Green Ridge / West Portal of Stickpile Tunnel/B135.5

Green Ridge / West Portal of Stickpile Tunnel/B135.5

WM crossing of Kasecamp Rd. in Greenridge 1930's

Green Ridge was the site of the Old Green Ridge Station of the WM. The station was wood with tin covering the sides of the station. It is also known that Stickpile Tunnel got it's name from a hobo that was killed and was buried by covering him with a pile of sticks. Green Ridge Station was once a major transportation terminal of people and goods. Read below about the happenings that went on here.

In the early 1800's Richard Caton and William Carroll owned much of the land that today is part of Maryland's Green Ridge Forest. The two operated a business at Green Ridge, which involved iron ore and timber, that later failed. The Carroll Chimney, a part of a steam-powered sawmill built in the 1830's, is now the only surviving structure from there business. After The timber business failed, the Mertens family from Cumberland acquired the property from the Carroll's. The Mertens logged all remaining timber in the area. There next obsticale was what to do now with the land now that all the timber was gone.

The Mertens developed a plan to convert the 32,000 acres into a large apple orchard. During the late 1800's and early 1900's, the Mertens converted the surronding land into an apple orchard. The Mertens inticied the Western Maryland Railroad to cross the penisula by means of two large bridges and a tunnel to give the small village of Green Ridge Station an outside connection to the world. At the time Green Ridge was only accesible by the C&O Canal as may of the residents were lock keepers. The RR was built in 1904 and gave Green Ridge Station a faster way than the C&O Canal to transport products from the village. The town began to grow rapidly, and later a school house arrived by railroad. The school house arrived on railcars in sections. They were assembled at Green Ridge Station directly atop WM's Stickpile Tunnel along Kasecamp Road. This school replaced school that was previously held in a private home. A teacher was employed from Cumberland to teach at the school. Each morning she would take a train from Cumberland on the B&O to its nearest point near Magnolia. The teacher then walked the tracks and crossed the river on WM's 3rd river bridge. In 1908 the Mertens introduced the Green Ridge Valley Orchards. The plan was to divide the land into 10 acre orchard lots and sell off to investors of the orchard. The selling of the lots began in the fall of 1910. Investors were given the option to purchase an additional 10,000 sq. ft. lot at the growing town of Green Ridge Station. Green Ridge Station was located at the west portal of Stickpile Tunnel. Here the investors could start a store or store produce for storage and shipment. The Mertens brothers promoted their orchard as "the largest apple orchard in the universe." The Mertens transported potential investors in their orchard to Green Ridge Station by a private railroad car named the "Maryland". The private car was added to the end of normal WM passenger trains or added to the WM's high priority passenger train the "Chicago Limited." The trains would stop at the Mertens headquarters at Green Ridge Station. The investors spent their visit in the finest hotels and ate the finest food. Green Ridge was the headquarters of the Mertens and was a stop on the Western Maryland. Green Ridge was once so important that it too was a stop of the "Chicago Limited", a WM passenger train which had a sleeping car. By 1911 over 1,100 orchard lots had been purchased.

The Western Maryland Railway predicted Green Ridge would bring great things for both itself and the Mertens. Many visiting railroad executives were amazed of the Mertens buisness surronding Green Ridge Station, "There is nothing like it in the world." R.C. Caples-general manager of the WM noted that Greenridge would be a great feeder for the Western Maryland. Other railroad men were quoted as saying, "It is a constructive enterprise, one that will for scores of years be an enormous revenue producer and at the same time will give the road a world wide reputation, for it has on its system the greatest apple orchard in the universe." Here at Grteen Ridge Station there was the schoolhouse, a place called the Red House, a jelly factory, a store, post office, railroad ticket office, warehouse, packing shed, blacksmith shop, staples, the Mertens Saloon, and various houses. The Red House was used to house railroad workers until a family later moved in. Green Ridge grew so rapidly it was expected to have public buildings,hotels, stores, and offices fronting on paved streets, lighted with electricity and warmed with steam all within 5 years. President of the WMRY, B.F. Bush admired the Mertens enterprise so much he himself became an investor in the orchards. His plot was located at Point Lookout where he was quoted saying, "This far surpasses in beauty the famous Horseshoe Curve of the Pennsylavania Railroad." The orchards were so popular that more land was needed. Eventually the orchard would cover over 49,000 acres. Almost 70 square miles were sold and converted into orchards, it was indeed the largest single apple orchard in the world. Orchard work was hard and investors lost interest as they had to wait a minimum of five years for the trees to mature and produce fruit. Many of the trees were not "thinned" properly and as a result the tress produced a large number of apples but were too small and of low quality to be sold at resonable prices. Orchard work went on from 1910 until 1931 when the last orchard was abandoned. The weeds would soon retake the land and convert it back into a forest.

Surronding families after the fall of the orchards moved on, few remained as farmers due to the areas very poor land. It was noted that the land land was so poor that flowers would not even grow. The town depended solely on the canal and the railroad, after the orchards disappered. The canal was abandoned after a flood in 1924. The canal had employed many of the remaining residents as look keepers. After the canal and majority of the people were gone, the town died off. School later ended in 1946 and the remaining children were bussed to school at Oldtown. By 1956, nature had reclaimed pratically all of the remaining buildings most of which had fallen down long ago. Green Ridge was transformed into a ghost town. In May 1975, the tracks of the Western Maryland were removed, nothing but a rarely traveled road remained. Firebugs took care of any remaining buildings, as the last to go was the commissary which burned in 1985.

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

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A 1966 home movie showing the Blue Mountain Express from Hagerstown to Cumberland through Paw Paw bends. First movie clip shot from train is rounding the curve and crossing the 2nd Potomac bridge. Next exiting Stickpile tunnels west portal, then 3rd crossing with the B&O crossing. The block signal is the east end of the double track at Jerome, and then the 4th crossing at Magnolia. Last clip is a brief glimpse of Maryland Junction. (video from Andy DeLauder)

WM 7471 west at Green Ridge exiting Stickpile Tunnel heading for the 3rd Potomac crossing.

Same location 1971 and 11/4/18. (1971, Bob Malinoski photo)

This is the western most crossing of Kasecamp Road at Greenridge. The 3rd crossing bridge is just 1/2 mile to the west, Stickpile Tunnel is straight ahead in the distance. These two photos show a before and after view of the WM at Greenridge Station, the first being taken in 1970 by Arthur Bloch, second by myself at the same location in the late 1990's.

Looking east into Green Ridge Station from the WM crossing of Kasecamp Rd. This photo was taken in February 1971 by Arthur Bloch. I again went back to Green Ridge and took another photo at the same location. I took this photo in the Summer of 2004. The photo has changed considerability from when I first photogrpahed this area in the late 1990's.

story from Bill

When I was in "Bill's Place" at Little Orleans, Bill once told me a story of how the families in the area would come up to the WM station here at Green Ridge and place there grocery order. The Western Maryland owned the poly phone in the area. The agent would then "wire" grocery orders to the agent at Little Orleans who would take the order to Callahan's Store, now Bill's Place. The store would fill the order and have it placed on the next westbound pasenger train. The train who then drop it off back at the station in Green Ridge. The WM agent would preform this service at a cost of 25 cents, but did not record it in the books since it would have cost much more.

Arthur Bloch photographed the old Mertens Orchard Headquarters here at Green Ridge in Feburary 1971. People were still living in it at the time even though it appears to be in very bad shape. The building was later burned by arson after being vacant.

WMRY drawing of the Green Ridge area and proposed station. Very neat drawing showing the diffrent buildings and also a proposed sidetrack near Stickpile Tunnel. (Thanks to Jim Coshun for photo)

Two old photos I found interesting are these above. The first was taken from the WM tracks looking at what appears to be a WM maintence shed. The Green Ridge station marker is in the foreground and the abandoned Mertens headquarters is the large three-story building in the background. Another photo looking towards Stickpile Tunnel shows what looks as some kind of tipple perhaps for loading trucks or railcars. Unsure what that may have been. (thanks to Jeff Hollis for photos)

Looking east in 1978 at Stickpile Tunnel. Don Biggs took this photo when he and his wife were drove the roadbed from Paw Paw.

This is the west portal of Stickpile Tunnel located in Greenridge. Stickpile Tunnel has a length of 1706.5ft. and still is in very good shape. A path to from the town to the schoolhose above the tunnel was worn here to the left of the portal and ran up the hillside along the RR poleline.

West Portal of Stickpile Tunnel at Green Ridge Station in October 2002. This portal was once in the busy town. If you look closely you can see how the timber supports in the tunnel were removed. Someone had removed every-other one for a hundred or so feet into the tunnel.

Inside Stickpile Tunnel looking east from the west portal in October 2002.

Novermber 11, 2018, Stickpile Tunnel with its ugly Bat Gate installed.

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