McDaniel to Ocean City

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(Forwarded from the Wicomico & Pocomoke Railroad)

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The Royal Oak movable bridge, near Royal Oak, MD. This bridge originally served the Baltimore, Chesapeake & Atlantic Railway. Note the counterweight hanging on the right side of the bridge -- it was made up of old railroad ties. Photo by David Earp, 1973.

The Baltimore & Eastern operated several light-density branch lines east of Chesapeake Bay. This section ran from McDaniel through Easton, Hurlock, Salisbury and Berlin to Ocean City, MD.

The section from Salisbury to Ocean City was built by the Wicomico and Pocomoke Railroad between 1868 and 1876. The section between McDaniel and Salisbury was built by the Baltimore and Eastern Shore Railroad and was opened for business in 1890, which apparently bought the W&P also. The B&ES was sold at foreclosure to the Baltimore, Chesapeake & Altantic Railway, which was controlled by the Pennsylvania RR, in 1894. The BC&A operated steamship lines as well as the railroad, forming a bridge between the Chesapeake and the Atlantic. The BC&A was purchased for $1 million by the Pennsylvania RR in 1942, and was apparently operated as a autonomous subsidiary, the Baltimore & Eastern. Alan Snyder provides this information on the line close to Ocean City:

The old line was also called the Ocean City Railroad. The tracks went to the docks on the intercoastal waterway. In 1978, the tracks were still there and had trees as big as 1 foot growing in the center. The ROW is hard to find -- the forest has taken it back. But the tracks are there if you look off US-50.

The line was abandoned in sections from the 1950s to the 1980s. The section between Hurlock and Preston is still operated by the Maryland & Delaware Railroad. The line crossed the PRR line from Queen Anne to Oxford at Easton, the PRR line from Federalsburg to Cambridge at Hurlock, the PRR main line down the Delmarva at Salisbury, and the PRR branch to Snow Hill, MD, and Franklin City, VA, at Berlin.

A draw bridge located near Royal Oak, about halfway between McDaniel and Easton, on the west end of the line, was known as the "Royal Oak Movable Bridge", as indicated in early Penn Central timetables. The rails, formerly of the BC&A, were removed from this area in 1972; the bridge remained for a while longer. You can see this bridge in the pictures provided; it is no longer there today.

The line went from McDaniel on the Chesapeake Bay to St. Michaels, Royal, Easton, Tanyard, Bethlehem, Preston, Elwood, Hurlock, Rhodesdale, Reids Grove, Vienna, Mardela Springs, Hebron, Salisbury, Walstons, Parsonsburg, Pittsville, Willards, Whaleyville, Saint Martin, Berlin, Diricksons, Sinepuxent, West Ocean City and into Ocean City by way of a bridge.

Back in the 1960s during my teen years, I used to closely observe the segments of this line, along with other DelMarVa branches, still in operation while traveling to Ocean City for Summer vacationing with my aunt and uncle. Riding east along US50 after crossing the Bay Bridge, I picked up where the old Love Point-Rehoboth Beach B&E line paralleled the highway. Where it crossed creeks, the wooden bridge supports were still in tact. At Kent Narrows bridge a couple old trestle bents still existed, and east of the bridge I could see a path of very rotted crossties here and there up to the US50/US301 split. The rails ended about half mile east of that point in Queenstown, which still had rail service into the early 1970s.

Next, at Easton, US50 crossed the old Oxford Branch of PRR. Never saw a train there, but the rails usually appeared heavily sanded, and trees to the east (north) of the crossing had grown out on each side making a foliage tunnel in the shape of a train. This line is currently railbanked with little prospects of ever being reactivated.

At Linkwood, we would cross the Cambridge Branch of PRR which is still a healthy line today under operation by Maryland & Delaware. A little further east of Linkwood was Vienna, MD, end of one of the branches which originally was part of the old BC&A. This branch was very active thanks to a coal-fired power plant, and I'd always see a string of hoppers sitting on plant property. There was also some other business in Vienna which received or shipped out boxcars of goods. The line ceased operations in the mid-60s shortly after the plant converted to oil, but the utility purchased the tracks in case there was a future need to switch back to coal. Though not used in over 40 years, this line is still pretty much intact from Vienna north to Hurlock, where it connects to the M&D Cambridge Branch.

In Salisbury, right at the western town limits, another segment of the old BC&A was crossed. This branch ran west to Hebron and, up until some time in the 1930s, connected with the Vienna portion. This line also had a generous railhead sanding to combat weed growth. East of Salisbury, the existing BC&A line took on a home-grown shortline flavor. US50, between Salisbury to just west of Berlin was still the old two-lane highway (now MD346) it had been for decades. The rail line crossed the highway at grade twice between Salisbury and Pittsville, which was the end of the active line since about 1955. While running along the south side of the highway after the first crossing, the tracks actually went through the front yards of a couple homes with RR crossing signs in the driveways! I remember thinking how envious I was of those homeowners being able to look out their window and see a switcher and a few cars squealing by. Vague memories of my first Ocean City trip in 1962 tell me the tracks east of Pittsville were still in place and could be seen just east of where current MD346 connects to US50. I couldn't find them on subsequent trips, but still remember exactly where I saw them.

Finally, in Berlin, a crossing of the Snow Hill Branch was encountered. This is also still a viable branch under the Maryland & Delaware RR. Even in my early teens I had a thing for railroad history. Just wish I would have had a camera handy back then to record all those parts of the old BC&A which no longer operate.

David Earp
Baltimore, MD
9/23/2009

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I just traveled to Hurlock from Vienna and the old railroad ties are were being pulled up from Vienna to Hurlock This was as of 10/12/10. The track had been removed ears ago. I did take some pictures of the right-a-way before that disappears also.

George Maynard
Ocean Pines, MD
10/14/2010

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in the 70's a tourist railroad tried to make a go of it on the old line from Berlin to the water front or so. got some photos of it, just a small diesel and a few cars painted bright red, called the Ocean City and Western if I recall.

anyone got the dates that it ran. would love to get accurate dates on my photos

Bob
Baltimore, MD
12/13/2010

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Bob, That Small diesel engine and cars are now part of the wilmington and western tourist railroad here in upper Delaware. The Engines number was 114 and still is to this day. Its a SW1 Diesel switcher. The line ran from 1977 to 1988. The owner then traded his 114 and cars to the WWRR for a Alco diesel and a Private car. If you want current Pictures just search WWRR 114 and it should be there.

Christian B.
Kirkwood , DE
9/29/2011

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I grew up in St Michaels and lived not far from the line. In reality, the line started further to the East in Claiborne, not McDaniel. If you look really hard you can see the ROW as it crosses the road to the town. There was a train shed at the docks (currently a county boat launch). Steamers would dock there and the train would be parked under the covered shed ready to take people on the Ocean City Flyer down to the beach. Once the docks were converted to car ferry traffic, the line was pulled back to McDaniel. The shed still stands. It was bought by a well company and taken apart and moved to St Michaels. It was put back together, given walls and to this day is still there. It is part of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. As a kid I helped work on the restoration of the shed and remember the carved numbers at the joints used to reassemble the structure. The rails used to haul out boats at the museum are from the BC&A. My uncle and I hauled them down there from the railroad when they were donated back in 72.

The old bridge at Royal Oak is still there, sort of. Part of it was decked over and now serves as a community dock. Look hard and you can see it.

Jim Hazen
St Michaels, MD
10/4/2011

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I'm wondering if this is the same branch that brought famed racehorse Man O' War to the Glen Riddle Training Facility back in 1918. The facility was located at the junction Holly Grove Rd and Gray's Corner.

Only thing is, I thought I read somewhere that there was a branch running up Holly Grove.

At any rate, I see no evidence of any tracks going up that way. Sad.

Crystal
Chatsworth, CA
12/2/2012

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You can tell where the railroad tracks were in the town of Berlin because the ground is built up.

FUN FACT:

My supervisor tells me that during the huge hurricane that created the Ocean City, MD inlet there was a railroad bridge that crossed Assawoman bay from West Ocean City to Ocean City. During the hurricane the railroad put box cars on the track to "hold the bridge down" to prevent damage to the bridge from the hurricane. Box cars filled with rocks. Bad idea because the box cars fell into the bay. Should still be there today if they haven't washed away. Bridge was next to US RT 50 bridge.

AND....

Trimpers Rides in downtown OC, MD was used to turn the trains around. There is still equipment in the basement that was used to turn the trains around.

COOL!

Nate
Berlin, MD, MD
1/7/2013

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Picture of railroad bridge:

http://www.ocmuseum.org/articles/pix/train.jpg

Article on railroad:

http://www.ocmuseum.org/index.php/site/printable/railway_brings_travelers/

Title of article: Railway Brings Travelers Trains Are Main Link To Resort In The Early Years

Nate
Berlin, MD
1/7/2013

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First of all I would like to thank everyone for the outstanding interest and information concerning this wonderful time in history. The BC@A was used in my small town in the early 1900s. We at Hebron are restoring the depot. Check it out at facebook.com/hebron.depot we are interested in any information or artifacts that pertain to this wonderful era. Please visit us at our up coming supporting event Oct. 26,HEBRON CAR SHOW,I can be contacted at marie.smullen@comcast.net for any correspondence.

Sam Smullen, Hebron, MD 21830

Sam Smullen
Hebron, MD
10/13/2013

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The text states, "The section between Hurlock and Preston is still operated by the Maryland & Delaware Railroad." That track hasn't been used for many years; however, there is a local effort to acquire the branch from the state of MD for use as a tourist line called the North Dorchester Railroad.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA
1/27/2014

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This train bridge that is referred to as "near Royal Oak" is actually, at Newcomb, MD and runs parallel to the Newcomb Bridge just before Station Rd. I grew up in this neighborhood and spent a lot of time swimming at these two bridges. There used to be a train station between this bridge and Station Rd. I was born in 1961 and remember the trains that used to run on the tracks parallel to Rt. 33. Newcomb is located between Easton and St. Michaels (about three miles from St. Michaels, Md. and about nine miles from Easton, Md.)

My Aunt, Anna Burgess, was the Post Mistress in the Newcomb Train Station's Post Office. She held that position for many years. At one point, the U.S. Postal Service built a small one room building across Station Rd. that faced the parking lot where the train station used to sit and moved the Post Office in there.

They eventually moved the Post Office into the ground floor of a house that sits beside the parking lot and faces Rt. 33. That Post Office is still in operation today. It is still known as the "Newcomb Post Office".

As for the train bridge, there is still a piece of it left. Some of the pilons are still there. For 40+ years part of the train bridge has been covered with boards, as a dock, for locals to fish/crab off of.

Bonnie Schall Watts
Newcomb, MD
7/28/2014

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Up until about 10 years ago you could still see pilings in the water off Old bridge Rd in West OC, and the red brick pavers are visble in some bad spots of missing blacktop at the Kitchen restaurant.

From rt611 to Mary Rd the ties are still in place even though the tracks are long gone.

Vincent
Berlin, MD
9/28/2014

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The Ocean City Western tourist railroad operation ran on the line between Berlin and west Ocean City. I rode it in 1974 when they were using 2-6-0 97, recently retired from the Mobile & Gulf RR in Mississippi, where I think it claimed to be the last steam locomotive in regular revenue service. I think I heard it later went to Indiana, can anyone confirm? The OC&W was a very short lived operation---you can't call it "scenic"!! Passenger operations didn't last long, but I think the railroad remained in business for a few more years in case they ever got a freight car delivered. As mentioned the diesel 114 went to the Wilmington & Western. I don't know what happened to the two former CNJ coaches, they were in real bad shape, maybe scrapped on the spot, I don't recall them going to the W&W.

My mother's family is from Federalsburg and Preston, and we occasionally visited, but I never saw a PRR train either place. In 1980, when I was trip chairman for the Wilmington Chapter NRHS we ran an excursion from Federalsburg to Cambridge with a side trip to Preston. Two of my elderly cousins met the train in Preston. I was happy to finally see a train on that line! We darn near lost money on that trip, couldn't find 50 people to buy tickets at $25! We also ran a trip in 1982 from Clayton to Easton using 3 cars from Railroad Passenger Cars in Baltimore, including the Pullman car Defender. Thanks to advertising that trip was very successful. Does anyone know what the current status is of the Easton Branch after the Chesapeake RR quit? Has any of it been ripped up?

Tom Smith
Camas, , WA
11/2/2015

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