Point of Rocks, Maryland

The town of Point of Rocks in the U.S. state of Maryland is a small town on the Potomac River that gets its name from a rock formation.  It is a place with a historic train station, and it is known as a great train watching spot as it is at a junction of two rail routes.  (They were original lines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but they are owned by CSX today.)  Once a passenger train station, it is a commuter train station for trains going to Union Station today.  The train station, built by Ephraim Francis Baldwin in 1876, is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not open to the public as it serves as offices for CSX.  As a railroad town, it has seen some railroad battles.

As the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was building the railroad toward the Ohio River Valley in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was being built to connect barge traffic between the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio River.  Both the railroad and the canal converged at Point of Rocks.  Both wanted the passage along the Potomac River.  The result was that the passage was shared by both the railroad and the canal.  Originally constructed as a single line, a second line was constructed by tunneling through the mountain with two tunnels with the original line still on its original route around the mountain.  The tunnels are still in operation today and can be seen from the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path.

The second battle at Point of Rocks and the railroad took place during the American Civil War.  This war was led by the famous Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson who led the Confederate Army across the Potomac River to Point of Rocks attacking the railroad line and seizing 56 locomotives and 300 rail cars.  During the war, the railroad line attacked numerous times.  Henry A. Cole was put in charge of what was known as Cole’s Maryland Cavalry who was set in the town to protect the railroad from future attacks.

Today, the main action in the town of Point of Rocks, Maryland are the trains passing through the junction.  The trains pass through safely today, and many train watchers flock here to watch them roll by.

Point of Rocks, Maryland is served by U.S. Route 15 which crosses the Potomac River.  The old train station is on Maryland Route 28 east of U.S. Route 15 beside the Marc Commuter lot.  It is wheelchair accessible.

The next time you are in Point of Rocks watching the trains, remember that it is a quiet place where the railroad brought much turmoil.

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

Sauder Village, Archbold, Ohio

Erie Sauder’s Workshop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What in the world is Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio?  The village was an idea by a man named Erie Sauder.  His vision was to create a village with old structures from the past so that when people visit, they are taken back in time to see life in the region of northwestern Ohio.  Visitors would see people in period attire doing crafts like woodworking, sewing, weaving, tin making and so many other crafts.  As the world around the region was changing, Erie Sauder wanted every visitor to never forget the ways and the values of life in the United States of America.  When you visit the Sauder Village, you will have that experience.  You will see 75 structures plus a museum telling the stories of yesteryear and farms where you can pet the animals.  Even though Erie Sauder has passed on, his granddaughter continues to run the Sauder Village the same way her grandfather did.  This includes the building of the brand new 1920’s Main Street Village that you can enjoy.  If you are anywhere in the northwestern region of Ohio or in southern part of Michigan or in the northeastern region of Indiana, you will want to make your way to Sauder Village.

Fraas Tin Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Some of you are saying, “This must be one great place.  It is great that this man created this village to remind people of what America was like and to remind everyone of what having good values can do for us and for generations to come.  There is one problem.  You see, you have structures and crafts people, but no trains.  Therefore, I do not see the value of visiting Sauder Village.”

The Basket Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

So, you think that it is a waste of time to visit Sauder Village because there is no railroad here.  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sauder Village.

Fur Trader’s House at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, Sauder Village is a living history village that is a reminder of America’s past.  It consists of many structures plus a frontier homestead, a Native American camp, and a few farms plus a museum.  Another great feature is the Erie Express.

The Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What is the Erie Express?  Added to the village in 2006, the Erie Express is a miniature train pulled by a replica C. P. Huntington steam locomotive.  You board the train, and you ride through swamp land and open fields.  You arrive at the Elmira Depot which is part of the new 1920’s Main Street.  You take a tour of the old depot and see the waiting room and the ticket office.  Well, you get back on the train and ride again.  Of everything you see at the Sauder Village, it may be the highlight of your visit.

Riding the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Now, what was that about there being no railroads at Sauder Village?  Now you have a reason to come here.

The Old Elmira, Ohio Train Depot at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, the Sauder Village is the creation of Erie Sauder, and the village remains in the family.  The family continues to run the village the same way Erie would want to have it run.  You will be taken back in time, and you will be disappointed when the village closes for the day because you will not want to leave.  Along with the village, museum and train ride, the Sauder Village also has a restaurant, café, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, donut shoppe and a place where you can spend the night.

The Ice Cream Parlor at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Sauder Village is located at 22611 Ohio Route 2 north of the town of Archbold.  It is four miles south of the Ohio Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90), eight miles north of U.S. Route 6 and ten miles south of U.S. Route 20.  The living history village is open from May to December while the restaurants, the retails shops and the inn are open year-round.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at https://saudervillage.org/.  You can also read more into the life of Erie Sauder and into the creation of Sauder village, and if you have the time, are worth the time to read.

1920’s Farmhouse at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Make your way to the Sauder Village in Ohio.  Come see Erie Sauder’s great creation.  Come see a place where time stands still.  Come ride the Erie Express and visit the Elmira Depot.  The Sauder family would love to have you visit.

The End of the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.