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The Historic Western Maryland Railway Station In Meyersdale

Along the Allegheny Highland Trail in Meyersdale is the beautifully restored Western Maryland Station. It is one of several interesting structures located within the Meyersdale area including: the Salisbury Viaduct, the Keystone Crossing, and the Savage Tunnel. These structures were built due to the increased demand on the neighboring Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, located only two short blocks from the Western Maryland Station, for more capacity to ship agricultural goods, timber, and coal from this area.

In January 1906, The Meyersdale Republican reported and reprinted an article from the Cumberland News that the Wabash System had selected its rail route for a passenger and freight line from Cumberland to the West and that it would pass through Meyesdale. The West was Connellsville where it connected with other railroads to Pittsburgh. There was earlier speculation that this was to be but many assumed "that it was just newspaper talk".

By 1910, the Western Maryland Corps of locating engineers were resurveying to determine he rout through Meyersdale as there was significant opposition to building another railroad through town. Construction began on July 5, 1910 with a groundbreaking. Local folks turned out in large numbers to see a second major railroad begin. There was a major celebration that day and the town was shut down as far as business was concerned. Work crews began building sections in earnest, but that work was suspended in cold weather except for tunnel work and steam shovel work on the deep cuts.

On June 1, 1911, the Ordinance No. 37 signed by Valentine Gress, Borough President and W. A. Shoemaker, Secretary of Council and enacted on June 12, 1911, when it was signed by Burgess Joseph F. Reich, enabling the Railroad to pass through town. It had ten hand written pages with 23 sections. It spelled out specifically what was expected of the Western Maryland which included posting a $10,000 bond.

The Meyersdale stop was available for freight and passengers. The main difference between the Western Maryland and Baltimore and Ohio lines was the routes they chose. The Baltimore and Ohio selected a geographic railbed. The railroad follows the rivers and natural gaps in the mountains rather than using bridges and trestles. The Western Maryland line was much different. It looked for the shortest distance between two points. Because of this, many tunnels, bridges, trestles, fills, and cuts had to be constructed. The high cost of maintaining these structures would be one reason for the demise of this line.

The Salisbury Viaduct spans the Cassleman River Valley measuring 1,900 feet. Work was halted on this project for about ten days after a tragic accident occurred. Six men were killed and one seriously injured when the movable electric crane collapsed. The crane was capable of lifting 57 tons. At the time of the accident, the crane was lifting 14 1/2 tons. The description in the Republic was "the truss was raised but four or five feet from the ground and the bystanders remarked how nicely it was balanced. Suddenly was lowered a few feet and started up again with a jerk. At the same time and arm of the crane was seen to swing around wildly and and the body of the great machine reared upside down and came crashing to the ground on the left side of the structure. Along with the crane, came down the rail the crane rested upon and portions of the newly erected Ironwork".

The crane fell 96 feet to the ground below. It has been stated that some of the men were buried in the family cemetery at the end of the viaduct. However, in reality, the McClintic-Marshall Construction Company gave instructions to give all of the victims decent burials. The relatives of all the victims were notified and asked what disposition they desired to have made of the remains. In all cases where no relatives came to escort the remains home, the company detailed a man for the duty.

On January 18, 1912, the first train crossed the viaduct with a crew out of Cumberland Maryland making this historic journey. The crew consisted of M. Mower, engineer; T. A. Chaney, fireman; G. H. Mickey, conductor; G. D. Largent and J. A. Habel (the only one from Meyersdale), flagmen. It had been rumored that the engineer had been offered $50 to be the first, but that cannot be substantiated.

On November 20, 1911, ground wa broken for the Western Maryland train Station. The foundation measuring 36' x 99' (identical in size and design to the Frostburg station) was started on December 7, 1911 and was to be completed by March 1911. Already the project was a month behind schedule. The workers were offered a $200 bonus a month for reaching that deadline. The cost of the brick station was $10,000 and the wooden stations at Ohiopyle, Garrett, Confluence, Rockwood, and Deal cost $2700.

The Keystone Viaduct measures 910' in length and curved over Flaugherty Creek. Little is written regarding this structure. Sometimes it is referred to as the "smaller viaduct".

The Big Savage Tunnel was another engineering marvel at the time. Beginning work on Christmas day 1910, the workers were able to punch a hole through the other end of the mountain one year later on Christmas Day 1911. The quickness of this feat caused a great celebration. The tunnel was competed on May 10, 1912. Five days later, the first train steamed through the 3,3000 foot tunnel.

On May 29, 1912, a special train consisting of private cars for the "higher-up" left Cumberland passing over the new line to Connellsville for an inspection tour of the line. It was scheduled to be open for traffic on July 1, 1912. Depots westward from Cumberland were the Cumberland Junction, Lap, Frostburg, Colmar, Deal, Sand Patch, Meyersdale, Garrett, Rockwood, Cassleman, Stewardstown, Indian Creek, Bluestone, Greenwood, and Connellsville.

 
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