Railroads by Pat Stakem

Midland Depot, about 1915-20

Midland Depot, about 1915-20

James Brampton, Stationmaster (leaning against building) Photo courtesy of Joe Kidwell

 

 

 

 


Patrick H. Stakem, pstakem@loyola.edu

Oct, 2002

Located at a choke point in the Georges Creek Valley between Frostburg and Westernport, Midland saw three different sets of rails squeeze through the town.

The Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad was first, putting in the rail line that is still in use by CSXT. The C&P built south from Frostburg, having completed the tunnel under the city. The C&P acquired the Georges Creek Rail Road in 1863, which had built south out of Lonaconing to a connection with the B&O at Piedmont. The lines were joined at Knapp’s Meadow in 1856. The Georges Creek Rail Road, not to be confused with the later Georges Creek & Cumberland, had been built to transport the product of the iron furnace at Lonaconing to the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad at Westernport.

By 1887, the later Georges Creek & Cumberland Railroad, built as a competitor to the C&P, crossed the town on a large wooden trestle. The rail line came through Clarysville and Vale Summit, and went down to Lonaconing to service the mines. The trestle was removed in the 1930’s.

Each line had its own passenger stations and service, although coal was the primary cargo. Then, the Cumberland and Westernport Electric Railway arrived from Frostburg, a trolley line from Cumberland that went down the creek to Westernport. Rail congestion was beginning to build in Midland. Around the time of the First World War, residents of the town had three different rail transportation options. In addition to passenger service, the lines provided mail delivery and freight express. This was a good thing, as the roads through town were not yet paved.

The trolley service was powered by a generating station at Clarysville, and a smaller station at Franklin. The trolley proved a popular service for getting to Cumberland; my father rode the line to attend high school at LaSalle. In 1901, construction started from Frostburg towards Cumberland. By 1902, the line stretched from Frostburg down the Georges Creek to Lonaconing. The first passenger run was made on April 24, 1902. At Cumberland, an interchange was made with the Cumberland Electric Railway, a local city service. There was a ticket office and terminus at Baltimore and Centre Streets. Hourly service was provided. The Cumberland and Westernport Electric Railway was formed by merger in 1906. Miners specials ran down the Georges Creek, to provide transportation for the different shifts.


Midland had a C&P Passenger station (1889), and a freight house. There was also a GC&C Station:

The C&P made a connection with the B&O at Cumberland and Piedmont. Combination tickets were popular. These provided round trip transportation and a ticket to the popular shows at the Academy of Music in Cumberland. Special trains on Sundays provided transportation to Church and social events. Baseball games and Fourth of July celebrations also were served by special trains. Trains for miners ran according to the shift schedules, with older coach equipment.

In 1872, according to the schedules published in the Frostburg Mining Journals, there were two round trips a day on the C&P from Cumberland to Piedmont. A Brill Gas-Electric car replaced steam-power for passenger service on the C&P in April 1929.

The January 18, 1887 published schedule of the GC&C shows two trains per day from Cumberland to Lonaconing (except Sundays). If you took the 10:45 AM from Lonaconing, you could lunch in Cumberland before catching the 1:15 PM to New York over the Pennsylvania Railroad. This express service would arrive in New York at 7:10 AM the next day. There was checked baggage service on this line.

In the 1890’s, interest began to form in a trolley system to service the Georges Creek area. In 1893, the Lonaconing and Cumberland Electric Railway was incorporated. This was followed by the incorporation of the Frostburg, Eckhart, and Cumberland, the Lonaconing, Midland, and Frostburg, and the Westernport & Lonaconing Lines by 1901. This activity resulted in the consolodated Cumberland & Westernport Electric Railway system.

The C&P Neff’s run branch branced off of the main C&P line at the north end of town, went under the GC&C trestle, and followed the creek to some small mines along the road to Clarysville.

North of Midland on the C&P was the big mine at Ocean. South of town was the area known as Tannery, now Gilmore. It was also referred to as Midland Junction on the GC&C. Here, that line had a turntable, several water tanks for the engines, and some buildings. The C&P engines got their water just outside of Lonaconing, at water station run. The concrete base of the tank is still visible at the turn-off for the State park.

Just outside of Lonaconing, the GC&C and the C&P interchanged. This connection was used the C&P route through Mt. Savage was abandoned. Coal still was hauled down to Cumberland on the GC&C, which connected with the Western Maryland line at the iron truss bridge in the Narrows.

Midland

Notice the GC&C trestle through the middle of the town – the view is to the west, and St. Joseph’s church is visible on the right.

Looking along the Midland trestle

Looking along the Midland trestle. The north abutment of the trestle, now a white block wall, can still be seen at the end of Town, where routes 36 and 55 meet. The trestle really bisected the town.

 

Turntable and water tanks

Towards Lonaconing, near Gilmore, were a turntable and some water tanks. Nothing remains of these structures.

 

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