Oldtown, Maryland (mile post B151) was known to be the first settlement in what is now Alleghany County. A ford here in the Potomac led to the establishment of early Indian settlements nearby. In 1740, Oldtown's most famous historic figure Thomas Cresap, an early explorer, established a residence to trade with the Indians here which later led to the thriving town of Oldtown.

Later after the Civil War, Oldtown did not benefit from the increasing railroad traffic on the B&O RR, which had laid tracks along the Virginia (now West Virgina) banks of the Potomac River. Even after the arrival Western Maryland Railway in 1904 and improved highways, Oldtown still remained pretty-much isolated from the rest of Maryland. In 1905, Monroe Kulp started the Kulp Lumber Company of Alleghany County. Kulp moved his operation from Lewisburg, PA. to Oldtown, MD. Kulp brought with him a sawmill, 4 locomotives, rail, and enough employees from Lewisburg to operate everything. Company stores, houses, and a railroad engine house were built near the sawmill. The WM had previously arrived in 1904 and Kulp constructed his lumber company nearby along the WM tracks. Kulp depended only on the Western Maryland and did not involve the C&O Canal or the B&O Railroad that the Green Ridge Railroad was forced to do. In 1906 the Kulp Railroad was built from the WM tracks to the sawmill. From the sawmill the railroad followed Lower Town Creek Rd. on the west side of Stafford Ridge to Town Creek. The Kulp railroad crossed to Maple Run and Jacobs Rd. A branch followed a tributary along Mertens Ave(Railroad Hollow) to Boyes Knob. As timber was cut the railroad constructed more branch lines to reach the timber. The Kulp Railroad like the Green Ridge Railroad was a 36' narrow guage line. Kulp's railroad would eventually be a length of 20 miles. The railroad used 4 locomotives, 2-4-2 type to haul logos to the mill at Oldtown. Here finished lumber would be transferred to the Western Maryland. Kulp RR ceased operation in 1911 mainly due to the loss of money and a recent enginehouse fire that had damaged 3 of the railroads locomotives. These locomotives were later repaired and sold off as well as all of the remaining land. A majority of the land was purchased by the Mertens and would later become part of the large Green Ridge Valley Orchards.

During the days of Western Maryland passenger train service there was a station located here near the West End of the 5566ft. Oldtown passing siding/storage track. Later, in 1924 after the C&O Canal was bankrupt and wrecked by a flood, Oldtown declined even further. The Western Maryland Railway station in Oldtown later burned after being closed. Trains only then passed by Oldtown, occasionally stopping at the siding. In 1975, the Western Maryland was abandoned and the rails were lifted. Today, The track is gone and the right-of-way is slowly changing back into a forest. I can remember this part of the WM along Oldtown when I was a small child riding with my father to Cumberland to take photos of the B&O in the early 1980's. I remember seeing the ballast on the ROW as if the rails and ties were just pulled up. The ties and safety rails on the overpass in downtown Oldtown remained as they were after abandonment until the bridge was removed in the mid-1990's to widen the road under the one-way underpass. Today Oldtown is now just a small quiet river town that sees quite a few visitors as a result of the C&O Canal and its remaining historic buildings. Maybe one day the WM Rail Trail will also be constructed through here and help transfer Oldtown back into the busy town it once was.

majority of above info from the book "the Land of the Living" by John Mash

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Looking west into the cut leading the Western Maryland tracks away from Oldtown back to running along the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. (4-26-01)

Newspaper Articles

The following articles submitted by Ryan Logue, "I have a few transcribed newspaper articles about my 3rd great Grandfather, Abraham Harman, being killed on the WM tracks outside Oldtown".

Mineral Daily News ( Keyser , WV )- "FARMER KILLED BY W. M. EXPRESS TRAIN"

Abe Harman Meets Death on Grade Crossing Short Distance from His Home- Cumberland, Md., Feb. 23 - Abe Harman, 65 years old, a farmer living near Oldtown, Md., was instantly killed about 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon when the team which he was driving was struck by Western Maryland Passenger train No. 2, on a grade crossing a short distance west of Oldtown. Harman was hurled several hundred feet by the force of the collision, which demolished the wagon and killed one of the horses.

There is a clear view of the tracks for a long distance on each side of the crossing. County Coroner Joseph B. Finan went to the scene of the accident yesterday afternoon and it is his opinion that the man drove on the tracks without noticing where he was or the approaching train."


Elderly Farmer Evidently Failed to Hear Train's Approach. Body Taken to Oldtown. The body of Abraham Harman, 68 years old, who was killed Thursday afternoon on a Western Maryland grade crossing near Oldtown by an eastbound passenger train, was brought to Cumberland last night, prepared for burial and taken to his home in Oldtown at noon today.

He is survived by his wife and the followings sons; Monte Harman, Flintstone, Md.; Omar Harman, Murley's Branch, Md.; Owen Harman, Gray, W. Va.; Clarence Harman, Davis, W. Va.; C. H. Harman, Oldtown, and one daughter, Mrs. William Lope, Gilpin, Md.

He was a former resident of Pendleton county, W. Va. , but had lived near Oldtown in the last five years, where he was engaged in farming. Indications are that Harman, who was sitting in a chair in his wagon, drawn by a two horse team, was wearing a heavy cap pulled down over his ears on account of the cold weather. Evidently he did not hear or see the approach of the train. The team was on the track and was shoved aside by the passenger engine, Harman was thrown from his seat and his neck broken. He was not hit by the engine. One of the horses was killed. The other animal was hurled aside, escaping death. Harman's body was found a few feet away beside the dead horse. The tongue of the wagon was snapped off.

Those near the scene of the accident say there was a good view of the crossing, especially in the direction of the train. It is also thought Harman believed he could cross over in safety.

The passenger train known as No. 2 for Hagerstown and Baltimore , left Cumberland at 12:15 yesterday afternoon and was in charge of Conductor Carroll and Engineman Hollenslade. The engineman shut off and applied his brakes but could not avoid hitting the team.


Abe Harman 65 years old, a farmer living near Oldtown, was instantly killed about 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon, when the team which he was driving was struck by Western Maryland Passenger rain No 2, on a grade crossing a short distance west of Oldtown. Harman was hurled several hundred feet by the force of the colliison, which also demolished the wagon and killed one of the horses.

County Coroner Joseph R. Finan went to the scene of the accident yesterday afternoon, and it is his opinion that the man was in a deep study and drove on the tracks with out noticing where he was or the approaching train. There is a clear view of the tracks for a long distance on each side of the crossing. Train No. 2 left Cumberland for Baltimore at 12:15 p.m. yesterday and was running on schedule time when the accident occurred. The train was in charge of Conductor Carroll and Engineer Hallenshade both of Baltimore.

story from a railfan

One morning on my school bus, the bus driver came up to the crossing, it was very foggy, he stopped opened the door to look for trains, when right in his face came an eastbound and I remember it startled him, we were in the clear but not by much.

The WM crossed Gravel Bar Road after exiting the cut above. The crossbuck posts still remain today, the posts are former rails. My truck is on the right-of-way facing east on the WM. (10-10-03)

After the WM crossed the Gravel Run Rd. it curved east crossing a creek on bridge 152.3. I bet this location would have been a great location to photograph westbound trains rounding the banked curve on the Western Maryland.

This road crossing was the WM's western most crossing of Main Street. William Price has caught an eastbound WM train lead by a pair of FA2's crossing Main Street. The rails remained in at this crossing after abandoment until Nov.'87 when they were removed when brush was cut down here. (Oct. 1995)

During the Spring of 1967 a former Oldtown resident has construction lines up for a new house along Main St. and behold! a WM train is going by. In 2001, the house is up for sale and the WM has been gone for years. The tress have also grown up along the WM. (Brian Paulus)

Starting on 9-28-68 WM F7 235 leads a WM coal train east; jumping to the winter of 1970-71 a WM fast freight streaks by in the snow; in March 1972 F-units head east with another WM coal train above the C&O Canal; during the summer of 1972 Buffalo Creek & Gauley steam leads a fan trip, while AJ-2 freight cars roll by; in May 1973 N&W units lead a wide-load and a WM coal train, all through Oldtown, Maryland on the old WM West Sub mainline at MP-151.7, except for the canal scene which was MP-154.0 ... Today, the NPS has done absolutely nothing to preserve the old right of way through historic Oldtown, allowing it to become, as one person put it, "A brush jungle". (film and text by Brian Paulus)

The WM exited a cut on the left behind my truck and then immediately passed the Oldtown "town square" before disappearing into another cut as it ran east and west. On the WM track chart I have it marks this crossing "CLOSED". Brian Paulus said the crossing was open for a while, then the WM would close it. The WM would later close the crossing permanently after a eastbound WM train struck a car trying to cross the tracks one foggy morning. The driver was not hurt but the car was damaged. The crossing must have been very dangerous due to the lack of visibility due to the large cuts at each side of this crossing.(10-10-03)

story from a railfan

I grew up in Oldtown, went to school there, and the WM was part of that town. I remember when the red, white and black units first appeared, running right by our house. My father was a WM operator for three years before leaving there for the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Industries. He worked MY, and as far west as Ohio Pyle.

Also, just for the record, of course line was officially abandoned May 22,'75, but, last train through Oldtown on the West Sub occurred more than a year later (fact); EB Chessie rail train passed through on June 8-9,1976 pulling up ties. Locomotives were seen prior to that date running up and down line through Oldtown in connection w/rail train. So for the record, line layed dormant for one year plus, before being pulled. I remember either in '74 or '75, that I did not see a WM train go by for four days, now they could have been running at night, and probably did, but I just remember not seeing one for four consecutive days in daylight. Another thing, in that final year to year and a half before abandonment, NW power seemed to dominate over WM units; I remember thinking.."Who's railroad is this?"

Looking east atop a overpass on the east side of Oldtown. This photo was taken on April 24, 1993 and at the time the crossties and safety rails still remained at the bridge. It was the only rails left on the mainline east of Spring Gap after abandonment. The second photo is looking west from the cut east of the bridge. In 1995 the bridge was removed and the rails were gone.

The overpass at Oldtown in 1993 then later in 1995 when it had been removed. My guess was the bridge was removed because it was one way and narrow. (4-24-93 and Oct. 1995)

Looking east and west from atop the WM right-of-way out onto where the small overpass once was. (10-31-05)

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