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

Altamont – Confederate Railroad Raid

 
 
Altamont Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 13, 2006
1. Altamont Marker
Inscription. On April 26, 1863, a detachment of Confederate Capt. John H. McNeill’s partisan rangers attacked the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad facilities here at Altamont. They were part of a larger group that entered Oakland that Sunday as Confederate Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones led an incursion into West Virginia and Maryland to hamper the rail movements of Federal troops and supplies.

Capt. Edward H. McDonald led the ranger detachment into Altamont to destroy the facilities here. First, the rangers cut the telegraph wires so that other stations on the line could not be warned. Then they destroyed the switching machinery and the switches in the track (Altamont was a switching area for “helper” engines used on the 17-Mile Grade).

The rangers also captured a locomotive at the top of the grade here. A soldier climbed in the cab and opened the throttle, intending to reverse it downgrade and either wreck it on a curve or crash it into an approaching train. The engine ran forward rather than backward, however, and headed towards Oakland. It would have wrecked at the burned bridge west of Oakland that had been burned by another detachment of rangers that morning, but it ran out of steam first.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), and the Maryland Civil War Trails marker
Altamont Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 13, 2006
2. Altamont Marker
series.
 
Location. 39° 25.677′ N, 79° 16.78′ W. Marker is near Swanton, Maryland, in Garrett County. Marker is on Maryland Highway (Maryland Route 135) west of Altamont Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Swanton MD 21561, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cleveland Cottage (approx. 2.8 miles away); Deer Park Hotel (approx. 2.8 miles away); James Cardinal Gibbons (approx. 2.8 miles away); Cleveland Cottage and Site of Deer Park Hotel (approx. 3.1 miles away); You Were Gone Before We Knew It (approx. 5.8 miles away); History of Deep Creek Lake (approx. 5.9 miles away); Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center (approx. 5.9 miles away); Mineral County / State of Maryland (approx. 6 miles away in West Virginia). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Swanton.
 
Categories. Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US Civil
 
The Tracks at Altamont Today image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 13, 2006
3. The Tracks at Altamont Today
These tracks are CSX tracks today. Looking west is the no longer used tower. The panel across the tracks appears to be a solar power panel.
The Tracks at Altamont, Looking East image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, August 13, 2006
4. The Tracks at Altamont, Looking East
It's all downhill from here. 17 Mile Grade begins here. It is the steepest railroad grade on the east coast; more than 2.5% in places. And plenty of curves. Dozens of trains have wrecked going down this grade, some recently. The track repairing equipment is parked on the siding used to hold helper engines that have just finished helping a train uphill.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 16, 2006, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,088 times since then and 32 times this year. Last updated on November 4, 2010, by Timothy Carr of Birmingham, Alabama. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2006, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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