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The Wilmington Chapter NRHS Official Newsletter
Internet Edition


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    President Phil Snyder called the 17 members to order at 7 PM. The minutes for both November and December were approved as read by Secretary Dan Frederick.  The Treasurer's Report was approved as read by Ralph Stevens.  Phil also reported that ticket sales for our upcoming trolley trip were going well.  Phil Snyder reported that Paul Fortin had recently undergone triple bypass surgery and is now at home recovering.  He also reported that Pete Cramer had had another stroke along with his fall and pneumonia and is also at home recovering.  During the break we enjoyed a celebratory cake for four members getting their 25-Year pins.  Dave Linton, Doug Arnold, and Phil Snyder were present to pose for photos and receive their pins.  We have also sent a pin to Bruce Holberg in Wausau, Wisconsin, who is still a member of our Chapter.  Allan Patterson's slide show covered narrow gauge railroads, primarily in Colorado, but we started with the East Broad Top with steam and smoke in the fog and haze including a shot of the M-1 doodlebug.  Then it was off to Durango and Silverton.  We saw the Georgetown Loop in the fall of 2004.  Plus there were regular and special photo freights on the Cumbres & Toltec.  Thanks to Allan, a great show with some fantastic shots was enjoyed by all.


    I want to thank Tom Smith for going through his files and sending me another seven of the missing newsletters for the archives.  If you have any Chapter newsletters stashed away from those early years, I would like to copy them to complete the archive.  I also want to thank Richard Hall for volunteering to foot the bill for all of the added postage and copying costs for an extra ounce for this month's newsletter.  His generosity enabled me to run a few more of his articles that had been languishing in the Editor's files for quite some time.  But don't worry, I still have at least a half dozen more of his articles waiting for a slot in an upcoming newsletter.


    If our normal "THIRD THURSDAY" NRHS meeting is canceled due to inclement weather, it will be postponed and held on the FOURTH THURSDAY.  If it must again be canceled, it will NOT be rescheduled. We will simply wait for the next month's normal "third Thursday" meeting.  If the weather looks bad or is predicted to be bad, you may telephone the Claymont Community Center to see if it will be open that evening for our meeting.

$$ DUES are DUE $$

    If you have not already done so, please send your 2005 membership dues ($32 for local & National) to our Treasurer's NEW ADDRESS !!  Ralph Stevens, Jr. 1432 Governor House Circle Wilmington, DE 19809-2485


    The Board of Directors of the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society held their annual meeting at President Phil Snyder's residence on the evening of Tuesday, December 23, 2003.  Numerous topics pertaining to the current and future health and activities of the Chapter were discussed.  The Chapter Picnic this year is scheduled for April 23rd and is likely to be the River Line in NJ.  Of particular interest to the members, the choice of this year's "Special Category" for the Annual Doug Weaver Memorial Photo Contest will be: any photo taken within the last two (2) years focused on "Trackwork," that is to say that the PRIMARY subject matter in the photo should be the trackwork; including but not limited to multiple tracks, turnouts, diamonds, etc.


    Someone suggested THE TURNTABLE, but when it was noted that the name was already in use, Tim Cronin, half jokingly, I think, threw out the name THE TRANSFER TABLE. It immediately struck us as appropriate, given Wilmington's heritage as a builder of cars, a major Pullman shop, and the very prominent transfer table at the Wilmington shops, as well as alluding to the purpose of a newsletter of transferring information to the members. So that's how it got that name.

    Henry Dickinson and Bob Cooper also edited the newsletter, and for a while was the responsibility of the Chapter secretary, before Editor became a separate position, so some others may have been involved. Bill "Red" Stees was also editor briefly and did one of the earlier mastheads. (Tom Smith designed the first, and then Red's design was used until the one with the Wilmington station. The current masthead was done by the current Editor). Other Editors have included Steve Barry, Bruce Barry, and Russ Fox (and probably others that I have failed to mention here).

    Some of the editors did not use THE OFFICIAL GUIDE name because of possible copyright issues with using that name, so that is why there are gaps in the use of the name. But officially, it was the only other name used until THE TRANSFER TABLE was adopted, and from then on that's what the newsletter has been called. [Thanks to Tom Smith for most of the above]

    Gores started his railroad career in 1974 as a yard foreman and road brakeman at Penn Central. He later worked as a brakeman and conductor on the Chessie System's Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He then became a locomotive engineer as well as locomotive and car repairman -- and was later promoted to trainmaster and train dispatcher -- for the Genesee & Wyoming Industries, which included the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad, Rochester & Southern Railroad, and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad. In 1991, he became general manager of the Lowville & Beaver River, and the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern Railroads. In April 2001, he took on the additional role as general manager for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and was in charge of all aspects of operations and management of this 119-mile tourist rail line. In late 2003, he went back as full-time general manager of the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern Railroad. Before his career in railroads, Gores worked as a police officer, criminal investigator and youth officer for the Town of Webster, New York Police Department. 

    In addition to the Georgetown Loop, Railstar Corporation also operates the sixth-oldest continually operating railroad in the United States -- the historic Belfast and Moosehead Railroad in Unity, Maine -- and owns and operates the Erie Canal Village historic park and museum in Rome, N.Y., which includes a 2-foot narrow gauge steam railway. The Colorado Historical Society is a statewide organization with 12 museums and historic sites across the state, including the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park. The park includes nearly 1,000 acres, 12 buildings and bridges and nearly 5 miles of track. (Information from Al Kallfelz via American Rail Link for January 12, 2005 - George Read via Ed Mayover)

    The sale agreement covers substantially all of the Electro-Motive businesses, including North American and international locomotive manufacturing; power, marine and industrial products; the spare parts and parts rebuild business; and all of Electro-Motive's locomotive maintenance contracts worldwide. EMD's LaGrange, Ill., and London, Ontario, manufacturing facilities are included in the agreement. The proposed sale is contingent on completing negotiations with the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and the subsequent ratification by its members. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005.

    Since the early 1930s, Electro-Motive and its associates have produced more than 58,000 diesel-electric locomotives for customers in 73 countries. EMD diesel engines are used in more than 100 countries worldwide. (from Trains News Wire, 1/13 via American Rail Link for January 19, 2005 - George Read via Ed Mayover)

    Amtrak train No. 6 of the 10th, the eastbound California Zephyr operating with two sets of equipment, was stopped east of Provo, Utah, wyed, and returned to Salt Lake City. The equipment was split, with one set continuing east as train No. 6 of the 10 via a detour through Wyoming (due to the derailment), and the second trainset operating as train No. 5 of the 10th bound from Salt Lake City to Emeryville, Calif., for passengers boarding at Salt Lake City and west. Amtrak train No. 5 of the 11th was terminated at Denver, Colo., in order to get equipment back to Chicago. Passengers on board were provided alternate transportation to their destination. There was no alternate transportation for passengers boarding west of Denver. The equipment was turned and serviced to become train No. 6 from Denver to Chicago. Train No. 5 of the 12th also terminated at Denver, with passengers given alternate transportation to their destinations. There was no alternate transportation for passengers boarding west of Denver. Equipment was turned and serviced to represent train No. 6 of the 12th from Denver to Chicago. Train 6 of the 12th was cancelled from Emeryville to Denver due to equipment and crew issues with no alternate transportation. (from Trains News Wire, 1/12 13 via American Rail Link for January 19, 2005 - George Read via Ed Mayover)

    The California snowfall champion is Tamarack, 55 miles south of Donner Summit, where 32.5 feet fell in one month, January 1911, and 73.7 feet in one season, 1906-07. (from The Reno Gazette-Journal, 1/17 via American Rail Link for January 19, 2005 - George Read via Ed Mayover)

    The final report recommends that the railroad keep better records of tunnel inspections and maintenance, and asked the city to include more detailed information about responding to tunnel emergencies. It recommends that both entities do a better job of sharing pertinent information - something the report criticized both for not doing previously.

    The incident occurred about 3 p.m., when a CSX freight train carrying 60 cars partially derailed in the tunnel. Four of the 11 derailed cars were tank cars containing flammable and hazardous chemicals. A tank car containing tripropylene, a liquid similar to petroleum, ruptured, and the load ignited, creating an inferno that taxed firefighters and shuttered downtown businesses for days. Only minor injuries were reported. (from Trains News Wire, 1/17 via American Rail Link for January 19, 2005 - George Read via Ed Mayover)


    Some members of the Philadelphia and Harrisburg Chapters are going on an informal DO-IT-YOURSELF ROUND TRIP ACROSS CANADA on VIA trains 1 and 2 "The  Canadian" starting 2/22/05. Wilmington Chapter members are invited to join the group. The trip includes plenty of winter scenery, a great dining car , a dome observation car , all Budd built for the original CPR "Canadian". Off season fares and a favorable exchange rate make the trip affordable in sleepers with meals included. A round trip requires a night in Toronto before and after the trip. This will be six nights on the train (R/T) with a short day in Vancouver for rail fanning, etc. If interested contact Joe Heffron, Harrisburg Chapter Director at 717-737-4213 for details and options.


    This copyrighted article was written for the "Transfer Table", the newsletter of the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society by Chapter Member Richard E. Hall Richard E. Hall 1973, 1997, 2005

(Please note that this was originally written in late 1973 and was used in the February 1974 newsletter of the Wilmington Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. That 1973 date is the reason for some of the wording that anticipates the abandonment of the Octoraro Branch. After the 1971 flood, the future of the line looked bleak, it then seemed that the entire line was soon doomed to oblivion.)

    The pending abandonment of any railroad line, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad's Octoraro Branch, usually generates some interest in that line's origin. In the case of the Octoraro Branch, it would have only been a matter of time anyway until abandonment would have been requested for the remainder of the branch. This was because of the continued decline in traffic on the line. It was only hastened by the severe damage that the line suffered from washouts in the fall of 1971. A section of the line below Colora had already been abandoned and the rails were removed in 1964. Now the remainder of the line has been out of service since it suffered the extensive flood damage.  The line had its start in May 1852 when the Maryland Legislature passed an act of incorporation for the "Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad Company". This company was organized with the election of a Board of Directors on October 8, 1853. On November 15, 1853, the "Philadelphia & Baltimore Central Railroad Company" was organized in Pennsylvania under an act of incorporation passed by the legislature of that state during that years session. The stockholders of the two companies held a joint meeting at Oxford, Pa. on June 25, 1854. They unanimously voted to consolidate the two companies, retaining the name as given in the Pennsylvania charter. Such was the origin of the Philadelphia & Baltimore Central Railroad.

    The railroad was planned and built as a "farmers railroad" to serve an area between Philadelphia and Baltimore that was almost entirely agricultural. To avoid the high cost of construction of facilities within the urban area of the two terminal cities, they were to reached by trackage rights over existing railroads. Philadelphia was to be entered by using the tracks of the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad from Wawa, although circumstances later developed which somewhat altered this plan for a time. Baltimore was to be reached by using the tracks of the Northern Central Railway from Lutherville, ten miles north of Baltimore.

    It should be noted that the original intent had been for a railroad to compete with the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad. That line was still using a ferry boat to cross the Susquehanna River which took too much time. The original P&BC plan had been for a shorter line on a route which would have bypassed Oxford, Rising Sun and some other towns. That route would have been almost one hour faster for trains running between Baltimore and Philadelphia. When the P&BC built through Oxford and Rising Sun, they lost their financial support in Harford and Baltimore Counties. That is considered to be the reason why there was no money available to build the bridge across the Susquehanna River and complete the line to Baltimore.

    However a later survey completely changed this by relocating several miles of line to make a connection with the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad. As planned and built east of the Susquehanna River, the line ran south from Wawa, also known as West Chester Junction, through Concord, Painters Summit, Chadds Ford Kennett, West Grove Oxford and on into Maryland. Here the towns of Rising Sun, Colora, Liberty Grove and Rowlandville were served before reaching the Susquehanna River. The river was to be bridged at a point two miles north of Port Deposit and opposite the mouth of Deer Creek. This part of the line was to be over 45 miles long.

    The route west of the Susquehanna River had been tentatively located, but during the summer and fall of 1856 the final location of the road was made. This was done under the direction of Major I. Ridgeway Trimble, along the line of the preliminary surveys. The line was to run up the Deer Creek Valley to Thomas' Run, up it's valley and across north of Bel Air to Twinings' and Upper Long Green Valleys. Sater's Ridge was to be bored through with a tunnel 1,200 feet long into Dulaney's Valley. The ridge between the Big Gunpowder and Jones Falls was to be crossed about one mile north of Towsentown and a junction with the Northern Central Railway made at Lutherville. From the Susquehanna River to the Northern Central Junction was 31 miles.

    In June of 1865 it was proposed that the P&BC be built to a connection with the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad at a point "east of Back River", rather than with the Northern Central. This line was surveyed by Mr. J. M. Hood, a Civil Engineer, and the following is based on his report of June 1866. The original survey was followed up the Deer Creek Valley and on to a point between Bel Air and Falston, where the new survey turned south. Winters Run was to be crossed near Archers Dam on a trestle 55 feet high and 500 feet long. The line then was to wind over the high ridge located between this stream and the Little Gunpowder Falls, the latter stream being crossed by a trestle 57 feet high and 400 feet long.

    The ridge between the two Gunpowders was to be crossed where there is a break in the ridge caused by two streams elbowing toward each other from opposite sides of the ridge. Great Gunpowder Falls was to be crossed between Old Bel Air Road and "Pot Rock Rapids" on another high trestle 500 feet long. The line was to then climb the ridge before crossing the Philadelphia and Baltimore Turnpike and then descending to White Marsh Run. A gap in the next ridge afforded an easy grade to the valley of Stemmers Run and a junction with the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad near their Stemmers Run Station. The distance from the Susquehanna River to Stemmers Run by this route was 35 miles.

    The line was said to be designed for high speed service with no curves of less than 1,300 feet radius except at the junction with the West Chester & Philadelphia which was "temporarily adopted". The majority of the curves were to exceed 2,800 feet radius with but only 3.5% being of the minimum radius. Sixty eight per cent of the line was to be straight. East of the Susquehanna River, sixty per cent of the grades were not to exceed 50 feet per mile, some were to be 53 feet and some 60 feet per mile. The maximum grades were to be 84 feet per mile and were only "temporary", to be later reduced to 60 feet per mile. West of the Susquehanna River, the maximum grade was to be 54 feet per mile in the original survey of 1856, with the Northern Central connection. However, the 1860 stockholders report mentions a maximum 52 feet per mile and does not mention the tunnel through Saters Ridge. The report for the 1865 survey, made for the PW&B connection at Stemmers Run, mentions grades of 40 and 49 feet per mile except for one of 84 feet per mile westward out of the valley of Great Gunpowder Falls.

    Space does not permit a review of the various contracts that were made and canceled, new contracts, "deals", etc. between the Board of Directors, contractors and other parties. At various times the stockholders reports mention "interested parties", usually in regard to matters of finance. These "interested parties" are not further identified. My own conclusion, after studying available histories of this and other railroads, is that in most cases the "interested parties" was the management or the  Directors of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad. In spite of such things as an "error" being discovered in the manner in which mortgage bonds were issued, generally tight money, lack of interest by investors and stock "deals" being made to get contractors to work, the eastern section of the railroad was financed and built.

    The first actual construction was started at Concord, Pa. on January 3, 1855 and continued until January 1857. This was when the contract was canceled after 33 miles of the line had been graded out of the 36 miles contracted for. In June of 1856 a contract was let for grading and masonry work for six miles of the line in Cecil County. Most of this work had been completed when further work here was suspended in May 1857. By October 1857 there had been only two miles of track laid on the eastern end of the road when it became necessary to suspend this work. Track laying was resumed in 1859 and on May 10th the first four miles to Concord were opened to service with two additional miles of line being opened on the 25th of the month. By October 13th there were three trains daily in operation to Chadds Ford. On December 17, 1859, the road was opened to Kennett Square with two additional miles of track being laid by the end of that year.

    The stockholders report does not support the "official" records which state that the railroad was opened to Oxford in that year, although the right of way was ready to have the tracks laid by then. It is known for sure that the line was opened to Oxford before the start of the Civil War. Records indicate that the line was opened to Rising Sun, Maryland, in 1865 and completed to Octoraro in 1867. A connection was also made with the PW&B branch to Port Deposit. This connection was made by leasing a short section of the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad which had been constructed just for this purpose. No additional work was done on the C&PD for several years.

    Finances never permitted the construction of the 3,300 foot long bridge across the Susquehanna River. The original estimate of the cost for building that bridge was $177,450.00. Nor was any attempt reported to have been made to construct any of the line in the Deer Creek Valley west of the river.

    The first revenue earned by the P&BC was in May 1859 when passenger receipts of $44.31 and freight receipts of $45.68 were recorded. Passenger traffic receipts fluctuated during the year, but had climbed to $549.50 for December. Freight receipts for that year showed a slow but steady increase to a total of $325.90 for December. The company ended the year with $535.99 cash on hand.

    When the first four miles of the railroad had been opened, there had been four round trips per day run over that section. When Chadds Ford was reached, there were three round trips being run. However, this was reduced to only one round trip per day so that the railroads only locomotive might be used to haul the trains with construction materials. In what we would today (written in 1974) regard as a typical railroad act, this one train was run at an unreasonable hour, resulting in a loss of passenger revenue. The "Travelers Official Guide of the Railways" for October 1869 shows three passenger and two mixed trains southbound and three passenger and one mixed trains northbound. Only two southbound trains and three northbound trains traveled the entire length of the line, the others starting or ending their runs from Oxford or Chadds Ford. Two trains each way were scheduled to Baltimore over the PW&B's branch to Perryville and then on to Baltimore over their main line. One of these was a northbound mixed train. There was only one train run on Sunday.

    It is interesting to note that in 1869 the trains ran into Philadelphia over the PW&B tracks despite the fact that the road was constructed to use the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad's tracks for that. The use of the PW&B was possible because the P&BC had leased the Chester Creek Railroad when it was completed in 1868 and opened early in 1869. The Chester Creek line to Lamokin was operated as part of the P&BC main line. In the June 1875 "Official Timetables", published by the National Railway Publication Company, the forerunner of today's (1973) "Official Guide" four trains each way per day are listed. Two of these were between Philadelphia and Oxford and two going to Port Deposit, one from Oxford and one from Chadds Ford going to Philadelphia. The Chadds Ford train was Tuesday and Friday only and there was only one train run on the line on Sunday. No through trains are shown going to Baltimore and only PW&B Port Deposit Branch trains are shown as connections at Port Deposit. The were no mixed trains shown in the 1875 listing.

    By 1938 there was only one train each way shown over the lower part of the line going to Perryville. However there were still two southbound trains ending their run at Oxford and three northbound trains leaving Oxford. These trains made connections over the old West Chester line into Philadelphia at Wawa. In the mid 1940's, all of the remaining passenger service on the old P&BC was dropped.

    After reaching the Susquehanna River, the P&BC did manage to make a small profit for several years. However it did not remain independent, having come under the control of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad before it was completed to Octoraro. This did not keep the little P&BC from growing but through the larger PW&B's manipulation of stocks, the PW&B was responsible for the P&BC growing. In 1880 the PW&B had purchased all but 44 shares of the stock of the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad. In 1881 the P&BC was merged with the WC&P, the West Chester line from Wawa then becoming a branch of the P&BC and the line into Philadelphia becoming the P&BC main line.

    In 1888 a branch was built from the P&BC at Brandywine Summit to the National Kaolin Works, a distance of 1.6 miles. That branch line was abandoned in 1922. There was also a very short industrial branch at the south end of Oxford, just south of the yard, but it was operated only as an industrial track and did not even have a name. During World War II, a branch was built by the U.S. Navy from just south of Colora in to the Bainbridge Naval Training Center located on the hill just above Port Deposit. A new block station called "Grove" was established at the junction with this branch. This branch was abandoned soon after the war.

    There was a junction at Avondale with the Pomeroy & Newark Railroad, another branch line of the Pennsylvania Railroad family. At Chadds Ford Junction, there was a track connection with the Wilmington & Northern Railroad, a Reading Company branch line. The original end of the line for the P&BC at Octoraro became a junction with the C&PD when it was later completed by the PRR. After 1881, the Chester Creek line to Lamokin was operated as a branch of the P&BC and another track connection with the PW&B. The P&BC's West Chester Branch connected with the PRR's West Chester Branch which connected with the PRR main line at Frazer. The P&BC's most unusual connection with another railroad was at Oxford where it met the Lancaster, Oxford & Southern. That was a narrow gauge line and the P&BC had some three rail track from the LO&S connection at the north end of the P&BC yard up to a point just north of the P&BC passenger station.

    In 1859, Mr. Robert Hodgson, the chief engineer, made the following estimate of what equipment would be required to operate the railroad to Baltimore as planned. He listed 15 locomotives, 40 passenger cars, 8 baggage, mail and express cars, 80 box cars, 20 stock cars and 40 flat cars. The 1868 issue of "Ashcrofts Railway Directory" lists the following equipment in service on the P&BC; 4 locomotives, 3 passenger cars, 2 baggage cars and 39 freight cars, but not identified as to the types. The following rolling stock was owned in 1887, this being after the merger with the West Chester line; 39 passenger cars, 7 baggage cars, 94 box cars, 6 stock cars, 35 short gondolas, 27 long gondolas, 23 hopper gondolas 5 cabin cars and 10 work cars. The number of locomotives was not included with this listing.

    After the WC&P was merged into the P&BC in 1881, the line already under the control of the PW&B, it was leased to the PW&B to be operated by that road. The PW&B also came under the control of the PRR and was leased to it but continued to operate as a separate company. The lines of the P&BC were operated as the Central Division of the PW&B. As a result of this PRR lease, a program was undertaken to up-grade all of the PW&B lines, including the P&BC, to the standards of the PRR system.

    Over the next several years some of the improvements included the replacement of the original 57 lb. rail with new 70 lb. rail. The double tracking of the West Chester line was resumed and by 1895 extended for over 13 miles to a point beyond Media. The old wooden bridges were replaced with new iron bridges to enable the use of heavier locomotives on the lines. New stone ballast was also put down to improve the roadbed. Further track improvements continued to be made over the years, the last during World Was II. But after the War ended, track maintenance was neglected and the condition of the railroad deteriorated rapidly.

    The last of the old Philadelphia & Baltimore Central Railroad's separate corporate identity was lost in 1916 when the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, the Philadelphia & Baltimore Central Railroad, the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad, the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad and the Elkton & Middletown Railroad of Cecil County were consolidated by the PRR. This consolidation formed a new corporation, the PRR controlled Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington Railroad. The old P&BC ceased to be the Central Division and became the Octoraro Branch of the PB&W. This new company continued to operate separate from the parent Pennsylvania Railroad until January 1918 when a new lease took effect and the lines came under the direct operation of the Pennsylvania Railroad as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad System, as it was called at that time.

R. E. Hall 1973, 1997, 2005


This copyrighted article was written for the "Transfer Table", the newsletter of the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society by Chapter Member Richard E. Hall Richard E. Hall 2001 & 2005

    Wilmington Chapter members are well aware the old PW&B had become a part of the PRR System in 1881, but with the PW&B continuing to operate the railroad. It is also well known the PRR had snatched control of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore away from the B&O in 1881. In 1901, the PRR owned enough B&O stock to have a controlling interest in the B&O railroad. With the PRR controlling the line, a PRR official was installed as the President of the B&O.

    With the early 1900 PRR-PW&B-B&O relationship established, it should be no surprise the PRR ordered a survey be made in 1901 for a track connection between the PW&B and B&O in the Hall's Cross Roads area of Harford County, just north of Aberdeen, Md., where the two railroads are only a few hundred feet apart. The survey was completed, but no other action was taken at the time.

     Principio, Md., had been a source of many different problems for the PW&B over many years. The first PW&B bridge crossing the Principio Creek had been poorly constructed and it became necessary to replace it in only a few years. The first PW&B line relocation was made at Principio, with a second relocation being made years later. A new station was built in 1877, but was set on fire by a spark from a passing locomotive and burned to the ground before it had been placed in service. Another stone bridge built in 1891 soon developed problems with the wing walls, and from those problems, additional problems with the George Whitaker of the Whitaker Iron Works at Principio. The were often demands made of the PW&B by George Whitaker.     

    A serious problem suddenly developed at Principio on Thursday, September 28, 1902. The Cecil County area had endured 48 hours of the heaviest rain ever recorded up until then. The flooding of Principio Creek caused by the severe rain storms washed out a section of the stone arch bridge built in 1891. The bridge, 200 feet of track and the railroad right of way were lost. A few passenger trains were diverted over the P&BC until an emergency detour route could be set up. The PRR, having control over both the PW&B and B&O, then ordered the B&O to handle the PW&B passenger trains over the B&O line between Baltimore & Wilmington.

    The PW&B freight trains were diverted from the main line over the P&BC, or Central Division, to Lamokin. Moving the main line freight trains overwhelmed the single track line. In addition, the main line crews generally were not qualified to work on the Central Division track and each main line train required a man qualified on the Central Division to serve as a pilot. The Central Division crewmen were being worked to the limit maintaining freight service during the period of the detour.

    At the time, the double track line of the B&O had more sidings than it did in the era that we remember. The large number of extra PW&B trains and the bottleneck at the Susquehanna River with the single track B&O bridge made operating matters even worse. The extra passenger traffic had started moving over the B&O early Friday and by Sunday night, the B&O officials were pleading with the PRR for some relief. They claimed the B&O line could not safely handle the large volume of traffic. As with the main line freight trains on the Central Division, each of the PW&B trains required a qualified B&O man as a pilot while on the B&O tracks. The PRR had not been idle on other fronts. The PRR officials had turned to the survey for a track connection the engineers had surveyed in 1901.

    The newspapers reported that early on Monday morning following the loss of the Principio Creek Bridge, the PW&B officials had purchased the necessary land for a track connection from "Mrs. Jay, a widow". PRR Real Estate Department records contain documentation the land was purchased "from Annie D. Jay and Samuel S., her husband" residing in "Hall's X Roads, District 2, Harford County". Hall's Cross Roads is an old name for the Aberdeen area of Harford County. The land was purchased for $1,000.00, with $1.00 being paid on account at the time, final settlement for the land was not made until December 22, 1902.

    The document from 1902 gives a description of the survey for the land, which started at a point 5,486.5 feet eastward (north by track direction) of the Aberdeen Station. The map with the document gives the distance between the two railroads as 800 feet. The land was located 3,765 feet south of the Swan Creek passenger station of the PW&B and involved 1.936 acres.

    The PW&B and PRR had been busy in other ways over the week end after the bridge had washed out. On Monday morning, the PW&B had men standing by and equipment and material ready to move. As soon as the land deal was signed, the signal was given and gangs of men went to work clearing the right of way through Annie Jay's corn field while others finished installing switches in the two railroads for the track connection. New crossovers were also installed in the double tracked B&O and PW&B lines for movement to and from the new connecting track by trains running in both directions.

    When the men clearing a swath through the corn field had advanced far enough, another crew moved in and started grading the right of way, to be followed by others laying the ties and rail for a single track connection. Post Road, what we know today as U.S. Rt. 40, was not located between the two railroads in that particular area back then, so there was no highway grade crossing to build on the connecting line. Old Post Road crossed the PW&B leaving Havre de Grace, crossed it again south of Oakington and then crossed the PW&B a third time to enter Aberdeen. The newspaper reported by Monday evening, the new track was built, ballasted and the first PW&B passenger trains were already moving over the emergency track connection between the two railroads.

    The connection provided only a small measure of relief for the B&O between Baltimore and Swan Creek. The PW&B trains still had to use the B&O track from there to Wilmington to get back on their own line. There was no suitable location between the Principio Creek and Wilmington to build another such track connection between the lines. Despite the lack of a location, rumors were circulating such a track was going to be done. But additional relief for the B&O was on the way.

    One PW&B map locates the connection switch in the B&O as near the end of the eastbound siding above Aberdeen. It shows the connecting track, in a sweeping  reverse curve, as temporary, to be replaced with a permanent tangent track connection and the switch in the B&O was to be relocated to the end of the siding. The B&O had a derail switch where the relocated switch was to be placed. Nothing has been found to indicate the relocation of the connecting track was ever carried out.

    The PRR/PW&B had also been busy on Friday and over the week end after the washout, both in some of the company offices and other facilities and at Principio. Before the flood waters had completely receded, the damage was being assessed and clean up had begun as soon as it was possible to proceed. Work orders were prepared, men contacted and notified of their Monday work assignments. The material for making repairs and the necessary equipment was collected in preparation for moving it to Principio. Apparently there were some things done in just a little too much of a hurry.

    A pile driver had been loaded on a flat car to be moved in one of the trains taking material and equipment to Principio. Everyone seems to have overlooked removing the stack extension from the boiler. As the train proceeded down the line, the stack extension on the pile driver boiler hit the portal of the White Clay Creek truss bridge at Stanton, knocking the stack off the boiler. The stack fell on two PW&B riggers riding on the car, injuring them quite severely. Edward Houser of Wilmington had his left leg broken and crushed, and received internal injuries. Patrick Gushue was struck above the eyes and received severe cuts on his head. It was thought he would lose his sight  in one eye. Both men were taken off the train in Elkton and their injuries treated. They were to be sent to the Delaware Hospital in Wilmington later.

    Apparently the pile driver leads, hoist engine and boiler were mounted on a skid, not the type permanently mounted on a railroad car. As far as is known, the PW&B did not have a railroad pile driver at the time. The first one known on the line was PB&W number 496995 in the new PRR system number series. It was a steel underframe flat car with a two cylinder Mumdy engine, 8"x 12" cylinders, a 44"x 102" boiler, pile driving leads and a hammer. It had been built by the PW&B using the car body from an old class Wb hand derrick car modified to mount the pile driver.

    By the end of the day on Tuesday, a temporary wooden trestle had been completed across Principio Creek. By late Wednesday, most of the PW&B passenger trains were being returned to their home tracks and the operations on the B&O returned to normal. The PRR and PW&B engineers went about making plans for building yet another stone arch bridge across Principio Creek near the old Principio Furnace Iron Works. Although some freight traffic continued to be detoured over the Central Division, all main line traffic had been diverted for only five days after the loss of the stone bridge. The Central Division was often used as a relief freight route when the main line traffic was heavy back then.

    Of course it took several months to design, contract for and build a new bridge, but they managed to accomplish such jobs faster and with less power equipment back in those days. Of course manpower was plentiful and relatively cheap.At the time, the PW&B had only two tracks on their main line south of Wilmington, the third track on much of the line would not be in place until about the World War I era. The PRR was noted for looking to the future most of the time, so it should come as no surprise the PRR Engineering Department letters mention the new PW&B bridge for crossing Principio Creek was to be designed wide enough to accommodate four tracks at some future date.

    The PRR was forced to relinquish it's control of the B&O to avoid threatened U.S. Government anti-trust action in the courts. With that, the PW&B/B&O Swan Creek track connection was removed, it was off the B&O Form 6 listing in 1904, and apparently it was soon forgotten.

    Even if it had still been in place, it would have been of little benefit to the B&O in September of 1908 when part of their single track Susquehanna River Bridge fell into the river because of a freight train derailment while the bridge was being rebuilt to a larger and stronger two track bridge. To skimp on the expenses of building the new railroad, the B&O bridge had been built too light for the ever increasing weight of the locomotives and the single track soon became a bottle neck to traffic.

    The old bridge was being removed and a new and much stronger double track bridge was being built with rail traffic being maintained while the work was proceeding. The derailed freight cars struck the traveler being used in the bridge reconstruction, causing it to collapse which in turn caused the collapse of the falsework supporting the tracks. The traveler, falsework , timbers, part of the bridge and several freight cars fell into the deep east channel of the Susquehanna River.

    The B&O immediately announced their surveyors were working on laying out track connections so the new PB&W bridge could be used to maintain service on the B&O. They said construction would start within a few days and be completed within a couple of weeks. The management of the B&O seems to have been much more rigidly structured than the PB&W and PRR, it proved to be a disadvantage under circumstances such as existed with the loss if their bridge. It took weeks for the B&O to negotiate an agreement for two track connections and to have their trains use the new PB&W bridge. There was another delay waiting for the B&O Board to approve the agreement and more time for them to appropriate the necessary funding so the connections could be built. Although later B&O statements say how fast the two track connections were built, reports of the directors seem to indicate otherwise. Apparently the connections were not completed and placed in service until the first weeks on 1909.

    The B&O built two double track connections with the PB&W, one in the Swan Creek area and the other from Aiken to the C&PD Branch at Perryville. The Perryville to Aiken connection had such a grade it reportedly required helper engines for eastbound B&O trains moving from Perryville up to Aiken. No details of the helper service on the emergency connection have been found. The B&O had a locomotive service track at Aiken for the passenger locomotives of the local trains which originated at Aiken and ran east and west from there. As far as is known, there was only provision to have the fires cleaned and ash pans dropped, no mention has been found for coaling them. There was ample time for coaling and servicing those locomotives during the day while they were in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

    The B&O track connection joined the C&PD tracks just north of the Otseto St. grade crossing, passing through the area where the PB&W passenger storage tracks were located. The passenger storage tracks were then relocated to the other side of the C&PD tracks on the wye side of the Otsego St. grade crossing.

    In Harford County, the B&O trains detoured over the new PB&W tracks from the connection at about M.P. 63 at Oakington, across the new PB&W double track Susquehanna River Bridge to the wye at Perryville, then up the C&PD to the B&O connection which was located Just beyond Otsego Street. The B&O has been known to call the connection in Harford  County by two names, most often it is the Swan Creek connection, but the name Osborn Connection has also been used. By B&O direction, it was east of Swan Creek and actually was closer to Osborn.

    Although a shorter and more favorable connection could have been made at Swan Creek, but the track pans were in the way. The location closer to Osborn permitted having enough track space clear of the PB&W for westbound B&O trains to take water at the Swan Creek standpipe. Most of the trains would not have gained enough speed to scoop water from the track pans because of their greatly reduced moving over the temporary connection. The two temporary B&O track connections with the PB&W were not just for use until the collapsed section was replaced, but remained in use until the rebuilding of the entire B&O Susquehanna River Bridge was completed in 1910.

    There is an occasional problem encountered in writing railroad history when one fails to look beyond the railroad which is their prime interest. If you have read Herbert H. Harwood's "Royal Blue Line" you may recall he made a point of the B&O trains had to back in both directions when moving between the two railroads on the Swan Creek connection. Not so! The connecting tracks were placed so the B&O trains moved forward at all times while passing between the two railroads. There PRR maps which identify the B&O land joining the PB&W right of way and clearly show it was located for the forward movement of the B&O trains.

    The reverse movement of the passenger trains between the two railroads would have presented conditions which would have been almost intolerable for both railroads. The slow speed for the reverse movement would have caused unacceptable delays on the heavily traveled PB&W. There certainly would have been some safety concerns with backing the passenger trains around the very sharp reverse curves in the B&O track. Moving in reverse over the grade crossing for the section of Post Road where it was between the two railroads before it re-crossed the PB&W was also undesirable.

    It is speculation, but one may wonder if Mr. Harwood saw a map of the earlier PW&B connection and not being aware of there having been an earlier track connection, assumed it was what the B&O had used? The PW&B connection was placed for the forward movement for all of the PW&B trains. Although it was not done, if any B&O movement had ever been made over the connection, it would have required making a reverse movement between the two lines. 2001, Richard E. Hall


The National Railway Historical Society's Wilmington Chapter's Annual Doug Weaver Memorial Photo Contest will be held at the regular Chapter meeting on Thursday, May 19th, 2005.

Here are the guidelines for entering images in this year's contest:

1) STEAM - Photos with a steam locomotive as the primary subject within the last 5 years.

2) DIESEL - Photos with a diesel locomotive as the primary subject within the last 5 years.
This category also includes gas-electrics, Doodlebugs, RDCs, and FL9s north of Harmon, and the like.

3) HEAVY ELECTRIC - Electric power on big railroads within the last 5 years.

4) TRACTION - Trolleys & light rail including streetcars, all subways, etc. within the last 5 years

5) GENERAL - Any photo that does NOT include one of the above as the primary subject within the last 5 years. Passenger and freight cars, stations, signals, railfans, and the like go here.

6) VINTAGE - Any railroad-related subject photographed 15 or more years ago.

7) SPECIAL CATEGORY for 2004 = TRACKWORK and taken within the last two (2) years.


Notices, announcements, schedules, etc. are provided here as a service to the members. The Chapter has no affiliation with any commercial operation, museum, or tourist line.

NOW THROUGH SPRING 2005 THE CITY BENEATH US: BUILDING THE NY SUBWAY New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn Heights; Corner of Boerum Place and  Schermerhorn St.; 718-694-1600. [ $5 adults; $3 Seniors (over 62) and children (3 to 17) ] Exhibition of early subway construction photographs from the Museum's collection, many on display for first time, illustrating one of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century: building the New York City subway. A book of the same title published by W.W. Norton and available at the New York Transit Museum Stores accompanies the exhibition.

NOW THROUGH April 10, 2005, Famous Eastern Passenger Trains of the 20th Century at the RR Museum of PA Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 am. to 5:00 pm. and Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm

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February 5, 2005, Super Saturday Streetcar Special XII  Departs Elmwood car house 10:00 a.m., returns approx. 3:30 p.m. Fare $35 from Wilmington Chapter NRHS, c/o Steve Barry, 117 High Street, Newton, NJ 07860;; information phone 973/383-3355 (9am-6pm ET) or c/o Steve Barry, 117 High Street Newton, NJ 07860

Saturday, March 12, 2005, 19th ANNUAL HARRISBURG TRAIN SHOW 9 am to 3 PM, I. W. Abel Steelworkers Union Hall, 200 Gibson Street, Steelton, PA. Sponsored by the Harrisburg Chapter, NRHS. Information: E-Mail at  or Eric Ohstrom, 1454 Maplewood Dr., New Cumberland, PA 17070-2215, 717-774-0957

May 30, 2005, Grand Reopening Celebration At Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. Museum will unveil new state of the art restoration facility and open the historic North Passenger Car Shop to the public. Info or call (410) 752-2490


Saturday Feb. 5, 2005 10 AM, Chapter Trip, Super Saturday Streetcar Special XII = Phila.

Thursday Feb.17, 2005 7 PM, Chapter Meeting, program by Dan Frederick entitled Chasing Trains Across the Country.

Thursday March 17, 2005 7 PM, Chapter Meeting, program by Frank Ferguson entitled 2004 - Year in Review - Part 1.

Thursday April 21, 2005 7 PM, Chapter Meeting, program by Special Guest Larry Goolsby on the Atlanta, Birmingham, & Coast (AB&C) RR (the original owner of W&W's #58)  before it became the AB&A.

Thursday May 19, 2005 7 PM, Chapter Meeting, Annual Doug Weaver Memorial Photo Contest 2005 special category: Trackwork (primary subject matter = multiple tracks, turnouts, or diamonds, etc.)

The Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) meets at 7:00 PM on the third Thursday of each month [except August & December] in the Darley Room at the Claymont Community Center on Green Street in Claymont, Delaware.  Visitors are always welcome. Admission to regular meetings is free. Check out our Website, thanks to Russ Fox at:

The Transfer Table
   The Transfer Table is published six to ten times per year as the newsletter of the Wilmington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.  Items in this publication do not represent the official position of either Officers or Members of the Wilmington Chapter or the Editor of this publication.

    Permission to reprint articles and news items appearing herein is granted to NRHS Chapters and other newsletters provided appropriate credit is given.   Contributions are always welcome and should be sent to the editor at or send to: P.O. Box 1136, Hockessin, DE 19707-5136. Deadline for entries is the 25th of the month.

    Chapter Officers
    President:   Phil Snyder
    Vice President & Historian:  Ron Cleaves
    Treasurer:   Ralph Stevens, Jr.
    Secretary:   Dan Frederick
    National Director:   Tom Posatko
    Editor:  Greg Ajamian
    Education Fund:   Ed Thornton
    Public Relations:    Frank Ferguson, Jr.
    Trip Director & Event Photographer:  Bruce Barry
    Web Master:   Russ Fox

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