Society realizes a dream, buys Union Bridge station Railroad historical group had been trying for years

November 24, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

When Western Maryland Railway Historical Society signed a contract to buy the Union Bridge train station a few weeks ago, it was a dream come true for the 1,100-member organization.

"We had been wanting that building for some time," said T. Robert Shives, a member of the society's board of directors.

Shives said the society has been talking with the owner, Maryland Midland Railway Co., for several years. Maryland Midland used the station as its headquarters until about three years ago, when it moved into a new building across the street.

The society's goal is to "return the station to its passenger days" when it had separate waiting rooms for men and women with a fireplace in each, Shives said. The train station would become part of its railroad museum, which is housed in an adjoining two-story brick structure. The society also has a caboose and other train cars it plans to display.

The 96-year-old train station will need renovation, but not nearly as much as a two-story brick building that Western Maryland Railway -- Maryland's Midland's predecessor -- gave the society three decades ago.

L The building served as the railway's administrative offices.

That building was in "bad shape" when the railway gave it to the society in 1967, Shives said. The structure was built at the same time as the train station.

"Pigeons were living upstairs," he said. "The tile roof had gaping holes. The upstairs floor had to be replaced. It was the biggest project we had ever undertaken. It probably cost around $20,000."

Western Maryland Railway gave the building to the society "with strings attached," Shives said. "They kept the land and put in a clause that if they [or their successors] didn't like the way the building was kept, they could take it back at any time."

What makes the $65,000 installment purchase of the train station from Maryland Midland so special for the society is that it includes the property on which the station and the office building sit.

"We will own it from now on," said Shives. "It cleans that up."

Shives expects the society to conclude the purchase within three months. "We're waiting mostly on a survey" of the site, he said.

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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