• Maryland and Delaware Seacoast Railway?

  • Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Moderator: therock

  by rrbluesman
In the sourse of researching for a architectural project I am undertaking in Denton, MD, I found reference to the Maryland and Delaware Seacoast Railway on deeds circa 1930. I know the line through Denton has been long since abandoned, but I have been under the impression the Pennsylvania Railroad was the owner/operator of those tracks. Can anyone tell me a little baout the history of the Maryland and Delaware Seacoast Railway. If there was a railroad station at one time in Denton and a point of reference to where it might have been if there was one? I don't have a lot of time to perform this researchg, any information would be both helpful and useful. Thanks!

  by RockGp40
I will check my bible of Eastern Shore railroading tomorrow, Rails along the Chesapeake. However, this one doesn't sound familiar. It makes me wonder if this was a start up that failed to actually start up and was only a railroad on paper.
  by rrbluesman
I e-mailed the Philadelphia Chapter of PPRTHS, I got an e-mail back from them sayiing they know the name but they relayed my message onto someone else who could help me. In research, the name came up in PPR Chronology, but didn't come up with much more than that myself.
  by choess

The railroad in question started out as the old Queen Anne's Railroad, Love Point-Queenstown-Queen Anne-Denton-Greenwood-Ellendale-Milton-Lewes, branch Queenstown-Centreville. It was linked by ferry service at both ends to Baltimore and Cape May, and was apparently supposed to form some sort of rail-water route from Baltimore to the Delaware and Jersey shores. Finished in 1902, it looks like it fell into PRR hands via foreclosure in 1905 as the Maryland, Delaware & Virginia RR. The PRR snapped up all the rail on the Delmarva below the C&D Canal, including some other more or less east-west lines; my understanding is that, financially, they were all dogs, more or less.

PRR decided to cut its losses and get rid of the line, or at least part of it, in the early 1920s. The Maryland, Delaware & Virginia was foreclosed on in 1923. The portion from Love Point to West Denton was reorganized as the Baltimore & Eastern Railroad, still under PRR control. The line east of West Denton was unloaded onto the Maryland & Delaware Coast Railway, which I believe was locally organized and independent of the PRR, probably to preserve passenger service along the eastern part of the line. That ended in 1931, when their "gasoline car" (doodlebug?) was "destroyed"; freight service continued, but they went belly-up and were foreclosed on (notice a pattern?) in 1932. In the meantime, the PRR had saddled the Baltimore & Eastern with the former Baltimore, Chesapeake and Atlantic, another line of doubtful utility running from St. Michaels through Easton to Ocean City, and burdened with lengthy trestles at the crossing of the Choptank, the Nanticoke, and Sinepuxent Bay. (It didn't connect directly to the original part of the B&E.)

The West Denton-Lewes line was reorganized, yet again, and this was how the Maryland & Delaware Seacoast Railway came into being. As it was now the middle of the Great Depression, business wasn't any better than before, and the M&DC filed for abandonment in 1934. That triggered another storm of local protests; ultimately, the PRR stepped back in. The line from West Denton across the river to Denton went to the Baltimore & Eastern (but Denton had to be served via Greenwood for a little while until the Choptank River bridge could be fixed up), and the line from Ellendale to Milton went to the Delaware, Maryland & Virginia RR, a PRR subsidiary that owned the lines from Harrington-Ellendale-Georgetown-Lewes-Rehoboth and Georgetown-Franklin City, VA. (You just confused that with the Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, didn't you? Ha.) Everything else (Denton-Greenwood-Ellendale and Milton-Lewes) was abandoned. The ex-BC&A route across the Peninsula to the southward got chopped up about the same time to save on the expense of those trestles. (Sinepuxent Bay went out in a storm in 1933; the Nanticoke trestle at Vienna was given up in 1932; I don't know about the Choptank bridge between Easton and Preston.)

Denton surely had a railroad station; if you want to find where it was, fast, I suggest trying to get your hands on Sanborn fire insurance maps. A good library may have a digital subscription.
  by patrick19702
I grew up in Denton during the 1950s. There was no station at that time; the engine would park in front of the Southern States warehouse adjacent to rt 313. I don't think it took passengers, but handled REA express. Southern States moved to another part of town during the early 60s, but I don't know how long the train was active in Denton.
The last time I saw a train moving on the tracks was about 1964 in West Denton. The engine was headed toward the Choptank River bridge on its way to Denton.