Steel River, Colebrookdale RR, Audubon Society Win Grants

HARRISBURG PA – Three cultural institutions popular among western Montgomery County residents – the Steel River Playhouse in Pottstown, the National Audubon Society in Audubon, and the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust in Boyertown – collectively received more than $102,000 in state Cultural and Museum Preservation grants approved Tuesday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

The Colebrookdale Railroad, which provides tourism passenger and freight services on its “Secret Valley Line” track between Boyertown and Pottstown, won $48,478. The Audubon Society, which last June held a grand opening for its new 18,000-square-foot John James Audubon Center museum, gained $29,201. Steel River, which was forced to cancel its season through June 2021 due to the pandemic, got a $25,000 boost.

Overall, the authority distributed about $20 million for 164 projects in 36 counties. The grants are intended “to offset the impact the pandemic had on these organizations, and will help them move forward in their recovery efforts as they begin to welcome visitors back in their doors,” Gov. Tom Wolf said.

The program will be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Also receiving grants in the Tri-County (Montgomery, Chester, and Berks counties) area were

  • in Montgomery: Norristown Zoo, Act II Playhouse;
  • in Chester: Historic Yellow Springs, People’s Light and Theatre Company, American Helicopter Museum and Education Center; and
  • in Berks: GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Foundation for the Reading Public Museum, and Reading Symphony Orchestra.

146th House District Rep. Joe Ciresi, who in part represents Pottstown constituents, praised the Steel River Playhouse award. Ciresi was a member of the steering committee for the theater’s formation, and also has performed there. “In melding the traditions of volunteerism, camaraderie, and community theater entertainment,” he said, Steel River “has increased community-wide access to the arts, particularly for children with disabilities and those who are generally under-served.”

Train photo from the Colebrookdale Railroad website
Swan photo from the National Audubon Society website
May 2017 stage photo by John Daggett from Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Steel River Playhouse web gallery