Clayton, DE to Easton and Oxford, MD
This abandoned railway passed through mostly farming areas of Delaware and Maryland's eastern shore. It was a branch off of the Pennsylvania RR's Delmarva peninsula line. It survived the Penn Central years but was later sold off as part of the Maryland & Delaware (MDDE) instead of becoming part of Conrail. The Clayton, DE to Easton, MD segment was in turn spun off by the MDDE to the Chesapeake RR (CHRR).
Heading southwest from Clayton, DE, the line passed through Kenton, Hartly, and Slaughter, DE and then through Marydel, Henderson, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Ridgely, Hillsboro, Queen Anne, Cordova, Chapel, and Easton, MD. At some point the line extended beyond Easton through Landaff and Trappe to Oxford on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.
Though this line is out of service, it is listed on the official Maryland state map as "MDOT" (Maryland Department of Transportation) as the line is 'rail-banked' for possible future use.
Thanks to Jay Davis for contributing information.
The railcars are all gone and the rails have either been severed many times, paved over or converted into rails to trails areas (i.e. Ridgely and Easton, MD). There is a old caboose in need of restortation that was trucked in and is stationed at the Ridgely Depot as a part of the Rails To Trails project there. The rolling stock that was "parked" in Clayton after the rail operation expired in October 1998 stayed in Clayton for almost 10 years before finally being shipped to other buyers or destinations! The former railyard in Clayton is now a BioDiesel plant and retained only a few hundred feet of track from the Clayton to Easton Line to serve as a siding. Southern States Cooperative, a local farmers feed and fertilizer dealership continues handles rail shipments through the former "Clayton Yard."
When I was growing up in the early 1950's not from Clayton there was passenger service on this branch line from Clayton. The passengers rode in what we called "the coal oil engine" but which was actually some sort of "doodlebug" equipment. Those were still the days of steam on the Delmarva secondary. There was a large ice house in Clayton which was used to ice down refrigerator cars and the branch line to the coal dump in Smyrna was also still in use.
I use to work for the Chesapeake RR in the early 90's. The state of MD wanted freight service and the owner of the railroad, Bill Bartosh, favored passenger excursions. It was a hot/cold relationship with the state from day one. Bill, a former CSX engineer, never had enough funds of his own to really accomplish anything, as most of the clearing and other work along the line was done by volunteers. I was one of two paid employees that worked for the CHRR. The line had freight and excursion potential, but the state did not want to put any funds towards the re-opening of their line. Only thing they paid for was the clearing of the right of way which was done for $200k less than what a large clearing company quoted the state, thanks to volunteers that helped out. I grew up next to the line in Easton, and rode the MDDE trains regularly when in town during the late 70s until abandonment in 82. Looking back, the line was written off as soon as Conrail passed it to the state. Light rails, poor crosstie replacement program, poor ballast/drainage were evident even back then. When ConAgra moved to another MDDE line in Hurlock,Md, around 1981, it was the last nail in the coffin for this line.
I know it wouldn't be practical but I would love to see them open this line again........I remember when it was reopened and how cool it was to hear and see the train go through town......................no businesses to support it anymore and passenger service......even for site seeing would amount to nothing.............I mean how many times can you look at a corn field?.......But it still would be cool........
My grandfather worked at the Ice Plant in Clayton and I was wondering if anyone could give me any information on him. His name was Charles L. Donavon, He worked there in the 30's i believe.
does anyone have any kind of timeline on this track?...........like when did it start and when did it end?.......you can still see the rails there between rt 50 in Easton and I was wondering when they went to Oxford. And why did they go to Oxford?.........Passenger service?...........I also wonder about the branch that went to Denton......there are some pretty impressive trestles by Queen Anne and Hillsboro and the bridge is still there crossing the Choptank plus you can see where the tracks crossed the road there in town right by BR auto supply.....wonder where they went from there?
If you ever see a copy available online, I'd recommend you pick up the book "Rails Along The Chesapeake" by John C. Hayman. It will answer a lot of your rail history questions on eastern shore lines. I remember when freight service was still active on the Queenstown to Denton line back in the early 1970s, with freight cars spotted on customer sidings at both locations. That line originally spanned the eastern shore from Love Point, MD to Rehobeth Beach, DE. Now, only the Delaware Coast line RR, Ellendale to Milton branch is the only surviving active section. Before US50 was rebuilt years ago you could see the old right of way paralleling the highway between Queenstown and the Stevensville area, where it crossed over the highway and headed north to Love Point.
"Rails Along the Chesapeake" is actually available through Amazon's suppliers. I gather it is out of print but used copies can be had.
Thank you everyone who responded and helped.......Amazon had a used book in good condition for $40.00 and it should be here in a week or so