Wes Morgenstern's
Western Maryland Railway-East Subdivision
April 23, 2006

Time period: May, 1953-April, 1954
The Prototype

The eastern terminus of the Western Maryland Railway was its Port Covington marine terminal in Baltimore. The East Subdivision of the Eastern Division operated from Baltimore to Hagerstown, MD, a distance of approximately 80 miles.

At Emory Grove, on the outskirts of Baltimore, the East Subdivision turned toward the west, and the Baltimore and Hanover Subdivision (also known as the “Dutch Line”) continued north toward Hanover, York and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. From Gettysburg, the Dutch Line rejoined the East Subdivision at Highfield, MD.

The East Subdivision extended from Emory Grove through a number of communities in Northern Maryland. The larger communities included Westminster, Union Bridge, and Thurmont. From Thurmont, the line climbed a 1.9% ruling grade over the Catoctin Mountains, through a pass at Blue Ridge Summit, PA, then to Highfield and finally into Hagerstown. The map on the wall, as you enter the layout room, shows the Western Maryland line outlined in black.

In 1953, eastbound traffic for Port Covington consisted of coal, cement, grain and mixed merchandise, much of it intended for export. Westbound traffic consisted of imported iron and manganese ores, steel products from Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Works, automobiles from two assembly plants in the Baltimore area and mixed merchandise, much of which was offloaded from ships at Port Covington.

The town of Union Bridge, located approximately half way between Baltimore and Hagerstown, was the site of the Lehigh Portland Cement plant. The primary raw material for manufacturing cement is limestone, which Lehigh obtained from a quarry adjacent to the plant. Other raw materials, coal, and paper bags were received via rail. Lehigh shipped between 6,000 and 10,000 cars of bagged and bulk cement each year.

Other Union Bridge businesses receiving or shipping products included the Western Maryland car shop, a freight house, a fuel/fertilizer dealer and a grain elevator. To serve these customers, the Western Maryland ran a daily, except Sunday, “traveling switcher” from Hagerstown to Union Bridge, and back. The Company also ran a second traveling switcher from Baltimore to Union Bridge and back. During the same era, the Western Maryland also ran at least two westbound freight trains and two eastbound freight trains between Baltimore and Hagerstown, during the daylight hours.

Today, Union Bridge is the headquarters of the Maryland Midland Railroad which serves customers between Emory Grove and Highfield.

The Layout

The O Scale (2-rail) 31 X 26 foot , NEC DCC operated layout represents a section of the Western Maryland's East Subdivision, between Highfield, MD and Westminster, MD. Approximately 1/3 of the layout currently has scenery. Construction began in 2002. Operation are scheduled monthly.

Staging tracks for holding through freight trains, and the traveling switchers are concealed under the mainline trackage at Union Bridge or in the helix (see plan). The helix is access by a narrow isle and mechanic’s creeper. The westbound track from Baltimore and Emory Grove emerges from the lower level on your left as you enter the room. It proceeds through Westminster, where the traveling switcher may have some switching, and proceeds to Union Bridge. From Union Bridge, westbound trains continue to Thurmont, over the Catoctin Mountains to High Field and then out of view to the staging tracks.

The eastbound track from Hagerstown emerges at Highfield, located in the peninsula, proceeds past the junction with the Dutch Line, and up and over the summit at Blue Ridge Summit. It then proceeds over the twin bridges to Thurmont. From Thurmont, the line runs through Union Bridge to Westminster, and finally back into the staging tracks.

Each traveling switcher will have a crew, usually consisting of two men. The train for each traveling switcher has hopefully been assembled in the most efficient order before the operating session by the Hagerstown or Baltimore yardmaster, and a switch list is issued to each crew.

The traveling switcher from Hagerstown is due to appear at Highfield between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m., and should complete its work at Union Bridge by 2:00 p.m.. The conductor may choose to do some of the work at Thurmont on the return trip.

The traveling switcher from Baltimore is due to appear at Westminster at approximately 2:00 p.m., and should complete its work at Union Bridge around 5:00 p.m. Again, the conductor may choose to do some work at Westminster on the return trip.

Each traveling switcher crew will be issued Form 19 train orders by the dispatcher, that specify when they should provide clearance for through freights, to be run by a third “crew.”

Operation are scheduled monthly.

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