Little Orleans/B130.8

Little Orleans/B130.8

Bill's Place at Little Orleans in 1993, photographed by David Lepkowski.





Little Orleans (mile post B131) was once located on the main route from Fort Frederick to Cumberland back in the colonial days, but is now only accessible by winding back roads. Little Orleans bacame a majopr shipping point for lumber after 1850. Docks were built along the canal banks and a ford in the river allowed a connection with the B&O RR across the river at Orleans. With this connection, products could then be shipped west too rather than only back east. Little Orleans is known as the second oldest community in the area, after Oldtown. In the 1800s, the town of Orleans Crossroads (across the river) grew very rapidly after the arrival of the B&O RR. On the Maryland side, the town was smaller-and thus the name "Little" Orleans.

The Western Maryland Railway didn't reach Little Orleans until 1904, and still the town never really grew any bigger. Billmeyer Lumber Company built a railroad siding here at Little Orleans along the WM. The lumber traveled from the company's mill to the railroad siding by horse and freight wagon. At Little Orleans the lumber was loaded onto rail cars wainting on the siding. Depression in the lumber industry later caused the bankruptcy of the Billmeyer Lumber Company which operated from 1901 until 1927. The Western Maryland built a small station and water tank here. The station sign can still be seen today hanging over the door to the Orleans Store. The WM had two side tracks in the town one at 553ft. and the other at 752ft. The second side track formaly belonging to Billmeyer Lumber Company, was purchased by a local resident and was used to load coal into hopper cars. Coal was dumped into a bin by trucks and sent up the fill by a conveyor to a tipple then loaded into the hoppers. This side track still remains today as it was never owned by the RR and couldn't be reomoved when the tracks were pulled up during abandoment. The longest side track was first used by a barrel making business which had a small shop here. They would construct the barrels then load them onto rail cars. The siding was later used as a set-off track by the WM. My guess maintence-of-way equipment and camp cars would also use the siding as well.

There is not much in "Little" Orleans now, the population is only 2. However, there seems to be alot of activity espically in the summer months with hikers, people camping nearby, fishing ,and taking advantage of the boat ramp here in the river. Hunting season brings hunters from all over to Little Orleans and the area. One mile to the east of Little Orleans on the WM, is the railroads longest tunnel-Indigo Tunnel at 4,350ft. To the west is a long deep cut then the 1st of 6 bridges that crossed the Potomac River between here and across the river from Paw Paw, WV. This part of the WM right-of-way up to the first Potomac bridge is now being used as a road to reach houses to the west. The fill at Little Orleans is being used by the National Park Service to store gravel for projects in the area. The WM and the C&O Canal also both cross Fifteen Mile Creek in Little Orleans. Now only a small country store/bait shop/resturant/bar/mayors office is all that remains. However, it is definitly worth a visit just to camp and explore the WM and C&O Canal.

The original WM station sign for Little Orleans now hangs above the door to "Bill's Place".




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Here is the new replacement for a old timber overpass that carried a county road to a few homes west of Little Orleans. The first photo is atop the new culvert looking west.

The first photo is a rare photo of a westbound hopper train lead by two WM F7's in the deep cut at Little Orleans. (photo by unknown person) The second photo I took at the same location in June 2001 with my 1963 Impala where the F7 previously was.

This is the WM culvert and fill leading out of the long deep cut at Little Orleans overtop Fifteen Mile Creek.

A eastbound Western Maryland train in the cut passing the B131 milepost. The switch for the set-off tracks at Little Orleans is on the right. (photographed in 1973, by Rich Polk) Later on April 23, 1994 I took a photo at the same loca
The old WM right-of-way at Little Orleans is being used to store gravel on June 2001. The second photo is all that remains of the second set-off track at Little Orleans. Only a few feet of the track is still in place. This was the 752ft. track, that "Bill" said had a coal tipple to load coal into hoppers by means of a conveyor that ran up the bank to the track from a dump bin for trucks. There was also a barrel company that had a small shed here. They loaded barrels into boxcars on the first setoff track and when the car was full the WM would take it away a place an empty car in its place.

See the drawing below from May 1912, it shows the track layout, property lines, and various structures. (Layout photo from Jim Coshun)



This structure was on the 2nd side track here at Little Orleans. Its is possibly a platform used by the railroad to inspect and work on the timber lining if the tunnels. The year is 1968 and in 1972, Indigo Tunnel would be relined shortly before it was abandoned. (1968, Don Biggs photo)


Here is the photo taken by R.E. Anderson along the Little Orleans setoff tracks in May 1974. This picture shows how the tracks were layed out. Photos like this one are very rare since the WM West Sub ran through remote, hard to get to areas. The WM also didn't run very many trains compared to the larger number that ran on the B&O just across the river. This is WM train AJ-3. It was one of the high-priority "Alpha Jet" train that ran between the Reading RR and the P&WV RR at Connellsville, PA. This photo is pictured on the September 2003 page of the Western Maryland Historical Society calander.


To order this calender which contains the photo pictured above click HERE .




Here is the Little Orleans "station", that is more of a waiting shed. According to Bill the station survived up until the 80's when it was torn down. The building to the left of the station was the barrel making company that was mentioned above. This station was located just off the overpass on the right in the photos below. (thanks to Jeff Hollis for photo)

Here is the original store at Little Orleans now known as Bill's Place. This building was known as Callahan's Store and was moved to this location from alongside the canal to make way for railroad. This photo was taken in June 1971 by Arthur Bloch. The building burned in the 1990's and was rebuilt as a log cabin shown here as it looks today.

Photo of the WM overpass in Little Orleans next to Bill's Place. (March 2002)

WM overpass at Little Orleans during construction in 1904. This view is from the canal side and can be seen in the foreground. I photographed the overpass much later in March 2002. (thanks to Jeff Hollis for photo)

Looking east fro atop the WM overpass (bridge 130.8) in Little Orleans in 1960. (Ray Wangus Collection of the WMRHS) The crossties are beginning to appear through the worn down dirt here in the March 2002 photo that is also looking east.

Two photos looking east on the WM at Little Orleans in 1968. The first photo shows a boxcar in one of the two sidetracks that were here. The boxcar is being loaded with barrels. The second photo is looking easteast from atopthe the overpass. (1968, Don Biggs photos)



story from Bill

Bill told me a story of when the last train came through Little Orleans. He said the train was a "scrap" train that was pulling up the rails as they went back east. They had stopped at Little Orleans and the conductor came into the store to get a 6-pack. They asked him to ride along so Bill closed the store and hung a sign on the door that read "be back, caught the last train out of town". He said they rode to Hancock stopping at various spots to catch rattle snakes and goof off. He said the crew didn't care, there jobs were being terminated anyway when all the rails were torn up. So once at Hancock he just went to a bar and got a ride back with someone from town.


An old photo of the water tower and water spout along the tracks at Little Orleans. (thanks to Jeff Hollis for photo) The second photo is the remains of the concrete base for the water tower at Little Orleans. The tower was used to fill the tenders for the steam locomotives as water was needed.

This is the WM road crossing at High Germany Road just to the east of Little Orleans. The first photo was taken in June 1970 by Arthur Bloch. In the second photo crossties and rail are still intact at the road crossing. You can see the crossties in the foreground leading away to the crossing. These photos were are looking east towards Indigo Tunnel just 1 mile away.

Looking down High Germany Road towards the WM crossing at Little Orleans,Md. This photo was taken by Arthur Bloch in February 1971.



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