Williamsport, Maryland

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The Williamsport Branch

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This view shows an ancient lift bridge over the C&O Canal in Williamsport, MD. A Western Maryland branch that served a power plant used this bridge; the rails are still in place (best seen next to the shed at left). There is a rusted siding on the far side of the canal that passes through the trees and crossed the WM branch on a diamond (still in place). Judging by the height of the trees and the condition of the track, it has been several decades since any trains passed by here! Highway bridge is US 11. Photo by Mike Palmer, November 2003.

This spur does not appear on most atlases, but it is shown on the local city map for the Hagerstown area! This branch left the Western Maryland main on the north side of Williamsport, passed through a cut west of town, and then terminated at a power plant on the Potomac River.

The cut (out of view to the right of the photo) is now used as a dumping ground for trash and other debris. Remnants of the track are still in place within the boundary lines of the C&O Canal Park, and some ties are still in place in the gravel parking lot for the local canal museum.

In addition to the Western Maryland Railroad's Williamsport Branch which connected the Western Maryland Railroad with the Chesapeake & Ohio Barge Canal, as a transhipment point, the Hagerstown Railroad (later Hagerstown & Frederick Railway, even later Potomic Edison) had a branch line that ran from Hagerstown to Williamsport, largely on a private Right-of-way. This standard gauge trolley line was one of the last to survive on the H&F Railway excepting the Frederick to Thurmont, MD line.

Dan Rousseau
Haslet, TX
9/4/2012

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The Williamsport branch was in fact the western terminus of the Western Maryland Railroad prior to the construction of the Hagerstown to Cumberland main in the early 1900's. The branch left the WM mainline at P.V. Jct. just NW of Williamsport. It served the C&O Canal's coal and grain traffic, as well as the Cushwa basin of the canal and some other mills in he area. Later on after the canal was abandoned (1924) the WM Railway served a Potomac Edison Power plant over a lift bridge that spanned the canal. The lift bridge survives, it's on of few of its type remaining. The power plant stopped rail shipments of coal sometime after 1980 and the line was abandoned.

Greg McGaha
Hagerstown, MD
8/30/2015

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