How many of you have heard of the town in the U.S. state of Maryland known as Parkton? So you have never heard of this town. The reality is that it is more likely that very few have heard of this town. It is not a town found on tourist sites. What is so special about this town? If you visit the town today, you yourself will be asking what is special about this place. The movie Guarding Tess was filmed here. A famous man passed through here. Who is that famous man? That famous man is Abraham Lincoln. At the time he passed through, he was known as President Abraham Lincoln who was on his way to a Pennsylvania town known as Gettysburg to give a famous speech at a cemetery, a speech famously known as The Gettysburg Address.
Some of you are saying, “This is nice, but what does this town have to do with the railroad?”
That is a good question. The town was established in the 1700’s by a local farmer whose last name was Parke who divided his farm into lots to create the town. When the York-Town Turnpike was completed (present day Maryland Route 45), local farmers were able to transport their goods to the ports of Baltimore and the Pennsylvania cities of York and Harrisburg. Eighteen years later, the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad came to town. The rail line was later taken over by the Northern Central Railway that Abraham Lincoln used to ride to Gettysburg. A two story train station was built, and the town thrived with a hotel, grocery store, churches, a blacksmith shop, and department store, and many other things. The Parkton Local, a commuter train which was also named the ‘Ruxton Rocket’, took commuters to and from Baltimore.
Some of you are saying, “This is so great, but the town is now a literal ghost town.”
Parkton was the victim of what caused many small towns to decline. Interstate 83 now runs east of the town that took traffic away from what is now Maryland Route 45. Many residents bought automobiles which caused the demise of the railroad and the end of the Parkton Local. If that is not enough, in 1972, Hurricane Agnes destroyed much of the reason to include the rail line which main ran along the Gunpowder River which flooded. The tracks in Maryland were taken up, and it was turned into a rail trail. (The tracks in Pennsylvania were restored and is owned by York County, Pennsylvania and has excursion train run by the Northern Central Railway, formerly ‘Steam Into History’.) The two story train station was demolished.
Today, as you drive along Maryland Route 45, you will come upon the town. It was different from its heyday. You can see where the train once ran and where Abraham Lincoln rode through the town. You can walk the path where the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad and Northern Central Railway once ran. It may be a ghost town now, but this ghost town has many stories to tell.