All aboard for haunting at B&O railroad museum

October 26, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Ghostly tales and horrors will greet those brave souls who visit the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum this weekend, when it becomes a haunted house filled with cobwebs and chiller-thriller music.

Among those who will make things go bump in the night are Julie Simms and her friends, a group of Centennial High School students whose job is to -- well, spook people.

Or, as Megan Stewart, 16, puts it, scare them out of their wits "just to make sure everybody enjoys themselves, to make them have fun."

Julie and Megan are among about two dozen people who have volunteered to staff the station. Two of them will be hostesses, guiding people through dark hallways and around corners where surprises lurk. Others will act as the unrestful souls of railway engineers who died in a fiery train wreck.

"We want to scare them," says Julie, 16, "but not too much."

They say their job is going to be easy: The museum lends itself to being scary.

The museum was built in 1831, the railroad's first terminal as it expanded west to Wheeling, W.Va. Only freight was supposed to pass through the terminal, but passengers increasingly used the station as a transfer point to get onto stagecoaches headed for the Frederick Turnpike.

Twenty-five years after the station was built, it was converted to accommodate passengers. Women waited on one side of the wall partitioning the second-floor ticket office, men on the other.

The B&O operated the station as a passenger stop until 1949. B&O used it as a freight stop until 1972, when Hurricane Agnes swept away railroad tracks. The building remained in disrepair until 1976, when Historic Ellicott City Inc. renovated it into a train museum.

The building is made of granite mined from local quarries. "It's eerie, even without the decorations," said Julie Fox, 16, a junior. "I walk around there and I get scared. It's an old place."

Linda Pianowski, the museum's director, said she is unaware of any terrible mishaps at the station during its 161-year history. But she hopes the haunted house won't be too frightening.

HAUNTED HOUSE

When: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Where: Ellicott City B & O Railroad Station Museum, Main Street and Maryland Avenue, Ellicott City.

Cost: $2 adults, $1 children

Information: 461-1944.

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