by James Rada, Jr.
The End of Rocky Ridge
Rocky Ridge disappeared in 1913. “So far as railroad matters are concerned, Rocky Ridge does not exist and hereafter that station will be known as Emmitsburg Junction,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.
The Western Maryland Railroad (WMRR) station had opened in Rocky Ridge in 1870, with Sheridan Biggs serving as the first freight agent and telegraph operator. He served in that position until 1907. Over the years, he had had to deal with confusion over passengers knowing that they needed to switch trains in Rocky Ridge in order to get to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad. They boarded a small train made up of an engine, baggage car, smoker/mail car, and parlor car.
Though only a few miles long, the railroad was well run. The Adams County News noted in 1916, “…there is to-day a short distance from Gettysburg a railroad planned, built and financed through the efforts of women, a road which was built some 40 years ago and which to-day untroubled by strikes and other unpleasantness, is paying steadily 4 per cent on the original investment.”
The Daughters of Charity owned 70 percent of the stock in the railroad, according to the Adams County News. This is not surprising since one of the stops on the line was at St. Joseph College. Students traveling to Mount St. Mary’s College also used the railroad traveling to and from school.
“It is probably the only road in existence where the possession of an ordinary ticket entitles one to parlor-car accommodations,” the Adams County News reported.
But something about the location confused passengers, despite the conductor often calling out, “Rocky Ridge, change for Emmitsburg.”
A.V.D. Watterson, Esq., a Pittsburgh attorney and president of the Mount St. Mary’s Alumni Association, lobbied to the Western Maryland Railroad for years to change the name of Rocky Ridge to Emmitsburg Junction to make it clearer that the station was a changing point for passengers.
In 1913, he wrote the directors of the WMRR again. This time, he noted in his letter, “Since a through line is now established from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, which will permit of persons going through to Emmitsburg with only one change of cars, it is important to your Company to make a change of this kind, and I, therefore, again call your attention to it.”
This time, the directors agreed with his reasoning and renamed Rocky Ridge Emmitsburg Junction on all of its documentation and schedules. However, the post office remained Rocky Ridge, so anything being mailed to Emmitsburg Junction had to be sent to Rocky Ridge.
The Clarion noted that the change might have come too late. Thurmont might soon become the transfer point for rail travelers if the Frederick and Hagerstown Railway continued to grow.
“It is hoped a trolley road will soon be built from Thurmont to Mt. St. Mary’s for the benefit and convenience of the hundreds of students attending college at that place, and also for the benefit of the many people residing between these two points,” the newspaper reported.
This did not happen, but with the growth of automobile travel, so few people were using the Emmitsburg Railroad by 1935 that it became freight only. It ceased operation in 1940.
Even then, not all the stations along the Western Maryland line were alerted to the change.
In 1959, Mrs. James Tucker and her daughter, both from Boston, traveled to New York City, where they purchased a ticket to Emmitsburg via Emmitsburg Junction. They boarded the train for the five-hour trip to St. Joseph College.
When the New Englanders arrived at Emmitsburg Junction, they found a worn out railway station but no railroad, not even a track,” the Gettysburg Times reported.
Luckily, they met Guy Baker, who was driving a mail and express truck. He offered to take the ladies to the college.
Emmitsburg Junction still continues to pop up on modern maps from time to time, although it should have ceased to exist along the railroad. A 1992 Frederick County trash map showed Emmitsburg Junction as north of MD 77, while Rocky Ridge was south of the highway. Even today, if you type Emmitsburg Junction into Mapquest, it will take you to Rocky Ridge.
Rocky Ridge WM Station.