The railroad put Thurmont on the map and gave the town its name. When the golden age of rail travel passed, Thurmont eventually lost its rail service.
“I remember when the trains started slowing down, and then one day, there were no trains,” Mayor John Kinnaird said at the grand opening of Maryland Transload Logistics (MTL).
MTL plans to reinvigorate Thurmont’s relationship with the railroad. The company, which is located on Poplar Avenue in Thurmont will act as a transfer facility. Goods will arrive at MTL via train. They will be transferred to trucks that will then deliver the goods to the high-traffic areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The process will also work in reverse with trucks delivering goods to be loaded onto trains.
Transloading offers companies cheaper transportation costs for construction materials, bulk products, and household items. By making use of rail transportation, more products can be shipped at a lower cost. It saves on fuel and maintenance for trucks and bypasses toll roads and load fees.
“Things ship cheaper via rail, but not everybody has access to rail,” Scott Austin, owner of MTL said.
He got the idea for business eight years ago and has been working since then to turn 20 acres in the Thurmont Industrial Park into the transloading site. It required a spur line from the railroad as well as other construction. The location offers trucks quick access to Route 15, which then allows them ready access to major interstates.
The grand opening was held on December 2, 2021, with local and state officials in attendance as well as representatives from Genessee Wyoming Railroad, CSX Railroad, and Georgia Pacific Lumber.
Joe Arbona, assistant vice president of government affairs for Genesee & Wyoming Railroad said, “A railroad can move a ton of freight 480 miles on one gallon of fuel. One train of 100 cars can take around 280 trucks off tax-supported roads.”
Austin said the Thurmont community has been welcoming of the project, and Kinnaird agreed. “The more trains I hear coming by here, I think it’s better for all of us and for the economy, especially for the town of Thurmont.”
MTL is the first transloading facility in Frederick County and also the first such facility in Maryland not operated by a railroad.
Tamar Osterman, with the Maryland Department of Commerce for Frederick and Carroll counties, said she and others in her department have a different name for MTL. “We decided this is Maryland’s new inland port. This is really the heart of what economic development is all about.”
Shipments to and from MTL are expected to begin early this year, and with it, a number of new jobs will be created to spur the local economy. Austin is also already working on plans for how to expand the business.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of a new Maryland Transload Logistics facility in Thurmont was held December 2 at the Maryland Transload Logistics, LLC headquarters on Poplar Avenue.