Train lover reaches his last stop

Maryland Midland Railway Inc. chief ends railroad dream after a 44-year career


A lifelong fascination with trains took Paul Denton on an extended journey, from managing traffic at a New Jersey glass plant to running a Carroll County-based rail company.

After working for more than four decades in the transportation industry, Denton reached his last stop: retirement.

Denton stepped down on June 30 as president and chief executive officer of Maryland Midland Railway Inc. after spending 20 years with the Union Bridge-based company. With his career of 44 years over, Denton said his dreams have been accomplished.

"I'm one of the few guys in the world that as a [small child] stood on a platform in Towson watching trains go by," said Denton, 65, of Westminster. "And [I] was able to put the love of my life into business practice and actually succeed."

In July 1986, Denton joined Maryland Midland as its vice president of sales and marketing, bringing along experience gathered from his one year of working for Armstrong World Industries and 23 years with CSX Transportation and its predecessor companies.

"A match was made in heaven," Denton said. "I was ... to build the Maryland Midland from an insignificant streak of rust through cow pastures and make a business out of it.

"I got ... a lot of support from my wife, who thought I was crazy. I was 45 at the time, [and it] was my last chance to see if I could do something on my own."

Within his first year, Denton became the company's president. Under his guidance, Maryland Midland has more than quadrupled its number of carloads-per-year since 1986.

"The employees here are tremendously loyal and dedicated and hardworking," Denton said. "It's through their efforts that we've been able to do what we've done."

Denton's co-workers praised his work ethic and knowledge of the industry.

"He didn't just work eight to five; it was a 24-hour a day job," said David W. Bordner, who was promoted July 7 from senior vice president to president and chief executive officer. "You could see that. It shined through him."

Christine Sheedy, administrative assistant for Maryland Midland, said she developed a bond with Denton through her 12 years of working with him.

"I'm going to miss him a good deal," Sheedy said. "But I know what his phone number is, and I'll call him and bug him."

Denton's retirement came exactly 43 years after he started at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and 20 years after he joined Maryland Midland.

With his free time, he wants to tend to his vegetable and flower garden and assist his wife, Barbara, with volunteer work through their church.

But the love of trains clearly hasn't escaped his life, Denton said. By December, he hopes to build two train gardens for his three grandchildren, layouts that will be 32 square feet each.

"You get fascinated by something in your life," he said. "That's what fascinated me. It's not something you turn off."

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