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Woodsboro Historical Society

(9/2013) Four hundred years ago, land known today as Woodsboro, served as primitive hunting and fishing grounds for the Susquehanna Indians. Established in 1786, Woodsboro was laid out composed forty acres of land Colonel Woods received after serving in the Revolutionary War. In the early days, Woodsboro emerged in size with limekilns, quarries, blacksmiths, and commercial fishing ponds. As Woodsboro grew, homes were built to shelter German immigrants arriving from the ports of Philadelphia and Annapolis. Most of the Woodsboro settlers came from German parentage, bringing invaluable craftsmanship skills to build more homes. During the Civil War, Confederate troops led by General Jeb Stuart’s Cavalry, marched through Woodsboro. The sound of cannons was clearly heard from the Battle of Gettysburg. Hobos wandered Woodsboro during the Great Depression searching for food and rest along the train tracks. In 1929, Woodsboro incorporated as a municipality and elected the first Burgess Dr. George F. Smith.

Today Woodsboro’s population accounts for 1,141 people, three churches, a gas station, medical center, elementary school, funeral home, auto repair shops, fire department, grocery store, lumber yard, bank, optician, dentist, medical doctor, barber shop and several civic organizations. For more than 225 years, Woodsboro has endured every day, spirited by a strong sense of community, offering families a nice town to live and work.


Woodsboro Days During The Rail Road System

One of the most significant contributions leading to Woodsboro’s continued success was the construction of the Pennsylvania Line Rail Road Company. Along this railroad, Woodsboro’s Rail Road Depot supported daily commerce for Woodsboro, Western Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Rail Road Company originally formed in 1854 and finally received a charter by a special act of the Maryland Legislature on March 19, 1867. Railroad construction began after the Civil War in 1869. Records indicate the rail road line first connected Frederick to Woodsboro. In 1870 with the connection expanded to the Littlestown Pennsylvania Rail Road Company completing construction in 1872. Over time, rail road routes were chosen to manage rail traffic from the numerous stone quarries, lime kilns and a copper mine in northern Frederick County. Of equal importance was the connection with the Western Maryland Railroad in Keymar. Soon the rail road expanded into Pennsylvania with 16 scheduled passenger trains running through Woodsboro.

The Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Rail Road was sold at a Judicial sale on June 9,1896 and reorganized as the Frederick and Northern Rail Road Company on December 22,1896. After numerous reorganizations and consolidations the new rail road connected with York, Hanover, Littlestown, Taneytown, Keymar, Woodsboro, Walkersville and Frederick. Finally a connection was made with the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road. In 1913 the Central Rail Road of Maryland was formed to build a line to the cement plant at Union Bridge, Maryland. Woodsboro prospered economically from this strategic rail system.

In 1972 Hurricane Agnes washed out the bridge over the Monocacy River and the rail road line was cut back to Walkersville leaving Frederick with no rail service from Penn Central. In 1980, the Maryland Transportation Administration refurbished the rail road line from Taneytown to Walkersville, with freight service provided by the Maryland Midland Rail Road. The Maryland Midland presently operates the Woodsboro to Taneytown segment with connection made to Keymar. Today, the rail road line south of Woodsboro is currently used for car storage with the southern portion leased to the Walkersville Southern Rail Road for their excursion trains based out of Walkersville.


The Woodsboro Train Station and Depot

Woodsboro’s first train station ticket office window was located in the Woodsboro Warehouse directly across the train tracks from the Woodsboro Train Station. The Woodsboro ticket office and Woodsboro Post Office remained in the warehouse from 1870 to 1883. Eventually the Woodsboro Post Office moved down onto Main Street next to The Woodsboro Bank. From 1883 to 1948 the Woodsboro Train station served as a passenger stop. All of Woodsboro’s mail was received at the station and carted over the hill to the Woodsboro Post Office. At some time around 1897 the freight and baggage area was enlarged. If you lived in Woodsboro and wanted more than a grade school education you had to take the train into Frederick everyday.

For over 70 years, trains were a vital part of Woodsboro’s daily life supporting business, mail and passengers from the 1870’s to 1940’s. Gold fish was big business. In 1900’s The Powell Brothers established a successful business raising, exporting and marketing goldfish from Beard’s Farm “Powell’s Pond” located on Route 550. The Powell brother’s shipped goldfish in custom built perforated cans with sunken lids to their customers. Frederick County produced more goldfish than any other county in the United States. Soon after World War 2 the rail road gradually declined and Mr. John “Cap” Drenning “locked the train station doors” on October 1st, 1962.

The Woodsboro Train Station underwent some minor restoration by an insurance agent in 1970. The station sat neglected until 1976 when the Woodsboro’s bicentennial committee opened up the station for the nation’s 200th anniversary. The Bicentennial Committee eventually became the Woodsboro Historical Society and opened the station to the public in 1986 for Woodsboro’s 200th anniversary.

In 1986 the Woodsboro Historical Society began raising funds for the purchase of the train station from The Maryland Transportation Administration. In November 1997 The Woodsboro Historical Society completed the purchase of the Woodsboro Train Station.

Originally Printed in the Woodsboro-Walkersville News-Journal.

Woodsboro Historical Society

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