Man Who Built The
John O’Donoghue was
born on April 24. 1835, in Newery, Blair County, Pa. At
the age of 17, John went to work for the Pennsylvania
Railroad in Altoona, where he spent 13 years with the
railroad working in the blacksmith department, and also
served as a foreman and engineer on the Altoona Division.
In 1865 he resigned
from the railroad and with his two brothers, James and
Charles, formed the firm of John Donoghue &
Brothers, railroad and tunnel contractors. This firm
built many miles of trackage for the Western Maryland,
Baltimore & Ohio, Shenandoah Valley, Columbia and
Port Deposit, and the Emmitsburg Railroad.
The Rockport tunnel on
the Lehigh Valley Railroad and about two miles of the
Gunpowder waterworks tunnel in Baltimore were
constructed by Donoghue & Brothers.
Following approval of
the Act of Assembly on March 28, 1868, the Emmitsburg
Railroad was Incorporated and a survey was made by
Joseph S. Gitt and John Donoghue & Brothers, under
contract in July 1871, to begin construction on the
Emmitsburg Railroad. During construction of the
seven-mile line from Emmitsburg to Rocky Ridge, a
resident of Thurmont by the name of Frank Wilders was a
member of the Donoghue crew.
Before the line was
completed the funds gave out. The Sisters of Charity of
St. Joseph’s College came to the rescue with a very
substantial subscription to the bonds issued to ensure
completion of the railroad. Listed below are the names
of the bond holders and the amounts subscribed. This
information was transcribed by Louis B. O’Donoghue
from an Emmitsburg Railroad account book labeled,
"BOND BOOK 188 of EMMITSBURG RAILROAD 1887."
The Sisters of Charity
was the largest investor in the bond issue, purchasing
over 24 percent of the bonds, totaling $23,300. John
Donoghue, who’s company built most of the railroad,
was the second largest investor. He personally purchased
over 15 percent of the bonds, totaling $1 1,500.
Other investors in the
bond issue were: Lewis M. Motter, $2,050; J. Taylor
Motter, $650; John K. Taylor. $3,050; Mrs. Mary E.
Patterson. $800; James A. Elder. $4,600; John H.
McClellan, $400; Mrs. Helen Hendrix, S 1,650; William D.
Hines, $2,050; Joseph S. Gitt, $400; William Bittinger,
$4,750; William McSherry, S400; Benjamin Keilholtz,
$15,350; Thomas Manning, $450; Felder C. Slinghuff,
$150; Simon Hally, $250; William K. Black, $150; Joseph
Fink, $400; Charles Pracht, $150; Dr. F.E. Chatard,
$800; Edward Lynch, $1,300; E.O. Grimes, $3,800; E.S.
Stouffer, $1,900; Mrs. L.B. Owen, $1,750; Jacob
Weybright, $450; John Clark, $100; C.V.S. Levy, $250;
Jessie H. Nussear, $400; Mrs. E. L. Rowe, $150; John H.
Cretin, $400; J.W. Eichelberger, $150; Miss Marian F.
Eichelberger, $100; Dr. C. D. Eichelberger, $400; Railroad contractor and
president of Donoghue & Brothers Railroad
Emmitsburg Railroad was
built: Mrs. Motter, Sisters of Charity, Dennis &
Ellen McCarren; Dr. Edward Winschoff, Mt. Saint Mary’s
College, Felix B. & Mary Taney, Mrs. Long, William
Motter, George R. & M.E. Ovelman, William I. Black,
E. Eckenrode, Mrs. Mary Biggs, Elisa Wiant, George &
Ann Appold, Henry Heines, George Miller and Joshua &
The right-of-way was 60
feet wide and the seven-mile line comprised 47193 acres
It might be well to
point out here that John O’Donoghue, for some unknown
reason, would on occasions drop the "0" from
the spelling, thus Donoghue, which is the way he spelled
it in his construction business.
John O'Donoghue, died at
the age of 68. Oct. 31, 1903, at his home in Altoona. A
highly respected resident of the city, he had been in
good health until he was stricken unexpectedly with a
stroke and lingered in a state of unconsciousness for
about 24 hours before he passed away.
John O’Donoghue and
his family, with the exception of several years spent in
Emmitsburg, resided in Altoona where he was well known
by a large number of friends. He was buried in St. Johns
Other articles by George Wireman
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