How many of you have ever heard of the town of Centreville, Maryland? So, you have never heard of the town of Centreville, Maryland. The truth is that not too many people have of this town. Even in the town’s early days, it was not too popular of a town.
Some of you are saying, “Of course this town is not popular. Why? There is nothing to see there, and nothing happened there.”
Oh, the history of this town runs deep. It was built within a plantation known as the Chesterfield Plantation. The town was involved in events like the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the American Civil War even though no battles those wars took place here. You will find historic homes like Wright’s Chance and the Queen Anne’s County Court House. What is so special about the Queen Anne’s County Court House. Well, you will say that it is a courthouse where court cases take places. You would be correct, but the truth is that it is the only courthouse in the U.S. state of Maryland that has been in continual use since its construction in 1797, and it is one of two courthouses in the state that have been in continual use since the 18th century. The Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Place, yet the only main routes through the town is Maryland Route 213 and Maryland Route 304. U.S. Route 301 is five miles to the east and south of the town. The town may not be popular, but it has many stories to tell.
Some of you are saying, “This is nice. This is a small town in Maryland. It has much history. There is a very big problem. The problem is that there is no railroad history to this town. Therefore, you will not see me in this town.”
This town was not known to much of the world in the early days. It was never a major port town, and no main routes passed through this town. What did connect this town to the rest of the world? It started with a man who was a War of 1812 hero named Thomas Emory. He raised money for the Eastern Shore Railroad. Sadly, the project died, and he died in 1842, but the project was resurrected in 1856. The town of Centreville was connected to the rest of the world by the Eastern Shore Railroad in 1868 as part of a spur line network along the Delmarva Peninsula that connected to a main line that ran south from Wilmington, Delaware to Cape Charles, Virginia. A businessman and railroad stockholder named William McKinney from the town of Centreville sold some of his property for the rail yard. Through the years, the Queen Anne’s and Kent Railroad, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, Conrail and the Penn Central Railroad brought rail service to the town of Centreville… until the year 2002 when the railroad no longer served the town.
Today, the same rail line ends at a warehouse just of U.S. Route 301, and you cross the rail line by way of a railroad crossing on U.S. Route 301. You can see the site of the railyard from Maryland Route 304 that crosses the spot where the tracks crossed the road. You can see the indenture in the ground where the yard was south of Maryland Route 304, and you can see the original railroad bed going north. There at two signs at that location that tell the history of the railroad that include two events that took place involving the railroad. While strolling through town, you will want to visit Millstream Park located south of the town center of Maryland Route 213. What is special about this park? A section of the railroad ran through here, and you can walk along the trail and see signs in the park commemorates the railroad.
The town of Centreville, Maryland is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about fifteen miles east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and five miles north of U.S. Route 301 on Maryland Route 213. Millstream Park is located on Maryland Route 213 south of the town center where the route splits to go on one-way streets. Parking is available at the park and there is no admission fee to visit. The site of the rail yard is on Maryland Route 304 east of the town center on the south side just east of Pennsylvania Avenue. Parking is street parking. No meters or zoning.
So, the next time you are driving along U.S. Route 301 in Maryland and you see signs for Centreville, take a little detour. Visit a town that was connected to the rest of the world by the railroad.