacular

Come see special guests Beth Anne Keates, co-author with Kenneth C. Springirth of Union Pacific Railroad Heritage and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Heritage (released in Spring 2023), at the Rockhill Trolley Museum Fall Spectacular, Saturday October 7th, beginning at 10 AM.

Let’s hear from Ms. Keates:

Our newest book, Viewing Norfolk Southern Railway, is due out in November 2023. My interest in Railroads/Trolleys and the Transportation industry spans over 50 years. As a student at Media-Providence Friends School, I was given the opportunity to take SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) trolleys to and from school. This was during the transition to the currently running SEPTA Kawasaki trolleys on the Media line from the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company’s various trolleys. As a student of rail transportation, I have studied and learned about the current mainline railroads in the United States over many years. I was the onsite editor for Ken’s book on the West Chester Railroad. I am the Vice Regent of the Lansdowne Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, and a past State Officer. I am a Proud Penn State Graduate. My father, Donald P. van Krieken, fostered my interest in learning about trains as a child. My mother inspired my love of history and genealogy. I have two grown sons. Jacob, my oldest, works for J.C. McHugh Locomotives as a train diesel mechanic, and my youngest son, Andrew, is a photographer and rail photo enthusiast, with his own YouTube channel Steel & Steam Productions. My husband of over 37 years, Brian, is our lead photographer, and we often go out together for the research and best photos for our books. I am also a photographer and enjoy researching the rail history/genealogy of the areas that we visit.

Ken Springirth, the author of over 40 books on trolleys and trains, including his book East Broad Top Railroad, which includes Rockhill Trolley Museum content. His extensive number of books includes The Rebirth of North America’s Streetcar Heritage, Trolleys in Philadelphia, Trolleys of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Trolley Heritage, New Jersey’s Trolley Heritage, Toronto Streetcars, Johnstown Trolleys, and books about the following cities’ trolleys: Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, New Orleans, and San Francisco. His railroads books include Remembering the Pennsylvania Railroad, Honoring the New York Central Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railroad Heritage, CSX Transportation Rail Heritage, Reading Railroad, and a unique children’s book ABC’s on the Rails. Ken’s father was a motorman in Philadelphia, and his grandfather was a motorman in Washington DC. Ken traveled to work and college by trolley, graduating from the then Drexel Institute of Technology. Ken newest book, Trolleys/Trams & Light Rail around the World debuts soon.

The Keates & Springirth Families live in diagonal corners of Pennsylvania, the Keates family in West Chester and the Springirth Family in Erie. It takes a special type of cooperation and coordination to actively write and market books about the genealogy of transportation on steel rails.

Ms. Keates continues:

However, Ken & I both grew up in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, attended the same elementary school-Ardmore Avenue and same church, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, albeit in different years. This bond of growing up in a small town on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and our varied backgrounds has enabled us the unique opportunity to write across the ages and capture the history of phenomenal rail transportation. We will be bringing over 40 rail heritage books to this event.

This is your unique opportunity to meet two authors who have a put out a variety of books on rail history that brings hope to the fact that the railroads have a good future around the world including the United States of America. Interest in Heritage Railroads and Trolleys grows like a tree, putting roots down and immersing in the landscapes that are created around them.


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 ( 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.