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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The last time I went through Littlestown, some buildings had been constructed where the right of way was.

Paul McNally
Baltimore, MD
5/1/2015

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I've been a volunteer on the Walkersville Southern for twenty years and I'd like to correct some erroneous information in the comments section.

Regarding East Street in Frederick, WS trains never operated that far south. In fact, WS trains never crossed Route 26 to reach East Street. If a freight customer along East Street had desired service, the state would have considered allowing the reopening of the Route 26 grade crossing (which had been paved over during the years of inactivity before the WS got started) in some fashion, preferably by means of a bridge, but that never happened, especially as the Frederick area became more "gentrified" as a residential area for people commuting to work in and around DC. Within the last year or so, the track parallel to East Street has been lifted and replaced with asphalt for a trail. That trail will be extended north, will cross Route 26 on a bridge, and will run parallel the WS to the Monocacy River.

Tracks actually in the street (at the lower end of East Street) have been left in place, not to "allow [MARC contract operator] Bombardier future access to WSRR," but because there's simply been no need to lift them and cause a great deal of disruption to traffic. There are no plans to extend MARC service north of the station in Frederick, over East Street (a lot of wires and traffic lights would have to be moved) and north to Walkersville or beyond. In fact, as noted above, the long-used rail north of the Frederick station has been lifted and replaced by a paved trail.

RE: "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." I think there is a misunderstanding. The WS did not go south, across Route 26, to East Street. In the very early years, when WS volunteers were clearing brush away from the tracks from Walkersville and points south, and only riding over the line in track cars, the first locomotive, the little 18-ton Plymouth now on display near the station in Walkersville, was stored on an unused spur, located south of the current Frederick MARC station, that crosses South Street. It's right next to the Southern States facility. The track still exists today but is completely consumed by overgrowth, as seen here:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/16579013?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com

While it was possible for the little Plymouth, which came from the Wilmington & Western Railroad, to move back and forth on the short spur crossing South Street, it was not operating from Walkersville south, across Route 26, and down East Street.

About the only times anything on the WS crossed Route 26 was in its early days in the mid-90s when it held its annual New Years Day track car meet. After riding down to the end of operable track on the north side of Route 26 and, waiting for a break in traffic, track car riders would swiftly push their track cars across the pavement to the south side, get back on the tracks, and continue riding alongside East Street. They only went to the point where the tracks entered the street and didn't actually ride in the street, as it would have been dangerous to mix track cars with autos.

When the WS renegotiated its lease around 2008, it gave up the track south of Route 26 (now slated for a trail) and acquired rights to operate over the track north of Walkersville to North Glade Road, south of Woodsboro, where it connects to MMID tracks. This took years of work to clear and repair. Trains go up there, but there is no interchange with the MMID, which has used the track north of the crossing for car storage. Probably the last time (and one of the only times) cars were interchanged was in early 1999 when the MMID brought down a former PRR cabin car and an ex-RF&P caboose that had been on the now-defunct Chesapeake Railroad on the Delmarva Peninsula. The MMID also directly served the Cargill plant across the street from the WS station in Walkersville, but that wasn't "interchange" per see. At that time the MMID still had rights to come down to Walkersville to deliver the occasional covered hopper or tank car to Cargill, but that ended around 15 or more years ago. The WS had no involvement in that traffic. Cargill closed its plant and it's now the site of Hercules Fence, which does not need rail service.

RE: "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."

Again, there is a misunderstanding. There was no "crossing incident" because WS trains never crossed Route 26 (the asphalt over the rails had never been removed and the crossing had never been reopened), other than the very rare track car being quickly pushed over the pavement. Also, the WS would never have been tasked by the state to lift rails from the crossing. Such road work would have been done by the state itself. In fact, when the Route 15/Route 26 interchange was rebuilt, the state lifted the rails from beneath the asphalt as it built its new ramp from Route 26 west to Route 15 north.

Under Gov. Glendening there was talk of redoing the crossing to allow the reopening of the line from Route 26 into Frederick by means of a bridge separating rail and road, but that was nixed under his successor, Gov. Ehrlich, in favor of the cheaper option: terminating the WS at Route 26. Also, there is no cloverleaf at this location, but instead there is simply a ramp going from Route 26 west to Route 15 north. This was done, not to block the WS, but to improve traffic flow. Prior to this ramp construction, cars had to go up residential Worman's Mill Road and access Route 15 north across from Hayward Road. (That access has since been removed.) The state had no intention to reopen the Route 26 crossing, where cars move at high speeds, to train traffic since that was asking for trouble. A fast-moving car or truck slamming into a coach would have been bad, and one hitting an open air car full of families would have been worse.

Regarding the old PRR line north through Littlestown, etc., about 20 years ago the MMID considered rebuilding the line to connect to Conrail since it was bottled up on its east and west ends by CSX. When local landowners learned of these plans, they jacked up the price of the land in order to get the most out of the MMID. The railway, however, saw that the price gouging made their proposal uneconomical and it abandoned its plan forever. The MMID has since been acquired by Genesee & Wyoming which has shown no interest in reopening the line north of Taneytown. That route has largely disappeared under trees, brush, new buildings and farm field plowing.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/10/2015

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thanks tim for the comments.like I said before i did look on the map and saw possible abandoned rail and a bridge also abandoned from the satellite pictures..can I believe by what I thought I saw on the satellite pictures from google that everything I saw is still there?also are the pictures I saw along with the rail line current?any information would be greatly appreciated.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/11/2015

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ignore the last comment about the pictures being current.just saw they were from 2003.like I said any information about the current status of this abandoned rail line would be greatly appreciated.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/11/2015

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George: Let me know if there are any specific areas of the line on which you'd like information. If I'm not personally familiar with it, I can easily drive to any location on the line and look into the current status of the track, bridges, etc.

You asked about bridges. There is one over the Monocacy River that had been knocked down by Hurricane Agnes in the early 1970s and it remained down until the WS, with the assistance of a contractor paid by the state, had the bridge put back up. There is also a much smaller bridge over Tuscarora Creek. There are no bridges on the WS north of Walkersville to North Glade Road where the track becomes the MMID.

Also, in my previous comment I wrote, "...the long-used rail north of the Frederick station..." I meant to write, "...the long-UNused rail north of the Frederick station..."

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/11/2015

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tim,as for the bridge I was talking about it crosses the south branch of the conewago creek at the dead end of schiebert rd. off of rte.194 south of hanover pa.you have to make a right off rte.194 onto schiebert rd.the rail track I am talking about is between poplar st. and n.blettner ave. in hanover.i am asking because this is what I see on google maps.the bridges you mentioned.are they in pa.or md.?looking forward to hearing back from you.thanks.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/12/2015

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George: I see the bridge to which you refer in Google Earth. While the tracks are long gone, it appears the bridge was too much of a bother to remove. It's also very visible in BING maps as well. I could get up there in the near future to take pictures of it for you but it would be better to wait until the fall when the vegetation retreats. The bridge is, by the way, in PA, not MD.

As for the track in Hanover between Poplar Street and Blettner Avenue, the latter appears to be as far south as the track reaches. Looking at Google Earth, however, that track is clearly long out of service. Sonoco Products, a few blocks northeast at 310 Pine Street, which receives covered hoppers, appears to be as far as service goes on that branch.

A friend of mine works on CSX in Hanover and I'll drop a line to him to see if he can provide any insights on service on that track.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/12/2015

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George: It appears there's another small bridge still in place a bit further to the southwest. If you locate the intersection of Route 194 and Bollinger Road you'll see a nearby stream. Follow the stream north and soon it crosses under the old right-of-way. It looks like a small bridge is still there, but unfortunately it's far off public roads and one would have to trespass on private property to reach it unless one obtains permission from the property owner.

George
Herndon, VA
7/12/2015

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George: My CSX friend writes, "We go across the diamond in the middle of town. York Rail serves that customer [Sonoco Products]. As far as I know, it was the former PRR. We deliver cars to the siding for York Rail."

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/12/2015

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Thanks for responding tim.If you happen to get up to this abandoned rail bridge I would appreciate it if you could take pictures of the bridge I talked about.Really don't know what kind of design it is.Looks like a basic truss bridge.just don't go out of your way to do this.As for the rail thanks for the information.The bridge you mentioned off Bollinger road I cant even see it on google.Confirmation on this bridge would be greatly appreciated.just don't trespass.Keep in touch and thanks again for all of the information.

george oakley
reading, TN
7/13/2015

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George: I'll plan to go up there in the fall when the vegetation dies down. If I went up there now, while it's at its height, the photographs wouldn't be as good, the vines and thorn bushes would be an annoyance, and the ticks wouldn't be any fun, either.

As for the other, smaller bridge, it's not really visible in Google; however, if you go to bing.com, select "Maps," and then select "Bird's Eye," you'll get a better view of it. It's not very big but there appears to be something there, so it's worth pursuing. When I go up there I'll ask the adjacent landowner for permission to take a look.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/13/2015

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Thanks for responding tim.Makes sense to go there in the fall or winter when the vegetation is down and no mosquitoes or ticks.I will go to bing when I can to look at that bridge.If and when you get the pictures let me know.I did want to mention do you know anything about the Frederick,end of the rail line?I looked on the map and saw rail that should be abandoned near Frederick,md.Didnt see no bridges though.Let me know also about that end of the rail line if possible.Keep in touch and thanks again for all the information so far.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/14/2015

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George: I'm very familiar with all of the ex-PRR track in Frederick. Let me know if you'd like for me to check out any particular locations and photograph them for you. There are no bridges of which I'm aware on that end of the line.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/14/2015

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Tim:Thanks for responding to my questions about the Frederick,md.end of the rail line.After I looked at the pictures that were posted on the site,i decided to look on google maps to see if what was pictured was still there.According to google maps,the rail is still there.I'm asking you can I believe google maps as to what is there?If you do get to Frederick,md.see if you can possibly update the old photos.Alot of people who subscribe to the site would probably appreciate it.Thanks again for responding.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/15/2015

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George: Google Maps is definitely not up to date in this regard. Now that the vegetation is at its height, it would be hard to photograph the tracks (if they haven't already been pulled) just south of Route 26. Further south, along East Street, I know that at least some have been replaced by a paved trail that will expand further north. I can check out the area when I get up there again soon and take some pictures of what's visible beyond the brush.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
7/15/2015

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Tim:Thanks for letting me know about the Frederick,md. end of the rail line.Like I said do this when in the area if possible.Good idea to also do this in the fall or winter with the vegetation being down.Hate to see you go out of your way to take pictures.Also thanks for letting me know about google maps.I was leery of their mapping.When you do get pictures let me know where you are posting them so I can see them.thanks again for your insight on this abandoned rail line.keep in touch.

george oakley
reading, PA
7/16/2015

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