A return trip for train enthusiasts at fairgrounds


January 27, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LAST WEEKEND WAS the last chance to see the Western Maryland Railway Historical Society's HO Scale Modular Group at the old station in Union Bridge. But for train enthusiasts, there's an encore of sorts.

"We'll be displaying the whole thing this weekend at a train show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium," said Bob Shives, a member of the society.

Shives said the train display in the Union Bridge train station was a small portion of the total display.

"We need about a 40-foot-by-70-foot space for the total display," he added. "It takes about six hours to put together."

A line of people snaked through the museum, out the door and across the station platform during one of the last weekends displaying the modular group.

"We had about 300 people that day," said Union Bridge resident and society member John Sater.

Sater was the attendant at the show the day my 5-year-old son, Bobby, and I visited. Like many little boys, Bobby loves trains. Turns out, Sater's love for trains goes a ways back as well.

"I lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad in Woodbury in Baltimore City," Sater said. "I've loved trains since I was a child."

Sater said he remembers getting his first train.

"I think I was still in grade school," he continued. "It was a Lionel Train. I still have it. Then when I was a teen-ager, I got an Ives Train. Still have that one, too."

The modular display depicted five areas the Western Maryland Railway line went through. The first part of the display, Maryland Junction at Ridgely, W.Va., was past the ticket office at the station.

According to a sign, "Through this control point was moved coal from West Virginia and Pennsylvania; grain and merchandise from the Midwest; and domestic and imported products from Baltimore."

At another corner of the display was a scale version of Helmstetter's Curve, which is a scenic horseshoe curve crossing Cash Valley at Helmstetter's farm, north of Cumberland and a popular photo location for train enthusiasts. Another portion of the display shows Deal, Pa., considered the "Top of the Mountain" at 2,375 feet. Extra engines, called helpers, pushed trains to Deal.

The next stop in the display was Meyersdale, Pa., and finally Sudbrook Park near Pikesville. Sudbrook was a summer recreation area for Western Maryland officials and their families in the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to society information.

All of this will be part of the overall display Saturday and Sunday at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

The Western Maryland Railway was originally called the Baltimore-Carroll and Frederick Line, Sater said.

"That was in 1852," he said. "But a year later the name was changed to Western Maryland Railway by the Maryland legislature."

Sater said that by 1859, the first Western Maryland railroad train went to Owings Mills over the Green Spring Valley branch of Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad (later renamed Northern Central).

By 1861, the Western Maryland reached Westminster, and a year later it pulled into Union Bridge. The Western Maryland Railway Historical Society was founded in 1967 for the purpose of preserving railroad history.

According to Sater, in cooperation with Western Maryland, the society established a museum in Union Bridge in the building that once served as the company's main offices. The Union Bridge station was built in 1902.

"The Western Maryland Railroad gave this building to the society," Shives explained.

Inside, another part of the station houses a jewel of a museum. Items such as railroad lanterns of all sorts are displayed here.

In the downstairs is a wall made like a boxcar. An old Teletype machine used in the Cumberland area also is on display, as is a board showing the schedules for three shifts of yard train crews.

In a separate room in the basement is the start of another modular display being built by Sater.

The museum is worth an afternoon visit. It is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays and by appointment. Tour groups are welcome with at least 30 days' notice.

Donations of railroad-oriented items are welcome, according to Sater. Items may also be lent to the Society by arrangement with the board of directors.

Membership in the Society is $25 a year and includes a quarterly magazine, annual pictorial calendar and discounts on museum store purchases. Information: 410-775-0150.

Golf tournament

We might be surrounded by snow right now, but think spring. The Francis Scott Key Athletic Boosters will be host to a golf tournament at 1 p.m. April 8 at Glade Valley Golf Course in nearby Walkersville.

It might seem a bit early to be getting the word out, but according to Debbie Lawrence, who is coordinating the event, the cutoff date for these events is fairly early.

"This is our first one," Lawrence said. "We had talked about a fund-raiser that would make a substantial amount of money. Last fall, we started talking about it seriously. We just finally decided, we're going to do it. We're just going to do it."

Lawrence said the cost is $75 per golfer, and the maximum number of golfers they can accommodate is 144. The cutoff date is March 15.

"We hope to make about $4,000 to $5,000 on this," she said.

For the golfer who makes a hole in one, the prize will be either a Chevrolet Cavalier or a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck donated by Tate Chevrolet in Annapolis, Lawrence said.

"We'd love to see it given away," Lawrence said.

Other members working on the tournament are Nancy Owings, Trisha Stonefifer and Larry Cashen.

Information: 410-756-2278 or e-mail to Birdies4eagles@aol.com.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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