Harford History

August 27, 2006

Last train service from Bel Air

On Aug. 31, 1954, a train on the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad left Bel Air Station for the last time.

Known affectionately as the "Ma and Pa," the railroad scaled back operations until 1959, when it folded, ending a railroad that during its 80 years of existence did much for the agricultural and economic development of Harford County.

As early as 1867, a company was chartered to build a railroad from Baltimore to Philadelphia through Bel Air and crossing the river at Conowingo. That plan fell through, but because of popular support for a service to the farmland of northern Harford County, money was raised for another proposal.

Work began in 1881. This railroad was much more winding than the original plan, passing from Baltimore through Towsontown, Fallston, Bel Air, Vale, Forest Hill and Highland to Delta. At Delta the rails joined with the Peachbottom Railroad to York.

In a 1901 reorganization, the joined companies were named the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. Travelers enjoyed the rail journey for its convenience but more for its winding scenic route, around many curves and across many trestles. Parts of the rail track still can be enjoyed today, by walkers and joggers in Bel Air and Forest Hill, as the Ma and Pa Trail.

[Our Harford Heritage, by C. Milton Wright. Research by Harford County Public Library]

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