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Transportation Company - Western Maryland - Railroad

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Transportation Company - Western Maryland - Railroad
Company Name Western Maryland
Company Web Site Link
Category Railroad
Year Founded 1852
Final Year of Operation 1983
Termination Merged
Successor/Parent Chessie System (Details)
Country United States (Details)
Source of Text Bluford Shops
Text Credit URL Link
Transportation Company - Western Maryland - Railroad



Company History: This line was established in 1852 under another name but was renamed Western Maryland Rail Road before the first rail was laid. By 1862 they had built from Baltimore to Union Bridge, Maryland at which point it became the responsibility of the Union Army. Construction resumed after the war. WM built west to Hagerstown then Cumberland where the line spilt in two. One route headed northwest to an important interchange with Pittsburgh & Lake Erie at Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The other line ran southwest into the rich coal fields around Elkins and Durban, West Virginia. On the east end, they also had routes to York and Gettysburg and an important connection with the Reading at Shippensburg, all in Pennsylvania. At 878 miles, WM was between Maine Central and Spokane Portland & Seattle in relative length.

The city of Baltimore had a large stake in the WM but sold it in 1902 to Jay Gould. The Gould empire unraveled just six years later and the WM was reorganized with Railway replacing Rail Road in the name and John D. Rockefeller holding a 43% stake. He sold those shares to Baltimore & Ohio in 1927. Accused of violating antitrust laws, B&O placed those shares in a non-voting trust.

After 1900, WM relied heavily on 2-8-0’s, ordering 177 between 1900 and 1923 (by which time other railroads were already ordering 2-8-2’s.) Some of these Consolidations were real bruisers with the same tractive effort as WM’s 2-6-6-2’s. Also in road service were 30 2-10-0 Decapods (10 Russian Decapods and 20 much larger versions,) a dozen 4-8-4’s to handle the high speed trains, and a dozen 4-6-6-4 Challengers. The Challengers turned out to be a disappointment to WM. They were rough riders and were hard on the track. As a result, they were soon demoted to pusher service alongside WM’s 25 2-8-8-2’s. A fleet of 19 low drivered Pacifics handled most of the passenger assignments. One element found on most of the WM steam fleet was low snowplow pilots in lieu of the traditional boiler tube pilots. WM was one of a few Class One railroads to employ Shay locomotives to serve steeply graded branchlines. WM had one 2-truck, two 3-truck and two 4-truck Shays. Shay #6 built in 1945 was the last Shay built by Lima Locomotive Works.

WM began to dieselize in 1947 on the east end where they would not raise the ire of their coal mining customers on the west end. The diesel fleet was surprisingly varied for a line their size with cab units from both Alco and EMD, road switchers from Alco, EMD and Baldwin and yard switchers from GE, Baldwin and Alco. The road switchers from Alco and Baldwin plus the EMD GP7;s were delivered with the long hood as the front while the EMD GP9’s were delivered with the short hood as the front. The Second Generation of diesels was all EMD.

In addition to the voluminous coal traffic, WM was a part of two bridge routes for merchandise moving between the northeast and the upper Midwest. These were the Alphabet Route (with Nickel Plate Road, Wheeling & Lake Erie, Pittsburgh & West Virginia, Reading and others) and the Central States Dispatch (with Baltimore & Ohio, Reading, Jersey Central, Lehigh & Hudson River and New Haven.) Iron ore also moved from Baltimore area ports to steel mills on the connecting P&LE.

Passenger service was a bit of an afterthought on the WM. Not only did they not have a shiny streamliner, but their heavyweight coach trains lasted only until 1957 before being discontinued. Steam generator equipped hammerhead RS-3’s replaced the Pacifics in passenger service for a few years before being reassigned to freight duty.

In 1967, B&O (by this time controlled by Chesapeake & Ohio) finally obtained permission to take overt control of the WM. Not much changed for the next five years. In 1973 they adopted the Chessie System image and 125 miles of WM mainline was abandoned in favor of trackage rights on a parallel B&O line. In 1983, the Western Maryland was absorbed into the Baltimore & Ohio. Western Maryland was known for frequently washing their locomotives in both the steam and diesel eras. They kept up this tradition until the start of the Chessie System era.

Successor/Parent History:
Chessie System, Inc. was a holding company that owned the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O), the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O), the Western Maryland Railway (WM), and several smaller carriers. It was incorporated in Virginia on February 26, 1973, and it acquired the C&O (which controlled the other companies) on June 15. C&O had been popularly known as "Chessie System" since the 1930s.

The three railroads had been closely related since the 1960s. C&O had acquired controlling interest in B&O in 1962, and the two had jointly controlled WM since 1967.

On November 1, 1980, Chessie System merged with Seaboard Coast Line Industries to form CSX Corporation. However, the Chessie image continued to be applied to new and re-painted equipment until mid-1986, when CSX introduced its own paint scheme. The B&O and C&O were not legally merged out of existence until 1987, when the company's official successor, CSX Transportation was founded.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the Chessie System was the creation of Cyrus S. Eaton and his prot?g? Hays T. Watkins, Jr., then president and chief executive officer of C&O. A chief source of revenue for the Chessie System was coal mined in West Virginia. Another was the transport of auto parts and finished motor vehicles.

The signature symbol of the Chessie System was its "Ches-C", a large emblem incorporating the outline of the C&O's famous "Chessie" the kitten logo. The Ches-C was emblazoned on the front of all Chessie System locomotives, and also served as the "C" in "Chessie System" on the locomotive's flanks, and on other rolling stock. The Chessie System itself did not own any locomotives or other rolling stock; rather, equipment would be placed on the roster of one of the three component railroads. While all three companies shared a common paint scheme of yellow, vermillion, and blue, actual ownership of the equipment was denoted by the reporting marks C&O, B&O, or WM.

From Wikipedia

Brief History:
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Item Links: We found: 3 different collections associated with Western Maryland - Railroad
Item created by: gdm on 2017-10-10 09:59:09. Last edited by gdm on 2022-06-14 07:28:02

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