It is currently Mon Apr 22, 2019 12:55 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:50 pm
Posts: 15
I recently moved near the Walkersville Southern and am curious about its current status. I am familiar with the history of the line, but I have a few questions:

1. I recall that there was some conflict a few years ago between 2 groups over ownership(?) of the line. Has that been resolved?
2.Is the line running north of Walkersville in operation? I have seen Maryland Midland locomotives switching at Woodsboro, but is the line open from there to Walkersville?
3. I understand that Frederick County and City are proposing to build a bike path (supposedly) paralleling the line to Walkersville. Is there any concern that this would impede operations, or conversely, provide any assistance in maintaining or upgrading the line?
4, Are there any plans afoot to increase operations, especially north to Woodsboro, or any appetite to acquire a steam locomotive (other than the rentals that run on special occasions)?

I know there are a number of present and former members on this board. So I thank you in advance for your education.

Mike Martino


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:07 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 266
1. The WS tracks are owned by the state of Maryland and the WS has the contract to operate the line. Two other individuals, formerly members of the WS, sought to have the contract awarded to them but it doesn’t appear that the state took their proposal seriously. From what I’ve learned, they’re now looking elsewhere in Maryland for inactive, state-owned track.

2. The line running north from Walkersville is in operation to Glade Road. This is the extent of the track the WS is allowed to operate. North of the road the track is owned by the Maryland Midland Railway. The last time I saw any cars on it was about a decade ago when the Great Recession was underway and railroads sought to make money by parking cars wherever they had track space. This stretch of track was filled with brand new tank cars owned by a third party. Eventually they were withdrawn and the track north to Woodsboro, approximately one mile, is now out of service. I’ve walked it and, besides being covered with brush and briars, there are wash-outs. The line goes across slightly sloping farm land so over time water has eroded the roadbed. Once you get past the farm fields you enter a forest where some trees have fallen across the tracks and the brush is deep. On the south side of Woodsboro you’ll find a Southern States facility and that’s about where you’ll encounter cleared track, as it’s obvious the MMID sprays there to control the weeds. It’s a short distance from there to the quarry and the MMID apparently keeps this stretch of track open for quarry switching purposes.

3. The proposed bike path will run parallel to the railroad but it doesn’t appear that it will interfere with railroad operations. I haven’t heard anything about it being used for providing assistance in maintaining or upgrading the line. Typically bike paths do not allow vehicles to travel upon them, so it looks like the WS will continue to maintain the line in the same manner it always has.

Building the bike path north from Frederick will encounter a significant hurdle when it reaches the Monocacy River, where a bridge will be required.

4. I’ve heard talk (mostly dreams) of operating north to Woodsboro. Currently trains stop at Glade Road, which is just a grade crossing in the middle of nowhere, while Woodsboro would be an actual destination. The MMID owns the track north of Glade Road and the MMID is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, a company not known for favoring passenger operations. I think there has been some contact between the leadership of the WS and the MMID but at present there are no current plans to extend operations beyond Glade Road. Even if it were okayed today, there would need to be extensive track work done between Glade Road and Woodsboro before any trains could operate over the line.

Typically regular passenger trains run south from Walkersville while dinner trains run north, but on occasion there is some variation from this routine as required. Charters can run in either direction, or both.

For many years the Woodsboro Historical Society has worked to restore the town depot as a museum. You can read about it here:

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/ ... 5c0c5.html

There are no plans to acquire a steam locomotive. For three weekends, usually in the spring, the Gramlings truck in one of their switchers and the WS then enjoys some steam operations. Passenger loads are not significantly higher because the riding public doesn’t seem to really care what’s pulling the train, but it’s certainly a thrill for the WS volunteers and railfans who enjoy steam.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:31 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Kent Island, Maryland
Take a look at this post in regards to the trail situation:
http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=42549

In relation to extending to the line to Woodsboro, this is something I believe everyone at Walkersville wants to do, especially with a plethora of farms falling to developments to the south. However, when I asked a few years ago about this, I was told that G&W was concerned about Walkersville trains interrupting their switching operations in Woodsboro. But on that note, there was talk about starting up limited freight operations around the same time, which never came to fruition.

As a general WSRR update, the Pennsylvania Railroad 44-tonners are receiving new prime movers for more reliable operation. Expect to see those two replacing 101 on the excursions trains in the near future. From my personal observations, 101 seems to be running on borrowed time. She’s having more frequent breakdowns with 45 having to come rescue her more often, and everyone I go up there I swear her exhaust gets whiter and whiter. I’m not sure what our management and mechanical department plans to do, but I would get my EMD Model 40 pictures now rather than later... just in case...

_________________
Simon Miller
Queen Anne’s Railroad Society
New Blood


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:27 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:50 pm
Posts: 15
Tim - Thank you very much for your detailed response. I hope you (or this community) would not mind if I posted a few follow-up questions.


1.As far as the bike path is concerned. I understand that the backers of the path desire to eventually reach Woodsboro. Do you think the WS can take advantage of any synergies that could be developed through mutual cooperation with the bicycle path proponents to reopen the line?

2.In your opinion, how much influence would the state of Maryland have on the G&W? I understand that there is not much Maryland Midland activity between Glade Road and Woodsboro, so a case could be made that there would be very little interference between Maryland Midland and WS trains. If the opportunity presents itself for expanded operations, has the WS given any thought to approaching the State Senator representing their district to intercede for them with Maryland DOT? Rumor has it that he has the governor's ear.

Thanks

Mike Martino


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:35 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:31 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Kent Island, Maryland
MJM-1 wrote:
Tim - Thank you very much for your detailed response. I hope you (or this community) would not mind if I posted a few follow-up questions.


1.As far as the bike path is concerned. I understand that the backers of the path desire to eventually reach Woodsboro. Do you think the WS can take advantage of any synergies that could be developed through mutual cooperation with the bicycle path proponents to reopen the line?

2.In your opinion, how much influence would the state of Maryland have on the G&W? I understand that there is not much Maryland Midland activity between Glade Road and Woodsboro, so a case could be made that there would be very little interference between Maryland Midland and WS trains. If the opportunity presents itself for expanded operations, has the WS given any thought to approaching the State Senator representing their district to intercede for them with Maryland DOT? Rumor has it that he has the governor's ear.

Thanks

Mike Martino


It has been suggested once or twice that a trail extending to Woodsboro could give the railroad leverage in operations to Woodsboro, but that’s about it as far as I know.

_________________
Simon Miller
Queen Anne’s Railroad Society
New Blood


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 2:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 266
Mike:

I'll have to run question No. 1 past the WS fellow who has been coordinating with the trail people to see if he can provide an answer. I'm not sure building a bike path along the presently-inactive line north of Glade Road to Woodsboro will have any impact on reopening the line. Something to keep in mind is that the trail will be comparatively easy to build until it reaches the Monocacy River, and then it's going to need a bridge before going any further. I don't recall the timeline but I think it's going to be a number of years before this happens, and a very long time before trail construction even reaches Glade Road, much less Woodsboro.

Question No. 2 is above my "pay grade" as well, but I'll see if I can find an answer for you. The WS enjoys a good relationship with the state government and its rail office, and I suspect that's because the WS doesn't cause trouble for the government and its office. I think it would be much better for the WS and G&W to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement rather than trying to use political leverage to force G&W to do something it may not want to do. I think that would poison the relationship between the WS and G&W, and since the WS is captive to the G&W, that could have long-term and unpleasant consequences.

The question of freight service came up. Long before the WS had the track north of Walkersville to Glade Road, there was a Cargill facility across the tracks from the WS depot that would receive MMID freight service as needed. Since there wasn't a lot of money being generated by this business, the track received a minimal amount of maintenance, and MMID locomotives would come down the line very slowly. I don't recall when Cargill pulled the plug but it might have been about 20 years ago, and now a metal company, which doesn't need rail service, is on the site. The end of Cargill in Walkersville coincided with the end of the MMID coming into town.

Further down the line there's a spur into what used to be a Rotorex facility making compressors. The spur was built just before Hurricane Agnes and the track beyond the switch was wiped out when the Monocacy River flooded, which also took out the bridge (rebuilt over 20 years later). With the track beyond the switch wiped out, no freight service was ever performed at this site. Rotorex left and the facility sat vacant for many years before being reopened with some new tenants who don't appear to need rail service. The spur track is still in place but it would need a lot of work, especially tie replacement, before it could be used.

I've spoken with WS higher-ups about freight service and the word I've received is that the MMID wouldn't be very interested in what little freight there might be on the WS. The cost to send a crew and locomotive that far down the line for such little freight (which has yet to appear) would probably not be worth it. The WS has even looked into the possibility of having a WS locomotive pull a car of stone or ballast from the Woodsboro quarry down to the WS for WS track needs, relieving the MMID of having to use its own employees and equipment, but apparently that was turned down as well. Even if the MMID liked the idea, it would require an extensive rebuilding of the track between Glade Road and Woodsboro before it would be safe for anything heavier than a speeder.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 266
Quote:
From my personal observations, 101 seems to be running on borrowed time. She’s having more frequent breakdowns with 45 having to come rescue her more often, and everyone I go up there I swear her exhaust gets whiter and whiter. I’m not sure what our management and mechanical department plans to do, but I would get my EMD Model 40 pictures now rather than later... just in case...


At yesterday's WS annual meeting the railroad passed out copies of its annual report. Under "Motive Power" it reads: "Our 101 locomotive was again our prime locomotive this year for excursion trains. We will rebuild the rear engine this winter as we have probably put this task off longer than we should have."


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 340
Regarding the above post about motive power, is the ridership for advertised steam weekends documented anywhere? Or is it just a personal opinion?

I can only speak for myself but this past year they sold 2 more tickets than they otherwise would have as we stopped in for a ride behind Mack on the way back from Lerros Strasburg Charter. Seemed a few others on the train were there specifically for steam as well.

It always amazes me how many on this board have the attitude that steam is worthless except for railfans.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:26 pm
Posts: 342
Location: Pure Michigan
How far south does the WS run? (Spring Bank Farm?)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Walkersville Southern
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:45 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 266
Quote:
Regarding the above post about motive power, is the ridership for advertised steam weekends documented anywhere? Or is it just a personal opinion?


I'm sure the headcounts are documented, but my comment is based on a conversation at the WS with the company president in the aftermath of the steam trips. He said they don't draw in that many more riders but having a steam locomotive come out for a few weekends is a real treat for the volunteers.

Quote:
It always amazes me how many on this board have the attitude that steam is worthless except for railfans.


I neither said nor implied that, but I do recall the time there was a write-up in the local paper, with an accompanying photograph, that described the railroad's 25-ton Davenport as a "steam locomotive." I've also walked visitors around the yard to show them the equipment and some have pointed to what is clearly (to us) a diesel and asked, "Is that a steam locomotive?" There are many who have trouble recognizing the difference, and if they don't know the difference, they're not likely to come out to ride behind a steam locomotive when one is in town.

Quote:
How far south does the WS run? (Spring Bank Farm?)


The WS operates the former PRR line down to a point on the north side of Route 26, right where it runs into Route 15. The track ends behind the Wegman's. Route 26 keeps the WS from going further south. When the WS first got started, it was planned to reopen the line all the way into downtown Frederick and connect to CSX, where there is now a MARC station. When the PRR was running the line, Route 26 was a rural road, but now cars move on it at fast speeds and reopening an at-grade crossing was out of the question for the state. At one point there was talk of the state lowering the road and building a rail bridge over it, but one of the governors over the years decided it would be less expensive to simply truncate the WS at Route 26.

Getting across Route 26 and into Frederick to link up with CSX and MARC would have given the WS a true destination for its riders, but it would have also involved running down East Street and that would have created new problems (competing with auto traffic), plus it would have probably required raising some street lights and wires now hanging over the street. So, the WS gave up the line south of Route 26 and instead expanded north, operating up to North Glade Road, about a mile south of Woodsboro. Maybe someday the WS will have the MMID's permission to operate all the way to the Woodsboro depot, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot] and 62 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: