By a special act of the
Maryland Legislature on March 21, 1853, the Western
Maryland Railroad was authorized to issue bonds and to
extend its line west to Hagerstown. In August 1859 the
road was opened to Owings Mills. By the summer of 1861
the Western Maryland had reached Westminster. By
November 1862 it had reached Union Bridge. Union Bridge
remained the terminus of the Western Maryland until Jan.
9, 1871, when the road was opened to Mechanicstown.
The Board of Directors
of Emmitsburg Railroad, at a special meeting, decided to
meet up with the Western Maryland Railroad at Rocky
Ridge. Once this decision was made, the next stop was to
obtain the necessary funds for building the line. The
leading force or influence in raising the money for the
building of the railroad were three individuals, the
Rev. John McCloskey of Mount Saint Mary’s College, D.G.
Adelsberger and Joshua Biggs of Rocky Ridge.
The determined route
for the Emmitsburg Railroad called for the construction
to begin at Emmitsburg, east of the foundry and at
Frederick Turnpike, then heading south along the east
side of the turnpike, crossing the avenue leading to
Saint Joseph’s College with a bridge about 16 feet
above the avenue. From the avenue the line would proceed
south making a turn to the left and crossing Tom’s
Creek with a Howe Truss bridge of a 100-foot span about
23 feet above the water.
Once the bridge over
Tom’s Creek was completed, the line curved to the left
where it crossed Telegraph Road. Curving then to the
right, the line passed several residences and ran
parallel with Rocky Ridge Road until it reached the
tracks of the Western Maryland Railway on the west side
of the community of Rocky Ridge. The only grade really
worth mentioning was the ascent from Tom’s Creek to
the table lands just south of it.
The actual project got
under way in July 1871. The grading work was done under
contract by a
Mr. John Donoghue. In 1872 the grading
work was completed, but it wasn’t until 1875 that the
bridge over Tom’s Creek was finished. November 11,
1875. What a day that must have been! It was the day the
citizens of Emmitsburg had looked forward to with great
anticipation. It was a big day indeed, with free
excursion over the line for everyone. The first
excursion train from Emmitsburg to Baltimore was ran on
November 27, 1875, when over 400 passengers purchased
tickets to make the trip. The first mail was handled
over the road December 6, of that same year.
It might be well to
mention here that original operation of the Emmitsburg
Railroad was conducted by the Western Maryland Railroad
on a cost basis as they were content to get their profit
from the freight that originated on the Emmitsburg
Railroad but was run over the western Maryland Railroad.
Things went very well for about four years, when it was
determined that the road was now strong enough to assume
the full responsibility of operating the line on its
own. In 1879 the Company took over its own operation
from the Western Maryland Railroad and Engine No. 1 was
purchased from the Baldwin Locomotive Works.
In August 1890, Beaton
Smith of York, Pennsylvania, completed a survey for the
Emmitsburg Railroad from Emmitsburg to Gettysburg, a
distance of about 11 miles. This survey was prompted
when it was learned that a railroad was being considered
from Round Top, Pa., (near Gettysburg) to the Maryland
State Line, a distance of six miles.
Several years after the
survey was made by Smith, it was learned that the new
proposed railroad was unable to pay the interest on the
first mortgage bonds that had been issued. The bonds
were scaled down and a new mortgage given which, after
some years, also was defaulted. Around 1896 the railroad
found itself passing into the hands of Receivers J.
Roger McSherry, Vincent Sebold and
seven years, it was learned, no interest had been paid
on the bonded debt of $121,850. Then came the dreaded
news on September 11, 1897, at a public auction to be
held in Frederick. The railroad would be sold. The
question on everyone’s mind was what did the future
hold for the little Emmitsburg Railroad?
Part -> 1,
Hawkins' Stations of the Emmitsburg Railroad
Other articles by George Wireman
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