• Stewartstown Railroad is almost there!!

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by dwa2503107

The Stewartstown Railroad announced today that they are making an all-out effort to gather enough funds to pay off the lien carried by the estate of George Hart. This would ensure the survival of the railroad and preserve it for future generations. Months of discussions with the estate indicate that the lien can be paid off and the adverse abandonment petition before the Surface Transportation Board in Washington DC can be withdrawn, provided that the railroad pays off the lien, which totals $352,415. Thus far, the railroad has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for this purpose, approximately 3/4 of the amount needed. The funds come from a combination of people willing to loan money to the company, sales of common stock, and donations to the Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad, a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic line.

The Stewartstown Railroad was chartered in 1884 to operate 7.4 miles between Stewartstown and New Freedom Pennsylvania. It is unique in having never been involved in a merger or sale of the company and is therefore the oldest railroad in the country in its original corporate form. The line has been in operation since 1885. After hurricane Agnes in 1972 operations were interrupted until 1985. Freight operations ceased in 1992, and passenger operations continued until 2004. The railroad is experiencing a renaissance, as volunteers repair the locomotives and coaches, as well as the station and tracks. The company operates motor car rides on many weekends in the spring summer and fall, and anticipates restarting full-size train operations later this year. A growing cadre of volunteers who recognize the unique history of the line as well as the unspoiled beauty of the Deer Creek Valley in an area that has gone through substantial development in recent years has made substantial strides in rejuvenating the old line. Some people have been hesitant to commit time towards the restoration, for fear that the line will be abandoned and foreclosed upon, but the company's management is optimistic that the additional funds can be raised within the next month or two, the deadline for withdrawing the abandonment.

Company spokesman Kenneth Bitten said "we have been very encouraged by the number of people who are willing to commit funds to saving this amazing piece of York County history. Many of them have agreed to provide loans for a minimum of 5 years secured against the assets of the railroad. Others have decided to purchase stock and some have decided to make tax-deductible contributions to the Friends. We believe that a final push will get us over the top."

The Stewartstown Railroad is almost like a time machine, with locomotives and cars from the 1930s and 1940s and the Stewartstown station, built in 1914, which looks almost exactly the way it did 70 years ago. Anyone interested in supporting this effort should contact Kenneth Bitten at 410-336-1605 or email [email protected]