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History of the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad

Line Guide:

Sunnyside Yard-New York Penn Station
New York Penn Station to Philadelphia 30th Street Station
Philadelphia 30th Street Station to Potomac Yard
Enola Yard to Perryville

Philadelphia 30th Street Station to Harrisburg

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Under The Wires

History of the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad

Special thanks to "Brother Pius" for providing this information.

The Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad began life as the Washington & Maryland Line Railroad, incorporated April 30, 1857  by local interests, to link the canal and railroad operations at Columbia with the canal and general eastern commerce centering at Port Deposit. The name was changed to Columbia & Maryland Line Railroad March 29, 1860, and to Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad on April 15, 1864. None of these companies owned any engines or equipment, and construction of the road was not begun until September 1866. During construction, the Pennsylvania Railroad recognized the property to be an advantageous low grade route to Baltimore and the east (with easier grades then the Northern Central Railroad, via York and North Freedom) and purchased $1,822,000 of the C&PD's bonds - a controlling interest. The PRR on June 13, 1877 entered into agreement to operate the property upon completion of construction. Construction was completed and the line opened July, 1877.

       The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore RR (which was itself owned by the PRR) purchased the C&PD May 12, 1893. On September 15, 1916, the C&PD was merged with other properties to form the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington RR. The PB&W was itself operated by the PRR under a lease dated December 13, 1917.

         The C&PD was (apparently) dispatched by the PRR's Philadelphia Division from the time of its completion (dispatcher at "C" Office in Columbia depot). On January 1, 1879, the Frederick Division was formed (comprised of the C&PD: the York, Hanover & Frederick branch and the Wrightsville Branch), dispatched from "D" Office in York. The Frederick Division was abolished June 1, 1902 and operations transferred to the Maryland Division of PW&B RR, out of "WD" Office in Wilmington Station. When the Baltimore Division was incorporated into the Maryland Division in 1937, the dispatching moved to "B" Office , Baltimore. Electrification and CTC were installed in 1938 resulting that all telegraph and train order offices were closed, and control given to the operator at Columbia. The C&PD was transferred to the Harrisburg Division October 1, 1976 (the office call for the Harrisburg Division Dispatcher was "F").

On February 1, 1885, the stations and agents on the C&PD were:

Columbia*                                     Chas. S. Murray
Washington 1                                 B. Frank Burg
Safe Harbor*                                 L.C. Warfe
Shenk's Ferry
York Furnace
McCall's Ferry                                Wm. N. Amig
Fite's Eddy 2                                   Clarkson B. Bostick
Fishing Creek
Peach Bottom*                                 Wm. H. Uffelman
Bold Friar
Conowingo*                                     Stephen J. Caldwell
Cromley's Mountain                        
Octoraro*                                         Lafayette Bradley
Rock Run
Port Deposit*                                    David G. Wilson
Perryville*                                          W.C. Culley

* denotes telegraph station

1 denotes second class freight station

2 denotes exclusively passenger agent

There were two major realignments of grade and profile on the C&PD: (1) 1905-1906 - from Conestoga Creek Bridge to Safe Harbor in connection with the building of the A&S Low Grade and McCalls Ferry to Cresswell in connection with construction of the Holtwood Dam. The west end of the C&PD was closed for two years during this construction; (2) 1926-1928 - alignment revised between Port Deposit and Fite's Eddy in conjunction with building of the Conowingo Dam. There were no tunnels on the C&PD prior to this relocation. In some places the track was relocated as much as 850' to the east.

       Some telegraph offices on the old C&PD were:


"WI"-Washington Boro

"W" (later "CR")-Cresswell

"HA" (later "SU")-Safe Harbor


"MF"-McCalls Ferry

"MF" (later "MC")-McCalls

"FR"-Face Rock

"FI"-Fite's Eddy

"BM"-Beach Bottom

"GO" (later "GW")-Conowingo

"GX" (later "GD")-Octoraro

"PS"-Port Deposit

"FX" (later "FH")-Frenchtown

"JV"-Perryville Yard

"V" (later "VY", later "DO")-Perryville.

Train dispatching was "improved" (?) by installing telephones in 1911, though the telegraph lasted on the C&PD late into the 1920's. Sentman and Rock were train order offices after the days of telegraph.

      The double track (at first referred to as "Lap Sidings") was installed in the area of Midway about 1911. The timetable direction on the C&PD was always north and south (not east and west). In 1916, passing siding capacities were:

Port Deposit-63 cars

Octorary-86 cars

Conowingo-72 cars

Peach Bottom-104 cars

Fishing Creek-29 cars

Face Rock Northward Siding-104 cars

Face Rock Southward Siding-104 cars

McCalls Ferry-102 cars

Pequea-51 cars

Safe Harbor-114 cars

Cresswell-97 cars

Columbia-74 cars

Here is a sample train order (my imagination) you may have received on the C&PD
about 1910:

"Eng. 712 display signals run as First 17 West End to Columbia has right over No. 26 Eng. 792 West End to Octoraro    Eng. 743 run as Second 17 West End to Columbia has right over No. 26 West End to Conowingo    Engs. 612, 692 and 512 run as three extras Columbia to West End.  Ex612 east hold main track meet First 17 at Cresswell, back in with 36 cars, meet Second 17 at Safe Harbor. Extras 692 and 512 east meet First 17, at WI meet Second 17 at Cresswell."

This site last updated August 12, 1999.

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