Last Train to Havre de Grace

When the Pennsylvania Railroad announced plans to end passenger service to Havre de Grace on October 29, 1967 the announcement didn’t faze “residents of the “quiet, picturesque city at the mouth of the Susquehanna River,” according to the Baltimore Sun.  A simple sign posted on the neglected, time-worn station some weeks earlier notified the few remaining riders that the last two runs would soon be discontinued.

Few people beyond the cab driver or the retired trackman cared that the local depot would no longer even be a whistle stop.  “In an affirmation of this final epitaph to a station which was once jammed with expectant travelers and tourists – many of whom flocked to the spring and fall meetings of the old race track – only two people got off the Friday evening train when it coasted into the abandoned siding ten minute late.  A bundle of newspapers also came off.”

Retired station agent John Alfred Spragg, 79, told the reporter it hadn’t always been that way.  “I’ve seen times when this platform was so crowded that you couldn’t move around the baggage.”  Spragg, 79, had been the station agent for 30 years, retiring in 1956.

Another railroader, a retired switchman added, “One time they had trains here.  You could catch a train most any time of the day you wanted he said before walking around the corner to take a drink from the bottle in his pocket.”

The “strangely isolated station house,” about four blocks from the “unhurried downtown,” its exterior splashed with graffiti  and its broken window boarded up, was little more than a roost for pigeons and an out-of-the-way place for a lonely man to swill a bottle and reminisce, is the way the Sun summed up the news.

This station opened in 1906, the J. S. Rogers Company of Stanwick, NJ having the contract for the work.  An October 1968 blaze destroyed the once busy depot.

For additional photographs click here.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Havre de Grace.  A postcard, circa 1914.  source:  personal collection.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Havre de Grace. A postcard, circa 1914. source: personal collection.

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Sharing Delmarva’s Past

Delmarva History’s Facebook Page


If you enjoy Delmarva’s history check out our Facebook page, a virtual home where we share photos, stories, and conversations about the Peninsula’s heritage.  As you browse the timeline you will find rich media, pictures, new and old, short articles, news about local heritage events, and links to curated content produced by others.

In particular, in this age when images are an important part of the message, we share lots of eye-catching modern photos, visually presenting the cultural landscape that is all around us every day as we travel around the region.  Those old homes and buildings, appealing landscapes, weather-worn tombstones, forgotten railroad tracks, gently flowing creeks, or crumbling stone walls in the woods are all survivors of the passage of centuries and provide great opportunities for pictures.

In addition, this platform allows for conversations about matters and the sharing of knowledge in a conversational sort of way.  It also is a place to find out about cultural events happening here from the full range of heritage institutions in our area.

You do not have to have an account to access it as it is an open Facebook page. But if you are a Facebook user you are able to like the page, which keeps you up-to-date when posts are made as they occur frequently.

The digital world breaks down walls, broadening the flow of information and the reach of heritage materials and we are pleased to be able to use Facebook as a way to share our appreciation of these things. Too, many fine institutions, informal group, and individuals around Delmarva are doing similar things, sharing their enjoyment of our heritage with a broader audience and the Facebook history community.  Frequently you will see links to other sites  you may find of interest.

Facebook really is about sharing and it provides a great opportunity to spread the word or pictures for that matter.

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The New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad ticket office in Battery Park in New Castle in February 2014.



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Stealing Freedom Along the Mason Dixon Line

This evening Milt Diggins talked to the Delaware Underground Railroad Coalition about “Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line,” the story of Thomas McCreary, an Elkton slave catcher.

Milt Diggins at the Hockessin Friends Meetinghouse.

Milt Diggins at the Hockessin Friends Meetinghouse.

Milt Diggins talking to the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware.

Milt Diggins talking to the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware.


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Salisbury Fire Department & Others Take to the Air in 1950

An advertisement in the American City (March 1950) notes that the entire town of Salisbury has gone to G-E.  With the fire department, taxi company, rural electric co-operative and public service company equipped G-E two-ways radios, there was instant communications between headquarters and field units.

Fire Chief W. Austin Moore., Sr. had installed equipment in his car, giving him instantaneous control of the Salisbury Fire Department apparatus.  Lem Dryden at Dryden Taxi had increased the revenue of his 11-cab fleet, due to faster service.  The Choptank Electric Cooperative and the Public Service Company were also able to dispatch repair and maintenance vehicles much more quickly, around-the-clock.

Salisbury, MD takes to the air.  Source:  American City, March 1950

Salisbury, MD takes to the air. Source: American City, March 1950

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Mrs. Royall’s Pennsylvania …or Travel’s Continued In the United States

Originally posted on This Old Book:

A travelogue with a remarkably modern, no-holds-barred tone. One would be hard pressed to find a more amusing, biting piece of writing in Jacksonian America. The acerbic, outspoken, one might say curmudgeonly, Mrs. Royall takes us on a journey along the east coast as she dissects the characters, scenery, and ambiance in the mid-atlantic. Baltimore, Brandywine Hundred and New Castle, Delaware are highlighted below.


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Belvidere Fire Company’s First Engine

In 1949 residents of Belvidere, a suburban community outside Wilmington, started working to organize a fire company.  After raising money, the newly organized group acquired a fire engine and the men were just about ready to start answering alarms by the May of next year.  The Journal Every Evening, a Wilmington newspaper, published a photo of seven proud members of the start-up group with their first unit at that time.  According to a History of Flame in Delaware, the first responders had purchased a retiring unit  from Delaware City.  The company was formally incorporated in 1951.

Photo Source:  Journal Evening, May 17, 1950, from the Delaware Room of the Wilmington Free Library.

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The Belvidere Fire Company’s first engine. Source: Journal Every Evening, May 17, 1950

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Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware Lecture: Stealing Freedom Along the Mason Dixon Line

The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware’s fall program takes place on October 27, 2014, at the Hockessin Friends Meeting, 1501 Old Wilmington Road, 6:30 pm.  Historian Milt Diggins will speak on “Stealing Freedom Along the Mason Dixon Line: The Story of Elkton Slave Catcher and Kidnapper Thomas McCreary.”  The program is free and open to the public.  

The Christiana Riot, Christiana, PA

The Christiana Riot, Christiana, PA

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