BELLEFONTE — The Bellefonte Train Station, 320 W. High St., is home to the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bellefonte Visitors Center, as well as the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society. Visitors to the building may have noticed the society's two train cars located behind the building. One of these Budd Rail Diesel Cars is now missing, as it was lifted by crane onto a set of highway wheels on Dec. 15 and transported to Rail Mechanical Services in Columbia. This is where the car's heavy mechanical and body restoration is now taking place.
The Bellefonte Railroad Historical Society was chartered in 1984 with the intent of offering excursion service on the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad. In December of that year, the society acquired Budd RDC No. 9167 as its first major piece of rolling stock. A self-propelled car, it began its long career in 1953 as New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad RDC No. 40. It was built by the Edward G. Budd Co., of Philadelphia, and was operated in commuter and short-haul service in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The rail car came under Penn Central ownership when Penn Central absorbed the New Haven in 1969. It was then acquired by PennDOT in 1975 and given its new number, 9167. In 1983, the car was placed in storage. One year late, it was transferred to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and loaned to the Bellefonte Railroad Historical Society to strengthen attendance at Curtin Village before its title was transferred to the society. RDC No. 9167 and RDC No. 9153, which also now belongs to the BHRS, were retired from service in 2005. Both have been kept out of service since then due to regulatory compliance and mechanical issues.
After several years of the BHRS working tirelessly with supporting partners, including the Centre Regional Planning Agency and the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce, and meetings with state and federal officials to meet exacting standards, RDC No. 9167 will finally be restored for passenger service.
What does this mean for Bellefonte? By next summer, RDC No. 9167 will be fully restored and the BHRS will be able to offer smaller and more frequent train excursions from the Bellefonte Train Station for the enjoyment of visitors and residents. The newly restored car will also add space for frequently sold-out excursions, such as the Fall Foliage ride in October and the Santa Express in December.
For more information, visit bellefontetrain.org.