Currently viewing the tag: "Emmitsburg Railroad"

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

1: Angels

When he recalled this day, Caleb Sachs was sure he would tell people Heaven had whispered to him, and in doing so, created the blustery wind that seemed to tell him, “Look! An angel.”

No one would mistake Caleb for a visionary man. Because the Sachs were the only Jewish family in Emmitsburg, they were too far away to travel to a synagogue on Shabbat. Since his father was a shopkeeper and Saturday was the busiest day of the week, he had made allowances. His father kept the shop open on Saturday, closing mid-afternoon, and then recognizing Shabbat from mid-Saturday through Sunday.

Caleb followed his father’s rules. He didn’t work after the store closed, and he read the Torah in the evening. However, he also liked to wrestle, play cards, and race horses with his friends. Although they were still a bit young, when Matthew Hayes could sneak a bottle out of his father’s tavern, Caleb and his friends would sneak off into the woods and drink.

This day, though, Caleb was sober and serious. His father had trusted him to drive the wagon to Gettysburg and pick up an order coming in on the Harrisburg and Gettysburg Railroad. It could have shipped to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad, but that would have involved sending the freight to Baltimore, transferring it to the Western Maryland Railroad, and then transferring it to the Emmitsburg Railroad at Emmitsburg Junction. Not only would that have taken another two days, but it would also have cost additional freight charges. With Gettysburg only 12 miles away, it was easier to send a wagon to pick up the goods at the depot in Gettysburg.

At 16 years old, this was Caleb’s first solo trip to Gettysburg, and he meant to show his father he could be trusted to do a man’s job.

He drove north out of town along Emmitsburg Road, which would take him right into the center of Gettysburg. He crossed the wooden bridge over Flat Run. It was a little trickle of a stream that rarely needed a bridge to span it unless it had rained recently.

That was when the wind picked up as Heaven whispered to him. He started the wagon up the hill when he saw her. She stood on the crest of the hill on the west side of the road. The sun behind her silhouetted her figure as she danced around to the sound of music that only she heard. The white shawl she wore billowed out, appearing to be an angel’s wings, and locks of her blond hair flew in all directions around her head forming a halo.

She looked so beautiful, Caleb had to stop the wagon to watch her.

She was so engrossed in her silent song, she never saw him, although he was only 20 yards away. Then, either she finished what she was doing, or perhaps she heard him. She stopped and ran off in another direction.

Caleb knew he would remember her. Even though he’d not seen her face, something about the love of life she showed in those moments or the carefree spirit of her dance told him she was beautiful no matter what she looked like.

The thought of her kept a smile on his face during the 12-mile ride to Gettysburg. He grinned at the stationmaster, who must have thought Caleb was crazy. He kept smiling as he loaded the goods his father had ordered for the store into the wagon bed.

On his way back to Emmitsburg, Caleb wondered if he shouldn’t have introduced himself to the woman. It just hadn’t seemed right. He had an image of what she looked like in his mind. Perhaps he imagined her nothing like she actually looked. It didn’t matter. The face he saw in his mind belonged to the angel he had seen dancing. Whether it was reality, it was still truth.

Margaret Rosensteel entered St. Joseph’s Church through the front doors. She paused a moment to let her eyes adjust to the dimmer light as she looked into the chapel. It had been warm in the light of the bright sun, but winter still clung to the inside of the church. The stoves couldn’t generate enough heat in the large room, and too few people sat in the pews to generate enough body heat to warm the room.

The young girl genuflected and slid into a pew near the rear of the chapel. Father Harmon was already well into the Mass, and he didn’t even glance at her.

Sister Mary Agatha did, though. The Daughter of Charity sat across the aisle and three rows forward of Margaret. The sister glanced back, saw Margaret, and she smiled. Then she mouthed, “You’re late.”

Margaret raised her eyebrows and shrugged. It wasn’t the first time, and it undoubtedly wouldn’t be the last time she was late to Mass. Her mother compared her to one of the foolish virgins in the Bible who arrived too late to greet the bridegroom, and so was locked out of the home.

“But I’ll never be a bride, Mama, so what does it matter?” Margaret had answered once.

“You’ll be married to God, but I guess you’ll be late for him, too.”

“Well, he must know what he is getting into. He made me this way.”

Margaret had known she was destined to be a Daughter of Charity since she was six years old. That was the year she nearly died from scarlet fever. As she had burned up from the fever, her parents had tried to lower her temperature and prayed at her bedside.

The doctor had told her parents to prepare for the worst, but Margaret had recovered. The Rosensteels declared their daughter’s recovery to be a miracle. That is when they told Margaret she would become a Daughter of Charity when she was old enough because they had promised God they would do so if he spared her life.

Margaret had trouble concentrating on Mass this morning. It was the first sunny and warm day of the year, and she wanted to be out and about, dancing and singing in the sunlight. Instead, she was sitting inside, trying to remember her Latin, so she could understand Father Harmon.

She walked outside after Mass ended and lifted her chin toward the sun, so her face could drink in its warmth. She heard the jangle of wagon traces and looked up Emmitsburg Road. She saw a pair of horses pulling a wagon crest the hill. Different size boxes were piled on the rear, but it wasn’t the boxes Margaret noticed. It was the driver.

He was a young man about her age. He sat proudly in the seat with his shoulders thrown back and his face concentrating on his work. She had never seen him before, although she spent most of her time on the family farm rather than in town.

As he passed, he glanced at her and did a double-take. Then he smiled and lifted his hat to her. Moments later, he was past her. Margaret turned to watch him as he turned the wagon onto West Main Street.

She couldn’t get past the fact that he looked familiar. She couldn’t place his face. Some might say it was the face of an angel.

Young Boy Rescues Friend from Runaway Rail

Emmitsburg-RR-005-JAKJoseph Flautt Frizell was walking along the tracks of the Emmitsburg Railroad one evening in May 1922 with some friends. They were goofing around, as teenage boys are known to do, as they approached the station located on South Seton Avenue.

The Emmitsburg Railroad had been incorporated on March 28, 1868. It connected Emmitsburg to Thurmont by rail, and from there to other communities via the Western Maryland Railway. Besides making it easier for townspeople to travel to places like Baltimore, it also provided a convenient way for students to arrive at St. Joseph’s College and Mount Saint Mary’s College. The railroad was more than seven miles long and opened for passenger service on November 22, 1875.

Frizell and his friends saw a baggage car approaching them. Then they noticed another local youth, Paul Humerick, on the front of the baggage car. He had apparently jumped aboard hoping to catch a free ride, probably destined to the station in downtown Emmitsburg, which marked the end of the line.

What Humerick hadn’t noticed was that the baggage car had detached itself from the rest of the train and was coasting down the incline in the tracks. The boys on the ground called for Humerick to get off the car, but he ignored them, apparently not recognizing the danger.

“Quick as a flash young Frizell realized the danger and ran after the car, which was moving slowly, jumping it and at the same time pulling Master Humerick down to the earth,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The boys hit the ground, rolled, and climbed to their feet unharmed. Meanwhile, the baggage car continued just a short distance before it hit an embankment. They watched the baggage car “smash over the embankment into a tree. The large tree hit in just the place where Humerick was standing on the car and eyewitnesses say that had the young boy held his place he would have been badly mangled if not killed outright,” published the Catoctin Clarion.

Frizell spent the week afterwards being praised by his friends as a hero. The newspaper said the praise was rightly deserved because “it was not only a brave deed but showed that his mind was working fast to take in the situation.

The incident was investigated and it was found that after the train had stopped at St. Joseph’s College Station without incident on its way to the end of the line at the Emmitsburg station, it was believed that while the conductor was helping passengers off the train at St. Joseph’s College, someone had uncoupled the cars. The train had left the station heading for Emmitsburg, but the baggage car had separated from the rest of the train on an incline.

The car suffered some damage in the accident, but it was expected to be repaired and put back in service. None of the baggage in the car was lost or damaged.

The Emmitsburg Railroad stopped its service in 1940 due to more attractive business options, such as car travel.