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George W. Wireman's

The Emmitsburg Railroad


Part 1

Trains are deeply ingrained in the American heritage, a part of the zest for living and accomplishment. Trains are hard, man-sized, brutal work, as well as highly tuned, precision machines that can be both master and servant, and they can talk to those who will but pause to listen.

Trains are timepieces living hard-won schedules, fighting miles of space. Trains are a roar of power, a whine of steel on steel, an irresistible sirenís call to the intriguing mysteries of faraway places.

We have all waved a salute to a passing engineer. We can remember the sight of a gleaming streamliner speeding along the floor of a peaceful valley, the muffled echo of its whistle resounding from the. summer green velvet of the rolling hills beyond. We have watched the long freight "reaching for the iron as, winding slowly tip the grade, she snorts and labors for a mountain pass. Who of us has not looked into the steady, piercing glare of an approaching headlight; have felt our pulse quicken to the puckered lightening of blurred windows as the rushing passenger cars hurtle through the light; have gazed at the receding red after glow of the rear end lights disappearing around the distant curve. The once great railway network of the United Stales was at one time so vast that its overall dimensions were hard to comprehend, and even harder yet to describe.

The younger generation of today would find it hard to believe that many years ago there was a small railroad that ran from Emmitsburg to Rocky Ridge, a distance of seven miles. Yes, hard to believe for today there is no visual evidence that this little but vital railroad ever existed. There are those individuals still living who remember well the Emmitsburg Railroad and the important part it played in the economy of this northernmost community of Frederick County.

This writer, for one, recalls hiking to Emmitsburg on a Saturday afternoon to catch No. 6 (a 4-4-0 class steam locomotive) for the ride to Rocky Ridge where the 7-mile line connected with the Western Maryland Railway. Once in Rocky Ridge I would wait around the station for the Western Marylandís Blue Mountain Express that would take me to Thurmont. On a rare

occasion, depending on who the engineer on the Blue Mountain Express might be, I would get a ride in the cab of the locomotive, which was always a thrill. Once in awhile I would take the Western Maryland to Rocky Ridge and then catch No. 6 to Emmitsburg and then hike back to Thurmont.

In the summer of 1989, when Emmitsburg held its first "Small Town-Big time" celebration in connection with thee Fourth of July holiday, many exhibits and displays were found throughout the community. One such display which caught my eye was at the Emmitsburg Pharmacy. Ďthis display featured pictures of the Emmitsburg Railroad, along with a number of items that were  part of the operation. As I viewed the display, my mind wandered back to the "good olí days when the railroad was in operation and to those individuals who were dedicated to railroading and took part great pride in it.

The Emmitsburg Railroad was incorporated by the ĎAct of Assemble which was approved on March 28, 1868, three years before the Western Maryland Railway reached Mechanicstown (as Thurmont was known by in its early history).

Thirteen individuals were the incorporators, each having a deep interest in the economy of Emmitsburg and the immediate area, and each knowing full well that a railroad would not only provide jobs for the local citizens, but would serve as important link to the outside world.

These individuals were: Dr. G. Adelsberger, Dr. Andrew Annon, E. S. Taney, Isaac Hyder, George W. Rowe, Michael Adelsberger, Joseph Brawner, Joshua Walter, Joseph Byers, Dr. James Eicholberger Sr., Christian Zacharias, Lewis M. Motter and John K. Taylor.

Under the Charter, the Company was authorized to build a line from Emmitsburg to a point on the Western Maryland Railroad west of the Monocacy River. The exact point where it would connect with the Western Maryland was not included in the charter, but it was to be determined by the Board of Directors.

Read Part -> 2, 3, 4, 5

Read Phyllis Hawkins' Stations of the Emmitsburg Railroad

Read Other articles by George Wireman

Have your own memories of the Emmitsburg Railroad?  
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

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