Removing Rails; Good or Bad money wise; B&O Hagerstown Branch

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by WM-N-fan, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    I decided to write about the former B&O Hagerstown branch that was once a busy line as an example. It is the only line out of Hagerstown that has no through traffic anymore of 7 lines.

    B&O Hagerstown Branch

    This line was one of the original B&O lines. It had many large bridges. The line served mainly for passenger reasons, to interchange with the WM, and to serve several industries (Berries from Trego, gravel from Rohrersville, grain from Kedysville, grain from Breathedsville, a prison in Roxbury, the Hagerstown Newspaper Co., and a tool company) and there was also a branch that went about 3 miles to the WM in security. It served a furniture company, block company, cement plant (also WM served) and power plant. In the early 70's a lumber company, Welding supplier, and 2 scrap dealers opened on the line near Hagerstown. The the B&O and WM merged. Passenger service ended, and Berries from Trego, grain from Kedysville, a prison in Roxbury, the Hagerstown Newspaper Co., and a tool company in Hagerstown closed or were sold to commercial companies. The only active customers south of Roxbury were an old grain elevator near Breathedsville and the Rohrersville quarry each recieving a few cars a month. Then the elevator closed and the quarry stopped shipping by rail.

    The line South of Roxbury (15 miles) was abandoned, and all bridges including a 100 ft span over Manor Chrch Rd. and a 400 ft. Bollman Truss span over the Antietam Creek that was also regestered as one of the historic landmarks. Now, the quarry blasted away part of the old ROW, and the prison expanded onto it. North of Roxbury however, the future was brighter. The main customer was Conservit; a large scrap dealer that requires 12 cars a day. Then there was bad, again.... The power plant had auesbestous and closed, and the block company and furniture company stopped shipping by rail. The branch was torn up between just north of Jefferson Blvd. and the power plant's old location due to speculation of a cleanup. The torn up section is now Eastern Blvd. North of Jefferson Blvd a switcher from the WM serves the cement plant (4-6 cars a day) and the scrap yard (2-4 cars a day).

    Traffic remained the same on the Roxbury branch until 1995, when a paper mill opened near the site of the power plant. it needed 12 cars a day. In 1998 the mill closed, but the rails remained. Now it was purchased by a new company and will reopen soon. Other customers (welding supplier and lumber company) stopped recieving a lot of cars and now only ship occasionally. Currently one train (2 movements) operate on the line daily, servikng the scrap dealer. Every now and then a switcher brings a car or 2 to the welding supplier and lumber company.

    You may be wondering why I brought this up, well......
    In mid 2001 there was a tunnel fire near Baltimore that made the O's stop games. Trains were diverted from D.C to Hancock (80 miles) and then 20 miles west to Hagerstown, where they took NS trackage rights to NYC. Well, due to high speeds on this line, the trains actually beat the original time. Because of this the Tropicana juice train and 2-3 intermodal trains (Q133, Q134 and maybe more) will be perminantly rerouted, once a connection is built in Cherry Run and a new signaling system on the way to Hagerstown. Constuction will start Jan. 2nd 2003. That line already had 10-12 daily movements. Now nearly 20 will go on the busy line. If CSX had not torn up the line those 3+ trains would go on it. If the line was still down MARC, which always wanted to go into Hagerstown would also be here. Basically whats now a deer trail could have been a busy line. It makes you wonder why rail are torn up.

    Up in Waynesboro the WM Pa. abc route mainline used to go up the mountain and down on the same side. A new line was built to bypass this. However Waynesboro had several customers (machine Company, Lumberyard, large tool company, Refridgerator manufacturer, formerly a grain elevator, and a cold storage company. they tore up the track up the mountain, but kept in to the old grain elevator. When it closed in the 60's, the track was torn up from the elevator to Waynesboro. In the 70's a 100 ft long wooden trestle had some support problems and the line was abandoned. The bridge ws torn up and so was the line. After the line was abandoned a large modular homebuilder opened. It is in Waynesboro and uses rail 6 miles to the south in Smithsburg, recieving 2 carloads of lumber. I was told thast the homebuilder would use even more lumber if they had rails in Waynesboro. If the line was open, one could easily assume that daily 10 to 12 car trains could easily have gone the 7 miles into town from the CSX Lurgan sub. This makes you wonder.

    Your Thoughts?
  2. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Here's another example in this area. CSX Lurgan Sub in Chambersburg: The CSX Lurgan sub for about a mile was removed in Chambersburg, PA. The line went through 8 blocks of street running. In late 2000, there were 5 trains on the line; 2 locals (one to Brandon and one to Letterkenny/north of Chambersburg); 2 daily coal drags and 2 empties; and a mixed freight. The coal drags and the mixed freight were diverted to the neighboring NS. Now there are 2 30 car locals that take the NS to Shippensburg and then go south to Letterkernny Army depot and several customers. 2 more daily locals serve 2 elevators on the way to Chambersburg and nearly a dozen of industries south of town. NIMBY's in Chambersburg made the street running segemnt get removed. However this was in 2000, before Sept. 11, 2001, Now the government doupled the Letterkenny arsenal. On northbound trains from Hagerstown, you'll see missles and tanks, etc. Now, however the government wants the line (now a rail trail) rebuilt, for better service to Philly. The base has several large railyards and also civilian customers of the railroad. Currently, the rail trail (Just completed) is being torn up for the new line.
  3. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    Here's another one: ex-WM mainline from Big Pool Jct. Md. west.

    The once busy WM mainline was abandoned after the Chessie merger due to the parallel B&O main. The line was kept in 2 places; South Branch to CSX (1.5 miles); and Tonoloway to Big Pool. The Tonoloway part was kept due to large (unused) sand reserves, and used for storage with an industry just west in Hancock. The industry (pulpwood yard) closed and the line was torn up. Now it's a railtrail and the sand reserves are being developed. CSX is proposing making a bridge across the Potomac to access them.

    Part of the line and a couple of overpasses were removed near Mexico Farms, but now a power plant opened there. I know the owner and he says if the tracks were there they would not get coal by truck anymore, but by train. CSX now is considering rebuilding the overpass and the 3 miles of track.

    Note: the track was also kept to a scrap dealer in South Cumberland, MD, but the buissness dried up.

    It comes back to hurt CSX.
  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    It's not only the B&O Hagerstown Branch that we see the same sort of thing happening. Here in Georgetown a line serving the north closed and about 10years ago the track was lifted and sold for scrap. One section is now a wlking trail with the remainder being sold to the neighbouring properties. There are examples of this happening right across Canada.
    Years ago I lived in St. Thomas Ontario and delighted in seeing B&O traffic on its way from Detroit to Buffalo. Ahh changing times EH WM-N-fan.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've decided that the track removal is a liability issue. Idiots will go out on the abandoned line and trip over the rails or drive their cars on them and then sue the RR.
    And certainly the scrap value of rails is nowhere near the cost of relaying them.
    Robin: when we moved out to Brampton I was looking forward to preserved steamers running on that line north from Georgetown. It took them 15 years and a number of disappointments before they found the line from Tottenham.

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