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.

The 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts, Marlinton, West Virginia

In the southeastern region of the U.S. state of West Virginia is a small town of Marlinton.  It is here where you will find the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts.  What is the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts?

Looking South on the Greenbrier River Trail in Marlinton, West Virginia

Some of you are saying, “Well, duh, it is a gallery that has arts and crafts that happens to be on 4th Avenue.”

You can say that, but it is more.  The 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts is a gallery of works by a collection of artists that are part of the Pocahontas County Artisan Co-op.  What kind of artisans?  You have broom makers, basket makers, stonecutters, quilters, photographers, jewelry makers mostly from the region.  The gallery displays their works, and you can also purchase their work from the gallery.  If you are ever in West Virginia, make your way to the town of Marlinton and visit the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts.  They will be glad to see you.

Some of you are saying, “This is nice.  Here is a gallery that displays artists’ works.  It is nice to know that a gallery does this.  There is an enormous and huge problem.  This place is a gallery.  There are no trains here.  Therefore, I will not make the art of seeing this gallery nor will I craft my visit to this place.”

Old Train Station, Marlinton, West Virginia

So, what is special about a visit to the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts? Here is the answer.

The town of Marlinton, West Virginia is named after Jacob Marlin, one of the men who settled the area and would build a cabin that the town was built around.  Located on the Greenbrier River, the town grew, and it became the home of a opera house, a newspaper and a jail.  (These sites are on the National Register of Historic Places today.)  In the early days of the United States of America, a growing town attracted something.  What was that something?  That something was the railroad.  In 1901, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway began passenger and freight service to the town of Marlinton.  The town of Marlinton was part of the glory days of railroading.  Sadly, passenger rail service ended in 1958, and the railroad stopped service to the town years later.  The tracks were eventually taken up, and what was once the right of way of the Chesapeake and Ohio became the Greenbrier River Trail which follows the original railroad bed that runs mainly  in conjunction with the nearby Greenbrier River.

Looking North on the Greenbrier River trail from the Old Train Station

Some of you are saying, “That is so cool about Marlinton.  It is sad that this town is no longer a railroad town.  What does this have to do with the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts?”

That is a very good question.  Here is the answer.

When trains stopped in a small town, it stopped at a train station.  Although the railroad no longer passes through Marlinton and that the railroad tracks are long gone, the old train station where the train stopped remains today.  It is the centerpiece of the town today, and it is here where you will find the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts.  Therefore, when you visit the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts, you will be seeing the exceptional work of many artisans, you will also be visiting a great piece of railroad history.  The Old Marlinton Train Station, like the opera house, the jail, and the Pocahontas Print Shop, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts is owned and operated by the Pocahontas County Artisan Co-op which is based in Marlinton.  It is located at 720 4th Avenue in Marlinton, West Virginia which is just north of West Virginia Route 39 and its crossing of the Greenbrier River Trail and one mile east of U.S. Route 219.  The Gallery is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm.  (It is closed on Mondays.)  Parking is available on 4th Street.  Admission to the gallery is free, and many of their works are available for purchase.  You can learn more about the gallery and about the Pocahontas County Artisan Co-op at https://pocahontasartistry.com/.

The next time somebody tells you to visit the 4th Avenue Gallery Fine Arts and Crafts in Marlinton, West Virginia, go visit.  See a place where great artists and railroad history come together.

A Town Known as Centreville, Maryland

The Old Train Station in Centreville, Maryland

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.

The Marsh at Millstream Park

Some of you are saying, “Of course this town is not popular.  Why?  There is nothing to see there, and nothing happened there.”

Looking Across the Marsh at Millstream Park

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.

Walking Path and Stream at Millstream Park

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.”

The Walking Path at Millstream Park

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.

A Crosswalk at the Site of the Railroad Crossing on Maryland Route 304

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 Site of the Rail Yard

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.

Little Train at Millstream Park

Berks Military History Museum, Mohnton, Pennsylvania

The Official Sign of the Museum Next to the Marines Only Parking Sign

The town of Mohnton, Pennsylvania is a small town situated south of the city of Reading.  In this town, you will find an old yellow building.  This old yellow building was once a place where a man named Cyrus Hornberger built carriages.  When you visit this building today, you will not see carriages.  You will see a great collection of military artifacts and memorabilia as it now houses the Berks Military History Museum.  The museum tells the history of the United States Military from the American Revolutionary War and the War of Independence to the wars America fights today.  During your visit, you will see a display of the Holocaust and get a feel of how the Jewish people were tortured and murdered by the Nazis.  They also preserved the original blacksmith shop from the carriage factory.  The Berks Military History Museum has so much in such a little space, and if you are ever in the reading or Lancaster area, you will want to make time to see this place.

The Home of the Berks Military History Museum

Some of you are saying, “This is very nice.  It is amazing that the people here have gone through great lengths to preserve the artifacts and the history of America’s military, and I am forever thankful and grateful for all those whose served.  There is a problem.  This is a military museum.  This is not a railroad museum.  Therefore, I will not make it my duty to visit this place.”

Soldiers Uniforms on Display

So, you are not going to visit because it is not a railroad museum.  Let me give you a reason why you should visit.

A Display of a Tent That You Would See on the Battlefield

As mentioned, the Berks Military History Museum displays the history of the military from the very beginning.  Did you know that the railroad was used by the U.S. Military?  One of the features at this museum is a model train.  The model train display is laid out as a display of the Battle of the Bulge that took place from December 16, 1944 to January 15, 1945 during World War II with military train from Germans and the United States.  It features tanks, jeeps, structures, land features, and, of course, trains.

The Model Train Display Depicting the Battle of the Bulge

Now you have a reason to visit the Berks Military History Museum.  Be advised that regardless of where you live, you will appreciate this museum and the great people who go through great efforts to keep this museum open for everyone to see.

Battle Scene on a Bridge During the Battle of the Bulge

The Berks Military History Museum is located at 198 E. Wyomissing Avenue in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.  It is open on Saturdays from 11:00am to 1:00pm.  Admission is free, but they gladly accept donations to help keep the museum open and running for many generations to come.  Please note that only the first floor is wheelchair accessible.  Parking it on the street.  You can learn more about the museum and the things they do to preserve the history of the military and to honor those who serve at https://berksmilitary.weebly.com/.

Locomotive Steams On

So you now have a reason to visit the Berk Military History Museum, a museum about the American Military and how the railroad played a part of military history.

Model Train Display

Love on the 1218

Photo Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.A.

A lady was sitting on her deck that was next to a railroad line.  She was looking through a book of photos taken by Ogle Winston Link.  She came to a page where there was a photo of the Norfolk and Western Railway Number 1218.

The was the toot of a whistle.

She looked up and saw the Number 1218 on the tracks next to her deck.

“Hey!” said the engineer.  “Do you need a ride?”

She thought for a moment.  “Sure!”

She climbed about the 1218.  The engineer tooted the whistle, and they were off.

They were rolling down the line passing over hills, rolling through towns, passing by stations, passing through tunnels, rolling over trestles, and tooting the horn the entire way.

They returned to the house.  “I do not need to be home.”

The engineer tooted the horn, and they went on again.  They returned to the house.

“Can we do it again?” She asked.

They did it again.

On this Valentine’s Day, may you enjoy your train ride with that special someone.

Special thanks to the great people of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia. U.S.A.

The Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum, Catonsville, Maryland

The Cabin of Benjamin Banneker

Who is Benjamin Banneker?  He is not someone you hear about in history classes.  He was a special kind of man.  Born on November 9, 1731, he became an accomplished mathematician,  an astronomer who spent some of his evenings looking up at the stars, and a publisher of six almanacs.  Although he was never a slave, he did have to deal with rejection like many African Americans dealt with in his day which made him an abolitionist.  This did not stop the man’s brilliance.  He was a surveyor who worked with Charles L’Enfant.  Who is Charles L’Enfant?  He is the man who laid out what became the District of Columbia.  Benjamin Banneker assisted with L’Enfant to lay out the southwestern border of the District.  (This border is now completely in Virginia and is the border between Arlington and Fairfax County.)  Benjamin Banneker has been credited by some historians as an inventor, but he was never an inventor but a man with an incredible mind.  He died in 1806.  The Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum in Catonsville, Maryland commemorates and celebrates the life of a man who some say could be one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the United States of America.

Benjamin Banneker’s Garden

Some of you are saying, “This has got to be one amazing man.  It is sad that he was not talked about in schools.  We must be thankful for the people who have preserved his memory.  There is a very big problem.  As mentioned, he died in 1806.  The railroad began in 1828.  This means that he had nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, I will have nothing to do with the Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum.”

A Sundial

You have a point.  Benjamin Banneker did die before the railroad began.  Therefore, Benjamin Banneker had nothing to do with the railroad.  Why should you visit the Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum?

The Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum consists of, of course, the museum that tells the story of Benjamin Banneker and his brilliance.  It also consists of the Trueth / Bannaky House, a home that was built on the property after Banneker’s death.  You have the Colonial Farmstead that consists of a cabin of which Benjamin Banneker would have lived in and a small garden.  Then you have the hiking trails.

Some of you are saying, “This is very nice, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the railroad.”

As mentioned, there are hiking trails in the park.  You have the Yellow Trail, the White Trail, the Green Trail, The Red Trail, the Blue Trail, and the Trolley 9 Trail.

The Trolley 9 Trail in Ellicott City

Some of you are saying, “What?  What in the world is the Trolley 9 Trail?”

The Trolley 9 Trail Passing Through a Rock Cut

This is the reason why you should visit the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum.  The Trolley 9 Trail is a rail trail that runs through the park that begins in nearby Ellicott City and ends in a neighborhood.  Why is it called the Trolley 9 Trail?  The answer is deep.

Ruins of the Trolley Bridge over the Patapsco River

Benjamin Banneker’s home was in proximity with Ellicott City, originally called Ellicott Mills.  The name comes from being a town of mills with the Patapsco River passing on the northeast side of the town.  Mills, of course, needs workers.  Although the railroad came to Ellicott Mills, how was his workers going to get to work?

Old Houses in the Town of Oella

In March of 1861, the Baltimore, Catonsville, and Ellicott Mills Railway Company was born.  It was able to transport workers from their homes in Catonsville and the town of Oella to the mills and back home.  What began with horse-drawn trolleys was later electrified.

The Trolley 9 Trail

Today, you can walk along the Trolley 9 Trail and think about how the workers rode to in from their jobs.  You can stop in at the Benjamin Banneker Historic Park.  Although the Trolley 9 Trail is paved and it is for wheelchairs, the access from Ellicott City is not nor are the trails in the park wheelchair friendly.  The trail has a slight incline from Ellicott City.  While at the Ellicott City end, you can see the remnants of the bridge that crossed the Patapsco River.  (The bridge was burned by a discarded cigarette and was never rebuilt.)

A Creek Crossed by the Trolley 9 Trail

Benjamin Banneker had no connection to the railroad, but what was once his land does.  You will learn about a brilliant man, and you can take in the scenery along the Trolley 9 Trail.

The Benjamin Banneker Historic Park and Museum is owned and operated by Baltimore County Parks.  It is located at 300 Oella Avenue in Catonsville, Maryland just off Maryland Route 144 and just east of Ellicott City.  The museum hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm Tuesday to Saturday.  The park is open from sunrise to sunset.  Admission is free, and parking is on site.  The Trolley 9 Trail open sunrise to sunset.  You can get more information and directions to the museum and park at https://friendsofbenjaminbanneker.com/.

Get to know Benjamin Banneker.  Get to know a great minded man.  Meet a man who helped lay out a section of what is now Washington D.C.  Visit the site of his farm where at one time ‘a train ran through it’.

Old Train Station, Amherst, Virginia

Old Train Station, Amherst, Virginia

In the heyday of passenger railroading, trains made many stops across the country including small towns.  Many of these small towns had train depots that had a ticket agent who also was the town postmaster.  As passenger service declined, many small towns were no longer served by passenger trains.  The small-town train station was no longer used.  What happened to many of these stations?  Some were demolished.  Why?  As stations over time fall into disrepair, they eventually collapse with debris falling onto the tracks which is a real hazard for trains on active lines.  Then there are those that are spare from demolition.  Some are just left empty.  Some became offices for the railroad company that owns the rail line.  Some have been made into museums.  Then there are those that have been converted into visitor centers.  One of them is the old train station in Amherst, Virginia.

Old Train Signal at the Old Train Station in Amherst, Virginia

Some of you are saying, “I have seen this story many times before.  It is the same old story.  They took an old train station, spared it, and made it a visitor center.  This place is no different than any other train station that was made into a visitor center.  Therefore, I will not be making any visit to this place.”

Looking at the Old Ticket Window

That is true about many of the old train stations across the country, and the old train station in Amherst, Virginia has a similar story, but this train station has more to the story.

What Would Have Been a Train Passenger’s View of the Station

The current structure was built in 1913 by the Southern Railway to replace the original depot (that was demolished) that was built by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad who originally built the rail line.  This station had a ticket office like any other station, but it is one of the few surviving stations with separate waiting rooms for whites and blacks during the days of segregation.  In 1920’s, the south waiting room was made into the freight room during a renovation of the station.  (The original freight house was south of here.)  Passenger service ended in the 1960’s, and freight service ended in the 1970’s leaving this train station abandoned just like those other old train stations.  The station was then in the ownership of the Mays Farmers’ Service Company who, in 1995, donated the depot to the Amherst County Chamber of Commerce, and it was moved half a mile from its original location to where it sits today.

Looking Inside the Display

Today, you can visit this old train station.  It sits on a bluff overlooking the rail line that once served the old train station, and you can sit at a table and, if you are fortunate enough, and watch a passing train.  You can also see and old signal, and the colors do change from red to green to yellow.  When you go inside, you will not see the ticket office or waiting room.  You will see brochures for local sites, and, what makes this place different, it houses a small museum with artifacts from the Southern Railway to include a few dishes used on the trains, a car step, a model of a Southern Railway train, and a conductors uniform.  There is even a small gift shop.

Items on Display

The Old Amherst Train Station is located at 328 Richmond Highway (U.S. Route 60) just east of U.S. Route 29.  It is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm from Wednesday to Saturday and 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday.  (It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.)  When you visit, you will see that it is not just an old train station turned visitor center, but a little bit more. You can learn more at http://visitamherstcounty.org/destination/map/visitor-center/.

Items on Display

Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Gardners, Pennsylvania

The Pine Grove Furnace. Photo is courtesy of the Pine Grove State Park

In the early years of the United States of America, stone furnaces were built for the smelting of metal to form it into different shapes.  The stone furnaces were built near the sources of key ingredients like iron ore, limestone, and charcoal which was made from trees in hardwood forests.  One of these furnaces was Pine Grove Furnace in the southern central region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.  The Pine Grove Furnace was used to make iron, and the site was a bustling place.  Iron ore was brought to the furnace where it was melted and formed, and then it was transported to different locations.  Through the years, new technologies and safer furnaces were built making furnaces like these obsolete.  In 1895, the fires in the Pine Grove Furnace stopped burning.  The furnace was abandoned, and it was left to ruin and to be reclaimed by nature through the years.  The Pine Grove Furnace was gone, but it was not forgotten as it was made into a state park.  Today, you can see the old furnace in its original location.  You can also see the Ironmaster’s Mansion where the ironmaster had his residence, the Paymaster’s Cabin, the old stable which now houses the park general store, the old mill which now houses the Appalachian Trail Museum, and you can see Fuller Lake which is where the iron ore was mined from numerous ore pits and was filled naturally with water when the mining of the pits ended.  Unlike the days of operation, Pine Grove State Park is a tranquil place where the sounds of loud clanging and pounding have been taken over by peace and tranquility.  Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a place that history and nature unite in great harmony.

What Remains of the Pine Grove Furnace

Some of you are saying, “This is nice.  The old furnace was preserved and made into a park.  It would be great to walk around.  However, there is one big problem.  There are no railroads here, there are no railroads anywhere near here, and this place has absolutely nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, I will not be ironing out any plans to visit this place.”

The Ironmaster’s Mansion

You have a point.  The park has no railroads.  You are wrong about the fact that this place has nothing to do with the railroad.

Looking into the Oven of the Pine Grove Furnace

When operations began in 1764, there was no railroad.  The iron was transported by the old horse and buggy system.  When the railroad began making its way across North America, those rails made their way to the Pine Grove Furnace, and the railroad replaced the horse and buggy to transport the iron.  The grassy area next to the furnace was a small rail yard where cars were loaded.  The South Mountain Railroad was constructed from 1868 to 1869.  In 1870 the railroad connected the furnace with the Cumberland Valley Railroad at a junction east of Carlisle.  The South Mountain Railroad was combined with other local railroads to become the Hunters Run and Slate Belt Railroad.  The Hunters Run and Slate Belt Railroad was late merged into another railroad.  In 1907 after the brickyard was shutdown, sections of railroad were removed from what is now the state park, but a rail line was still connected to Carlisle, and a tourist line brought tourists to the park.  This continued into the 1950’s when rail service to what would become Pine Grove State Park came to an end.

A Road on the Old Railroad Bed

Today, you can hike on some of the trails that were once the railroad bed of the railroad that served the furnace, and a few of the roads were built on the old railroad beds.  If you are fortunate, you may find an old railroad tie or find a rail spike used to hold the rails on the ties.  There is a road called ‘Old Railroad Bed Road’ which runs along the southeast side of the park on the south side of Laurel Lake which was built along the original railroad bed.  The road is drivable, but it is a narrow dead-end road which may be difficult for large vehicles (large sport utility vehicles and buses) to turn around.  While on this road, you will pass by a spring.  It is said that locomotives may had made a stop here to take on water.

The Spring That May Have Been Used to Put Water in the Locomotives

Pine Grove State Park is a Pennsylvania State Park with historical ruins of the furnace and other structures.  It is near the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail which passes through the park, and it is the home of the Appalachian Trail Museum.  Although it is in the confines of the state park, it is owned at operated by the Appalachian Trail Museum Society, an all-volunteer organization.  The museum is open between April and October from 9:00am to 4:00pm from Thursday to Sunday.  Admission is free, but they gladly accept donations to help keep the museum operational for many years to come.  You can learn more about the museum, the history of the museum and foundation, and their many affiliates at https://www.atmuseum.org/.

The Appalachian Trail Museum

The Ironmaster’s Mansion is also within the confines of the state park.  It has tours and is also open for lodging.  It is owned by the state park, but it is managed by a non-profit organization that also owns the Appalachian Trail Museum which is located at the halfway point on the Appalachian Trail, a trail that runs through the Appalachian Mountain Range between the U.S. state of Maine and the state of Georgia.  The museum is between the Ironmaster’s Mansion and the Visitor Center.

The Appalachian Trail

Along with the museum, the Pine Grove State Park Visitor Center also houses a museum that tells the history of the park.  Along with the museum, furnace ruins, and old structures, there are also picnic tables, hiking trails, camping (tent, RV, and groups), swimming, and boating, and there is also a general store.  The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.  You can learn more about the park and make campground reservations and how to reserve the paymaster’s cabin at https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/PineGroveFurnaceStatePark/Pages/default.aspx.

The Visitor Center and Museum

If you would like a detail history of the railroad history of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, you can purchase the book Railroads to Pine Grove Furnace by Randy Watts from the park gift shop.

Laurel Lake

The next time you hear about Pine Grove Furnace State Park, do not think about a place of an old furnace or a simple park.  Think of it as a tranquil place that was once connected to the mighty sounds of the railroad.

Old Railroad Bed Road

Train Station Museum, Woodsboro, Maryland

Old Train Station, Home of the Woodsboro Historical Society, Woodsboro, Maryland

Have you ever heard of the small town of Woodsboro, Maryland?  You have not heard of this famous Maryland town known as Woodsboro?  Well, most people have never heard of this town to probably include many who live in the region.  The town is named after Joseph Wood, a man born in Gloucester, England to whom the land grant was given.  The town was laid out in 1786 as Woodsberry.  The name changed a few times before it finally became Woodsboro.

Old Train Station and Railroad Line

What major events took place here?

Looking North from Maryland Route 550

As far as it is known, no major historic events took place here.  It is the home of two sites on the National Registry of Historic Places.  The one site is the LeGore Bridge, and the other site is the Woods Mill Farm.  For many years, it was also the home of the Rosebud Perfume Company which was founded in this town.  It is still the home of a few rock quarries.  No famous people were born here.  The town is in the midst of a region of famous towns of Frederick, a town of American Civil War battles and homes, the town of Thurmont, the home of Camp David, the United States Presidential retreat, Emmitsburg, the home of Elizabeth Seton, the first American born canonized saint who is also buried in a shrine named for her, and Gettysburg, the home of the great battle that was the turning point of the American Civil War.  Maryland Routes 194 and 550 are the only routes that pass through this town.

Looking South from the train Depot

Some of you are saying, “Well, that is interesting.  Here is this out of the way town that is out of the way with two national historic sites.  Is there anybody who saw any significance to this Maryland town called Woodsboro?”

The Interior of the Train Station

That is a good question.  You will have to say that the Pennsylvania Railroad saw this town as significant.  How?  They built a small railroad station here.  Yes, the small town of Woodsboro, Maryland had regular passenger and freight service that connected Frederick with the rest of the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pennsylvania.

The Ticket Window

Some of you are saying, “I see. I bet that when the Pennsylvania Railroad was taken over by the Penn Central Railroad, the tracks were taken up, and this small train station was demolished.  Now the little town of Woodsboro is on the list of old railroad town that no longer sees the railroad.”

Old U.S. Army Uniform on Display

If you were making a bet on this, you would lose.

Instruments from the Woodsboro Band

The Penn Central Railroad did continue freight service on this line until they abandoned it, but railroad service did not cease altogether.  The line itself only goes as far south as Walkersville with the Walkersville Southern Railroad running excursions at the southern end, and the Maryland Midland Railroad uses this line to serve a quarry that is in the town of Woodsboro.  It may not be as busy as it was during the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad, but trains still do pass here.

Three Jugs and a Stove

What about the old train station?

Old Mount Hope Cemetery Sign

The old train station is no longer an active train station.  Today, it is a small museum that tells the history of Woodsboro and displays artifacts not only from the town but from the American Revolutionary War to include an old uniform from a group known as the ‘Sons of America’.  You can also see old photos from the days when the railroad served the old depot and an old store across the street.  You will also see old street maps to include the map of the original tracks at the depot.  It may be a simple small depot, but it carries a whole lot of the history of Woodsboro to include its history as a railroad town.

Another view of the Station Interior

The Train Station Museum in Woodsboro, Maryland is owned and operated by the Woodsboro Historical Society.  The train station is at its original location at the railroad crossing at 6 Woodsboro Creagarstown Road (Maryland Route 550) in Woodsboro, Maryland.  It is open on the second Saturday of each month from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, or you can make an appointment to visit on your own time.  Admission is free, but they really appreciate any donation to keep the museum running for many generations to come.  Parking is on site.  Please note that the museum currently is not wheelchair accessible.  You can get more information about the museum at https://woodsborohistoricalsociety.org/.

Replica Military Uniform from the American Revolutionary War

So, do you think that there is anything significant about the small Maryland town of Woodsboro?  The Pennsylvania Railroad did, and the Maryland Midland Railway does today.  When you walk through the Train Station Museum, you will too.

Standing on the Train Platform Looking South