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 matter 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 trackmen 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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