6th Crossing/B141.3

6th Crossing/B141.3







WM crossed the Potomac River for the 6th time within only 10 miles here across the river from Paw Paw, West Virginia. For many people this is all they ever see of the Western Maryland Railway as the bridge here also crossed Maryland Route 51. The bridge still reads "WESTERN MARYLAND RAILWAY", left over from WM's steam days. Many of WM's bridges were later painted silver and lettered in black Western Maryland "speed" lettering. This bridge and a few others on the WM never got to see the silver paint as the various routes were abandoned and removed before the paint was applied. The bridge remains as a decaying reminder of the once "Fast Freight Line" that ran up the Potomac River Valley. Today the bridge has been barricaded off and is difficult to cross. There is talk that this location and bridge will be the starting point for a possible railtrail thru the Paw Paw bends to Pearre, Md. connecting with the Western Maryland Rail Trail. There are also plans to extend the possible trail west to the current end of the WM/CSX rails at North Branch 39 rail miles to the west. The bridge is also near the C&O Canal's Paw Paw Tunnel. Visitors to the canal and tunnel pass under and turn into the canal parking lot here under the WM bridge. If you get a chance to visit the tunnel, take a look around the WM too.


View Larger Map





Up on MD Route 51 in 1985 after the big flood. The road is closed because the bridge that went across the river to Paw Paw, WV. had been washed out by the flood. After the bridge was washed out the Corps of engineers built a temporary one lane bridge with traffic lights over the river until the new bridge that stands today was built. Second photo by W.R. Hicks taken from Md Rt.51 on 10/23/67. Notice the white writing to the left of the Western Maryland Railway about half way up the bridge steel, it reads "high water 1936". (W.R Hicks photo/WMRHS Collection)

A very early photo perhaps 1905 or 1906 take from the west side of what was to become the 6th Crossig bridge here at Keifer/Paw Paw. The concrete peirs are being poured section by section. (W. R Hicks Collection of the WMRHS)

Nearby at the west end of the 6th Crossing once sat what appears to be some sort if pump house, perhaps for railroad use. By look of paint scheme it looks to be early WM paint scheme, perhaps a water processing station/water softener for the steam locomotives. Maybe the pipe going up is a standpipe over this part of the bridge due to the railing instslled at this spot also on the bridge? This building would be gone soon as the road was planned to be moved to this location. (State Roads Commission photo)

The new road has been constructed and finished here under the 6th Crossing. The road used to run to Paw Paw and cross the river at the East End of Fairplay, formaly called Keifers. The WM Keifers Station (waiting shed) would be moved to this location when the road was moved. (1934, State Roads Commission)

Looking east out onto the bridge in 1968 and another shot from the river with a coal train crossing. (1968, Don Biggs photos)

Down from Md. Rt. 51 looking up at the WM bridge. (4/21/03) The second photo is one of my favorite photos on the entire Western Maryland West Sub. It makes me think of all the trains that passed here. This is from the Maryland side of the bridge where the WM crossed over MD. Rt. 51. I hope this part of the WM gets turned into a railtrail before this section of the trestle is removed due to its low highway clearence. (April 1996)

It's 1976 and its only a matter of time before the contractors removing the tracks west of here during the weekdays work there way to this location. Looks as if the handrails on the bridge were painted aluminum with the crossties covered in the white rock asphalt. Perhaps this was only done rather than paining the entire bridge aluminum like others after knowing that the line would be abandoned. (1976, Don Biggs photo)

This is one of my first photos on the WM's West Sub. It was taken in April 1992, when I was in Boy Scouts hiking the C&O Canal. The photo is impossible to take now because of the tremendous amount of tree growth. It is taken atop the 6th crossing looking west towards Cumberland. In this photo you could still see the WM tru-truss bridge over the C&O Canal. The second photo is looking back east from the Maryland side of the bridge. This photo shows what only a few years of neglect has done to the bridge. The trees have grown over top the bridge and a few boards on the walkway are now missing. (4/12/92 and 4/30/97)

W.R. Hicks has caught WM F7 #57 westbound crossing from WV into MD on June 19, 1955. (WMRHS Collection) In April 1996, Spring has not yet setteled into the Potomac River Valley, making photographing the abandoned Western Maryland relativetly easier than in Summer months when the leaves hide the right-of-way. Early Spring is a great time to hike and photograph the WM. This photo is atop the 6th crossing looking east towards the cut in West Virginia.

Up on the 6th bridge in April 2003 looking up and down the Potomac River. It was a cloudy day and would soon rain as I hiked towards Kessler Tunnel.

The WM bridge from down along the river bank on October 9, 2010. This view is looking down river.

Another view of the bridge from along the river. This shot was taken from downriver in the setting sun. This was definetly a scenic part along the Western Maryland Railway and hope it contuines to be with the help of the C&O Canal and visitors to the area. (September 2001)

The crossties at the center of all the bridges were removed just like this at the 6th crossing. This was done when the Park Service acquired the WM right-of-way in hopes of keeping people from crossing. The crossties can be easily replaced if a trail were built. (April 2003)

An eastbound WM passenger train comes across the 6th Potomac River bridge from Keifer in 1951. Notice the semaphores and C&O Canal bridge in the distance. (Ray Wongus Collection of the WMRHS) The second photo is looking back west across the bridge similar to the photo above. The amount of overgrowth is tremendous compared to just a few years ago. (4/30/97)

Photo of the bridge from the West Virginia side looking towards Maryland. This photo was taken in 1917 during WWI. The person seen in the photo on of top the bridge may be a soldier as each bridge had soldier stationed to it. Notice the value of the bridge at the time, written on the photgraph. (WMRHS Collection)

At the eastern side of the bridge the WM cuts throgh a ridge at Beavan's Bend by means of a deep cut. In April 1993, the abandoned right-of-way and cut can easily be seen from the bridge curving away to the right towards the 5th crossing bridge and Kessler Tunnel. Later in April 2003 a portion of the right-of-way had been removed and used as a road.

WM M2 Challenger no. 1207 has an extra eastbound and is crossing the 6th crossing bridge into West Virginia. (WMRHS Collection)



Go West
Go East