Oldtown Station/B151

Oldtown Station/B151






Oldtown, Maryland (mile post B151) was known to be the first settlement in what is now Alleghany County. A ford here in the Potomac led to the establishment of early Indian settlements nearby. In 1740, Oldtown's most famous historic figure Thomas Cresap, an early explorer, established a residence to trade with the Indians here which later led to the thriving town of Oldtown.

Later after the Civil War, Oldtown did not benefit from the increasing railroad traffic on the B&O RR, which had laid tracks along the Virginia (now West Virgina) banks of the Potomac River. Even after the arrival Western Maryland Railway in 1904 and improved highways, Oldtown still remained pretty-much isolated from the rest of Maryland. In 1905, Monroe Kulp started the Kulp Lumber Company of Alleghany County. Kulp moved his operation from Lewisburg, PA. to Oldtown, MD. Kulp brought with him a sawmill, 4 locomotives, rail, and enough employees from Lewisburg to operate everything. Company stores, houses, and a railroad engine house were built near the sawmill. The WM had previously arrived in 1904 and Kulp constructed his lumber company nearby along the WM tracks. Kulp depended only on the Western Maryland and did not involve the C&O Canal or the B&O Railroad that the Green Ridge Railroad was forced to do. In 1906 the Kulp Railroad was built from the WM tracks to the sawmill. From the sawmill the railroad followed Lower Town Creek Rd. on the west side of Stafford Ridge to Town Creek. The Kulp railroad crossed to Maple Run and Jacobs Rd. A branch followed a tributary along Mertens Ave(Railroad Hollow) to Boyes Knob. As timber was cut the railroad constructed more branch lines to reach the timber. The Kulp Railroad like the Green Ridge Railroad was a 36' narrow guage line. Kulp's railroad would eventually be a length of 20 miles. The railroad used 4 locomotives, 2-4-2 type to haul logos to the mill at Oldtown. Here finished lumber would be transferred to the Western Maryland. Kulp RR ceased operation in 1911 mainly due to the loss of money and a recent engine house fire that had damaged 3 of the railroads locomotives. These locomotives were later repaired and sold off as well as all of the remaining land. A majority of the land was purchased by the Mertens and would later become part of the large Green Ridge Valley Orchards.

During the days of Western Maryland passenger train service there was a station located here near the West End of the 5566ft. Oldtown passing siding/storage track. Later, in 1924 after the C&O Canal was bankrupt and wrecked by a flood, Oldtown declined even further. The Western Maryland Railway station in Oldtown later burned after being closed. Trains only then passed by Oldtown, occasionally stopping at the siding. In 1975, the Western Maryland was abandoned and the rails were lifted in 1976. Today, The track is gone and the right-of-way is slowly changing back into a forest. I can remember this part of the WM along Oldtown when I was a small child riding with my father to Cumberland to take photos of the B&O in the early 1980's. I remember seeing the ballast on the ROW as if the rails and ties were just pulled up. The ties and safety rails on the overpass in downtown Oldtown remained as they were after abandonment until the bridge was removed in the mid-1990's to widen the road under the one-way underpass. Today Oldtown is now just a small quiet river town that sees quite a few visitors as a result of the C&O Canal and its remaining historic buildings. Maybe one day the WM Rail Trail will also be constructed through here and help transfer Oldtown back into the busy town it once was.

majority of above info from the book "the Land of the Living" by John Mash


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East of the WM overpass the WM ran east through a small cut to reach the former location of the WM's Oldtown Station and passing siding. Here a train slows to pick up passengers and take on water. Much later in April 2001 I took a similar photo from the same location.

Excavating a cut in Oldtown during construction of the railroad in 1905. The Oldtown Station was built at the west end of the passing siding, just to the east of the cut leading into the town of Oldtown. The station later burned after being closed at the end of passenger service.

A eastbound WM train passes the Oldtown station and signals 150.8 and 150.9 in 1955. The Oldtown "station" track is the the left of the train. The crossties for the old station track now appear in the center road today. (WM photo collection of Jeff Hollis)

Looking west up the WM tracks into Oldtown, and looking east from the same location after abandoment. The signal pictured in the first photo once stood at the base of the bank to the left in the second photo. (WM photo collection of Jeff Hollis)

WM Potomac #1407 passes the Oldtown Station as it heads east at the West End of the Oldtown passing track. (Feb 1953, by William P. Price) Next Westbound WM train BT-1 approaches signal 150.8 at the West End of the Oldtown Storage Track on February 16, 1975. By this date, only a few more months were left to run trains before this track was taken out of service and pulled up. (D. Augsburger photo)

Looking east in 1976 at the west end of the former siding and main tracks of the WM. By this time the rails had been lifted and all that remains are the crossties, tieplates, and spikes. (Don Biggs photo)


story from a railfan

Coal still remains at former Oldtown station location from famous coal train crash of 4/19/67. I was at recess in 3rd grade outside the nearby school when the crash happened, noise was incredible!! Remember it happening to this day. Some students held their hands over the ears because sound of crash was so loud.


Looking east from the small fill that is still covered with coal from the train wrecked that is mention above in the story. Second photo is looking back west from the cut just east of the WM Oldtown Station. (Nov. 2004)


Kulp Lumber Company


WM track layout showing the connection with the Kulp Lumber Company tackage. (Thanks to Jim Coshun for a few Kulp photos)

The Kulp Lumber Company Sawmill was once located in the large flat area along MD. Rt. 51 east leaving Oldtown. The lumber company ran a narrow gauge railroad into the mountains for timber. The logs were cut then transported to the WM where they were transferred to larger rail cars.

Looking south in a small cut on the roadbed of the Kulp Lumber Company. This photo was taken just off Lower Town Creek Rd. (Nov. 2004)





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