The Mount Savage Rail Road operation was acquired by the Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad in January 1854. This acquisition included the motive power, rolling stock, 14.9 miles of track from Borden to Cumberland, and the Canal Wharf. Thus, the Mount Savage railroad disappeared as a separate corporate entity, but became the basis for the next generation of short line railroads of Allegany County, Maryland, and a direct ancestor of present-day CSX Transportation.
The Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad operated almost exclusively in one county, Allegany, in one State, Maryland, except for short forays on PRR track in Pennsylvania, and on B&O trackage in West Virginia. The C&P was a railroad of the age of steam, and never operated a diesel. A single gasoline-electric car was used quite late in the railroad's operating life for mail and passenger service. Of the various steam prime movers employed over the years, none was ever equipped with a trailing truck. The C&P built and maintained its own equipment. The railroad was chartered in 1850. For most of its life, it was owned by the Consolidation Coal Company, and was later integrated into the Western Maryland Railway in 1953.
The C&P interchanged with the B&O at Cumberland and Piedmont, with the Western Maryland at Westernport and with the Pennsylvania Railroad at State Line, just north of Ellerslie, Md.
The major facilities were in Mt. Savage, the heart of the railroad. The office building, built in 1902 of enameled brick, still stands. The brick round house, circa 1907, had a sixty foot deck 'Armstrong' turntable. The stone machine shop and car shop from 1866 survive.
The C&P provided the mail and the railway express service to Frostburg and the mining communities of the Georges Creek. Twelve passenger stations were located along the line, with another at Cumberland. The only surviving example is the station at Frostburg, which has survived as a specialty restaurant for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. The station in Piedmont, shared with the B&O, partially survived as the first floor of a formally two story structure.
The C&P provided the region with a transportation infrastructure; it enabled people in the outlying communities to go to market, and to attend school in the cities. Passenger service was provided, and made connection with the B&O at Cumberland and Piedmont. Combination tickets were popular. These provided round trip transportation and a ticket to the popular Academy of Music in Cumberland. Special trains on Sundays provided transportation to Church and social events. Baseball games and Fourth of July Celebrations also were served by special trains. Narrows Park in LaVale was a popular weekend picnic destination.
In 1872, according to the schedules published in the Frostburg Mining Journal, there were two round trips a day from Cumberland to Eckhart, and two from Cumberland to Piedmont.
The Main Line of the C&P extended 31.8 miles from Cumberland to Piedmont, via Frostburg. There was one tunnel, under the town of Frostburg, still extant in 1999.
The C&P locomotive shops were established in Mt. Savage in 1866, under the direction of James Millholland. He was then 54 years old, and came from the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. He had moved his family from Pennsylvania to Mt. Savage. Millholland was a master mechanic, and an "advocate of plain engines and simplicity." He had extensive experience in keeping Winans camel engines running, from his earlier work in Pennsylvania, and with the Baltimore & Susquehanna. Millholland had many important locomotive innovations credited to his name.
The earliest C&P locomotives were inherited from other lines through acquisition. More importantly, C&P built their own engines at their shops in Mt. Savage. The period beginning in 1883 was an exciting one for heavy manufacturing in Mt. Savage. A locomotive catalog was issued for the Works by their agent, Thomas B. Inness & Co. of Broadway, New York. The catalog listed five types of engines for sale, and their specifications. Evidence was that the catalog was successful, and numerous sales to other roads resulted. This helped finance production for the home roads, spurred development, and helped employment.. Mt. Savage engines wound up all across the United States, with some going to Cuba, Central and South America, and to Europe in World War I.
The catalog listed five basic engine types. Customization of the design could be had by the customer, for a price. The specifications of the various types are given. The first four types are 3-foot narrow gauge, and the fifth is standard gauge. The diameter and stroke of the cylinders, in inches is given, as is the driver wheel diameter. The engine weight in pounds is also listed. The sales figures list the traceable sales. The catalog types are:
type wheel gauge cylinders wheel dia. weight
1. 0-6-0 36" 9x14 30" 22000
2. 4-4-0 36" 12x18 44" 38000
3. 2-6-0 36" 14x18 40" 49000
4. 2-8-0 36" 15x18 36" 56000
5. 2-8-0 4 8 1/2" 20x24 50" 95500
Initially in the Mt. Savage Shops, the Winans Camels and other early C&P locomotives were extensively rebuilt. Much hands-on experience was gained during the period from 1866-1888. The first recorded engine build was a 0-10-0 unit in 1868. Engine production was very active between 1885 and 1917. Engines were produced for other roads as well. The production figures for 1882 list 19 passenger and freight engines produced, with 16 more in 1883. Typical of the rebuilds is the engine Highlander, rebuilt from a Winans Camel inherited from the Mt. Savage Rail Road. In spite of the relocation of the engineer from on top of the boiler to the more traditional rear position, the engine's origins are clearly seen in the location of the fireman.
Mr. James Millholland, the C&P Master Mechanic, was intimately familiar with keeping these Camel engines running, and making improvements to them. Most of the C&P Camels were later rebuilt at Mt. Savage, some twice. A total of 15 Camel rebuilds are recorded at the C&P shops, starting in 1866. Later, locomotive production at the Mt. Savage Shops would supply 30 units to the C&P, and numerous other units to other roads across the United States. The C&P had a valuable asset in the car and locomotive shops in Mt. Savage. With the facilities and experience for locomotive and rolling stock rebuilding and repair, the C&P was to a great degree self-sufficient. This allowed the recovery and reuse of assets that might otherwise have to be abandoned. The C&P shops also provided repair services to its rivals, such as when the Georges Creek & Cumberland Railroad dumped 2 engines and 51 coal cars off of a trestle in January of 1883.
The original locomotive shop was constructed of stone, and was 90 feet x 250 feet in size, with a 33 foot high roof. The adjoining car shop, also built in 1866, was also of stone, but was later extended with a wooden structure. These buildings still stand in Mt. Savage. The shops were equipped with metal working machinery from Bement & Dougherty, probably a predecessor of Wm. B. Bement & Son of Philadelphia. Millholland bought good tools, which were still in use 40 years later, as evidenced by the 1917 ICC evaluation. All of the rotating power machinery was driven by leather belts from overhead master shafts. These, in turn, were powered by a stationery steam engine in the adjacent power house. A similar facility can be seen preserved today at the East Broad Top Railroad, in Pennsylvania. What was different about the Mt. Savage Shops was their production of locomotives from the rail up, as opposed to just repair and rebuilding.
Locomotive manufacturing during this period was hard, heavy, dangerous work. It proceeded according to numerous rules of thumb developed by the master mechanic over the years. Innovations were introduced slowly. There were continuous efforts to reduce costs, and increase performance. Weight reduction was not desirable, as weight-on-drivers contributed directly to tractive effort. Locomotive frames were usually riveted, built-up construction, of wrought iron. According to White (ref. 30), experience at the Norris works showed that a team of 14 men could build a locomotive in 15 days. This was assuming the parts were on hand. A locomotive is a carefully integrated collection of a large number of specialty parts. The typical boiler was constructed of 5/16" wrought iron, starting as plate, and rolled to shape. The lap joints were single riveted. There is a long way between watertight and steam tight. Later, double riveting, and reinforced butt jointed were used. Boiler tubes were typically iron tube of 2" diameter. They were lap welded, and reportedly hard to flange. Although there was standardization, frame bolts were body fit, and made to order by a machinist. Thus, they were not interchangeable. Valves, air tanks, and other accessories were generally interchangeable.
The locomotive cylinders were usually cast, and bored to size. This represented the most complex and expensive casting and machining operation of the whole locomotive assembly. In 1856, it was common for the boring operation to consume 2 days. The pistons were cast structures, with brass piston rings. Millholland was an early advocate of feedwater heaters, using them as early as 1855. His designs have them on the right side, under the engine running board. They are about 10 feet long, and 8" in diameter. These are a visible clue to engines produced in Mt. Savage. Also, Mt. Savage products never included a trailing truck.
The Mt. Savage Shops in the Twenty Century
Construction of locomotives ceased at Mt. Savage around the time of the First World War. Heavy repair and rebuilding of locomotives continued until the time of the Second World War. The machine shops were used into the 1950s. New technologies were introduced, such as electrical lighting and motors and electrical welding.
The Mt. Savage shops, constructed with 30 inch thick stone walls, had a floor space of about 22,000 square feet. Dirt floors were preferred for the forge, blacksmith shop, and for welding. Concrete pads were poured for the machine tools at a later date. Motive power was overhead lineshafts, and shop air. When a lot of machines came on line at the same time, or there was an excessive use of shop air, the powershop foreman would come running. The powershop also generated electricity, and heated the building. Until World War II spurred the development of small, lightweight handheld power tools, most industrial shops used airtools. The Mt. Savage shops did not have a large overhead crane capable of lifting and transferring a locomotive, so these operations were done manually. Before a locomotive was lifted, it was important to remember to first remove the whistle. It would be knocked off by a roof beam if it were not removed. To unwheel a locomotive, it would be jacked and blocked. Jacking was done with hydraulic (water) units. To move a locomotive in the shop, a series of pulleys, chains, and fixed floor anchors would be used with a transfer table arrangement. The shop engine served as the motive power. A rewheeling would be done by a 3-4 man team in one 8 hour shift.
If the operating crew were tight with the valve oil, sometimes the rear rods off the eccentrics would bend. The engines would then limp in, and generate even more overtime for the shops.
The C&P had two business cars, the first being constructed in the home shops in 1899. Number 15 was 37 feet in length, with a wooden body and underframe, and composite, 4 wheel trucks. The other car, number 101 was purchased from the Pullman Company. The C&P built passenger cars for other roads as well, and deliveries to the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg are documented.
Mt. Savage is remembered, if at all, as the site of the manufacturing of the first iron rail in America. This was acknowledged with a plaque presented by the Western Maryland Chapter, NRHS, Inc. in 1994. But, more than just the rails, Mt. Savage started with coal, iron ore, and fireclay dug from the earth, built a railroad, and shipped locomotives and rolling stock across the country. They operated their line with motive power and rolling stock they themselves built and maintained. Not many lines can make that claim. Now a sleepy backwater, not even on the map, Mt. Savage rests after its significant contribution to the development of the American railroad system. Today, there are no known surviving examples of the output of the Mt. Savage Shops.
Thanks to all who researched and published Mt Savage History