Chartered in 1856, The East Broad Top Railroad & Coal Company was intended to mine and ship coal from Broad Top Mountain. However, the first completed section of 3-foot narrow gauge track was not complete until August 30, 1873, and ran from Mount Union to Rockhill Furnace. The line was extended the following year to Robertsdale, and in 1891, the line was extended again to Woodvale. The northern terminus of the line at Mount Union was the site of a connection with the standard gauge Pennsylvania Railroad.
Rockhill served as the location for the EBT's engine shops and terminals. This complex was responsible for creating and maintaining EBT's freight cars, making the EBT a self-sufficient operation. In order to transport miners to the coal mines, the EBT setup passenger service; this also allowed EBT to provide public excursions, which helped finances.
Rising labor costs, diminishing coal deposits and employee strikes led to the downfall on EBT, which officially shut down after the last revenue run in April 1956. One historical note: the EBT was the last operating narrow guage railroad east of the Rocky Mountains.
Despite the abandonment, the tracks remained, and were restored in 1960 to celebrate the bicentennial of towns along the line. Passengers on a public excursion along the newly-refurbished route rode once again from Mount Union to Rockhill. The EBT was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and a short segment of the original right-of-way (near Orbisonia) still sees service today as the main attraction of the East Broad Top tourist railroad.