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.
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".
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.
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.