Franklin Junction Historic Railroad Park, Gretna, Virginia

The small town of Gretna in the U.S. state of Virginia in the southern-southwestern region of the state is a town that is not popular with travelers.  It is a suburb of Danville, and the town’s commercial district is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is home to historic structures like Yates Tavern (also on the National Register of Historic Places), the Gretna Theater, and Lavalette House which now houses a restaurant.

Some of you are saying, “This is nice, but does this town have anything to do with the railroad?”

A Bench Commemorating the Railroad Heritage of the Town

The town of Gretna, Virginia is a town that benefitted from the railroad.  In 1874, the Lynchburg and Danville Railroad came to Gretna.  In 1879, the railroad line was taken over by the Franklin and Pittsylvania Railroad which built a passenger and freight depot and a post office.  Many trains passed through here.  A famous train passed through here.  What was that train?  It was the ‘Old 97’.  What was the ‘Old 97’?  It was a train that had a famous wreck in Danville.

Caboose Number X 388 from the Southern Railroad

The passenger and freight depot are gone, but the trains still pass through, and is now owned by Norfolk Southern Railway.  The Franklin Junction Historic Railroad Park was erected to remember the railroad town it once was.  The park is a small park that consists of a caboose from the Southern Railroad which passed through here before the Norfolk Southern Railroad came through, and it has two benches with Number 1102 steam locomotive welded into the benches itself.  It is a small park that keeps the railroad a big part of Gretna’s Heritage.

The Franklin Junction Historic Railroad is located at 105 Main Street (U.S. Business Route 29).  It north of Virginia Route 40 and is easily accessible from U.S. Route 29.  Park is on the street, and admission is free.  It is open twenty-four hours a day.  Therefore, you can visit anytime.  If you are fortunate enough, Norfolk Southern Railroad may reward your visit by rolling on by.

Norfolk Southern Rolling Through

So, if you are taking a drive along U.S. Route 29 in southern Virginia, take a short detour through the town of Gretna.  It is a little town with a big railroad past.

The Durbin Rocket, Cass, West Virginia

Number 6, The Durbin Rocket

What is the Durbin Rocket?

The Durbin Rocket at the Station

Some of you are saying, “Oh, that is simple.  It is a rocket called Durbin that astronauts boarded and rode into outer space.”

The Durbin Rocket Blowing Off Steam

Well, that is not the correct answer.  It is not an actual rocket that is launched into outer space.  It is a name of a train that departed from the small town of Durbin, West Virginia, and it ran along the Greenbrier River ended at a picnic area before returning to the town of Durbin.  A ride on the Durbin Rocket departed from a vintage train depot that housed a small museum and gave you great views of the river.

The Train is at the Station

In 2021, the town of Durbin, West Virginia lost the rocket.  What happened?

The Old Train Station

The Durbin Rocket departs from the depot at Cass, West Virginia, the home of the Cass Scenic Railroad making its way along the Greenbrier River.  It gives you another reason to visit the historic town of Cass.  The same vintage train that pumped steam into the air in Durbin is now pumping steam next to a train that has pumped steam for a century, but the Durbin Rocket will not be climbing up to Bald Knob, but it will be taking riders along the Greenbrier River north of Cass.  The truth is that only the location has changed, but the beauty of West Virginia and the Greenbrier River remains.

The View from the Train

The Durbin Rocket is part of the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad.  The Durbin Rocket also has ‘Castaway Caboose’ where you ride in a caboose and is taken to a remote location where you spend a night in the caboose itself.  Reservations are required.  Please note that the cars are not wheelchair accessible.  You can get more information at https://mountainrailwv.com/#/.

Take a ride on the Durbin Rocket.  It may not take you to outer space, but you will see amazing scenery.  Astronaut training is not required to ride the train.

The Walkersville Southern Railroad, Walkersville, Maryland

The Walkersville Southern Railroad in Walkersville, Maryland.

Have you ever heard of the small town of Walkersville, Maryland?  You have never heard of the town of Walkersville, Maryland?  If you have never heard of this town, you are in the majority.  There are probably people who live nearby who have never heard of this town.  It is a very remote town with the only major route is Maryland Route 194 which passes on the outside of the town and not through the center as many major routes tend to do in this present day.

The Train at the Station.

So what is here in the town of Walkersville?

Number 1

This small town was once a stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad that served Frederick which is just south of here.  The line changed ownership to the Penn Central Railroad, and, years later, service to Frederick was discontinued. The line was abandoned.  The bridge over the Monocacy River was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and a section of track is now buried under the reconstruction of Maryland Route 26 at its interchange with U.S. Route 15.  These tracks never saw trains on them again.

But the train made a comeback.

In the 1990’s, the line north of Maryland Route 26 was cleared of the overgrowing brush.  A new bridge was built over the Monocacy River.  The Walkersville Southern Railroad was born.  The railroad made its return to this railroad town.

Today, you can take a ride on this train.  You just have to make your way to this little hidden town.  You can get your tickets at the train depot, the same depot that was used by passengers when the railroad first came to Walkersville although the interior is much different today as it looked when passenger service began.  Unlike the old days, you have a handicap accessible ramp to board the train.  The Walkersville Southern Railroad may have begun in the late 1990’s, but the passenger cars are from the 1920’s.  If passenger cars are not your thing, you can ride in the caboose, or you can ride in an open-air car.

Now comes the moment.  The train pulls out of the station, and it heads south.  You pass by a park, and you pass behind an old lime kiln.  Then you look out over open farmland.  At this point, you have no idea that you are in the metropolis of Washington D.C.  Then you arrive at the most scenic part of the ride where you ride over the Monocacy River.  You may be waving at the kayakers below.  You cross what was once Maryland Route 355, and you reach the end of the line.

The Walkersville Southern Railroad is a real treasure of an attraction, and it is a great ride for the entire family or for the simple rail fan.  They do regular train excursions, but they also have special trains like wild west robberies, and they have evening dinner trains.  (Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner trains.)  The great thing about the ride is that it will not drain your wallet dry.  Although the train mostly goes south of Walkersville, there are occasional excursion that do go north of the town, and there are plans to expand the excursions.  There is also a museum that you can walk through, and you can enjoy a model train.  The museum is free to visit.

The Walkersville Southern Railroad is in the town of Walkersville, Maryland at 34 West Pennsylvania Avenue.  It is easily accessible from U.S. Route 15 by way of Biggs Ford Road which becomes Pennsylvania Avenue.  You will see the train station, and parking is on a grass lot close to the station.  You can get more information at http://wsrr.org/.

Now you know about the town of Walkersville, Maryland.  It is a little town in the suburbs of Washington D.C. that has a big railroad past.

The Northern Central Railway, New Freedom, Pennsylvania

The Northern Central Railway at the Depot in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

In December of 1854, the Northern Central Railway was formed by a merger of numerous rail companies.  The rail line connected the city of Baltimore in the U.S. state of Maryland with the city of Harrisburg, the capital of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, and it connected numerous small towns in between.  The line was later taken over by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  During its time, many towns were formed.  There was a man named Abraham Lincoln who rode along this rail line numerous times.  He first rode this line when he was on his way to Washington D.C. to take up residence in a house known as the White House to serve the nation as the President of the United States of America.  While on his way to Washington D.C., the railroad thwarted the first assassination attempt which was supposed to take place at a station in Baltimore.  He went along this line to connect to a train at a place called Hanover Junction while on his way to a Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg.  Why was he going to Gettysburg?  Months before, a battle of the American Civil War that was the turning point of the battle, known as the ‘Battle of Gettysburg’, took place.  He went to the cemetery to honor those who lost their lives fighting for freedom with ‘The Gettysburg Address’.  His final ride was when his casket was on its way to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.  Throughout the years, the line changed ownership, but the trains kept rolling on.

The Northern Central Railway in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Until 1972.

The Northern Central Rail Trail in Freeport, Maryland

Hurricanes Agnes struck the United States of America in the early Summer of 1972 making landfall in Panama City, Florida.  The hurricane made its way to the Mid-Atlantic region causing much damage.  The tracks that were the Northern Central Railway in the U.S. state of Maryland were destroyed.  Penn Central Railroad, the last owner of the rail line, decided to abandon the line between Baltimore, Maryland and York, Pennsylvania.  The Northern Central Railway was gone forever.

Not exactly.

In Maryland, the tracks were taken up, and it is now the Northern Central Rail Trail except for a stretch of track that is part of the Light Rail Transit System for Baltimore.

The Abandoned Northern Central Rail Line and the York County Heritage Trail in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

What happened in Pennsylvania?

The Rails of the Northern Central Railway in New Freedom, Pennsylvania

The two-track line (became double-track during World War I) became a single track leaving the one track to remain with the York County Heritage Trail, the northern continuation of the Northern Central Rail Trail, running alongside the rail line.  For many years, no trains ran along this line despite that it was still an active rail line.

That changed in 2011.

‘Steam Into History’ began train excursions with a newly built steam locomotive pulling newly built old time passenger cars giving passengers a one of a kind passenger experience.  Many have come from across the United States of America and around the world to ride this train.  The Number 17 William Simpson York locomotive pulled passengers from its south terminus in the town of New Freedom, Pennsylvania through the towns of Railroad, Glen Rock, and Hanover Junction, the same place where Abraham Lincoln changed trains while on his way to Gettysburg.  (Sadly, only a short section of this track remains.)

The Number 17 York of the Northern Central Railway Ready to Depart New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Today, ‘Steam Into History’ has been rebranded at the Northern Central Railway, and it continues to take passengers along the same route pulled by Number 17 and by a diesel locomotive, and you can now ride to the town of Seven Valleys.  The Northern Central Railway is making a comeback, and they are looking to make its way to York.

Rail Fans Watching the Arrival of the train in Seitzland, Pennsylvania

The Northern Central Railway is at 2 W. Main Street in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.  You can learn more about the excursions and by tickets at https://www.northerncentralrailway.com/.

Number 17 in Seitzland, Pennsylvania

It may be not be ‘Steam Into History’ anymore, but the return on the Northern Central Railway will keep the history moving on.

The Train Returning to New Freedom, Pennsylvania

Tolchester Beach, Maryland

Looking at the Chesapeake Bay from Tolchester Beach

The region known as the Eastern Shore of the U.S. state of Maryland has many great small towns.  (The region is called the Eastern Shore because it is on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay which divides the state.)  Among these towns is the coastal town of Tolchester Beach.  It is a peaceful quiet town with a few houses with the beach.  The only sites in the town are the Kent County Agricultural Center and the Caulks Field Battlefield Memorial where a battle in the War of 1812 took place.  Tolchester Beach is a quiet town where the only noise heard is the waters of the Chesapeake Bay splash on the beach.

Some of you are saying, “This is very lovely.  I love quiet small towns especially beach towns.  The problem is that the is no railroad here.  Therefore, I will find no peace and quiet with this town.

The town of Tolchester Beach, Maryland, simply called Tolchester today, except for events at the Kent County Agricultural Center, has been a quiet and peaceful town… since 1962.

Some of you are saying, “What do you mean by ‘since 1962’?”

The peace town you see today was not peaceful and quiet from 1877 to 1962.  The town known today as Tolchester was a bustling amusement park.  What amusement park?  The Tolchester Beach Amusement Park.  Steamboats brought people from Baltimore and other towns to Tolchester Beach, and they played games, they watched shows, ate food, and rode the rides.  I know.  Most amusement parks have games, shows, food, and rides, but one of the main attractions of the park was the miniature steam train.  They stood in line to ride the steam train around the loop.  When the park was closed in 1962, everything, including the train, was no more.  (The train was sold off.  It is currently unknown where it is today.

Today, when you take a drive through Tolchester, Maryland, you see houses, a marina, the fairgrounds, and the small beach at the end of Maryland Route 21.  There are no signs of an amusement park or of a miniature train.  It is a peaceful and quiet little place on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay.

If you would like to see photos of the park, you can go to the ‘Tolchester Beach Amusement Park Tolchester Maryland’ Facebook page where you can also read more into the history of the park itself.

Old Train Station, New Oxford, Pennsylvania

Old Train Station and Pennsylvania Railroad Caboose

U.S. Route 30, nicknamed the ‘Lincoln Highway’ to honor Abraham Lincoln, is the third longest route in the United States of America (behind U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 6) and runs from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast.  It passes through numerous states of which Pennsylvania is one of them.  It mainly runs along the southern tier of the state passing through the major cities of Philadelphia, home of where the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed, and Pittsburgh, the home of steel manufacturing and other major companies, and through Lancaster, the most famous Amish community in the nation, York, home of the Weightlifting Hall of Fame and a Harley Davidson factory, and Gettysburg, the place where the turning point and one of the greatest battles of the American Civil War took place.  It passes through many small towns.  One of these small towns is New Oxford.

The Old New Oxford Train Station

Some of you are saying, “Wow!  This is amazing.  U.S. Route 30 passes through the town of New Oxford, Pennsylvania.  What is so special about New Oxford, Pennsylvania?”

Pennsylvania Railroad Caboose Number 476582

It is a town that had no famous historical events.  It is a town that has nice and fancy houses, and it is also a manufacturing town being home to companies like Pilgrim’s Pride and Aero Energy who works with containers for Blue Rhino.  It, as mentioned, is a stop on U.S. Route 30, and it was once a place where the Western Maryland Railway stopped.  Where?  New Oxford, like many small towns in America, had a train station.  Passenger trains no longer stop in New Oxford, but you can visit the train station where the trains once stopped.

The Railroad Passing the Old Station

Today, this old train station is a museum.  On the outside, you see Caboose Number 476582 of the Pennsylvania Railroad, an old Railway Post Office Car, and a few luggage carts.  On the inside, you have model train displays with model trains displayed on the walls and in cases.  You have a corner of whistles and lanterns.  You can step into the old ticket office and get the view that the ticket man once had.  You can see the old switchers that once switched the tracks around the station.  You can see an old semaphore that was used to signal trains.  (A semaphore was a traffic light for trains. Regular light signals are used today.)  If you are fortunate enough, you may even see a passing CSX train.

Old Post Office Car

The New Oxford Train Station is run by volunteers.  There is no paid staff.  It is at 206 Lincoln Highway West (U.S. Route 30) about a quarter mile west of the town square and ten miles east of Gettysburg and U.S. Route 15.  It is easy to find because it is on the north side of U.S. Route 30 at the railroad crossing.  It is open every first and third Sunday of the month from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.  Parking is on site.  Admission is free, but they do accept donations to help keep the museum running for many generations to come.  Although the museum is wheelchair accessible, there may be a few tight spaces to maneuver through.

Old Lionel Model Train

U.S. Route 30 passes by many great sites as it makes its way across the country.  The old train station in New Oxford, Pennsylvania is one of them.

Savage Mill, Savage, Maryland

The Old Savage Mill, Savage, Maryland

The Historic U.S. Route 1 is the first and oldest route in the United States of America.  It runs north and south through the eastern section with the northern terminus is in Fort Know, Maine, and the southern terminus in Key West, Florida.  (It is the most southern U.S. route in the 48 states and the third most southern route in the 48 states with only two state routes, 5A and the famous A1A, being father south.  It is also the most northern route in the 48 states.)  U.S. Route 1 passes through all the east coast states except for Delaware, plus it passes through Pennsylvania, the only non-coastal state the route passes through.  It passes through the major cities of Boston, Massachusetts, New York City, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, Augusta, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida, and Miami, Florida.  It passes through many small towns.  One of those small towns is Savage, Maryland, a suburb in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore, Maryland metropolis.  In this small town is an old mill.

The Savage Mill is named after a man named John Savage.  Who is John Savage?  He loaned four brothers $20,000 to build a cotton mill on the Little Patuxent River.  The mill began operation in 1822.  Because the mill was built on a high ridge over the river, a waterwheel 30 feet in diameter was built to harness the waterpower.  What great things were produced here?  In its heyday, sails for ships sailing out of Baltimore, tents and covered used by Union soldiers fighting in the American Civil War, backdrops for Hollywood movies in the early days of Hollywood films, and truck covers and bags for soldiers fighting in Europe during World War I and World War II.  Sadly, the mill ceased operation in 1947.  The mill was spared demolition, and it was eventually made into a place for shops and artists studios.  When you visit Savage Mill today, you will see a place where great products were once made, and you will see a place where great products are made today.

Some of you are saying, “This is amazing.  This mill made some great products, and it was spared demolition.  There is a big problem.  You see.  This was a mill.  There are no railroads here.  Therefore, I will not be manufacturing my visit to this place.”

The Old Telephone Booth

So, you have refused to visit Savage Mill because there are no railroads here.  Today, there is no railroad at this old mill.  In the mill’s heyday, the railroad was a big part of the mill’s operation.

Walking Path in the Old Rail Line

When you approach the mill from U.S. Route 1 along Gorman Road, the very first thing you will notice is not the mill.  The first thing you will see is an old truss bridge.  What is special about this bridge?  It was built by Wendell Bollman.  He went on to build many truss bridges using one material: iron.  His company built about one hundred iron truss bridges.

The Bollman Truss Bridge

Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful.  What makes this iron truss bridge special?”

The Old Tracks

That is a great question.  The answer is that this bridge is a railroad bridge.  It was built by Wendell Bowman and used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad over the Little Patuxent River to connect the mill with the main line half a mile east of the mill.  (The line is owned by CSX today.)  It became a standard bridge used by railroads.  When operations at the mill ceased, so did service on the spur line.  The bridge is the oldest iron truss bridge in the United States of America, and it is the only surviving iron truss bridge built by Wendell Bowman in the world.

Today, the Bowman Iron Truss Bridge is a pedestrian bridge, but a set of tracks remain to remind you of the days the railroad came to the mill.  It is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Does the mill have any other railroad connection?  It does.  When the mill was closed, it was turned into a Christmas village for three years before it was bought by another owner.  To enter the village, patrons had to park at a lot on U.S. Route 1.  How did they get to the village?  A miniature train took patrons from the parking lot to the village.

A Ruined Section of the Mill

Now you have a reason to visit the old Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland.  What was once a working mill now works to house shops, art, and dance studios.  It you have the time you can walk along the truss bridge and look down into the Little Patuxent River.

The Interior of the Old Mill

The Savage Mill is located at 8600 Foundry Road in Savage, Maryland.  It is half a mile east of U.S. Route 1 and a short drive from Interstate 95.  Parking is on site.  The truss bridge connects you to a hiking trail.  You can get more information at https://www.savagemill.com/.

Thomas, West Virginia

The Store Fronts Along Southbound West Virginia 32

If you look at a map of the U.S. state of Maryland, you will see that the western border of the state has a point at the south end.  This point points to the town of Thomas, West Virginia.  When you visit the town today, you will see a town that rests on a hill with the Blackwater River flowing through the valley below with the mountains of West Virginia surrounding it.  It is a small and quiet town, but it is a town that is truly a West Virginia town.

Some of you are saying, “I love small towns, and I love West Virginia.  The problem is that there are no railroads in this town.  Therefore, I will not be in this town.”

If you visit the town of Thomas, West Virginia today, you will see a quiet, peaceful town… with no railroads.  It was much different many years ago.

The Old General Store. It is Now an Art Gallery.

Thomas, West Virginia was a bustling coal mining town.  With much of the coal mining came railroads, and the railroad was a big part of Thomas.  It is named for Thomas Beall Davis whose brother was a U.S. Senator.  Thomas Beall Davis opened a mine in the area, and he used the railroad to ship the coal to factories in the region.  Mining in the area ceased in 1921.

The Old Railroad Bed

In 1901, a fire burned half of the town, but it was put out two hours later.  New buildings were built to include an opera house with an elegant saloon.  Also, the Western Maryland Railway built an elegant train depot which was declared the grandest train depot between Cumberland, Maryland and Elkins, West Virginia.  Sadly, the depot was destroyed by a tornado in 1944, and it was never rebuilt.

The Site of the Old Railroad Yard

As industry declined in the region, so did the railroad.  The tracks were taken up in the early 1990’s.

Old Railroad Bridge on Rail Bed Road

Today, when you visit the town of Thomas, you can walk where a railroad yard once stood in the valley below.  You can hike and bike the Allegheny Rail Trail which now runs along the original railroad bed of the Western Maryland Railway.  You can drive along the old railroad bed and drive across an old railroad bridge to hike your way to Douglas Falls.  While on the road, you will drive past the ruins of coke ovens.  While there, visit the old general store which is now an art gallery.  As you feel the quiet and tranquility, you will also feel the hustle and bustle of a town that once was.

The Ruins of Coke Ovens

The town of Thomas, West Virginia is located in the northeastern region of the U.S. state of West Virginia at the western point of the U.S. state of Maryland.  The town center is on the National Register of Historic Places.  U.S. Route 219 passes just north of the town with West Virginia Route 32 going south from U.S. Route 219 through the historic town.

Waterfall on the Blackwater River

The Old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, Ellicott City, Maryland

The Old Train Station, Ellicott City, Maryland

The year was 1828.  The month was February.  The railroad had begun in the United States of America.  The city was a port city of Baltimore in the U.S. state of Maryland.  Tracks were laid.  People were excited to ride the first train to ever run in the Western Hemisphere.  The train was pulled by a special locomotive.  What was this locomotive made with?

Replica of and old Passenger Car

Some of you are saying, “Well, duh, Steel.”

If that is your answer, you are wrong.  The first locomotive to ever pull a train in the Western Hemisphere was made of fur and had four legs.  In case you are wondering, the first locomotive in the Western Hemisphere was a horse.  Later, the ‘York’ locomotive began pulling trains from a station a few blocks from the port of Baltimore.  (It is the Inner Harbor today.)  The tracks were built southwest out of the city, and, in 1831, it arrived at a small mill town known as Ellicott Mills.

Some of you are saying, “Yeah.  I have heard of these towns.  They call it Ellicott Mills because they thought it was a cool name, but there are no mills here.”

The Patapsco River and the Ruins of an Old Mill

The town is named after the Ellicott family with three brothers establishing mills in the area.  Hence the name ‘Ellicott Mills’, and it was the largest mill and manufacturing town in the eastern United States at the time.  With the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the town of Ellicott Mills became the first terminus of the railroad.  A station was built.  Products from the mills were able to be put on a train and taken to the ports of Baltimore where they could be shipped around the world.  The town was later called Ellicott City.  The train station was in use as a passenger station and a freight station with passenger service ending in 1949, and it was a freight depot until 1972.

A Model Display of What the Station Looked Like When It Was an Active Station

Some of you are saying, “And the depot was demolished, and the tracks were taken up.  Now the trains do not come to Ellicott City anymore.”

You are wrong again.  The old train station remains, and it has recently survived two massive floods that did severe damage to Old Ellicott City.  It is the oldest surviving train station in the Western Hemisphere.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.  The tracks are still active, and you can see CSX trains today.  (The original rail line is still active with most of the section owned by CSX and the first mile and a half owned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore.)

The Old Freight House Which Now Houses the Model Train Display

Some of you are saying, “And it is now decomposing and rotting like all those other old train stations.”

Inside What Was the Car House

Again, you are wrong.  When the old train station was decommissioned, local preservation groups stepped in to preserve the station, and it remains in its original location on the ‘National Road’ (Maryland Route 144) despite two massive floods that destroyed must of the historic section of the town.  It was made into a museum, and you can visit the museum today.

The Ticket Window

When you visit the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station Museum in Ellicott City, Maryland, you will see the station in the way it was when was an active train station to include the bedroom of the station master, the ticket office, and the passenger waiting room.  You can see the original train platform.  (There is a fence between the station and the tracks.)  You can see where a turntable once stood.  You can go into the old freight house and see a model train display of the original route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and Ellicott City.  You can climb inside a Baltimore and Ohio Caboose.  If you are fortunate enough, CSX may reward your visit with a passing train.

Inside the Ticket Office

Today, you can visit the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station Museum in Ellicott City, Maryland.  It is owned and operated by Howard County Recreation and Parks.  It is located at 3711 Maryland Avenue.  (It is at the intersection of Main Street which is Maryland Route 144.)  It is open Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00am to 3:00pm and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm.  Admission is free.  Parking is street parking.  (Metered parking next to the station, but there is free parking at nearby city lots.)  Although the freight house and station are wheelchair accessible, the caboose is not.  There is also a long flight of stairs inside the station.  (Wheelchairs have access to both floors.)  You can get more information at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Baltimore-Ohio-Station-at-Ellicott-City.

Ellicott City, Maryland is a town with a robust history.  From a mill town to a place where history still thrives even after massive destructive floods.  Although the train no longer stops here, it is still a town with a great railroad history.

Yuengling Brewery, Pottsville, Pennsylvania

The Yuengling and Son Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania

When you think about beer, what American city comes to mind?  Of course, most of you would think about the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It is the home of the Milwaukee Brewers, a professional baseball team that plays at Miller Field, and many beer companies like Miller Brewing Company have their headquarters here.  Many years ago, the Milwaukee Road (a railroad company) ran rail lines that connected these different breweries.  (You can watch a video about the ‘Beer Line’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ie_mJu0-js.  The video is courtesy of the Center of Railroad Photography and Art.)  Then you have Anheuser Busch in Saint Louis, Missouri, the company that brought you Budweiser.  You also have the Coors Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.  As much as we think of Milwaukee, Saint Louis, and Denver as the meccas of American beer, the American beer industry did not begin in any of these cities.

Welcome to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, the home of Yuengling Brewery, the oldest brewery in the United States of America.  It all began when a man named David Yuengling, in 1829, built the Eagle Brewery in the town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.  Many beers were brewed here until a fire burned it down, and a new brewery was built.  The brewery was named D.G. Yuengling and Son, Incorporated when his son joined him as a partner.  When David Yuengling died in 1877, the brewery did not die with him, but it continued, and it continues today, and it is owned and operated by David Yuengling’s descendants.  Today, Richard Yuengling Jr. is the owner of the brewery, and his four daughters work for the company.  The company continues to have it headquarters and continues to operate out of Pottsville with the structure built by David Yuengling, a second brewery in Pottsville, and there is a brewery in Tampa, Florida.  So, when you think of beer.  Do not think of Milwaukee, Saint Louis, or Denver.  Think of a small town in the central part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Kegs of Yuengling Beer.

Some of you are saying, “This is so cool.  I love beer.  I always thought of Milwaukee as the mecca of American beer.  I never knew that Pottsville, Pennsylvania was the birthplace of American beer.  I learned something new.  However, there is a problem here.  As you can see, something is missing.  What is missing?  This is a brewery where beer is brewed.  There is no railroad here.  Therefore, you will not see me doing ‘bottoms up’ here.”

So, you do not want to come here because this is not a railroad place.  There is a reason to visit the Yuengling Brewery in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Welcome to Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.  As you arrive, you enter the gift shop.  Here, you can buy Yuengling Beer and beer glasses and shirts and so many other items.  Behind the gift shop is a small museum.  In the museum, you will see the brewery process from the harvesting of the hops to the arrival at the brewery to the brewery process to the completion to the shipping process.  As you look around, you will see some model trains.

Some of you are saying, “Wait a minute.  Model trains?”

No, they do not run, but they are on display in the museum, and they boxcars, the tank cars, the passenger cars, and the locomotives have the Yuengling logo.

Some of you are saying, “That is nice, but what does Yuengling Beer have to do with the railroad?”

D.G. Yuengling and Son, Incorporated uses the railroad to ship its beer to towns and cities across the United States of America.  Although you will not see any trains at the headquarters in Pottsville, but the other Pottsville brewery and the Tampa brewery does use the railroad.  Beer is put onto boxcars and shipped to wherever it needs to go.  (The second Pottsville brewery is not open to the public.)

Although with the gift shop and museum, you can also take a tour of the brewery, and samples are offered at the end of the tour.  Please note that you must be at least 21 years old to taste the samples.  Please note that you do not have to be a beer lover to enjoy a day at the Yuengling Brewery.

The historic Yuengling Brewery is located at 420 Mahantongo Street in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.  It is a short drive from U.S. Route 209, seven miles south of Interstate 81, and twelve miles north of Interstate 78.  It is open year-round, but hours vary through the year.  There is no cost for the tour.  Parking is available behind the brewery.  (There is a steep hill from the parking lot to the brewery entrance.  Street parking is available on Mahantongo Street, but it is metered.)  Although the gift shop and brewery are wheelchair accessible, the brewery tour is not, and there are many stairs to climb.  (Flip flops, sandals, and any open toed shoes are prohibited.)  You can get more information about the Yuengling brewery to include a history timeline, and you can read more into the history and get information about hours, plus you can purchase items from their online store at https://www.yuengling.com/.

The Bar in the Tasting Room

You have Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  You have Saint Louis, Missouri.  You have Golden, Colorado.  It all began in Pottsville, Pennsylvania by a man, and his descendants continue the brewery to this present day.  Come taste a beer that departs the brewery by train.  Come enjoy a day at America’s oldest brewery and taste America’s oldest beer.  Bottoms up.