• U. S. Navy RR White Plains-Indian Head, MD Status update?

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

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Aa3rt
In Charles County, MD there is a U. S. Navy Railroad that runs from White Plains (and a connection with CSX, formerly Conrail, Penn Central, Pennsylvania, originally Baltimore & Potomac) to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head.

Originally built during WWI (1917) this line has been dormant for a number of years now. It did briefly host the Indian Head Central dinner train/scenic railroad.

The last movement over the line that I am aware of, was when the Navy's 85 ton GE center cab unit picked up an Army SW that had been brought down from the Aberdeen Proving Ground at the White Plains interchange. This was in the summer of 2004.

Last year I was on the base in Indian Head and noted the two locomotives sitting just inside the gate and that the rails leading to other parts of the base had been paved over.

A couple of years ago, the then commanding officer of the base was quoted in the local newspaper that the line was going to be turned over to Charles County for use as a hiking/biking trail. I posted this information on the previous version of this site and recall that another poster stated that it would take someone higher than an O-6 (Navy Captain) to make this decision.

Does anyone who frequents this forum have any updates on this line? I live about 5 miles south of the CSX/Navy RR interchange and have heard nothing in approximately 2 years. There are still 6 ex-Long Island Railroad coaches (left from the Indian Head Central operation) languishing in the interchange yard, subject to vandals and the elements.

For some photos of the IHC operation, along with some photos of the Navy locomotive in operation:

  by RailVet
There's been no change at Indian Head. I visited late last summer and the two locomotives (ex-Army SW8 from Aberdeen PG and a Navy GE 80-ton - not 85-ton) were still sitting near the rail gate. The track was condemned by a Navy track inspector, so unless repairs are made (reportedly there are some wash-outs), nothing is moving over the line. Within the restricted area the base some of the old rolling stock has been scrapped and possibly some of the isolated track has reportedly been pulled up, but it's not been possible to go in and verify that news. When the base commander was quoted in a newspaper a couple of years ago he said he intended to donate the rail line to the local county for trail use. (It would seem he was unaware that, as a base commander, he cannot donate federal property. Disposal of such must come from a higher level in the military food chain.) The county has little interest in a trail but reportedly would like to get its hands on the rail simply for the scrap value. Don't look for anything to happen soon. Changes come to IH at a snail's pace, if not slower.
  by RailVet
I visited Indian Head yesterday to see if there had been any changes in almost a year. I found none. The two locomotives are still sitting near the rail gate, stacks capped, and the railroad is still in place, both on and off base, but long dormant. The line from the base to the interchange remained condemned and out of service. To say that the base moves at a snail's pace in getting anything done would be insulting to snails. Hopefully the two locomotives will be eventually excessed and sold to a broker instead of being scrapped in place.

  by tazman021706
I'll have to get with my buddy who used to be an engineer there. I'll post as soonas I can find anything out
  by RailVet
Recently I learned that the base is moving ahead with plans to dispose of the right-of-way between Indian Head and White Plains by donating it to the county for trail purposes. Reportedly the county is much more interested in the scrap value of the rail and not so much constructing and maintaining a trail. The two locomotives should turn up on the DRMO website soon.
  by RailVet
Received this information on 12/6: "The Indian Head-White Plains railroad has been transferred to Charles County. The transfer was from Navy to GSA to Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, to Charles County, Park and Grounds. The transfer includes 160 acres, 13.3 miles of railroad track and six railroad cars. The small amount of track from the base fence by post one to Mattingly Avenue will remain Navy property. The transferred property will be used as a walking and bicycling trail."

Since there are no Navy railroad cars off-base, the paragraph above most likely refers to the derelict ex-LIRR commuter cars stranded at the White Plains, MD, interchange with CSX. Following a derailment with sister LIRR cars within a CSX train some years ago, CSX embargoed any further shipments of such cars over its lines.

If you go to


and enter


in the Search box, you'll see the two IH locomotives for sale. One is USN 65-00307, a GE 80-ton, and the other is USA 2037, an EMD SW8 that was acquired from the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground a few years ago but never renumbered for USN or used.
  by RailVet
Bidding for the two locomotives at IH ended at 5 p.m. on Friday. At 3 p.m. the bid on the GE 80-ton was at $41,000, but two hours later it ended at $121,000. The SW8 reported went for $41,000 by closing time. No word yet on which company or companies bought them.
  by RailVet
Power plant might nix hiker⁄biker trail
Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

By Nancy Bromley McConaty, Staff Writer

Charles County’s plan to transform 13 miles of abandoned railroad tracks into a hiker⁄biker and equestrian trail might go up in smoke if the rail line has to be reactivated to haul coal to an electric plant proposed for the Naval Support Facility Indian Head.

Alcoa Inc. is proposing to build a 950-megawatt coal-fired plant on the base to supply electricity for the company’s Frederick County aluminum smelter. If approved, the company would need to transport coal to fire the facility — which is where the now-defunct White Plains rail line comes in.

Alcoa officials are studying the feasibility of reactivating the rail line to transport coal to the plant, said Charles County commissioners’ President F. Wayne Cooper (D). The only other option would be to barge coal to the facility.

‘‘Right now there are so many unknowns; we’re playing it by ear,” Cooper said. ‘‘There are still some unanswered questions.”

Alcoa officials, who toured the potential plant site earlier this month, have told the county commissioners that they will know if the rail line will be needed to transport coal to the facility within 90 to 120 days, Cooper said. Officials have said negotiations on the proposed plant are in a preliminary stage.

Cooper hopes the rail line can be saved for the hiker⁄biker and equestrian trail. The project was put out to bid recently, but the rail lines are still intact, he added.

‘‘I hope that we can work it out so we can make it into a hiker⁄biker trail,” he said.

The National Park Service’s Land to Parks program transferred — at no cost — the 13.4 miles of railroad tracks to the county in October.

The trail would allow residents and visitors to walk, bicycle or ride horses through the Mattawoman Creek watershed.

Charles County Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D) said it is wise for the county to put the project on hold until Alcoa can figure out the best way to transport coal to the Indian Head facility.

‘‘I’m always willing to wait so I can feel confident that I know all of the facts before pursuing this. That’s only wise,” he said.

The tracks’ condition could be an issue, said Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles).

‘‘A major concern is the level of maintenance the tracks would require,” she said. ‘‘It would take a tremendous amount of effort to upgrade the line to transport coal.”

Cooper said the county would have to turn the rail line back over to the federal government if Alcoa decides bringing coal by rail would be the best option.

‘‘The rail lines would have to have quite a bit of work done to them before coal could be hauled on them,” he said. ‘‘Some spots along the line are real narrow, and water comes up to the bank where some of the rails are. We were going to have to fill some spots in if we turn it into a trail.”

The estimated $1 billion plant could bring up to 200 permanent jobs to the county, along with a stable energy supply and additional tax revenues, according to county economic development officials.

The facility also aims to help jumpstart economic development in the western portion of the county and protect the Indian Head installation from future base realignment and closure decisions, according to county officials.

Del. Murray Levy (D-Charles) said it would be disappointing if the county cannot transform the rail line into a trail system.

‘‘It’s something that the county has worked on for a very long time, but having an adequate supply of electricity certainly takes precedence over using the rail line for a trail,” he said.

Staff writer Alan Brody contributed to this report. E-mail Nancy Bromley McConaty at [email protected].

http://www.somdnews.com/stories/022107/ ... 2137.shtml
  by RailVet
The buyer of one of the locomotives at IH has stated two personnel from his company are driving up on Sunday (4/15) and he's flying in Monday night (4/16). Monday and Tuesday will be spent preparing the locomotives for movement on Wednesday (4/18). Naval public affairs recently said no date was set for the movement, so this should prove interesting.
  by RailVet
If things go as planned, Indian Head's GE 80-ton (USN 65-00397) should be loaded and trucked to Las Vegas, NV, on Tuesday, April 24. The SW8 will be dismantled for shipping to GA via truck, date TBA.
  by RailVet
Both locomotives recently departed IH. The GE 80-ton, purchased by Pan Western, was trucked out to Las Vegas, NV, while the SW8, instead of being shipped to the buyer's shop in GA, was moved to the power plant at Chalk Point, MD, for test and evaluation for in-plant switching service.
  by RailVet
http://www.somdnews.com/stories/091207/ ... 2122.shtml

Indian Head Rail Trail Proposal Revived

After an eight-month delay, the Charles County commissioners restarted the effort Tuesday (9/12) to convert the old Navy railroad running between White Plains and Indian Head into a public hiking and biking trail.

The commissioners directed the county’s parks staff to award a bid to a county contractor to remove the steel rails and wooden ties from the railroad and recycle the materials. The recycling is expected to raise $549,000 for the rail project.

The recycling money, along with $402,000 in county construction funds and $1.4 million in state Program Open Space money, is what the county expects to use to pave the rail bed with crushed stone and open it to the public.

If the state money comes through, parks director Tom Roland said he hopes to begin construction by July of next year for completion in 2009.
The commissioners also gave Roland permission to begin coordinating a plan for the trail with the state’s Rail-to-Trail Conservancy and hold a public meeting on the project in January.

Roland’s plan for the project includes additional phases, which would later add restrooms, asphalt paving and signs interpreting the natural environment and historical significance of the trail.

The county acquired the railroad from the Indian Head naval base in 2005 after the Navy deemed the line a surplus property. In December 2006, the county was prepared to approve a bid to tear up the railroad in preparation for a trail.

The bid was put on hold when Alcoa announced its intentions to construct a power plant in Indian Head. The commissioners waited to hear whether Alcoa would need the railroad to transport coal to the new plant. However, according to Roland, Alcoa recently told the county ‘‘that is something they are not going to need.”

Once completed, the rail trail would be ‘‘the most popular and most used park in our system,” Roland predicted. He said the trail has the potential to draw more than 200,000 visitors a year, a figure that raised the eyebrows of Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (D).

Hodge noted the Calvert Marine Museum and Historic St. Mary’s City, the region’s two most popular tourism destinations, draw a combined total of 100,000 visitors a year.

‘‘It is a big number,” Roland said, but added that some projects for the trail put the number of visitors at 300,000. Roland said the trail would likely be used by 53 percent of the county’s population, as opposed to the White Plains Golf Course, which is used by 5 percent.

‘‘It’s very inclusive,” Roland said.

The commissioners stopped short of setting a date to begin construction on the trail.

They asked Roland to finish recycling the old railroad, secure the state funding and hold a public meeting before returning to them for construction approval.

Jay Fries
Southern Maryland News, September 12, 2007
  by RailVet
Dismantling of the Indian Head line has reportedly begun, with rails being lifted about midway on the line between Indian Head and White Plains (MD) just west of Route 229 (Bensville Road).

  by Aa3rt
I can confirm that dismantling of the line is well underway. Earlier this past week a fellow enthusiast took some photos of the line and reported seeing two trucks bearing the lettering "Railroad Resources & Recovery, Inc" out of Bethlehem, PA. Yesterday, (Saturday, Jan. 12th) I made my own daylight foray along the line and found the dismantling of the line west of the Bensville Road crossing very much in progress. While there was no Saturday activity, the rails have been spread to the outer sides of the road bed and piles of cross ties bore mute testimony that no trains will ever pass this way again.

There are small signs at each crossing announcing a meeting to be held Tuesday, Jan. 22nd at 7:00PM at the Charles County Government Building to discuss the future of the "rail trail" which is slated to open sometime this year.
  by Aa3rt
Dormant topic being revived!

The Indian Head Rail Trail was officially dedicated this past Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 2009. The rails are now entirely gone, with the exception of a short siding near the Indian Head of the line, near the intersection of Maryland Routes 225 & 224, left as an "interpretive" display. The siding that connected in White Plains with the Pope's Creek subdivision of the PRR/PC/Conrail/CSX is still in place, however it is only a matter of time before that portion of the line is lifted as well.

The US Navy operated an "orphan" railroad on the base at Indian Head (Originally known as the "Naval Propellant Plant".), being served by barges that brought in rail traffic. The line didn't reach a connection to the outside world until World War 1 when the 13 mile line from Indian Head to White Plains was completed in 1918. The line was last used on a regular basis during the Viet Nam conflict.

More information on the new Rail Trail here: