THE HISTORY OF THE MARYLAND LIKE OF THE WASHINGTON RAILWAY AND ELECTRIC COMPANY -*\bf (U.- presented to THE PHI MU HONORARY ENGINEERING FRATERNITY University of Maryland by James N. Wallace, '30 May 8, 19S9. SUMMARY OF THESIS Confidence in the stability of the electric railway as an investment, and realization of its great possibilities in the development of real estate projects, were responsible for the organization of several railway companies to operate between Washington and Laurel/ These companies failed in their purpose, but the — COLUMBIA AKD MARYLAED RAILWAY CO. was chartered in 1894 to build an electric line between Washington and Baltimore, through the town of Laurel. The contract for the entire construction was let, and several miles of track were laid from each end of the project. The rail- way company went into the hands of a receiver and that portion from Washington to Laurel was sold in 1898 to the CITY AMD SUBURBAN RAILWAY CO. of Washington, formerly the Eekington and Soldier's Home Electric Rail- way Co., and construction was completed by this company from the District of Columbia line to Berwyn. Construc- tion between Berwyn and Laurel was accomplished and ser- vice begun in 1902 by the — BERWYN AMD LAUREL RAILROAD CO. which changed its name to the Washington, Berwyn, and Laurel Electric Railroad Co. following a traffic agreement for the use -1- The Maryland Line of the Washington Railway and Electric Company was constructed for service from the Treas- ury in Washington to Laurel, Maryland. The history of this line involves the history of no less than sixteen different chartered railway companies. Involved in the story of the development of this line are many visions of its backers and their ultimate accomplishment or failure. It is the purpose of this paper to present that story in as con- cise manner as the complications of the subject will permit. BUSINESS CONDITIONS OF THE TIME Following the election of Grove r Cleveland to the Presidency in 1884, there were "boom times" in real estate in and around Washington. This condition was some- what augmented by the possibility of the World T s Fair (which was finally held in Chicago) being located at the Nation's Capital. The effect of this surge of prosperity was felt as far out as the town of Laurel, in Maryland, where a group of business men, headed by Edward Phelps (who later served as Mayor of Laurel from 1895 to 19 0£) in their enthusiastic speculation in real estate had visions of a great "Country City" extending from Washington to Baltimore. This %ity" was conceived to consist of three boroughs, each ten miles square, through which was to run a double4racked electric railway line flanked on each, side by a wide roadway. To these men it seemed inevitable that the land between Baltimore and Washington would thus be entirely built up within twenty years at the most. Several sub-division projects were under way in the vicinity of Laurel, chief of which was the Phelps and Schaffer project thru Senator A. P. Gorman's estate and "North laurel" developed by Gordon and Company of Washington. With these incentives, and aided by a general public belief in the stability of investment in electric railways, the plan of rapid transportation thru this section was seriously considered. EARLY CHARTERS The first company to be chartered was incorporated in 1888 as the Berwyn and Laurel Electric Railroad Company under Article 23, sec. 343, of the Public General Laws of Maryland which states that "Corporations may be formed in this state by five or more persons .... who desire to form a body corporate or politic for the purpose of the formation of .... , and of passenger railway companies . . . but no passenger railway constructed under the pro- visions of this article shall exceed twelve miles in length." 1 If the provisions of this article were strictly followed, a special act of the State Legislature was not necessary for -2- of the City and Suburban Railway Companies lines from Berwyn to Washington. In 1910, after a number of business and legal maneuvers, the Washington, Berwyn and Laurel Electric Railroad Co. was deeded to the City and Suburban Railway Co, of Washington which was operated as a subsidiary of the WASHINGTON RAILWAY AND ELECTRIC CO. until Novem- ber 1, 1926 when its corporate existence was absorbed by that company. Service between Beltsviile and Laurel was suspended in July 1925. At present this company operates electric street car service from Washington to Beltsviile, and motor bus service from Washington to Laurel. balti hrtORE \ IMtUester WASHINGTON The: Marylanp Line of the Washington Kwy & Flectric Cb, the incorporation of such a company; thus such charters were easily obtained. This company failed, to undertake any construction, and its charter was forfeited. The Washington and Laurel Traction Go. was grant- ed a charter, April 3, 1890, by special act of the Legis- lature to build an electric railway line parallel to the 'boulevard" between Laurel and the District of Columbia line. The company was composed chiefly of Laurel men. About one mile of this road was const rue ted thru Laurel by this company, but the project ultimately failed. The Baltimore and Washington Turnpike and Tramway Go. was chartered, April 7, 1892, with the same privileges as the Washington and Laurel Traction Co. and consisted of practically the same incorporators. This road did not construct any line, but later consolidated with the Colum- bia and Maryland Railway Co. THE COLUMBIA AITD MARYLASD RAILWAY CO. By far the boldest step toward the erection of an electric railway line thru that section was made by the Columbia and Maryland Railway Co. This company received its charter under "Article 23", and it was later amended to permit extension of the project and to greatly enlarge its privileges (1894) . This company planned to build a -4- double -tracked line from Baltimore to Washington, power for which was to be furnished, by three power houses : one at Illchester, one on the Patuxtent river at Laurel, and another on Paint Branch at Berwyn. The Abandoned Power Project on Paint Branch On August 7, 1895 a contract for the entire pro- ject was awarded to the Baltimore and Catonsville Construc- tion Co., and construction was actually begun August 26, 1895. Construction progressed from Baltimore as far as Illchester, where the power house was partly completed, and also the power plant at Berwyn was partly constructed ■ material being hauled from sidings and extensions of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. The plan of building a plant on the Patuxtent was abandoned, following the advice of engineers. Bridge of Electric Line over Paint Branch (Built by Youngatown Bridge Company of Young etown, Ohio) -1S95- -5- At this stage, the construction company went into the hands of receivers, September 15, 1896, only a year after "beginning the contract. Soon after, the Edmonston Avenue, Catonsville, and Ellieott City Electric Railway Co. and the Baltimore and Washington Turnpike and Tramway Co, were consolidated with the Columbia and Maryland Railway Co. by special act of the Maryland Legislature April 4, 1896, which on the same date approved an act authorizing the Maryland Agriffultural College to convey right of way to the Columbia and Maryland Railway Co. The University of Maryland College Park The rejuvenated company then assumed the in- debtedness of the Baltimore and Catonsville Construction Co. and the receiver for the construction company was dis- charged in July 1897. Construction was resumed, but six months later (lovember 1897) the Baltimore Security and Trading Company gained control of the Columbia and Maryland -6- Railway Co. and immediately had it thrown into the hands of a receiver, Deo. 11, 1897, This was a very clever move, aiming to "freeze out" the small investors in the railway company. Consequently the company was sold by order of court on March 25, 1898 under foreclosure to Nicholas P. Bond, president of the Baltimore Security and Trading Co. This deal was approved by the Maryland Legislature May 16, 1898 - the name "Maryland Traction Company" being substituted for that of the Baltimore Security and Trading Co, by order of the Legislature. The "Maryland Traction Company" was then disposed of, the end running out of Baltimore being sold to what is now known as the United Railways, while that portion from the District of Columbia line was taken over by the Eckington and Soldier's Home Railway Co. Only the latter acquisition comes under the title of this paper, hence the fate of that portion taken over by the United Railways will not be taken up here . The acquisition of that portion of the "Maryland Traction Co." (called the Columbia and Maryland Railway Co. in the act of Congress) was approved by act of Congress, June 27, 1898. In this act also, the Eckington and Soldier's Home Railway Co. was authorized to change its name also to the City and Suburban Railway Company of Washington and to take over the Maryland and Washington Railway Co. (chartered -7- by act of Congress of August 1, 1892) the route of which ran from 4th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, N. E. to the northeast boundary of the District of Columbia - now known as Mt. Ranier. This gave the City and Suburban Railway Co. complete franchise from the interior of Wash- ington to Laurel, but it only undertook to complete the line to Berwyn and did not include that portion of Berwyn to Laurel in its mortgage. Service was begun between Berwyn and the District of Columbia line early in 1899 by the City and Suburban Railway Co. CONSTRUCTION BETWEEN BERWYN AND LAUREL. The Berwyn and Laurel Electric Railroad Co. was then re-incorporated under the laws of Maryland on November 12, 1901 to construct and operate an electric railway between the two Maryland towns whose names form the title of the company. This company was controlled by the Washing- ton, Baltimore, and Annapolis Electric Railway Co. which planned to build a connecting line from its lines at Anna- polis Junction to the Berwyn and Laurel Railroad Co. line at Laurel - a distance of about three miles. By act of the General Assembly of Maryland, passed Apr. 8, 1902 the name of the latter company was changed to "Washington, Berwyn, and Laurel Electric Railroad Company n - it having entered into a traffic agreement with the City and Suburban Railway Co. to operate over its lines between Berwyn and Washington. -8- As stated in the act, the name change was made because it was considered to be "more appropriate." Crossing of Electric Line and taehington-Baltiaere Boulevard near Bel t evil le The line from Berwyn to Laurel was completed and formally opened on September 21, 1902. The first car to traverse it was the private car of Gen. George H. Harries, then president of the Washington Railway and Electric Co. of Washington which was to furnish power to the newly opened line. General Harries granted the use of his car to the major of laurel, Edward Phelps. Mr. Phelps had been actively interested in real estate and transportation development around Laurel, his name having appeared among the incorpora- tors of several of the earlier companies, and this was a day that seemed to him to be a great step taken toward the ulti- mate realization of the "country city" as described in a preceding paragraph. The car took the party over the entire Washington Railway and Electric Co. system that day. It must be remembered that in that day the Baltimore Pike hardly deserved its name and that the automobile was in its infancy. -9- - The Piivate Car of General George H. Harries which was the first to traverse the line of the Berryn and Laurel Electric Bill road e«*pany. Photograph shows the Mayor of Laurel and his party on the opening day, September 21 # 19° 2 » -10- The plans of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway Co. failed to materialize, and it went into the hands of the receiver. This left the Washington, Berwyn, and Laurel Electric Railroad Go. without the support of its parent company, and suit was instituted in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Mary- land for the foreclosure of the mortgage on the company's property. A decree of foreclosure and sale was entered on July 6, 1910, and the property sold to the receivers of the Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Electric Railroad Co., who subsequently sold it to Clarence F. Norment (then presi- dent of the respondent companies, the Washington Ifailway and Electric Co. and of the City and Suburban Railway Co.) Norment and four others then incorporated the Washington, Berwyn, and Laurel Electric Railway Company on September 27, 1910, under the laws of Maryland for the purpose of owning and operating the property of the former company. Subse- quently (October 20, 1910) the property of the new company was deeded to the City and Suburban Railway Co. THE CITY AND SUBURBAN RAILWAY COMPANY OP WASHINGTON In 1899, control of the majority of the stock of this company had been acquired by the Washington Traction and Electric Co. This stock became part of the securities obtained by the Washington Railway and Electric Co. at the time of the reorganization of the Washington Traction and -11- Eleetric Co, February 4, 1902. On this same date, the Washington and Great Falls Electric Railway Co. acquired control of certain other companies and changed its name to that of the Washington Railway and Electric Co. - as authorized by act of Congress dates June 5, 1900 which gave certain companies the "right to enter into agreements with each other," Thus Congress officially sanctioned the con- solidation of street car lines in and around the District of Columbia. However, the City and Suburban Railway Co. had gone into the hands of the receiver on Qutober 11, 1901 and remained in that condition until September 22, 1905. In the meantime, it was operated as a subsidiary of the Washington, Railway and Electric Co., and continued as such until Hovember 1, 1926. On this date (by authority contained in an act of Congress dated June 5, 1900) the Washington Railway and Electric Co. acquired all of the estate, property, rights, and franchises of the City and Suburban Railway Co. of Washington and thereby absorbed the corporate existence of the latter company. The above gives a sketch of the existence of the City and Suburban Railway Co. of Washington about which has centered much of the history of the Maryland Line of the Washington, Railway and Electric Co. and explains how the said line was acquired by that company by which it is now completely owned and operated. -12- Service was suspended on the electric line "between Beltsville and Laurel in July 1925, and motor coach service Present Terminus of the Line at Beltsville substituted therefor. The policy of the railway company toward the town of Laurel, however, has "been very satisfactory. The company removed its tracks that ran through Laurel and on October 10, 1925 paid the town the sum of five hundred dollars to defray the expenses of gravel -surfacing the street from which the tracks had been removed. Former Location of Tracks Through Town of Laurel CONCLUSION Through these various processes of progress and -13- and evolution the establishment of the "Ma xy land Line of the Washington, Railway and Electric Co." has been shown. In its present state, the expectations of those by whom it was originally conceived have not been realized. The dream Beginning of Abandoned Section at Beltsvill* End of Abandoned Track at Laurel* of the great "country city" has failed to materialize, and the present operation and control of the line by the Washington Railway and Electric Go, serves as another striking example of the "survival of the fittest." Station at the former End of Line at Laurel -14- BIBLIOGRAPBT 1. "Laws Relating to Street-railway Franchises in the District of Columbia, n G. P. 0. (1905) 2. "Poor's Manual of Railroads." 1895 to 1901, 1905,1926 3. Public Utilities Gomm, Opinion and Findings in Valuation case of Washington, Railway and Electric and City and Suburban (1919 - G. P. 0). 4. Public Utilities Comm. Report (1926) 5. Beginning of Street Railways in the National Capital. Dr. Wm, Tudall (Rec. of Columbia Historical Society 1918). 6. Laws of Maryland 1888 to 1926. 7. Public Gen. Laws of Maryland. 8. Information also furnished byt H. M. Keyser - sect'y and asst Counsel of the Washington, Railway and Electric Company. Edward Phelps - formerly mayor of Laurel. Dr. Harry J. Patterson - Dean of Agricultural College, University of Maryland.