Frederick, MD to Hanover, PA

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Abandoned PRR track at MD Route 355 (Market Street), facing south towards Frederick. Photo by Mike Palmer, February 2003.

These are segments #16 and #17 in the Maryland section of Nielsen's book: Right-of-Way: A Guide To Abandoned Railroads.

The following info is from a brochure from the Walkersville Southern RR, which operates a tourist train http://www.wsrr.org on this line May-October each year:

This branch of the Pennsylvania RR was initially built from York and Hanover, PA through Taneytown and Walkersville to Frederick, MD in 1869. The line served local farming communities and remained in business after the Penn Central merger in 1968.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes hit the northeast and damaged much property, including the bridge over the Monocacy River, 2 miles south of Walkersville (4 miles north of Frederick). The entire line from Pennsylvania through Maryland was put up for sale by PC at this time, and the state of Maryland bought the segment within its borders. North of Walkersville, the line continued to operate (to this day) as the Maryland Midland.

South of Walkersville the line remained dormant for 20 years, until the Walkersville Southern was formed and started running excursions on the short segment of line. The bridge over the Monocacy River was rebuilt in 1995-1996, and excursions now extend south from "downtown" Walkersville to just north of MD route 26, near a place called 'Harmony Grove' in the SPV atlas.

The southern abandoned section of line is about 2 miles long in and around Frederick. The tracks are removed from the MD route 26 crossing (the entire road has been re-graded), but south of there they are still place. All grade crossing signals are gone and the flangeways are filled in but the tracks are there, parallel to East Street for some distance, with a portion of street running in the city of Frederick. There are some old freight spurs along there, too.

The tracks end at the corner of East Street and East Patrick Street (MD Route 144) at the southeast corner of downtown. About 1/4 mile south of that point is a "new" Frederick passenger station, as MARC (Maryland Rail Commuter) service was re-established to Frederick in 2001. This track to the station is an old B&O spur.

Topo maps show there used to be a bunch of interchange freight tracks near the corners of East Street and South Street, but these were all removed before 2001, though some of the old industries still have warehouses there.

The northern section of the abandonment runs from Taneytown to Kingsdale, then into Pennsylvania and Littlestown, Sell and into Hanover. The section of this former PRR line from Hanover to York was later operated by the Maryland & Pennsylvania (aka the "Ma & Pa"). In Hanover, a short segment of track remains to serve some warehouses. Between Hanover and Littlestown some track segments remain, but none remain in Littlestown.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

Your captions for Angell Road & Kump Station Road are reversed.

Richard Shaffer
Near Hanover, PA
11/24/2009

[Thanks Richard, they have been corrected.  —Greg Harrison]

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Railpace magazine's June 1985 issue had an article about the Ma & Pa as it operated at the time. The Ma & Pa gained the Hanover, PA to Walkersville, MD segment in April 1976 when Conrail didn't include it. Ma & Pa quit the segment south/west of Littleston, Pa. in 1978; Maryland Midland (MMID) picked up the Taneytown to Walkersville segment at that time. (The MMID may still be active.) Meanwhile, the Hanover to Littlestwon, Pa. segment was abandoned before 1985.

Mike Palmer
Torrance, CA
7/25/2010

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As of 2011, MMID (now owned by G&W) serves quarries north of Woodsboro and track is maintained in to the town of Woodsboro. There are/were some customers between Tannytown and the PA line. Walkersville Southern has received permission to rehabilitate the track north from Walkersville to Woodsboro. The statement made by the Walkersville Southern did not mention a connection to the MMID but since it is a single line, it would make sense as this would give the WS a rail connection. In the past two or three years, buildings have been place over the former right or way in Littlestown though in sections you can still make out route or the track.

Paul McNally
Baltimore, MD
7/14/2011

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i was looking at the map and noticed abandoned rail and a bridge.any information on any rail or bridges left would be greatly appreciated.thank you.

george oakley
reading, PA
5/25/2013

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Hello, I am a volunteer on the Walkersville Southern as of current. To prove I am, I have been volunteering for one year already and am working on the next. I'm rated as a fireman by the FRA, to volunteer for the WS.

I will say that while traveling down East street multiple times, at all former crossings the tracks where moved "out the way" likely to make future road maintenance simpler. The section where the railroad share the ROW with the road the tracks are still in place. Probably to allow Bombardier future access to WSRR. There was a point in time between the late 90's and early 2000's where a locomotive from the wsrr would go down East street to Frederick and they did locomotive training in a siding before the Frederick gravel pit; with the permission of CSXT (Source: Jim Baird current Director of Training for the WS). Then after a crossing incident at MD26 (Liberty Road), the Maryland department of transportation (MDOT) ordered the WS to remove the track from MD26. To insure we couldn't cross MD26 again, the MDOT added a clover leaf to the MD26 and MD15 highway interchange. Until the road way is lowered at that crossing, no trains can ever again cross that highway. On top of that from the MD355 wormans road to the second 355 crossing it is a near 2% down hill gradient into Frederick. Forcing trains overhead the current MD26 would push the gradient into Frederick to a steep 4% or even steeper.

As for the WSRR - MMLD(G&W) interchange the Walkersville Southern has reached the interchange, the MMLD shutdown their portion of the line to the interchange. This is an effort to save money from a segment of line it rarely uses even for storage. The tracks are still in place though.

In the case of Littlestown,PA the line could be forced through the town; but with serious speed restrictions. Mostly likely until an acceptable amount of right of way is under control (meaning that a minimum of 15ft from either side of the center line of the tracks is in ownership of the railway). I personally think this is more for the matter of safety than anything else. Yet I do dream of the day the WS could go all the way from Frederick,MD to Hanover, PA or even York, PA.

Bryan Piedramartel
Somewhere in Derwood, MD
3/27/2014

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thanks brian for your information.as for your validity i do believe you.i do look forward to looking at the rail that is abandoned in the future.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
3/29/2014

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