We have a lot of progress to report. After a long holiday weekend, All but 1 of the ties needed to finish the first of 2 switches in the yard were inserted. Also, 6 ties at the switch point were leveled and spiked.
Inserting the ties was certainly a new challenge for us. The embankment had to be “cut back” with the backhoe before any ties could go in. As the ties got longer, so did the notches in the embankment. In the end, 18 ties got installed. Both the backhoe and tie inserter were used together. It should be mentioned that no ties (other than a handful over the years) had been inserted here for nearly 40 years. We found this to be true, as there were spikes and tie plates in the mud…but no real remnants of the ties that once were here.
Thanks to John van Brissen, Dan Varholy, Thomas Stahl, and Mr. Watson for continuing to work on this project.
We’ll be back out next Saturday, November 15 starting at 9AM to insert the final tie and begin spiking. If you are interested in rebuilding the Stewartstown Railroad, learning track work, or just giving back to your community, all are welcome to volunteer on the Stewartstown Railroad. One this switch is completed, we’ll begin working on the last one necessary to be able to use the yard to load full-sized trains. Come be a part of the excitement!
The Stewartstown Railroad is a common-carrier railroad company (STRT) that has provided freight and passenger service to Southern-York County since 1885. Known as a short line, the Stewartstown Railroad owns 7.4 miles of track which runs from Stewartstown, PA to an interchange in New Freedom, Pennsylvania with the former Northern-Central Railway (NCRy). The former NCRy is 18 miles in length and runs from New Freedom to York City, Pennsylvania, serving as the Stewartstown’s only connection to the National Rail Network.
The Stewartstown Railroad served mostly farmers and a handful of small manufacturing firms in its early years. Unlike many railroads of the past, the Stewartstown Railroad was able to survive the Great Depression and the shift of shipping from rail to truck that occurred in the late 1950’s as a result of improved roads and highways. This was made possible by switching from Steam Engines to Gas-powered locomotives. Despite a decline in business through the 1960’s, a small group of loyal supporters (many of whom held stock in the company) utilized the Stewartstown Railroad until 1972 when Hurricane Agnes struck.
While the Stewartstown Railroad remained largely unscathed, the connecting Northern Central Railway sustained major damage. The soon-to-be bankrupt Penn Central owned the NCRy at the time and refused to repair the line. The USRA planners for the newly-formed CONRAIL (which assumed Penn Central’s rail lines) also refused to include the NCRy as a branch line. This left the Stewartstown Railroad without a connection to the outside world.
While it appeared that the Stewartstown Railroad was no longer going to be able to provide freight service, the company continued to maintain its Right-of-Way (ROW) and locomotives in preparation for future service. The Company’s efforts were rewarded when the PA Department of Transportation reopened the NCRy once again giving the Stewartstown an outside connection. The Stewartstown Railroad assumed trackage rights in 1985 and ran trains on the NCRy until 1992. Passenger excursion trains continued on the Stewartstown’s trackage until 2004.
In 2008 company officials reorganized and have since decided to resume passenger and freight operations. It is anticipated that passenger and freight services will resume in 2013. If you would like more information on the Stewartstown Railroad, please contact us or request further information. The Stewartstown Railroad is once again looking forward to providing passenger and rail freight services to Southern-York County.
The Stewartstown Railroad Company is a privately-held, for-profit corporation and is NOT associated with The Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad.