• Railroad Ghost Towns

  • 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 kevin.brackney
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Swanton, VT. The remains of the roundhouse that once served the narrow gauge are definitely classic ghost town material. My wife and I refer to it as the "Stonehenge of Railroading;" as the only things remaining are the stone-lined turntable, and inspection pits.
  by RussNelson
The thing that I don't understand about that railroad in Swanton is ... *where* did it go? You can see it go to West Swanton, but ... it's not at all clear where it went after that. Did it cross the lake on the same bridge as the current railroad?
  by CBRy
Seat Pleasant MD was once the upper terminus of the Chesapeake Beach Railway
built by silver magnate Otto Mears and financed by David Halliday Moffat. It was
the location of thier yards, shops and roundhouse. All dissapeared after its remnant
the East Washington Railway left in 1976 and by the mid 1980s a shopping mall was
built on the site. Only rail activity there today is an unrelated Washington DC Metro
station on the old ROW. No vestiges of the RR remain other than a disused ROW.

On the other end, the Town of Chesapeake Beach MD owes its very existance to the
RR itself! It was to be the grand resort envisioned by the builders at the end of the
19th century. The RR terminated on the bay shore with a full service passenger and
freight station, also had a wye and yard for coal hoppers and a small yard off the wye
at a power plant to service the remote area and the resort.

Several other towns established for and because of the RR were Owings MD, Chaney MD
and Behrends MD. All now are merely crossroads or memories.

Seat Pleasant MD lost its railroad service in 1975/6 when the successor to the CBRy
ceased operations and eventually left. No RR service today, only a DC Metro station.

Chesapeake Beach MD lost its railroad service in 1935 when the CBRy filed for the
abandonment of their RR due to lost revenues and the Depression. All railroad
operations were gone by the end of the eyar when scrappers' trains removed the
remaining cars and rails. The power plant continued on throught the late 1940s and
the passenger/freight station still stands today and is a restored landmark. The
great resort turned into a sleepy little summer town with an amusement park that
coincidentally went away the same time that the RR left its upper terminus. Nothing
of the old town or RR remains except for the restored RR station. Some of the old
ROW has been resurrected as a nature trail.

Chesapeake Beach MD is now a bedroom commuter community to the Washington DC
metro area connected by multi-laned hightways that partially occupy the old ROW!

The Chesapeake Beach Ry's mid-point town of Upper Marlboro MD, was also once a
bustling RR hub with PRR trains heading to and from Southern Maryland and also
interchanging with the CBRy. Now Marlboro only sees an occasional local that runs
thru to the end of the Herbert Sub that is now the end of the old Popes Creek Branch
of the former PRR.
  by CBRy
A few more Railroad Ghost Towns...

Brandywine MD was once the terminus for the Southern Maryland Railroad that
ran from that place south into St. Mary's County via Prince Georges County and
Charles County MD. It was home to the yards and shops of the SOMD RR and later
on to the USN Brandywine & Cedar Point Railroad to NAS Patuxent River MD from
1941-1954. It was also the interchange point for the Popes Creek Branch of the PRR
that ran south via Prince Georges County MD and Charles County MD to the shore
of the Potomac River at Popes Creek MD where there was a passenger/freight station
and a shipyard and wharf for seafood deliveries.

Today, Brandywine MD is a small commuter settlement in Prince Georges County MD
and the RR facility is just a wye in the woods for local freights mostly carrying coal
unit trains to two power plants at the ends of the two branches from the wye. There
used to be a Government Surplus warehouse facility there tghat received rail service,
but it was destroyed years ago by fire and not rebuilt. The USN abandoned the facility
in 1954 and the PRR ran locals over the SOMD line until the mid 1970s when traffic
changed and coal became the prime commodity on the lines to the PEPCO plants for
electricity generation. No other tracks, facilities or structures remain today.

In the 1960s a newer and larger power plant was built at Trappe, MD on the Potomac
River and the line from the towns of Faulkner MD to Popes Creek MD was shut down
thus rendering Faulkner MD and Popes Creek Md RR ghost towns with the removal of
all RR facilities, rails and structures and thus their reasons for existing. Faulkner had
a small way station for LCL freight and flag stop passengers. The last official passenger
run to Popes Creek was in 1959 and thereafter passengers rode either a tacked-on
combine or the caboose of the freight local.

Today, only a faint disused ROW is detectable and some small traces of the old
power plant at Popes Creek and some small traces of the shipyard remain. The town
itself is gone save for a few seafood restaurants that were there when the railroad
once made a stop there. Faulkner is now only a marker on the Herbert Sub. The switch
to Popes creek was removed decades ago.

Strangely, though this branch line is the reason for the PRR being able to actually run
in to Washington DC! As back then the Popes Creek Branch was actually considered the
MAIN LINE and the line into Washington DC was the BRANCH LINE as per the original
charter! So as the late great Paul Harvey used to say... "Now...you know...the rest....
of the story!"

Other towns that have either disappeared or dried up along those lines are...
Mechanicsville MD, Gallant Green MD, and Hughesville MD who all lost their rail
service and main method of commerce.
  by 3rdrail
I'd have to say that the New Haven's South Boston network of yards would have to qualify north of Broadway. Once a beehive of activity with all sorts of activity, there is nothing left except an occasional track peeking up from the street- even those are getting pretty rare. Even the small freight shunting road has supposedly gone under, so the area is a lot less active than it once was. Casualties such as the Trackside Bar, a watering hole for many a New Haven yard worker off A Street are no longer.
  by kevin.brackney
Ultimate railroad ghost town ever: Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Baraboo, WI. My reserve unit, the 1151st TC (Rwy Operating) Co. used to train there on drill weekends. Though the plant was closed, we still had access to the utility railroad for training. The engine house looked as though shop forces had just vacated the building. There were tools and manuals set out on a long work bench along the west wall, and the clock had stopped as though time froze as the employees left for lunch and never returned. There was a log book outlining each day's work, to include any accidents or derailments. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone. Everything was left behind; including the RS4TC locomotive, which we used routinely. One of the drawers under the workbench contained a small stack of Army preventive maintenance monthly publications from the mid to late 60's.

Except for a handful of soldiers and some civilian guards, the post was deserted. Most, if not all of the buildings and facilities were still standing (as of 1999) to include the shop for the intra-plant narrow guage railroad. Wisconsin & Southern would spot cars inside the plant for us to practice switching. Sometimes the WSOR would even loan us one of their locomotives. We even had access to the indoor pistol range. It was some of the best training we ever did on a drill weekend.
  by CBRy
Looked at this on Google. How much is there
today? Aerial views seem to show a fair amount
of buildings and possibly trackage. Looks all
deserted otherwise. What happened to it?

It's a shame that the military is getting away
from using rail for transport. One of these days
when we have a REAL emergency and all the truck
drivers are drafted, they'll wish they had kept the
railroad MOS!
  by kevin.brackney
I haven't been to Badger AAP since 2000. Your right, there are many buildings, and alot of track; much of it unserviceable. I haven't kept in touch with my former colleagues in the 757th TC Bn (Rwy), (many of them have transitioned on), so I don't know if they still train there or not. The plant was closed when I trained there. Closed in the sense that they stopped making ammunition, but we still had access to the plant. The Government can't/couldn't sell the property because of the many environmental issues, which was good for the 757th.

The thing about the 757th was that we did not have our own training facility. I give credit to the battalion staff and other dedicated individuals at the company level (1151st at that time) for establishing training oportunities away from the Reserve Center. Without those outside opportunities, we would have had some boring drill weekends.
  by mikado-2-8-2
I can add the town of Oakridge, Oregon. It was a big helper depot on the western side of the Southern Pacific's main line over the Cascade Mts from Eugene to Klamath Fallls. They had about 3/4's of the town covered with railroad tracks and shops from the old pictures I have seen. My great uncle was an SP engineer and this was on his route for years. My great aunt was his wife and by some strange coincidence my grandmother who was her sister lived in Oakridge during the 60's because my grandfather was an Army Engineer who was assigned to build Hills Creek Dam. I spent my summers with them in Oakridge when I was growing up in the 60's. By the time I saw it in the early 60's it had about 1\2 it's population that it had in the 1930-40's and surviving on logging. Today even the logging is long gone and it is about 5 t0 10% of it's 1930-40's population.
  by 3rdrail
To expand on what I wrote before- Not a town per se, but bigger than most, the section of Boston now known as the Fort Point and the Waterfront Districts's are area that is close to my heart as it was my assigned sector to patrol early in my BPD police career. What I found greeting me every midnight was a vast area, spookily empty in many places with many often sudden and unusual events occuring. This could almost be called a"ghost town" back then, the the period of 1983-1988. 50 years before my arrival was another story with this entire side of South Boston a New Haven Railroad freight facility. There were tracks everywhere, on and off roadways, with Commonwealth Pier with it's luxury liners awaiting freight for trans-Atlantic sailings, passenger and freight car storage, the "Grape Yard" was where the old Italians went from the North End to buy fresh grapes from the freight cars held overnight from the railroadmen. These grapes evolved into wonderful glasses of "bathtub wine", 100 % better than anything store bought ! (This was where the Federal Courthouse stood now- ha- if only they new !) Underneath the Ramp from D Street leading to Commonwealth Pier was a strange place at night, as it turned out to be a favorite "wise guy" meeting spot and money drop. Huge, cavernous apartments were rented by artists, the sites having formerly been factories. This had the added effect of reducing the population for a while.(except when there was an artist party or the like). If I'd only known what these vacant old buildings were going to bring in in 2008, I would have bought as many as I could ! :-( (Now, it's the "in" place to live.) Even a bus ride before my time there (late 50's) showed itself to be a wild off-road event, with the small bus jumping up and down like a jack in the box as it hit the holes in the belgium blocked street. From my perspective back then, you knew if you saw a car moving that they had business to attend to- either legal or illegal if you saw them here. There are still some areas back there that are unchanged that still look like the old Boston, some not far away from A St. overlooking the T tracks. There used to be a whole busy yard starting where the post office is, going back to a engine house and roundhouse complete with large turntable, now no longer. In the other direction was the railroaders bar, the "Roundhouse" containing who were probably the second toughest guys in Boston at the time. Men with barrel arms would drink whiskey with beer chasers- six in a row. It was defacto "mens only. No girly would dare set foot inside the Roundhouse. If there was one, she was either drunk or a floosy (or both). The fish industry had a huge industry during my shift (and still does) leaving early am for the catch of the day. When they got back home later in the day, a fresh bounty from the sea usually awaited the New Haven freight cars or one of the Boston & Worcester freight motors which line had been installed by the El to co-exist with the RR people as the catch was so abundant. As I said, it's rather trendy now, so you're not likely to see an Alco smoking at 4 AM (but you may soon if rumors are true that they're coming back !) or railroaders and firemen coming out of the "Roundhouse" at 1. Watch for the tumbleweeds !
  by drailed
amtrakhogger wrote:Many NJ shore communities have lost rail service over the years.
Ocean City
Atlantic Highlands
Any missing?
Atlantic Highlands was a big one. It had a huge rail pier where riders would transfer between trains and steam sidewheeler boats going back and forth to NYC. Just before the pier was the town's RR station. I remember train service to Atlantic Highlands lasting to the mid to late 1960's, but everything is gone now.
  by drailed
Alameda, CA. There are tracks crossing the island still in the middle of the streets. Also, sidings alongside some of the old factories and warehouses still exist. The last train to roll down these tracks was probably 30-40 years ago. Also had a trolley line, which is long gone.


  by FLRailFan1
JhnZ33 wrote:My vote for RR ghost town would be the town I was born and raised in - Ashley, Pa.

At one time this town was bustling with the large shops of the CNJ which was the main shop in PA for the CNJ until the 50's. Today you'd be hard pressed to find evidence of the facility or a RR in the area, unless you knew the area.

Even being the significant facility it was to the CNJ, there is very little information available today. Even more rare are pictures of the shops and trackage, especially of the Nanticoke branch which saw countless tons of coal enroute to the Huber breaker (which still stands, but is fading fast).


I used to visit my grandparents just up the road from Ashley (Sugar Notch, where my mom grew up). I used to go to Ashley to see the trains...