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Full text of "History and construction of the street railway system of Hagerstown, Md. / submitted by J. Alan Campbell"

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file:///X|/Special%20Collections/purgatory/Phi%20Mu/Campbell.%20J.%20Alan/blueprint.txt[4/8/2011 10:44:04 AM] 



.HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION OP THE STREET RAILWAY 
SYSTEM OP HAG-ERSTOWN, MD. 



Submitted By 

J. Alan Campbell 
For Initiation 
Into 
The Maryland Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi 



April 27, 1954 , 






SUMMARY 



The first street railway system in Hag erst own was 
the Hagerstown Railway Company founded in 1896, This was 
added to by the formation of other companies which extended 
the trolley service throughout the county. In Frederick a 
similar transportation system grew up and by 1904 the tracks 
of the two systems were connected at Myersville. The Security 
power plant was built in 1912 to meet the growing demands for 
electric power made by all the various trolley companies. In 
the spring of 1913 all of these concerns were combined to form 
the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Company. This organization 
later changed its name to the Potomac Public Service Company 
because its light and power business was becoming far bigger 
than its transportation service* In 1922 the Williamsport 
Power Company was formed to build a steam power plant at 
Williamsport. This is still the largest power station in the 
whole system. The Williamsport Power Company combined with the 
Potomac Public Service Company and the Cumberland Edison Company 
to form The Potomac Edison Company in 1923. At present the 
entire electric railway, power, and lighting system of Western 
Maryland is owned and operated by the Potomac Edison Company. 
Since 1911 or 1912 the electric railways have been losing 
importance as a means of transportation, until now many of them 
have been abandoned and bus service put in their place. Indica- 
tions show that in the future all the trolley service will be 
discontinued and other means of transportation used in its place. 



HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE STREET RAILWAY 
SYSTEM OP HAGERSTOWN, MD. 

The street railway system In Hagerstown Is part of 
an electric railway system which covers most of Washington 
and Frederick Counties of Maryland, and has tracks in 
adjacent southern Pennsylvania. This electric railway 
system is part of a coordinated transportation system which 
includes bus service throughout Maryland and parts of Virginia, 
West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Potomac Edison Company 
now controls this transportation system that originally was 
composed of numerous small companies each controlling a very 
small branch of the system. 

THE HAGERSTOWN RAILWAY CO. 

The first of these companies In Washington County 
was the Hagerstown Railway Company. In 1896 Messrs. Lane, 
Mealy, and Cushwa, of Hagerstown, conceived the Idea of 
building an electric railway system over the streets of 
Hagerstown and connecting Hagerstown to Wllliamsport . They 
also proposed building a track to Funks town, a suburb of 
Hagerstown* On March 12 of the same year, with the aid of 
some outside interests, they incorporated the Hagerstown 
Railway Company, which was granted franchises to construct 
and operate these lines. They were also given permission 
to do a general power and lighting business in Hagerstown 
and throughout Washington County. 



-g- 

The original franchise ordinance granted the 
company permission to operate the Mulberry Street loop, the 
Washington Street line, the South Potomac Street line, and 
the Summit Avenue line. This formed a rectangular loop of 
single track six blocks long and two blocks wide. It 
extended from the business section of town toward the north 
and east residential sections. The other lines were also 
single track and they radiated from the loop to the city 
limits; one west, one southwest, and one south. No other 
tracks were laid within the city limits of Hag erst own until 
1905 when connections were made with the tracks of the 
Hagerstown and Northern Railway Company. 

The ordinance of 1896 also provided that "cars 
shall be operated daily except Sunday (said Sunday being 
optional with the said Railway Company) at least from the 
hours of six o'clock A.M. until eleven o'clock P.M. and at 
least one car shall be run over each line in each direction 
every fifteen minutes during the time of running the same 
each day as above set forth". The speed of all care was 
limited to eight miles per hour by the ordinance and it was 
not until March 13, 1922 that this ordinance was amended to 
permit speeds of twenty -five miles per hour with a maximum 
of fifteen miles per hour at street crossings. The Railway 
Company was required to lay down and maintain all paving 
between the tracks and for two feet on either side of the 
tracks. Small amounts of freight were carried over the 
system but the passenger service made up the bulk of the 



-3- 

business. The passenger cars were at first small single 
truck cars with overhead trolley and two 600 volt direct 
current motors, one geared directly to each axel. Later 
larger cars were used but the overhead trolley and 600 volt 
direct current motors are still used throughout the system. 

The source of power for the electric railway was 
a small steam power plant located at Lee Street in Hagerstown, 
where coal was stoked by hand to small boilers. The old 
fashioned Edison bi-polar direct current generator was used, 
belted directly to a Corliss engine. This plant furnished 
power and light for Hagerstown and the vicinity as well as 
for the trolley cars. 

On June 18, 1905 the Hagerstown and Northern 
Railway Company was incorporated by the same interests that 
controlled the Hagerstown Railway Company. Their purpose 
was to construct an electric railway from Hagerstown directly 
north to the Mason Dixon Line, a distance of about seven miles. 
As soon as this project was completed the Franklin County 
Railroad Company of Pennsylvania was incorporated to build 
six miles of track to connect the northern terminus of the 
Hagerstown and Northern Railroad to Shady Grove, a small 
town in Pennsylvania. 

In 1901 the Hagerstown and ^oonsboro Railway 
Company was organized to extend the Hagerstown Punks town 
line to Boonsboro. The same men who controlled the other 
companies also controlled this one. They laid the track and 
began operations in the same year. All of these various 
companies used the same tracks In Hagerstown, and they operated 



-4- 

as a unit rather than as separate companies. 

DEVELOPMENT IN FREDERICK COUNTY 
While this development in electric railways was 
going on in Washington County a similar development was going 
on in adjacent Frederick County. Hagerstown and Frederick 
were the centers of the two systems which, as will be shown 
later, finally grew into one system with main headquarters and 
load center In Ha^erstown. 

The first of the electric railway companies in 
Frederick County was the Monocacy Valley Railroad Company 
Incorporated March 16, 1886. This was the only electric 
railway In Frederick County until 1894 when The Frederick 
and Middletown Railway Company was organized to give the 
farmers in the Middletown Valley an outlet for their produce 
through Frederick. This company did both freight and passenger 
business and was the best means of transportation from 
Middletown to Frederick because of the poor condition of the 
roads at that time. On April 9, 1898 the Frederick Thurmont 
and Northern Railway Company was granted its charter. This 
became a very Important route for carrying freight to and from 
Frederick. The northern end of this railway had physical 
connections with the Western Maryland Railroad near Thurmont, 
so that freight cars could be switched from the Western 
Maryland tracks to those of the Frederick Thurmont and North- 
ern Railway Company and delivered by them to the various 
business concerns in Frederick. To make these deliveries the 
street railway system of Frederick was used to advantage and 
freight was delivered in any part of Frederick without unloading 



-5- 

the cars. Two years later, in 1900, the Frederick Thurmont 
and Northern Railway Company changed its name to The Washington 
Frederick and Gettysburg Railway Company hut its ambition to 
build an electric railway from Frederick to Washington was 
never realized. 

THE MERGER OF 1913 

By the end of 1901 the two electric railway systems, 
one centered about Hagerstown and the other at Frederick, had 
expanded toward each other until there were only seven miles 
between them. But it was not until March 22, 1904 that the 
Washington County interests together with local interests 
about Myersville incorporated the Hagerstown and Myers vi lie 
Railway Company to construct and operate an electric railway 
from Hagerstown to Myersville. This completed the link 
connecting Hagerstown to Frederick by electric railway. 

The expansion of the trolley systems and the rqj id 
growth of their business led in 1912 to the feeling that all 
the companies should combine in an effort to construct a large 
power plant to insure power for the entire system. In order 
to do this the Frederick and Hagerstown Power Company was 
formed to build and operate a power plant at Security, two 
miles from Hagerstown. The Security Power Plant had four 
coal stoked boilers each la ving 175 pounds per square inch 
working pressure. These supplied steam for tvio 1500 &.W. 
Westinghouse turbo-generators and one 500 K.W. Westinghouse 
turbo-generator used only during peak load. Two rotary 
converters were also located at Security to supply 600 volt 



-6- 

direct current to the nearby trolley lines. 

In order to better coordinate the electric power 
and transportation systems and unify the control of these 
companies, there was a merger in 1913 which took in all the 
companies so far mentioned and several others. The main 
companies included in this merger were i 

The Frederick and Haters town Power Company 1912 

The Hagerstown and Northern Railroad Company 1907 

The Hagerstown and Myersville Railway Company 1904 

The Hagerstown and Boonsboro Railway Company 1901 

The Myersville and Catoctin Railway Company of Frederick 

County 1897 

The Frederick Gas and Electric Company 1904 

The Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Company of Washington 

County 1896 
The Frederick Railroad Company 1909 

It should be mentioned that the Frederick Railroad 
Company which went Into this merger was formed in 1909 from a 
consolidation of The Washington Frederick and Gettysburg 
Railway Company, The Monocacy Valley Railroad Company, The 
Jefferson and Braddock Heights Railway Company, and the 
Frederick and Mlddletown Railroad Company. Therefore, the 
merger of 1913 includes every electric railway in Washington 
and Frederick Counties. The merged companies went by the 
corporate name, The Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Company, 
although this soon proved to be an inadequate name. After 
1913 the main purpose of the company no longer was to provide 

















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-7- 

electrical transportation; since the light and power business 
was becoming far larger than the transportation service. Hot 
only was the light and power business becoming larger but the 
trolley service was competing with an increasing number of 
busses, taxis and private cars. Although no figures are 
available earlier than 1926, It is the opinion of officials 
of the company that the peak of the trolley service was in 
1911 or 1912. From that time until the present the electric 
railway* s business has been steadily falling. Because the 
Hagerstown and Frederick Railway Company no longer seemed a 
fitting name it was changed in 1926 to The Potomac Public 
Service Company, which better expressed the purpose of the 
organization. 

By 1926 they were performing a number of different 
services, for instance they ran trolleys and busses, furnished 
power and light, sold electrical equipment and had a number of 
other minor interests. But the company was growing and expand- 
ing their power business more than any other branch. They were 
buying power plants and building up their business throughout 
Western Maryland. In order to aid this growth and expansion 
financially as well as with experience, it was arranged that 
the American Water Works and Electric Company acquire an 
interest in the Potcmac Public Service Company. 

THE WILLIAMSPORT POWER STATION 
After making a most complete economic and engineering 
survey of the Potomac Public Service Company, The American Water 
Works and Electric Company decided to finance the building of a 



-8- 

super -power plant for them. A very careful study of the load 
center and all possible locations resulted in a decision to 
build the plant at William sport, Md. This is only six miles 
from Hagerstown, the load center, and it had adequate railroad 
facilities for coal and supplies. It is on the banks of the 
Potomac River where it has an abundant water supply for cooling 
and condensing purposes. The Williamsport Power Company was 
formed to build this power station and the original installation 
was completed in 1923. The main generating equipment consisted 
of a 14,000 K.W. Westinghouse turbo-generator with two 1450 H.P., 
B. and W. Cross Drum type boilers. But because of the rapid 
growth of the power company and the demand for higher 
efficiencies, additional generating power was soon necessary. 
To keep stride with this demand extension of about eighty feet 
was made to the boiler room and about sixty feet to the turbine 
room. In this space was Installed an additional Bab cock and 
Wilcox Cross Drum boiler unit of the improved type and a 
30,000 K.W. Westinghouse turbo-generator with the necessary 
auxiliary equipment. 

Within a year of the formation of the Williamsport 
Power Company its name was changed to The Potomac Edison 
Company and it then acquired all of the property of the 
Cumberland Edison Power Company. Next, the Potomac Edison 
Company and the Potomac Public Service Company were consolidated 
under the name of the Potomac Edison Company which is the 
present owner and operator of all of the power and transportation 
systems so far discussed. After this consolidation several 



-9- 

smaller companies were acquired but none of them affected 
the electric railway system in any way with one exception. 
When the Blue Ridge Transportation Company became a subsidiary 
of the Potomac Edison Company on August 3, 1923 the trolley 
system was coordinated with a bus transportation system that 
covered most of Maryland and parts of Pennsylvania, Virginia, 
and West Virginia* 

THE TROLLEY SYSTEM AT PRESENT 
In the past few years the bus service has been 
taking the place of the various trolley lines one by one. 
Many of the lines have been totally abandoned and the tracks 
taken up. For instance the entire line built by the Hagerstown 
and Northern Railway Company has been dismantled and bus 
service is used in its place. Not only is the number of miles 
of track decreasing fast, but on those routes which are still 
in use the number of passengers is greatly diminished. This 
trend is shown very clearly on the accompanying graph titled 
"Hagerstown and Frederick Railway, Number of Passengers 
Carried Per Car Mile". As can be seen from the graph there 
was an average of about three people per car mile in 1926 but 
in 1933 the average was only 1.25 people per car mile. There 
is no prospect that this number will increase in the future, 
so it is just a matter of time until the trolleys are totally 
displaced by other means of transportation in Hagerstown and 
the vicinity. There are now left only three routes that 
operate on a regulat? schedule in Hagerstown. These are the 
routes from Hagerstown to Willismsport, and to Frederick, and 



-10- 

the Summit Avenue line. 

Mr. Henry Holzapfel, Vice-President of the Potomac 
Edison Company, states that street railway systems in tovms 
the size of Hagerstown or Frederick are no longer economical 
and cannot favorably compete with private cars, busses, and 
taxi cabs. The trolley system in Haters town has flourished 
and in its time performed a valuable service to the people; 
but its days of usefulness are past. There is no longer any 
reason for its existence. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

The Potomac Edison News - Vol. 9 and 11 

City of Hagerstown Records of Franchise Ordinances. 

Case No. 3074 before the Public Service Commission of 

Maryland (Stenographer^ Record) 

Other valuable information and assistance was supplied by: 
Mr. Henry Holzapfel, Vice-Pres. of Potomac Edison Company 
Mr. P.W.T. Loy, Vice-Pres. of Potomac Edison Company 
Mr. George Twyford, Electrical Engineer of Potomac Edison Co. 
Mr. Edgar Koons, Statistician of The Potomac Edison Co. 
The Drafting Department of the Potomac Edison Co. 



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