Western Maryland Railway
|Western Maryland Railway|
Western Maryland Railway in the 1950s
|Locale||Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia|
|Dates of operation||1852–1983|
|Successor||Baltimore and Ohio Railroad|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||835 miles (1,344 km)|
The Western Maryland Railway (reporting mark WM) was an American Class I railroad which operated in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It was primarily a coal hauling and freight railroad, with a small passenger train operation. The WM became part of the Chessie System in 1973 and ceased operating its lines in 1983 when it was merged into the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
On May 27, 1852, the Maryland General Assembly granted a charter to the Baltimore, Carroll & Frederick Rail Road to build a line from Baltimore northwest through Westminster, west toward Hagerstown, Maryland. The name of the enterprise was soon changed to Western Maryland Rail Road (WM). The line was opened as far as Union Bridge in November 1862, and it was seized briefly by the Union army during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. Construction resumed in 1868. The line reached Hagerstown in 1872 and was extended a few miles to a connection with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Williamsport in 1873.
In 1881, WM leased a line north to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and in 1886 established a connection there with a predecessor of the Reading Company (RDG). Also in 1886, WM gained a branch north from Hanover to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; that line was soon extended southwest from Gettysburg to meet WM's main line at Highfield, Maryland. The main line was extended from Williamsport and Big Pool, Maryland, and across the Potomac River to Cherry Run, West Virginia, where it connected with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). B&O, WM, and RDG joined forces to operate a through freight route between Cumberland, Maryland and Allentown, Pennsylvania, via Harrisburg.
|WM East Subdivision|
WM's stock was largely owned by the city of Baltimore; the city also held its mortgage bonds. By the turn of the century WM's debt to Baltimore was substantial, and the city was seeking a buyer for the railroad. Bids were submitted in 1902. The Fuller Syndicate, the company representing George Gould, was the lowest bidder but guaranteed full payment of WM's debt, extension west to Cumberland, and creation of a major tidewater terminal at Baltimore.:42-43 On May 7, 1902, the city accepted the Fuller Syndicate's offer. WM immediately built the marine terminal, Port Covington, and began construction westward along the Potomac (where all the good locations had been taken by the B&O, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the National Road). The line reached Cumberland in 1906. There it met the Cumberland & Piedmont Railway, which with the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway (WVC&P), another Gould railroad, formed a route southwest from Cumberland through Elkins to Durbin and Belington, West Virginia. In 1907, Gould acquired control of the George's Creek and Cumberland Railroad (GC&C), which had a line from Cumberland north through the Cumberland Narrows.:47-48
B&O and RDG had broken their traffic agreement with WM in 1902, with the result that coal from Gould's WVC&P bypassed the WM and went instead over trackage owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), which at the time controlled B&O. The rest of Gould's empire was in trouble as well, and in 1908 the WM entered receivership, as did the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway and the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway. The Western Maryland Railway took over the WM at the beginning of 1910 and immediately began construction of an 86-mile (138 km) extension northwest from Cumberland to a connection with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad at Connellsville, Pennsylvania.
When the Gould empire collapsed, John D. Rockefeller acquired control of the WM. Because the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) merger plan on 1921 grouped WM with B&O, B&O bought Rockefeller's WM interest in 1927 and soon increased its WM holdings to 43 percent. Frank Taplin, who controlled the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway (P&WV), protested B&O's action. The ICC charged B&O with violating antitrust laws — in its effort to carry out the ICC merger plan. PRR interests acquired the P&WV in 1929 and offered to purchase WM, but B&O refused to sell, eventually placing its WM holdings in a nonvoting trust.
In 1944, WM acquired the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad, a short coal railroad out of Cumberland. WM began dieselization in 1949, starting with the eastern end of the system, farthest from the coalfields it served. Passenger service — which consisted of coach-only local trains — lasted barely long enough to be dieselized.
As eastern railroad merger plans formulated, the handwriting was on the wall for WM's traffic base. This fate could only be avoided by a combination of the WM and Norfolk and Western Railway, which provided many of the through trains run across the WM. However, this WM - N&W merger was not to happen. The planned merger of the New York Central Railroad (NYC) and the PRR (the ill-fated Penn Central) could throw traffic from the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (part of the NYC system) onto the PRR. Partly because the combined C&O/B&O did not want the WM to fall into the hands of the competing Norfolk and Western Railway which connected with the WM both at Connellsville, PA and at Hagerstown, MD, the WM was abandoned, with all traffic being rerouted over the parallel B&O between Cherry Run, WV and Connellsville, PA. B&O and C&O applied to control WM, and the ICC approved their bid in 1967.:364
There was little evidence of the C&O-B&O control until 1973, when the Chessie System was incorporated to own C&O, B&O, and WM. In 1973, Chessie System applied to abandon 125 miles of the WM main line from Hancock, Maryland to Connellsville, Pennsylvania. WM's single track paralleled B&O's double-track line and had easier grades and better clearances, but the Chessie System's position was that the expense of maintaning the line and building connecting lines outweighed any savings that might result in lower operating costs. That same year, WM's Port Covington coal terminal was abandoned in favor of B&O's newer pier in Baltimore. Gradually, B&O absorbed WM's operations, and in late 1983, B&O officially merged the WM. The B&O itself merged with the C&O in 1987, which itself became part of CSX Transportation.
Much of the original Western Maryland line west of Big Pool has been abandoned including the 2,375-foot (724 m) summit of the Allegheny Mountains and the Eastern Continental Divide near Deal, Pennsylvania. In addition to CSX, portions of the former WM are now operated by Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, the Maryland Midland Railway (MMID), Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and York Railway. Other portions are now rail trails. A portion of the former WM right of way within the city of Baltimore is now used by the Baltimore Metro Subway.
In Allegany County, Maryland, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park includes the Western Maryland Railroad Right-of-Way, Milepost 126 to Milepost 160, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
At the peak of its operations, in the early to mid-20th century, the WM operated the following major geographical units:
|Belington||Elkins, WV||Belington, WV||Now operated by Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad|
|Connellsville||Cumberland, MD||Connellsville, PA||Includes State Line Branch (Georges Creek Jct. to State Line, Pennsylvania, connecting to PRR until 1972).:71Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) at Cumberland.||Portions now Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail|
|Durbin||Elkins, WV||Durbin, WV||Portions now Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad and Monongahela National Forest rail-trail|
|East||Walbrook Junction, MD||Hagerstown, MD||Section between Emory Grove and Highfield now operated by MMID. Remaining sections operated by CSX.|
|Greenbrier, Cheat & Elk (GC&E)||Cheat Junction, WV||Webster Springs, WV||Portions now Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad|
|Hanover||Emory Grove, MD||Highfield, MD||CTC at Emory Grove Tower||Now operated by the Maryland Midland Railway|
|Huttonsville||Elkins||Dailey, WV (originally Huttonsville)||Now operated by Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad|
|Lurgan||Hagerstown||Shippensburg, PA||CTC at Hagerstown||Portions now operated by CSX|
|Thomas||Cumberland||Elkins||Includes C&P Branch (Westernport to Carlos Junction, Maryland); and Stony River Branch, opened & leased by WM in 1963 (Bayard, West Virginia to Mount Storm Power Station):189||Portions of original GC&C line abandoned 1927. Other portions now operated by CSX, Georges Creek Railway. Portions also a rail-trail and abandoned/ submerged under Jennings Randolph Lake.|
|Tide||Walbrook Junction||Port Covington (Baltimore)||Portions now CSX; Port Covington abandoned 1988.:312|
|West||Cumberland||Hagerstown||CTC at Maryland Jct||Portion east of Cumberland abandoned by CSX except for small section at North Branch; Western Maryland Rail Trail from Peare to Big Pool; portion east of Big Pool operated by CSX under reorganized Lurgan Sub|
|York||Porters, PA||York, PA||Now operated by York Railway|
- Cook, Roger; Zimmermann, Karl (1992). The Western Maryland Railway: Fireballs and Black Diamonds (2nd ed.). Laurys Station, Pennsylvania: Garrigues House. ISBN 0-9620844-4-1.
- Moody's Transportation Manual (1986), p. 668
- Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 349–351. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
- Salamon, Stephen J.; Hopkins, William E. (1991). The Western Maryland Railway in the Diesel Era. Silver Spring, Maryland: Old Line Graphics. ISBN 1-879314-07-X.
- Woodring, Franklin P.; Woodring, Suanne K. (2005). Pen Mar. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia. ISBN 978-0-7385-1760-5. Images of America series.
- Stover, John F. (1987). History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. ISBN 0-911198-81-4.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Maryland Historical Trust". National Register of Historic Places: Western Maryland Railroad Right-of-Way, Milepost 126 to Milepost 160. Maryland Historical Trust. 2008-10-05. Archived from the original on 2008-12-31.
- Western Maryland Railway Co. (1967). "Track Chart: C&P Branch."
- "Western Maryland Railway: West Subdivision/Cumberland Extension." Accessed 2010-03-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Western Maryland Railway|
- Photo tour of Western Maryland Railway
- Western Maryland Story 1952. Written by Harold H. Williams, Contemporary Photography by A. Aubrey Bodine
- Western Maryland Railway Historical Society
- Northern West Virginia's Railroads - Descriptions of Thomas Subdivision and connecting lines
- Baltimore Ghosts: Westward Ho! on the WM - Photos of Hillen Station & Other WM Facilities in Baltimore & Vicinity
- The Western Maryland Railway, 'The Fast Freight Line'
- List and Family Trees of North American Railroads