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George W. Wireman's

The Emmitsburg Railroad

Part 3

On Sept. 11, 1897, at a public auction held in Frederick, Maryland, the Emmitsburg Railroad was

sold. The question on everyone’s mind was what did the future hold for this little seven-mile railroad? The Emmitsburg Railroad was purchased for the sum of $29,500 by a syndicate representing the bondholders. Plans were immediately formulated to reorganize. The first board of directors under the reorganization included James A. Elder, William 0. Blair, Vincent Sebold, William A. Himes, Dr. I. B. Brauner and James H. Nusseor.

Records of a meeting dated July 20, 1890 showed the following officers of the Emmitsburg Railroad: James Elder, President; William A. Himes, Vice President; Dr. J. B. Brawner, Secretary; William 0. Blair, Treasurer; and Vincent Sebold, Counsel. James Elder lived but a short time following the reorganization and at the annual election of officers Nov. 3, 1898, William A. Himes a resident of New Oxford, in nearby Pennsylvania, became president of the road. Vincent Sebold, who was to guide the railroad many years, was elected general manager.

Under the new management and from earnings of it railroad, the entire line was progressively rebuilt. Wooden bridges were replaced with new iron structures. Light rail was replaced with 60-pound steel rail and new ballast was laid, dressing tip the roadbed.

But this wasn’t all! New motive power was purchased and the rolling stock was renovated. The

depots were completely rebuilt. To better serve the customers of the Emmitsburg railroad, a new grain elevator and coal chutes were constructed at the south end of the community. Without question, things were really looking tip for this little railroad. All employees, from the top office down, were dedicated to their jobs and took great pride in their work. In addition to all the improvements mentioned above, the railroad was proud to announce that it was now in a position to begin playing a small dividend of 2 percent to its stockholders. Yes, the future of the railroad looked very bright indeed.

The Charter of Emmitsburg Railroad was amended in 1906 by the Maryland State Legislature, which enabled the railroad to extend its line in any direction it wished. This amendment also gave railroad officials authority to buy, lease or even consolidate with any other company it so desired. To top it off, authority was granted to operate by steam or electric.

When these requests were made to the Maryland State Legislature, the officers and directors of the Emmitsburg Railroad were seriously considering a proposal to extend the line from Rocky Ridge to the community of Woodsboro. The reason for wanting to extend the line into Woodsboro was to give them the opportunity to make connections with the Pennsylvania Railroad. At one time serious thought was given to what might happen as the result of the Washington, Frederick and Gettysburg Railroad which was being built at the time with plans to come through Thurmont on its way to Gettysburg. Many feared that in time this line might want to consider taking over the Emmitsburg Railroad and make it a part of the proposed route to Gettysburg.

Things were beginning to happen. It was about this same time period that the Western Union Telegraph Company appeared on the scene. Western Union signed an agreement with Emmitsburg Railroad and almost immediately began to string its wires along the right of way between Emmitsburg and Rocky Ridge. Minutes of the December 14, 1908, meeting show that the Christmas spirit prevailed with the railroad, when a motion was made and passed to give each regular employee two tons of coal for Christmas. Each daily worker was to receive one ton of coal.

Word was being circulated around Emmitsburg during that Christmas season that the community was planning a big Homecoming Celebration, scheduled for sometime in July of 1909, and the Emmitsburg Railroad was to play an important part in it.

Read Part -> 1, 2, 4, 5

Read Phyllis Hawkins' Stations of the Emmitsburg Railroad

Read Other articles by George Wireman

Have your own memories of the Emmitsburg Railroad?  
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

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