Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village
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Preservers of the Historic Ma & Pa Railroad

Memories of the Ma & Pa Railroad

Lisa Park's Ma & Pa Railroad PicturesFrom Lisa Park's collection

Loch Raven Station, Maryland - 1940's

Jack Leonard - Possessor of Mile Post 21

Inside the old mill

I grew up on Satyr Hill Road back in the late 40s when the area was rural. Back then, the Ma & Pa was still carrying passengers and running steam engines. I can recall playing baseball in my front yard on many a summer evening and hearing a steam engine chug-chug its way up to the Loch Raven Station. When I got a bit older, my Uncle Carl would walk my cousin and me from the Loch Raven station to the Big Gunpower bridge to go fishing. The walk was always fun because it began and ended in the same way: a cone of homemade ice cream from The Gateway which was owned by John and Evelyn Mast, the postmasters just down the hill from Loch Raven station. The walk was always memorable because my uncle would tell us tales of the railroad when he was a kid, including the time when his brother Paul and father were on the train when it had a head-on crash at Woodbrook. So on we'd walk, past the leaky Loch Raven water tank, over the Cub Hill Bridge, and by the Maryland School station until we arrived at the south end of the Gunpowder Bridge. We'd then scurry down the hill for an afternoon of fishing. At times we'd see a diesel pulling a few box cars over the bridge, and its pale yellow headlight always seemed to be burning. After a afternoon of no bites, my uncle would always grab our hands, help us up the hill, and take us for a walk across the bridge. I can recall how the first few steps were uneventful as the ground was only a few feet beneath me. However, as we carefully took step after step to the middle of the bridge, I felt myself stooping closer and closer to the rails until, by the time I was in the center of the structure, I was crawling on my hands and knees and my uncle was laughing uproariously!

As I got older, my cousin Gary and I would always walk the right of way looking for targets for our BB guns or streams where we could fire a cherry bomb. These excursions took us south of Loch Raven station where we walked trestles at Satyr Hill, Campbell's Quarry, and Oakleigh. By this time in my life I was a swaggering 10 year old who could make it the whole way across a trestle without assuming the prone position. Those long walks along the line burned memories in my mind which are crystal clear even today. I was saddened when I learned that the Maryland end died, and by the time I entered Calvert Hall in Towson in 1960, I was a full-fledged Ma & Pa maniac. Hilton's book stoked the fires of my magnificent obsession, and I started to explore the abandoned right of way in earnest. My favorite walks took me to the Laurel Brook area and south to the site of the first wooden trestle just south of the Little Guy Powder bridge. My passion was at its peak when I was able to take my first fan trip from York to Yoe in 1965. I can recall riding with my head out the window the entire trip, enjoying the smell of the smoke and the feeling of the hot cinders as they bounced off my face. My girlfriend, who begrudgingly accompanied me, seriously doubted my sanity as I kept repeating my mantra - "Ain't this great!" The year 1966 saw my second and last trip on the railroad, one that took me from York south to the green marble quarry in Cardiff. Mercifully, my girlfriend declined to join me on this excursion and I was accompanied by my trusty Kodak camera. I took roll after roll of photos, with several of them featuring the trestles near Red Lion. To this day I enjoy taking them out of the album, closing my eyes, and remembering that hot June afternoon. I still think of the railroad often. When I drive on the beltway under the Washouse trestle, when I visit my mom on Satyr Hill, and when I pass the former Mc Donald's on Loch Raven Blvd. whose roof is supported by a steel beam from the York Road trestle. All my memories are fond ones. Gee, I'd give almost anything if I could just take my son back in time for a little fishing below the Big Gunpowder bridge, an ice cream cone at The Gateway, and an afternoon of walking in his dad's footsteps.

Jack Leonard - Lutherville, Maryland

Laurel Brook, MD - Late 1940's

Howard Crise

Just read your "Memories" link. and that took me back to the late forties when our Cub Scout master loaded us on a streetcar at dawn one Saturday to Towson to catch the Ma&Pa to Laurel Brook. By mid-morning we were camped on the Gunpowder River for a day of swimming, sack races, and roasting of wieners and marshmallows. The walk back up to the Laurel Brook "station" (really just a lean-to shelter) involved a lot of straggling by exhausted 10-year-olds and we barely made the four o'clock train.

As the fifties passed, I walked the old track and trestles until I went in the service in '61. When I next went back, after Viet Nam, much of the right-of-way was overgrown and/or privatized. I'll always regret not snagging the Laurel Brook sign as the little waystation was left to fall into disrepair. So glad you are restoring Muddy Creek Forks!

Howard Crise, Baltimore, Maryland


Gross Trestle on the Ma & Pa Railroad

From Lisa Park's collection


Springvale, PA - Late 1940's

Terry Myers

I was born in 1943 and while my father was away fighting the big war my mother and I lived in Red Lion, PA with my grandmother in an apartment right next to the train station. I can still dimly remember the steam locomotive making its distinctive sounds and the smell of the coal burning. In 1949 we moved to Springvale, PA just 50 yards or so away from the tracks, where we lived until 1958. We (kids) used the railroad tracks like a trail all throughout those years it seemed to lead to the places we wanted to go, north into town (Red Lion) or south toward Felton where there were good fishing holes along the creek. We could walk for miles balancing on one of the rails. We learned to put our ear down against the rail to hear a train coming many miles away. The steam engine gave way to the diesel engine. I remember the water tower several miles south of Springvale and how it went into disrepair after the steam engine was discontinued. We would, when conditions permitted, hitch a ride for a mile or so by hanging on the side of one of the boxcars. One of our favorite stunts was to put a roll of caps, of firecrackers on the rails at regular intervals for a mile or two approaching our home then wait to hear the approaching pop, pop, pop, of the engine wheels running over them. I remember the flame thrower machine that they brought down the tracks to remove the weeds from the tracks, followed by some guys on a small service vehicle with fire hoses dousing the few small fires remaining. I always felt like that little old railroad was a part of me and it would always be there.

Thank you for your great little site, you've helped me rekindle some fond memories.

Terry Myers - Lutherville, MD


Towson, Maryland - 1948

Mike Emig

Old Box Car

I lived in Towson, Md. from 1948 until 1967, when I joined the U.S.Navy. As a child I remember going down to the Towson Station of the Ma & Pa railroad located on Susquehanna Avenue in Towson to watch the trains. I remember the strong smells of creosote and diesel fuel. The train station was covered with wood clapboards and painted yellow. On the front of the station facing the tracks was a rough wooden platform for the loading and unloading of freight. The station-masters office also was at the front of the station and faced the tracks through a window; I think it may have been like a bay-window? Inside the station-masters office I remember a wind-up, weight-driven Seth Thomas No.2 regulator clock, hanging on the rear wall of the station. The reason I focus on this is because I collect old clocks. I think that there was a telephone at the station-masters desk. I think the phone was attached to the wall by a kind of scissors-like brace? I think that more than half of the station building was used for the storage of freight. The waiting area for passengers was very small, as I remember. On the rear of the station facing Susquehanna Ave. was a diamond-shaped metal sign that said either; Adams' Express or Railroad Express. It was located next to the sliding doors for the removal of freight items. The sign that said Towson was painted in large yellow letters on a bright red background. I remember one sign like that on the east end of the station just below the roof eaves. There may also have been another Towson sign at the west end of the station facing toward the former Glassips cellophane drinking straw company; (now The Baltimore County Employees Federal Credit Union), but I'm not sure?

After the railroad went out of business, auctions used to be held in the old Towson, Maryland station. A man named; Hap Gardner used to have auctions on Friday and Saturday nights. I remember another train related building that used to be in Towson, Md. It was a large gray or silver building that either looked like a small barn or a large garage. It was located next to the train tracks at the end of Washington Ave.:(about where Washington Ave. now intersects with Towsontown Blvd.) The train used to cross Susquehanna Ave. and pass the Towson Ice Company, (formerly owned by the late Raymond Seitz) and then cross a plain black metal bridge over York Road and the proceed to go eastward past the old Stebbins-Anderson lumber yard and over to East Towson. The tracks then went along-side of the Black&Decker Company before crossing an enormous wooden trestle above Joppa Road: (where Goucher Blvd. is now located). The next stop, I believe was at a small waiting station Blvd. is now located). The next stop, I believe was at a small waiting station located at the Towson Estates housing development. From there the tracks followed the ridge above and roughly parallel to Cromwell Bridge Road crossing Oakleigh Road and a large wooden trestle at Satyr Hill and Cromwell Bridge Road and another wooden trestle located at Glen Arm Road and Cromwell Bridge Rd.

I vaguely remember two accidents on the Ma&Pa railroad in the 1950's. One accident involved some box cars derailng for the Joppa Road trestle in Towson, Md. I saw a lot of potatoes lying by a stream at the bottom of the Joppa Road hill: (now filled in with about 50'of fill dirt and known as Goucher Blvd. and Joppa Rd.) My dad took home movies of the steam-driven crane lifting up the wheels from the box cars. The other accident that I sort of remember involved two diesel switcher engines that were pulling some train cars in tandem. Somehow, both engines derailed and rolled down a hillside either near Satyr Hill Rd. trestle or the Glen Arm Road trestle. That's about all that I remember about the Ma&Pa railroad except that people used to call it the milk train.

Mike Emig


Hydes Station, Maryland - 1953

Charles Carman

In 1950 my parents Bill and Anne Carman built their home on Hydes Road next to the Hydes station. at that time it was the Ma and Pa station,Hydes post office and the general store.It was owned by Bob Sewell and his wife Mamie. I was born in DEC 1953 and can remember the daily train going up in the morning and returning in the afternoon. We did not have a mailbox as we were so close to the store so every day my mom and I would go collect the mail and wait so I could wave the engineer. I remember one afternoon when I saw this big black car coming up through the field behind our house, Being just four I didn't realize that it was the track inspection car I just watched as it went past the station and through the files to Baldwin. When the train stopped running in June 1958 my Dad and I watched them pull up the tracks. Dad went over to them and asked if he could have a piece of track as a remembrance of the train they gave him a piece which he kept in our garage,I wish I knew what he ever did with that piece of track. In later years my brother and I would walk the old roadbed and pick up spikes and the glass insulators. I guess they went with the track after we grew up and moved out and dad cleaned out the garage. I also remember the Long Green station because my mom was friends with the Chenowith family that lived there. She was born and raised on Long Green Pike near the intersection with Long Green Road,my Grandparents were John and Bessie Danenmann and the track ran just above their property there. My mom rode the train into Towson many times when she was a girl to visit her Aunt Catherine Ashby that lived on Chesapeake Ave. She would board the train at Long Green and the conductor would make sure she got off at the proper place and that some one was there to get her. After she graduated Towson High in 1940 she began working for the Bendix Corp. By 1942 they had taken over part of the Chesapeake Cadillac building and she would use the train to get there since gasoline was rationed. Each Palm Sunday she would tell the story of the big snow on that Sunday in 1942 and how she got to and from work on the train. I now live near Loch Raven Blvd and when I show my now grown children pictures of the Ma and Pa they can't believe that a train ran through Towson then to Black and Decker and across Luskin's Hill let alone that Goucher Blvd was not there then and Joppa road had that huge hill where Eudowood shopping center is now, oops I mean Towson Marketplace. Every time I hear a train whistle I still think of the Ma and Pa going past the Hydes station and the memories of my childhood there. Regards to all who knew the Ma and Pa.

Charles Carman, Hydes, MD


Boxcar

Photo by John Wolf


Cromwell Bridge, Maryland - 1953

Bob Hughes

I read the story about the little boy being waved to by the train engineer of the passing train, and the one of riding the train, and the story of seeing a steam engine, and the wreck on Cromwell Bridge road. My father has told me stories about the Ma & Pa Railroad like the wreck at Cromwell Bridge road. I think he said it happened in 1953 when two diesel engines were pulling cars when the engine jumped the track. the first engine he believed it to be engine 80 or 81 stayed on the track but came uncoupled from the second engine and the second engine which was engine 82 flipped over and slid down a hill. The engineer climbed out of the engine through the window to get out and this person was my Grandfather Ellis Hughes. My father Donald Hughes also worked for the Ma & Pa and was working in the Baltimore Yard the day of the wreck. When he heard about it, he jumped in his car and drove to the site to see if his father and everyone else were OK. They were. My Grandfather worked for the Ma & Pa for about 35 years and retired in 1955. My father worked for them about 16 years and then went on to Canton Rail Road. He worked there for 26 years before he retired. My father lived in Baltimore and when he knew he would be driving the train the next day he would take my older brother with fishing rod in hand with him. He would stop the train at Lock Raven and let him off to go fishing and pick him up on the way back. My father is still alive today at the age of 82 and one day when we get the time I would like to take him to the Ma & Pa Society. He and I would get a kick out of that.

Bob Hughes, Flintstone, MD


Street, Maryland - 1954-56

Beale Riddle

Old Flat Car

Between 1954 and 1956, I lived on a farm located just south of the MA & PA Street Station. Two of our fields bordered the west side of the MA & PA right of way for about a mile between Street and Minefield. I moved there just two months after passenger service was terminated in 1954, but there was still light freight traffic and interesting stuff to see over the next two years. The MA & PA had some diesel locomotives that were then painted blue as I recall. They appeared 2-3 times a week, usually with no more than 5 or 6 freight cars in tow. There were grade crossings at both Street and Minefield, and the little trains announced themselves with very loud horn blasts that interrupted the tranquility of our rural life. I remember being scolded many times for jumping up from my desk at Highland Elementary School to watch for the train as it passed in the mid-afternoon.

There were also a variety of little motor cars that frequently putt-putted up and down the line with grizzled railroad types on board who always smiled and waived as I stood in the field at trackside. During late summer, I heard this roaring sound and what looked like a huge ball of orange flame clanked over the wooden trestle at our south property line at Minefield. There was a big tank with all sorts of pipes belching fire at the tracks. I remember it being black in color and with "Orange Octopus" written in big letters on its side. I later learned that this was the MA & PA's famous weed burner. Behind the Orange Octopus were two motor cars with men squirting water on the little fires left behind. It was quite a show for a 9-year-old farm boy. The MA & PA had some sort of a yard at Fallston that I discovered during a visit in the winter of 1954-55. There were several motor cars and even a couple of hand-operated gang cars parked there. The MA & PA's inspection car made an appearance on the edge of our wheat field one afternoon. As I had never seen an automobile on rails before, I found this fascinating. There were guys inside it wearing jackets and ties and they didn't seem too happy with the car as the engine kept stalling and they had to frequently restart it on their way north. After finding a copy of Hilton's book 40 years later, I learned that this was in fact MA & PA 101, a 1937 Buick. Even more interesting is that 101 is apparently preserved at the B&O Mount Claire Museum in Baltimore. It broke my heart to learn that the Maryland Division was scrapped in the late 1950's. Very nice memories.

Beale Riddle - Washington, D.C.


Pylesville, Maryland - 1958

Gerry Mack

In December of 1955, my family moved from the city of Baltimore to the rolling hills of northwestern Harford County. My father had purchased a small farm in Pylesville, Maryland. To my pleasant surprise, outside our front window on the ridge across the road was the Ma & Pa Railroad. As any young boy, I was thrilled to watch the EMD diesel pull a short freight slowly down the tracks, heading south to Bel Air.

Old weights

We lived on the farm in Pylesville for four more years. I always stopped when a train went by. It was fascinating to see the diesel engine pull the freight cars and wonder what they contained and where they were going. I wondered how exciting it would be to actually ride the rails. I was so taken with the Ma & Pa that in my senior year at North Harford High School, the railroad became the topic of my research paper. Later that year my paper would be featured in the school's newspaper, the North Star.

A few more years went by and so did many trains. I thought about taking some pictures but never seemed to have the time. I could always do it the next day. The trains continued to roll on by. Unfortunately, they became an all too common sight. Slowly, they were worthy of only a passing glance as I went about doing my chores.

Then one day I saw a notice hanging in the Pylesville Post Office. It stated that the railroad had ceased operation. Train service was terminated. Suddenly, I realized that the neat little railroad, the Ma & Pa was gone. No pictures...just fading memories.

Gerry Mack - Jarrettsville, Maryland


Towson, Maryland - Late 1950's

Sherman E. Silverman

In the late 40's I would ride the #13 car down North Avenue and remember seeing the Ma & Pa station sign which was on the North Avenue bridge. My cousin and I used to stand on the North Avenue bridge and watch the Ma & Pa steam engines.

Some years passed and I was a student at Towson State Teacher's College in the late 1950's. The Ma & Pa ran right by my dorm, North Hall (now Ward Hall). At that time the college was using coal and the Ma & Pa would drop off a hopper at a spur which led to the boiler plant. One day while studying for an exam I heard the shrill sound of a steam locomotive whistle. This was unusual because all I had ever seen were diesel engines pulling Ma & Pa consists. However, their diesel had broken down and they were using probably their only remaining steamer to haul the train back to Baltimore. I left school in the winter of 1958. When I returned in 1960, the tracks through Towson had been removed. I still think of the Ma & Pa whenever I visit the Baltimore Trolley Museum. I am sorry I didn't take photos when it was running.

Sherman E. Silverman


Towson, Maryland - 1955-58

Marty Bowersock

As a young lad, I grew up on my grandfather's farm, the property boundaries being York Road, Sheppard Pratt's driveway entrance on York Road, Towson State College, and the actual MA&PA tracks, west of York Road. The tracks actually divided Sheppard Pratt Hospital's property line, with my grand-dad's property. Prior to starting grade school, I would sit on the back porch of my house, that faced the MA&PA tracks just a few hundred yards away, and hear the steam locomotives coming from Charles Street (Woodbrook Station) direction, heading towards Towson. Down the grade, over Bellona Avenue, across the Shepard Pratt trestle they would come, disappearing into a gulch behind the house. All I could see now would be the black smoke, pouring out of the loco's stack, as it crossed a small trestle before Towson State College. It passed the college and crossed the long trestle just before Towson, where it would disappear out of sight.

Old Milk Cans

Many a summer afternoon, my brother and I would play on the tracks, as the road beds had very fine gravel and sand, that was excellent to make "roads" for our toy trucks and gravel loaders. Our mother was not too fond of this, and scolded us constantly for being so near the tracks. Naturally, two boys the ages of 3 and 6 (I being the 6 year old) were not aware of the danger! One day while sitting on the back porch, I could hear the clickety-clack of steel wheels on track, but the loco sound was absent. Looking towards Sheppard Pratt, here came a boxcar all by itself, racing down the siding from Shepard Pratt headed towards Towson! To this day, I've always wondered what became of that wayward boxcar. The MA&PA was not well liked by my father, and on many occasions, after starting school at Immaculate Conception in Towson, my father would be driving us kids to school, taking Susquehanna Avenue up the hill to the crossing at the Towson ice house. He would have to stop while the morning passenger run to York stopped at the Towson Station. The engine ALWAYS rested on the crossing, halting traffic for at least 5 minutes. I learned many a curse word at this crossing from Dad!

My most memorable recollection was when one of the trains derailed near Oakleigh in 1953 or 1954. It caused a sensation in the Towson area. My Dad stayed home from work and he took me to the site to watch them right the locomotive. Coming home from school each day was an adventure in itself. I would often not take the streetcar home, that way I could slowly walk home using the tracks and trestles as my guide back to the farm. One day, while crossing the Towson trestle, I was halfway across when the afternoon train out of Baltimore was approaching from the other end! Thankfully, the engineer saw me, and the loco that could only go about 20 m.p.h., was able to stop in time. As the years pasted by, the steady flow of trains behind the farm slowly came to a stop, as the freight and passenger service declined. By 1958 the steady clickety-clack ground to a halt, leaving me with only pleasant memories.

Marty Bowersock

Ma & Pa Junction


Long Green, Maryland - 1954-58

Wayne Hohl

February 16, 2000 In 1953 my parents began a 5-year project of building a new home in Long Green, MD. I was born in ’54 (great timing, huh ?). The location of and points in between our current home and Long Green began a relationship that affects me to this day. As a child I remember crossing Oakleigh Road to Cromwell Bridge Road and heading out towards Long Green along side the Ma & Pa tracks . The wooden trestles crossing over Satyr Hill Road and Cub Hill Road were sheer works of art to this 4 year old (still are as far as I’m concerned). Many times I remember going out to Long Green when the train was just along side of the car on the hill. The engineer would wave to the mesmerized kid in the back seat. I remember seeing the train up close and stopped at Sewell’s general store in Hydes, MD where it stopped for mail.

Could I have seen a steam locomotive in use around ’57 or ’58? The Ma & Pa delivered my first bicycle to the Glen Arm stop where my dad & I picked it up. The timing seems a little off, but I was in first grade at St. John’s in Baldwin in ’60 – ‘61 and distinctly remember seeing the train cross the valley floor from my class room. … and I remember the horror when I-695 severed the rail line. It was akin to the loss of a friend.

Old Milling Equipment

Like the dismantling of the trains after Christmas, I waited for the Ma & Pa to get set back up. I had thought that the Ma & Pa died when they ceased operations on the Baltimore line. Especially when no one could or would stop the demolition of the Long Green Station in the ‘70’s. It wasn't until the late 80’s when I happened to be working with Gene Anstine another rail enthusiast, that I found out different. (Gene was from PA and a fan of the Penn Central, but other than that he's OK.) He took me up to the Ma & Pa rail yard in York and started something that had both of us walking across pastures (occupied with livestock, gender unknown), climbing through hedgerows in suits and darn near costing us our jobs. He told me about the dated nails they used in rail ties; well say no more, throw a crowbar in the back of the company car and lets go! We ended up with 2 pretty good specimens, one dated (19)29 the other, a copper one dated (19)38 (What’s this? I thought the Ma & Pa spent most of its life broke).

I spent weekends alone walking sections of the old rail bed. I found some of the old narrow gauge rail bed (I think) between Pleasantville Road and Gunpowder River. I was surprised to find oyster shells mixed in the concrete of the foundations for the bridge crossing the Gunpowder there. My father later told me that back then they would throw anything, shells, cattle hair, etc. in a concrete mix for filler. (Think about that the next time you cross an old bridge.) I checked every single rail tie between Glen Arm and Whiteford that farmers appropriated for fencing for the coveted nails (found 0). Further north , I found where the demo crew had dropped the Sharon (MD) trestle where it stood. I had never seen the trestle except in photographs. It looked like all of it was there, sans rails; I felt like I was with a dismembered corpse. There are other memories I have growing up with the Ma & Pa, but I guess these are the most significant.

God Bless

Wayne Hohl - Carney, Maryland


Gross Trestle

From Lisa Park's collection


Gilman Boy's School, Maryland - Mid 1950's

Harry Hiss

I grew up in the mid fifties in what I remember as the housing area known as Homeland or Homewood in the outskirts of Baltimore. I attended Roland Park Elementary school. At the end of the long playground behind the school was the Ma & Pa single track. I remember crawling through the hole in the school fence every time I heard the train approaching. It was either a passenger, freight or even on occasions an MU car or two. I would be mystified watching the train go by and smelling the smoke from the locomotive. I use to walk the track after school up to Gilman Boy's School. As I was walking I was always wondering where the next train was headed for. One day after school a friend and myself decided to follow the track to the Towson, Maryland station. We did not make it that far as young boys. We had fun doing it until we got in trouble later on when we found out our parents had the police looking for us because we did not come home after school.

The saddest memory I have of the Ma & Pa was that gloomy day when a bunch of us boys were playing baseball on the Gilman Boy's School diamond next to the track when I guess you can call it a wrecking crew came through tearing up the rails. That was the beginning of the end for the Ma & Pa. I actually had tears in my eyes, I loved those trains going by and will never forget the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad!

Harry Hiss - Great Falls, Montana


Ferncliff, Maryland - Mid 1950's

Mark E. Shelton

In the early 1940's my grandparents, Edna and George L. Chenoweth purchased about 140 acres of "farm" property along Stirrup Run, including property which straddled the Ma & Pa right of way from Hornberger Siding to where Stirrup Run passed under State Route 24. The cover of the George Hilton Ma & Pa book features the Stirrup Run Trestle, which I crossed at age 7-8, many times (1957 to 1958). My parents now have their home about a hundred yards north of the old trestle, and part of the back garden wall is made from old Ma & pa ties. We ran a snow-ball stand down on Route 24 for many years, and that structure too, owed its existence to old Ma & Pa ties.

My fondest memories were of going to get ice at the Towson Ice house with dad, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the trains, though, by 1957 they usually did not run on Saturdays. Mom bought a dining room table drom Carter's Furniture (next to Stebbins Anderson) on York road. While we waited in the back seat of our old Chevy, my brother and I watched with joy as one of the old SW 1200's pulled a couple of boxcars and a caboose over the York Road Trestle. Like Mr. Hiss, I was heartbroken when I saw the wrecking train come through Ferncliff pulling up track.

My other memory is of hiking along the right-of-way along Cromwell Bridge Road, with my cub scout group. We built a fire for fixing lunch on one of the concrete bridge piers, below one of the bridges. There was apparently some water trapped in the concrete. After a few minutes the water flashed to steam and exploded. The fire, cans of pork and beans, and my official scout mess kit went airborne. We were all singed, covered with ashes, had holes burned in our uniforms, and found one of the pots of my mess kit up on top of the trestle.

I have hiked stretches of the abandoned roadbed many times, like some other writers, boring girlfriends or my kids to tears. As an adult, I took my kids berry picking along an abandoned stretch of track near Littlestown, PA. Only recently did I learn that the track once belonged to the Ma & Pa.

Mark E. Shelton - Lignonier, Pennsylvania


Ma & Pa Railroad - Forest Hill Station

From Lisa Park's collection


Roland Park Siding, Maryland - July 27, 1955

Jim Hammond

Among my many recollections of the Ma & Pa railroad is the role it played in the construction of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, on North Charles Street in Baltimore, MD. One of the last projects which the railroad completed prior to discontinuing service in the Baltimore area was the hauling of every piece of stone used in the construction of the cathedral. I was a child at the time and frequently played in or near the right of way which was considered safe by children like me because of the long lines of sight and the relative quiet of the area back behind Friends School and Tuxedo Park. One could both see and hear trains coming well in advance of their arrival, and they moved quite slowly. I think the role the MA & PA played in the construction of one of Baltimore's landmarks ought to be documented in your history pages!

Old Diesel #82

An interesting aside to the Ma & Pa's involvement with hauling stone for the construction of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, was the fight that the railroad had with the local community. The Zoning Board on the 26th of July, 1955 upheld the right of a railroad to unload limestone and other building materials for the new Catholic cathedral. The railroad was using the siding in Roland Park for off loading the material for shipment to the building site. Local residents protested against the railroad's operation as being too noisy in addition to adding dust and odors to the air. The railroad's case was based on a number of important facts. They presented their case that the track had been in service and commercially zoned since 1901. They also noted that the unloading of the heavy building materials would be completed within two years though unloading of other supplies would continue on for three additional years.

Mr. L.C. Chambers of 4904 Wilmslow road was one of the two realtors protesting the activities of the railroad. He was concerned over the railroad's operation on the value of the residential properties near the site. Another resident, J.O. Ziegfeld of 691 Gladstone Road, referred to the unloading as a "heavy industrial project" and said it should be carried out in a railroad yard.

J.B. Nance who was president and general manager of the railroad told the Zoning Board members that each piece of stone is cut at the quarry for a particular placement then individually packaged for shipment by train. There is no on site cutting of stone at Roland Park siding. In fact the railroad had already paid about $2,000 for damages to some of the stone. Mr. Nance said the siding had indeed not been in regular service for years, but it had never been abandoned.

The Zoning Board found in favor of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad since it did not find the unloading operations to be in violation of the Zoning Code.

James Hammond - Cross Junction, Virginia

Rodgers Forge, Maryland - 1953 - 1963

Jamie Blount

As a boy, I lived in Rodgers Forge from 1953 until 1963. Some of my fondest memories are of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, which used to run in back of our house on Stanmore Road. Having lived previously in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I felt like a king living in a "real" house with my own "private" railroad running practically in my backyard.

I never quite knew what to make of the Ma and Pa, largely because virtually all of my train experiences heretofore had been on Manhattan's subways or elevated trains (el). I had always either walked down the stairs to get onto the subway, or up the stairs to get onto the el. Perhaps out of confusion, I would often throw rocks at the Ma and Pa boxcars that went rumbling by. They were usually easy, moving targets, but from time to time I would miss my objective. I remember the dark power I would often feel when engineers and firemen in the engine would cringe as I threw my projectiles. Although I wasn't aiming at them, I apparently threw the rocks close enough that one of them might have veered off course and gone through a window of the engine cabin. Fortunately, the rocks that missed their targets never caused any injury or damage to either railroad personnel or to the engine, respectively.

I had a dog back then by the name of Mac. He was a mostly brown and white mongrel dog, about the size of a cocker spaniel, but his markings were that of a mixed breed terrier. Both to his credit and to his detriment, Mac knew no fear. Often when the Ma and Pa train would come running down the track, Mac would literally get out in front of the train and bark at it, as if his barking would somehow force the train to stop. Of course the train never did stop, and I was always afraid that Mac would get run over. Mac always had the presence of mind to get out of the way of the train just before it might have done him in. Just the same, my yelling at him never did any good. He probably never even heard my voice over the sound of the train engine.

Old Box Car

The Ma and Pa trains had a sort of mystical quality as they literally shook the house in which we lived. I remember lying in bed at night and feeling the whole house tremble as the trains went by. At one point my father assured me that the house wouldn't come tumbling down as a result. Still, I felt a bit unsettled being in my own house and feeling the immense power of the trains. Many years later I was spending the night at a friend's who lived in Harford County, alongside the Northeast Corridor which now serves the Amtrak and Conrail lines. A number of times during the night the house would shake as the trains went by. Although I didn't get much sleep that night, I felt rather nostalgic lying in bed and feeling the whole house vibrate with the passing trains.

The bridge which used to provide passage to Ma and Pa trains over York Road in Towson was also the point at which my uncle, Wilmer (Bill) Welsh, and the Ma and Pa met for the first and last time. While he was waiting under the bridge in his car in traffic, a lump of coal from a coal hopper fell and broke his car windshield. Right away he filed a complaint with the Ma and Pa, which they forwarded to their insurance company. Within a few days, he took his car to an auto glass shop and had his windshield replaced at the insurance company's expense.

When the Ma and Pa discontinued service in Greater Baltimore, I felt as though I had, indeed, lost a good friend. One of my saddest childhood experiences was when I watched men dismantling the railroad that used to provide me with excitement and entertainment. How such a bulwark of power and awe could disappear, and without my having been consulted, caused me no little degree of disappointment and incredulity. At about the same time, the price of a coke at the drugstore went up for 5 cents to 10 cents, the price of a comic book went up from 10 cents to 15 cents, and I was no longer eligible to enter a movie theater as a child for 25 cents. I then had to cough up the astronomical sum of 75 cents to buy a ticket. When I visited a friend in Washington, D.C. and saw WEST SIDE STORY at the Avalon Theater on Connecticut Avenue, NW, I felt as if I were being thoroughly cheated when I had to pay one dollar for a ticket. It was at about that same time that the street cars on York Road were replaced by buses, and the immortal John F. Kennedy was felled by an assassin's bullet in Dallas.

The world that I had known as a boy had somehow, mysteriously disappeared in a very short period of time. All of a sudden, I had become an adolescent in a strange, new world I neither liked nor understood. I wasn't alone, as many thousands of my peers demonstrated and railed against a system which they neither liked nor understood, as well. The sixties, the time when our nation went kicking and screaming from an industrial age to an age of information and technology, was also the time when I went somewhat reluctantly from childhood to adolescence. The era of the Ma and Pa Railroad's trains and the Baltimore Transit Company's streetcars had somehow been transformed into an era of the Viet Nam War and mistrust of public officials, all of whom I had previously looked up to with great respect.

One evening back in the mid-1980s, I was chatting with my then father-in-law, the late William W. (Bill) Boyer. Bill commented that even though the Ma and Pa had ceased rail service in Greater Baltimore, it was still in operation in York, Pennsylvania, and that it ran trains into Delta, Pennsylvania, as well as into Cardiff, Maryland. While believing him to be correct, I still had to beat a hasty retreat to York the following week to see for myself. Much to my surprise, there they were: Ma and Pa boxcars liveried in the same white lettering against a black background. I was incredulous. That same, familiar Ma and Pa logo which I had seen virtually everyday as a child was within my grasp as an adult. At that moment, I felt almost as if my confidence in mankind had been restored.

An old American Indian belief states that nobody truly dies until the last person who remembers him or her, also dies. The Ma and Pa is no longer around as I remember it, but it is still alive and well in the hearts of those who remember her.

Jamie Blount - San Antonio, Texas {currently serving at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan}

Ma & Pa RR - Cardiff Station

Photo by Gerry Mack

Looking North-bound from the old Cardiff Station



Fallston, Maryland - 1979 - 1983

Andy Pullen

My mom grew up just up the hill from the mainline where it went under University Parkway in Roland Park in the 1930s. My grandfather was a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Hopkins and he would often take mom and my aunts down to the tracks to watch the trains climbing north out of Baltimore. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember much about it. He passed away before I was born. I don't know of any pictures he may have taken.

I have been a fan of the Ma&Pa since high school. From 1979 to 1983, I attended Fallston High School and ran on the track and cross country teams. When doing "roadwork" for practices, we would often cross what was left of the old main line. During Drivers Ed. Class; we would also drive all over the area and crossed the "tracks" many times. The footings for the Overshot Trestle are still in place. The cuts are still very visible on Laurel Brook Road. I actually tried to purchase the house that had been built just north of the southern crossing of Laurel Brook Road. The driveway is the old right of way. The fill just north of the cut is still there, too. My wife and were also looking at another house on Tollgate Road in Bel Air. That house sits on the top of the cut that runs past Vale. I didn't realize the cut was that close at the time.

Being a Live Steamer; I would have built tracks on that fill in Fallston....Currently, I have a 1/8 full sized replica of #43 under construction. I have taken a few liberties with it, but it will be a close representation of the actual locomotive. The main differences are with the driver diameter. Plus, flanges on all 4 wheelsets. The scale diameter would be 6 3/8". I am using 7" diameter driver castings to make a better running locomotive. The smaller diameter makes for a locomotive that sounds like a jet when running at speed. My Reading 0-4-0 sounds a little like that and it has the 6 3/8" drivers. The blind wheelsets make for operational headaches as well in the models.

It will be coal fired like the prototype. With a working ELESCO feedwater heater and pump among other things. The DeGolyer Library at SMU supplied a section drawing from #s 41 and 42. A Locomotive Cyclopedia has supplied a number of drawings of BLW standard parts. I am going to be going through the papers at the RR Museum of PA and the Achives in Harrisburg for more information.

I live about a mile from the right of way in Bel Air where it crosses Moores Mill Road.

Andy Pullen - Bel Air, Maryland


If you have a memory from the Ma & Pa Railroad and would like to share it with us, please contact Gerry Mack

Uncredited Photos from the Don Shenk collection.