The Western Maryland Railway was once an important eastern carrier,
connecting Baltimore, Maryland with points to west including, in
Maryland, Hagerstown and Cumberland. It reached as far as
Connellsville, Pennsylvania where it connected to the Pittsburgh &
Lake Erie and Pittsburgh & West Virginia (the railroad also served
other Pennsylvania towns including Shippensburg, Gettysburg, and York).
To the south the WM connected to Elkins, West Virginia, a city which
became the railroad's central hub for the coal mines it served in the area (at Durbin it had an interchange with the Chesapeake & Ohio).
As for its place amongst eastern carriers, the WM was part of
the famed "Alphabet Route", which included a number of smaller Class Is
(aside from the WM it included the Nickel Plate Road,
P&WV, W&LE, Reading, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh
& Hudson River, and New Haven) that gave shippers an alternate route
between Boston and St. Louis/Chicago. These corridors were
predominantly controlled by the B&O, NYC, and PRR, and the Alphabet
Route lines tried very hard to provide top notch service across their
respective routes to gain and retain as many shippers as they could.
The WM's line through the Mountain State was officially known as
the Thomas Subdivision, which connected Cumberland with Elkins and was
originally built by the West Virigina Central & Pittsburgh Railway, a
company sold to the WM in 1905. Today, the state of West Virginia has
the WM's entire lines around Elkins operational except its extension
from Bemis to Webster Springs (in total these lines comprise exactly
132.13 route miles of railroad). Interestingly, this stretch of
out-of-service track, nearly 80 miles in length is the largest part of
the line. Hopefully one day the state will have the funds to restore
the route, although with no current shippers as an incentive it is
unknown when it will actually occur.
|Western Maryland F7A #242 sporing the Circus livery and a mate in the older speed lettering await their next assignments at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on June 9, 1972.|
Currently, I do not know much about the West Virginia Central's freight
operations, except for a quarry served near Elkins and another shipper
near Dailey. For more information about the West Virginia Central Railroad please click here to visit their official website. The site covers all of their operations, including both their excursion trains as well as available freight services. To the delight of railfans the WVC operates some of the most unique diesel equipment you can find anywhere, including a rare BL2, of original WM heritage. What’s more, the West Virginia
Central currently has its entire roster painted in WM’s original “speed
lettering” livery. All in all,the future certainly looks bright for
this little shortline in West Virginia!
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