“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bel Air in Harford County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad

Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Pfingsten, August 4, 2016
1. Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker
Inscription.  Post card image of the Bel Air station circa 1907.

The 77.2 mile route of the Ma & Pa ran from Baltimore to York. While significantly longer than other railroads, the Ma & Pa passed through the center of Harford County. This is the reason why it is often referred to as "Harford County's Railroad." The Ma & Pa had 476 curves and 92 percent of the track was on an up or down grade. One of two level sections was a one mile section from Bel Air to Bynum. The winding, hilly charm of the Ma & Pa along with its numerous bridges, viaducts, and trestles attracted rail buffs and the picture-taking public. Today, the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail runs along a part of the original railbed.

June 21, 1883 - Maryland Central Railroad reaches Bel Air.

1891 - Maryland Central Railway and York & Peach Bottom Railway merge to form the Baltimore & Lehigh Railroad.

The predecessors to the Ma & Pa used narrow gauge track that was common in the late 19th century. The conversion to standard gauge was necessary to allow equipment to be exchanged with other railroads, and it allowed faster and more powerful equipment to be used. Narrow gauge

Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Pfingsten, August 4, 2016
2. Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker
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rails were separated by a distance of 3 feet, while standard gauge rails were separated by 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches. During conversion, the line had as many as five rails in some sections.

August 23, 1900 - Baltimore & Lehigh Railway converts the Baltimore-Delta segment from narrow gauge to standard gauge.

February 12, 1901 - Baltimore & Lehigh Railway and York Southern Railroad merged to form the Maryland & Pennsylvania (Ma & Pa) Railroad.

1920s-30s - When the Ma & Pa Railroad reached its peak in the 1920s and early 1930s, it owned as many as sixteen steam-powered locomotives, numerous box cars and several gasoline-electric motor cars for passenger service. The railroad having a route directly through the center of Harford County, allowed many fartms and canneries, such as Spenceola Farms* at Forest Hill, easy access to markets in Baltimore and York. Goods such as tomatoes, sweet corn, potatoes, and milk, were part of the daily freight on the Ma & Pa. The Ma & Pa also carried mail until September, 1954.

Unfortunately during the Great Depression, gross revenues were halved in three years. While scenic trips on steam locomotives were popular, the railroad never fully recovered.

* The sculpture, "Daybreak", to your right is an artist's rendition of a sunrise over the canneries at Spenceola Farms.

November 1946 - The MA & PA orders first diesel

Advertising on the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Carl Gordon Moore Jr., May 25, 2021
3. Advertising on the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Marker
Spenceola Farms
are especially grown and carefully packed in rich Harford County, Maryland. This can contains a generous helping of these fresh ripe tomatoes in preparation of which only the most modern sanitary and scientific methods were employed right at the field. We are confident you will enjoy them.
contents 1 lb. 3 oz.
packed by R. P. Streett [,] Forest Hill, MD.

August 31, 1954 - On this date, the very last passenger trail to ever run along the Ma & Pa Railroad left Baltimore for a round trip to York. It consisted of two gas-electric motor coaches, a rented coach, and a baggage car pulled by Diesel engine No. 81. The run ended when the train pulled into the Baltimore Station at 7:30 p.m. that evening. A group of about 100 gathered on the North Avenue Bridge, silently bidding goodbye as the last passenger run passed below.

June 11, 1958 - After five years of financial losses, Diesel engine No. 82 made the last run on the Ma & Pa Railroad to collect loaded and empty cars. After the final run, the Baltimore to Whiteford section was abandoned.

Lower Right Photo
No. 82, a 1,200 horsepower diesel-electric engine built in November 1951, is shown at West York on November 19, 1999.

References: Peden, Henry C. and Jack L. Shagena, The Ma & Pa Remembered, 2012.
Hilton, George W., The Ma & Pa, 1999.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical date for this entry is February 12, 1901.
Location. 39° 31.866′ N, 76° 21.676′ W. Marker is in Bel Air, Maryland, in Harford County. Marker can be reached from Maryland Route 24. Marker is on the Ma & Pa

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Heritage Trail adjacent to the highway (Maryland 24). It is east of the highway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bel Air MD 21014, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Daybreak by Richard Goldsborough Brink (here, next to this marker); MA and PA Heritage Trail (approx. 0.3 miles away); Ma & Pa Heritage Trail (approx. 0.4 miles away); MA & PA Heritage Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away); Ma & Pa Railroad (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Ma & Pa Heritage Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Norris House (approx. 0.6 miles away); Built 1898 Liriodendron (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bel Air.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 11, 2016, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 285 times since then and 36 times this year. Last updated on May 26, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 11, 2016, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.   3. submitted on May 25, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland.

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Jun. 18, 2021