The rise and fall of the Tucker County railway system

Submitted by Dave Stemple
Tucker County Connections

Remnants of a bygone railway era remain scattered all around Tucker County like this bridge pictured to the left that every resident is no doubt familiar with.

The railway system first came to Tucker County by way of what would later become Davis in 1884 and reached the area that would later become Parsons in 1888 as the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg Railway, a name it would carry until it’s merger with the Western Maryland Railway in 1905.

The railway system in Tucker County is not only attributed with expanding the settlements it connected to but actually creating several of the towns we know today. The railway would operate under the Western Maryland moniker during most of it’s operation in the county later being purchased by Chessie System in 1973 and merged once more into CSX in 1980.
Line service ended for the Blackwater Canyon grade in 1983 and 6 years later after the 85 flood ravaged the line it was designated as a hiking trail. Many of the buildings and structures belonging to the railroad have since been destroyed leaving most notably the bridge located in Parsons, the bridge spanning the Blackwater River in Hendricks, the Parsons Depot built in 1888, the coke ovens in Douglas, and a few small bridges and culverts in the Blackwater Canyon as the main remnants of Tucker Counties railway rich past.
Although most of the system was abandoned prior to the 85 flood it is this event that is considered to be the main culprit for destroying what was left of the railway system and ensuring that what remained of the counties defunct rails would never again see operation as hopes remained up until this devastating event that a state or private company would purchase and continue a tourist or freight service on the still intact line.

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