Pennsylvania Railroad and Penn Central Days
The railway line between Walkersville and Frederick was built between 1869 and 1872 as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Frederick Secondary. This was just a few years after the Civil War. During this time, while our nation was in the process of rebuilding, the railroad was busy carrying passengers and goods. The line ran from Columbia, Pennsylvania, through York and Hanover, into Maryland, running through Taneytown, Keymar, Woodsboro, Walkersville, and finally into Frederick. For decades there was a thriving business on the rails as dairy farmers sent milk and eggs to market, and local residents rode the train into Frederick for the day or perhaps north to the "big cities."
In 1968 when the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with the New York Central, the line was part of the resulting Penn Central Railroad. They would soon have their share of troubles. In less than three years, the new railroad filed for bankruptcy and, at about the same time, in 1972, Hurricane Agnes hit the Frederick area hard. The resulting flood completely washed out the bridge over the Monocacy River, severing the rail line two miles south of Walkersville. The entire line was put up for sale. The State of Maryland purchased the portion of the line within its borders, only utilizing the section north of Walkersville. For 20 years, the six-mile line between Walkersville and Frederick was out of service, buried under brush, weeds, and asphalt.
Walkersville Southern is Founded
From 1991 through 1993, Walkersville Southern volunteers cleared the right-of-way of brush and debris. In 1993, the Maryland Department of Transportation chose Walkersville Southern as the operator of the Walkersville-Frederick line. Rebuilding began immediately.
In 1995, Walkersville Southern began reconstruction of the Monocacy River bridge. Limited excursions were run in 1995 while the work progressed. With the completion of the project in March 1996, the first trains in more than 20 years crossed the Monocacy River. The 1997 season marked the first year of both Saturday and Sunday operations, with three trains departing the Walkersville station each day. The 1998 season marked the first time in more than 25 years that trains had run to Route 26, the current terminus of the line.
In 2009, the State of Maryland granted access to three more miles of track north of the existing station. Work began immediately to upgrade the track, and we hope one day to have passenger excursions travel north out of Walkersville on this rail.