Photo credit: Mackintosh , 02/1981

Property Name: Western Maryland Railway Right of Way, Mileposts 126 to 160
Date Listed: 7/23/1981
Inventory No.: AL-I-B-074, WA-VI-047
Location: , Woodmont Road (MD 453), , Hancock, Allegany County, Washington County

Description: The 34-mile-long abandoned Western Maryland Railway right-of-way between milepost 126 at the intersection of the C&O Canal and Long Ridge Road, Woodmont and milepost 160 just west of Maryland Route 51, North Branch, closely parallels the Potomac River and the C&O Canal running along the north (Maryland) bank of the river. Downstream from Paw Paw, West Virginia, however, the line crosses bends in the river six times, transferring seven miles of the right-of-way to West Virginia, and tunnels through three mountainous intervening fingers of land on the Maryland side. The line had a single track with occasional parallel sidings. The track and most ties were removed shortly after the line's abandonment in 1975, but the roadbed and other structural features are largely intact, unaltered, and in fair-to-good condition. The roadbed itself is composed of a limestone sub-base approximately two feet deep with a layer of packed cinders or pea gravel on top. Numerous cuts and fills maintain a nearly level grade through hilly terrain. In several areas retaining walls of crosstie cribbing are used for stabilizing slopes. Approximately 160 culverts, most constructed of concrete or terra cotta pipe, provide drainage beneath fills. The Potomac bridge piers and abutments were built wide for later double tracking, which was never carried out. Steel beams serve as mileposts.

Significance: The 34-mile abandoned section of the Western Maryland Railway acquired by the United States for the C&O Canal National Historical Park has regional significance as a protected remnant of one of the last major phases of trans-Allegheny railroad expansion in the early 20th century. The engineering sophistication of this line is most dramatically illustrated by the six Potomac River bridges and three tunnels crossing the Paw Paw Bends within a 12-mile segment of the route.




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