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Walkersville Southern Railroad 8/4/2018

by Chris Guenzler

We drove from Point of Rocks in about forty-five minutes to Walkersville, following the excellent directions they gave us. We pulled into the parking lot and started to look around.

Walkersville Southern Railroad History

The Walkersville Southern Railroad runs track and structures originally built by the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line railroad. This railroad ran from Frederick, Md to the Pennsylvania-Maryland State line, or Mason-Dixon line near Kingsdale,PA. Chartered in 1867, the railroad started construction in 1869 and cost $868,687.50 ($2017=17,367,000). It opened October 8, 1872 and was subsequently leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad from January 1, 1875 and in July of that year, PRR formed a new division, the Frederick division to operate the rail line. In the spring of 1896, it was liquidated in a judicial sale to the Pennsylvania Railroad for 10% of its 1896 book value. Pennsylvania reorganized the railroad in December, 1896 as the Frederick and Northern Railroad Company. In March 1897, this new company was itself merged with other Pennsylvania-controlled railways (Littlestown Railroad and the Hanover and York Railroad Company) into the Hanover and York Railroad Company, chartered under the general laws of Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1914, this railroad and the newly built Central Railroad of Maryland were then merged into the York, Hanover and Frederick Railway Company which remained a wholly owned stock subsidiary of the PRR into the creation of the PennDel company in December 31, 1953 and then the Penn Central merger in 1968 and then bankruptcy in 1970. The Frederick and Pennsylvania Line segment was transferred to the State of Maryland in 1982 for unpaid taxes.

One of the industries that fed the railroad during its earliest time of operations was the Lime Kiln in Walkersville. This was among the industries that fueled the need of the railroad, to ship fertilizer to farmers in and around the Walkersville region. The Frederick Secondary remained in the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad even into the creation of the Penn Central Railroad. The Walkersville Southern operates on part of the Penn Central's Frederick Secondary. Penn Central, then in bankruptcy, sold the line to the state of Maryland in 1972 after Hurricane Agnes washed out the bridge over the Monocacy River. The line remained dormant until 1980 when the Maryland Midland Railway began operations over the route between Walkersville north to Taneytown. South of Walkersville the right-of-way, devoid of freight customers, was overtaken by brush and weeds. Volunteers for the new Walkersville Southern began restoring the line in 1991. The State of Maryland awarded the company operation of the line south of Walkersville in 1993 and tourist trains began running to the Monocacy River in 1995. The bridge was rebuilt, completed in March 1996, and trains began crossing the river, 23 years after Agnes. In 1998, the line was rebuilt to its current terminus at Maryland Route 26 in Frederick. Although crossing Maryland Route 26 was in the original plan to reach potential freight customers in downtown Frederick, the rise in automobile traffic over Route 26 and the departure of potential customers from Frederick led to the eventual abandonment of any further restoration plans into the city. Current local government plans call for the old right-of-way south of Route 26 to be converted into a hiker-biker trail.

In November 2008, Maryland granted rights to operate three miles of right-of-way to the north, linking to the Maryland Midland Railway at North Glade Road. In 2013 the summer steam excursion was routed over a portion of the newly restored track. As of the January 1st, 2014 the north division has been restored.


Today, the railroad runs two to three round trips daily on Saturdays and Sundays in May, June, September and October; and on Saturdays only in July and August. They also host some special events, including some on weekends and during the off-season. In some cases individuals with their own equipment can use the right of way with prior permission or during selected special events.

The railroad typically operates unique industrial diesel locomotives, all rarely seen in today's modern railroading. In 2012, the railroad operated steam excursions for the first time using the Gramling Locomotive Works "Flagg Coal 75" an 0-4-0T tank engine. The 75's operation marked the first time a steam locomotive had operated on this railway since the Pennsylvania Railroad last ran steam over 60 years ago. In 2013, steam returned in the form of Lehigh Valley Coal 126, also owned by the Gramling family.

Our visit

The first thing was to photograph the Walkersville station.

Walkersville's Pennsylvania Railroad station, built by one of its predecessors, York, Hanover & Frederick, circa 1900.

Station scene.

Walkersville Southern Plymouth 18 ton switcher 1 built in 1942, called "Old Bangy".

Passenger car on display. We then crossed to the street to where all the other equipment is stored.

Nickel Plate Road caboose 446 built by the Nickel Plate Railroad in 1960.

Museum scene.

Former Long Island Railroad car 7128 built circa 1927.

Walkersville Southern 40 ton switcher 51, formerly Great Northern 51, exx. GN 5201, nee GN 19211 built by General Electric in 1940. It later became Tennessee and Smoky Mountain Railroad 440. It is privately owned and stored at the Walkersville Southern.

Unknown passenger car.

Walkersville and Southern 3453.

DG&G boxcar 9501.

Pennsylvania Railroad center-cab switcher 9331.

Walkersville and Southern dining car "Southampton", originally Long Island Railroad coach 436 built by American Car and Foundry in 1923.

Walkersville and Southern table car 12.

Wabash caboose 2827 built by Wabash in 1949.

The Walkersville and Southern dinner train trainset which travels the full length of the railroad.

Walkersville and Southern caboose 923 built for Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac in 1971.

Walkersville and Southern coach 7091 built for the Long Island Railroad.

Walkersville and Southern coach 7045 "Ligoner Valley" built for the Long Island Railroad in 1927.

Walkersville and Southern car 10, former Baltimore and Ohio flatcar built in 1934.

Walkersville and Southern car 11, former Baltimore and Ohio flatcar built in 1934.

Walkersville and Southern EMD Model 40 101 built 1942. This was our trainset.

Walkersville and Southern 44 EMD Model 40 101.

Walkersville and Southern Davenport Locomotive Works 20 ton switcher 3 under restoration.

Walkersville Southern 45 ton switcher 45 built by General Electric in 1943 as United States Transportation Corps 8406.

Pennsylvania Railroad 44 ton switcher 9339 built by General Electric in 1948.

Our train pulled into the station for its 11:00 am departure. The station was then open so we picked up our tickets. With that done and now that the museum was open, we decided to explore it.

Views of the Walkersville and Southern Railroad museum. We returned to the shade of the depot and I had a hot dog for lunch. About 10:30, we boarded the train and walked through a coach and an open car to the front open car. As time passed, the cars filled up and we had a good amount of passengers aboard the train when it departed.

Robin, Chris and Elizabeth were all making their first ride on the Walkersville and Southern Railroad. We left promptly at 11:00 AM.

This grain elevator is how you find the train in town.

Track equipment on the siding as we proceeded south.

The engine crew of our train.

Our route passes through some miles of forest as we travel to the southern end of the line.

The train crossed the bike path.

Mountain Rock Park.

View looking down the side of the train and ahead.

The locomotive guiding our train's way south.

The train takes a curve.

Then comes to a whistle post.

We ran past a dam holding back water.

Coming to a grade crossing.

The corn is almost ready to be harvested.

Milepost 64.

Beautiful Maryland countryside.

A whistle post.

We crossed those mountains this morning from Hagerstown.

Down at the end of the road.

The view ahead.

The crops are doing very well this year.

The trees are very impressive.

Milepost 65.

An old spur that led to an industry took off.

Crossing the Monocacy River.

There is a second overflow crossing of the Monocacy River.

Future park and ride lot.

Coming to the grade crossing that leads to the park and ride.

This is how we knew they were building a park and ride.

The corn is looking very good.

Some interesting trees.

Harmony Grove shelter.

The Spring Bank Manor.

Nearing the end of track.

This is our southern turnback point as there is no possible way to go any further south on this railroad. Now I will relax and enjoy the trip back to Walkersville.

The yard limit sign.

In the rear coach was information on the Long Island Railroad coach.

The lime kiln at Fountain Rock Park. We returned to Walkersville, ending another excellent rail adventure. I thanked the conductor as I detrained and then we headed to the car and drove to the National Capital Trolley Museum in northern Washington, DC.