• South of Borden Tunnel on the WM...what was it?

  • This forum is for discussion of "Fallen Flag" roads not otherwise provided with a specific forum. Fallen Flags are roads that no longer operate, went bankrupt, or were acquired or merged out of existence.
This forum is for discussion of "Fallen Flag" roads not otherwise provided with a specific forum. Fallen Flags are roads that no longer operate, went bankrupt, or were acquired or merged out of existence.

Moderator: Nicolai3985

  by Malley
While riding the bike trail from Myersdale, PA to Frostburg,MD (formerly Western Maryland), we encountered an old grade just south of Borden Tunnel.
Some map research on Historical Maps showed a narrow gage line that ran from Zihlman to Wolf Gap, and it is shown as 'in' on a 1950 topo.
Anyone know anything about it?
It shows up pretty relentlessly, including on a plastic raised relief map from 1969. It is even on the Frostburg 1949 7.5" quad, which was photorevised in 1981. This one shows the WM as an abandoned grade, but the narrow gage in question is marked as still in!

  by CarterB
More than likely one of the many logging rr's that were throughout the area.

"At mid-century the B&O Railroad penetrated the county, augmented by a network of
narrow gauge rail lines that quickly accessed once remote timber. Cumberland, 15 miles to the
east, was Maryland’s second largest city in 1840. Mount Savage, just down the mountain from
Garrett County, emerged as a thriving iron center (Silverman 1995). When mining interests
began extracting anthracite coal from seams in the Georges Creek and Wills Creek Valleys, also
to the east, demand for wood and agricultural commodities exploded. The regional growth of
tanneries (Herget 1983) depleted hemlocks, literally stripping the forest bare and typically
leaving the wood to rot. Altogether, through the 19th century land clearing in Garrett County
averaged about 2.5 square miles per year. " source: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/down ... istory.pdf
(page 3 of 14)

"Other small, narrow gauge railroads criss-crossed
Allegany, Garrett, and Mineral counties to access timber.
Due to the nature of their work, logging railroads were
fleeting because their purposes ended quickly when natural
resources were depleted. According to one historian, there
were at least forty-four logging railroads in the region.
Most of their stories have been lost to time but several of the more prominent operations have been at least partially
documented." source: http://www.mountaindiscoveries.com/stor ... trains.pdf.

some other area (Garrett County) info on logging roads:



Title: West Virginia Logging Railroads
Author: William E. Warden
Published: 1993-2000 - TLC Publishing, Inc - Hardcover
ISBN: 1-883089-03-4

And nearby: Mt. Savage

"Mount Savage is an unincorporated town in Allegany County, Maryland. The town of Mount Savage is a small blue-collar town nestled at the base of Big Savage Mountain in the Allegheny Mountains, between the cities of Frostburg and Cumberland. The town began as a small farming settlement in the mid-1800s, but it was not until 1844 that the region was put on the nation's map with the pressing of the first iron rail in the United States. After this claim to fame, Mount Savage became the fifth largest city in Maryland. Named as the headquarters for the short line railroad and the Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad, the area was deemed an industrial center."

http://www.mountsavagehistoricalsociety ... 20shop.htm
http://www.mountsavagehistoricalsociety ... vageRR.htm

  by Malley
Carter, you may well be right about a logger, but the staying power of the darn thing amazes me. It also shows up on a 19th century topo, as a STANDARD GAGE line, and it sticks in my head that I saw a mine symbol at the uphill end on some map or other. I've been digging about this thing, because it is so odd.
It's rather steep, too, somewhere between 8% and 10%, within the ablility of a Shay to push empties UP the hill, and then perhaps let them back down with a cable for loading.
There is another one N of Borden Tunnel; this one passes overhead at a sharp angle in both planes; that is to say, it is both steep and at maybe 45 degrees to the grade. It shows up on some other old maps, and it is both steep and straight, making me suspect an incline.
Anyway, I'm hoping for particulars. I'll poke around in the links you sent.

  by CarterB
If you look at the 1:250000 view of the area on a TopoZone map, it shows the rail line going up to Wolf gap, along with others in the area. Unfortunately, that ratio view is hopeless in trying to see detail. It does, however, show a mine symbol at the top of the NG line, so you may well be correct about either an incline or a gravity mine RR.

In any case, surely an interesting part of the country to explore!!

  by Malley
Pardon me while I answer my own question. :-D
A friend's book about the Cumberland and Pennsylvania had a map showing the area. The rr in question was labeled 'tram to clay pit', and showed it just south of Big Savage Tunnel...wrong place.
On further reflection, the map had incorrectly marked Borden Tunnel as Big Savage, which puts our tram right where it belongs, and the alignments of the tram and the Westy were spot on.
The persistence of the dern thing makes me wonder if it didn't continue in service, supplying clay to the brick factories in the area, even after the Westie was gone.
The second odd line, north of Borden, may well have been more of the same. It is older (shows up on older maps) and goes to the same ridge; perhaps more clay deposits. That one leads down to Mt. Savage, where there was (and perhaps still is) a brickworks.
Thanks all; I have to get out on the ground when the leaves are gone to see if there is anything left.

  by CarterB
The clay pit ..and other lines...show on the 1908 USGS map.

http://historical.maptech.com/getImage. ... g&state=MD

Dave Cathell, who has done much research and written articles on the Allegany County area, also feels that the line up to Wolf Gap was a Clay pit tram, while others in the area may also have been for fire clay, iron ore, or coal.


  by Malley
Russ, if you use Carter's reference to historical maps and check the most recent (forties or fifties) map, both the Wolf Gap tram and the Westy and attendant tunnels show up. The 190? was too early for the Westy's C'ville extension and the Wolf Gap tram; there is another north of Borden Tunnel that is actually older than both of the others; it shows up on the oldest two maps (with a turnaround wye added). It is gone on the newest of the three maps.
Have a look and see what you think.
Carter, I do thank you. I may try contacting the local source you cited.