What is the Ma and Pa Village?
Some of you are saying, “Well, duh! It is a village where somebody’s ma and pa live.”
That would be a great answer considering the name of the village. The village is in the Muddy Creek Valley with only one road to access this town. As you enter, you see nothing but a mill, a general store, and a few houses. How did this town come to be?
We ask again what is the Ma and Pa Village? It is the town of Muddy Creek Forks, Pennsylvania, but where does the name ‘Ma and Pa’ come from? To answer the question, we must inform you that although somebody’s ma and pa may live here, that is not how the village came about. The answer to the question… is the railroad.
What is the Ma and Pa Village? To make it more official, you can call it the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Heritage Village. The village was made possible as a result of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad which in short was called the Ma and Pa Railroad. (Pa is the postal code for Pennsylvania. Ma is the postal code for Massachusetts and Md is the postal code for Maryland. ‘Ma and Pa’ just sounds better.) The Ma and Pa Railroad had tracks through south central Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland, mainly west of the Susquehanna River region.
As with most of the early days of American railroading, towns were built around the railroad. Among these towns was Muddy Creek Forks along the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. The town had a mill where farmers around the village would come to sell their crops. Their crops were then milled and packaged to be put on a train to be transported to the cities of Baltimore, Harrisburg, or York or to be sold at the General Store. The General Store was, of course, a store, but it also was the post office and the train station with a ticket office.
Today, the Ma and Pa Railroad Heritage Village is a living history village that hold train rides from the first Sunday in June through the first Sunday in September, and it hosts events from June through December. The Mill is no longer a mill used by farmers to sell their crops, but it is still a working mill. There are demonstrations during event days with a guided tour. The General Store is still a store and the ticket office for the train, but it is no longer a post office. The upstairs is a museum. You and walk around the village on the walking tour which can be done year-round. The railroad line still goes through the village in its original location, but it does not connect to any other rail lines. Trains rides go north of the village and mainly along Muddy Creek.
The Ma and Pa Railroad Heritage Village is at 1258 Muddy Creek Forks Road in Airville, Pennsylvania. (Airville is the post office that serves Muddy Creek Forks.) Please note that the village is in a valley accessible by steep roads. The parking lot is grass and can become hard to navigate with heavy rains. Please note that only the first floor of the General Store is handicap accessible, but assistance will be given to those who ride the train or in the mill as the floors of the mill are uneven. There is no handicap accessibility to the second floor of the General Store, in the mill or on the walking tour. You can get more information at http://maandparailroad.com/. You can also read more into the history of the village and into the efforts to keep this village preserved for many generations to come.
The next time you hear about the Ma and Pa Railroad Heritage Village, you can still think of it as the home of somebody’s Ma and Pa, but think of it as a village full of heritage made possible by a railroad.