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Western Maryland Railway Freight Offices

Western Maryland Freight Station, North George Street, York, PA (S. H. Smith, 2015 Photo)
Western Maryland Freight Station, North George Street, York, PA (S. H. Smith, 2015 Photo)

The Freight Offices of The Western Maryland Railway, dating to 1896, are partly boarded up, although still intact, in York, Pennsylvania. The building sits on the southwest corner of North George Street and the Codorus Creek. This would be a neat structure to repurpose, especially due to its close proximity to the baseball stadium.

The Western Maryland proudly marketed the slogan “The Fast Freight Line.” It was a reputation well earned with its customers by consistently delivering fast and cost-effective freight service.

The Western Maryland Railway was an intermediate sized railroad. Its approximately 700-miles of track served the territory from Baltimore to the western reaches of Maryland, with a host of short excursions into Pennsylvania and West Virginia creating a myriad of feeder and branch lines over its length.

The Maryland General Assembly chartered The Western Maryland Railway on March 21, 1853. Funding difficulties resulted in only 20-miles of track in service, between Baltimore and Owings Mills, by 1859. Significant work did not resume until after the Civil War. By 1872, their Main Line had reached Hagerstown, Maryland.

The Western Maryland Railway feeder and branch lines were either built by the railway or obtained via consolidation, merger and purchase of a number of independent predecessor rail companies. The route from Baltimore to York consists of a line branching northward, off of their Main Line, at Emory Grove; over tracks originally completed in 1879 for the Baltimore and Hanover Rail Road Company.

After crossing into Pennsylvania, at Intersection (Road), in York County, The Western Maryland Railway northward branch continues on tracks originally completed in 1872 for the Bachman Valley Rail Road Company. At Valley Junction the railway continues over tracks originally completed in 1852 for The Hanover Branch Rail Road Company.

The Western Maryland Railway began constructing a further northeasterly branch from Porters in 1892; heading initially along the West Branch of the Codorus Creek, through Spring Grove, and then through Thomasville into York. The company that purchased the right-of-ways and contracted the construction was known as The Baltimore & Harrisburg Railway Company, Eastern Extension.

This branch to York opened on September 12, 1893, however until the North George Street passenger and freight depots were finished in 1896, the Western Maryland Railway station in York was initially located along what is now Roosevelt Avenue; in what was known as the Orange Car for many years.

In my prior post, The Forgotten Railroad to Baltimore, I examined the Western Maryland Railway Passenger station on the east side of North George Street at the Codorus Creek. The Freight Depot is located just across the street, on the west side of North George Street. It is the offices of the Freight Depot that still stand; however not so for the long Freight Warehouse, extending from the west side of the Freight Offices.

This circa 1900 postcard is a westward looking view of the east and south sides of the passenger depot. The rounded front of the Freight Offices, across George Street, can be seen at the extreme left. Click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

Postcard painting of East & South Sides of the Western Maryland Railway Passenger Depot in York, PA, ca. 1900 (Collections of S. H. Smith)
Postcard painting of East & South Sides of the Western Maryland Railway Passenger Depot in York, PA, ca. 1900 (Collections of S. H. Smith)

A person is standing on Court Street for this postcard view. Arch Street stopped at Court Street and did not fully extend to George Street in 1900. Directly south of the passenger depot was Washington Avenue. After Western Maryland passenger service ceased to York in 1936, Arch Street was extended to George Street, cutting across the lawn seen on the left side of the postcard. I’ve marked up a 1957 aerial photo; indicating the postcard viewpoint and field of view lines. I’ve also pointed out the former Pennsylvania Railroad (Northern Central) Passenger Station,  that still stands south of the baseball stadium, for reference.

Penn Pilot Historic Aerial Photo of York, PA, from Sept. 5, 1957 (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)
Penn Pilot Historic Aerial Photo of York, PA, from Sept. 5, 1957 (Annotated by S. H. Smith, 2015)

Terry Downs pointed out John A. Dempwolf designed both the Freight and Passenger Depots for The Western Maryland Railway in York. The Dempwolf Collection of architectural drawing images is now one of the Online Collections of the York County Heritage Trust. The following is a sample of the first floor plan for the Freight Offices. This link will take you to the page of various Dempwolf drawing images for the Freight and Passenger Depots.

First Floor Plan of Freight Office of Baltimore & Harrisburg Railway, Eastern Extension (Western Maryland Railway) in York, PA by John A. Dempwolf (Collections of York County Heritage Trust)
First Floor Plan of Freight Office of Baltimore & Harrisburg Railway, Eastern Extension (Western Maryland Railway) in York, PA by John A. Dempwolf (Collections of York County Heritage Trust)

In this first floor plan, the Agent’s Room is located in the office with the curved windows. It would be occupied by C. C. Burgesser; the first agent for the Western Maryland Railway in York, PA. Behind his office, is a large room occupied by a Cashier, Telegraph Office and Clerks.

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