During construction of the new line Gould spared no expense, building it to very high standards that utilized high fills, deep cuts, long trestles, a few tunnels, and keeping curves to a minimum. For instance, construction crews used the new Harley Track Laying machine when laying rails and ties, a steam powered device that could put down new track much faster than by traditional manpower alone. The Extension featured six notable engineering marvels, four tunnels and two bridges. There was the Keystone Viaduct, a 910-foot bridge (listed as B195.5 by the WM and named for the tiny, nearby hamlet of Keystone) that crossed Flaugherty Creek and the Baltimore & Ohio's famed Sand Patch grade, which was part of its main line between Baltimore and Chicago. Then there was the even more impressive Salisbury Viaduct, a towering structure that spanned the Casselman River Valley and the B&O line outside of Meyersdale along the Mason-Dixon Line.
This bridge was listed by the WM as B199.4 and was an impressive 1,908-feet in length, easily making it the longest such structure on the railroad. In both cases the viaducts were built to handle double-tracking, which never came to pass. The four notable bores along the route included Big Savage Tunnel (located near Deal, Pennsylvania it is 3,294 feet long and the only one not constructed to handle two tracks), Brush Tunnel (located just east of Frostburg it is 914 feet in length), Borden Tunnel (located nearly three miles west of Frostburg and is also quite short at 957.5 feet), and Pinkerton Tunnel (located in Somerset County it is the shortest of all at only 800 feet). Looking back on the history of the "Wild Mary" it is interesting to wonder what would have become of the road and how large it would have grown had Gould not lost control of the property, and all of his railroad assets, after 1918.
The Western Maryland grew little after opening its incredibly expensive $12 million Connellsville Extension in 1912. However, the route did become an important artery in the movement of timed freights, coal, and other traffic over the years. In 1931 the P&WV finally completed its own line to Connellsville more than a decade after Gould's dream had died. With this new outlet in place the WM, P&WV, Nickel Plate Road, Wheeling & Lake Erie, Reading, Jersey Central, Lehigh & Hudson River, and the New Haven Railroad all worked together to form the "Alphabet Route" on February 11, 1931. This type of eastern "Inside Gateway" was meant to give shippers another alternative for shipping hotshot freights between the Midwest and east coast without having to use one of the major trunk lines like the B&O, Pennsylvania, or New York Central.
With expedited freights given names like AJ-12, WAJ-1, and PAJ-1 the
marketing tactic worked for many years. Finally, as mergers reduced the
number of companies participating in the program and the Penn Central
collapse bringing down much of New England rail network during the 1970s
the Alphabet Route slowly ended in an unceremonious fashion during the
early 1980s. The Extension, however, was gone before this time. After
the formation of the Chessie System in 1972 between the Chesapeake &
Ohio, B&O, and WM the new holding company elected to,
interestingly, use the older and somewhat steeper Sand Patch line of the
B&O, in turn abandoning not only the Extension in 1975 but also
much of the "Wild Mary" system in the years to follow. Today, the
remnants of the route are now part of recreational corridors like the
Allegheny Highlands Trail.
Related Reading You May Enjoy