The Georges Creek & Cumberland Railroad was the child of two mining companies, the Maryland Coal Company, and the American Coal Company. In the Georges Creek Coal Region of Allegany County in the 1870's, the transportation monopoly was controlled by the Cumberland & Pennsylvania (C&P) Railroad, which was owned by the Consolidation Coal Company. Rival companies could not get competitive rates to move their coal from the mines to the B&O and the canal. The solution was two-fold: build a second railroad, and involve the B&O's rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad. The GC&C should not be confused with the earlier Georges Creek Railroad, built in 1853 to allow shipment of iron products from the furnace at Lonaconing to the planned canal and railroad terminus at Westernport.
The GC&C was born out of controversy and competition, and this climate of anti-cooperation continued. The GC&C had to fight its way past the C&P into Cumberland, and then fight for the right to reach the canal over B&O trackage. The B&O did not want to grant the GC&C trackage rights to reach the canal terminus, but this issue was also resolved in court.
The Western Maryland Railroad purchased the controlling stock interests of the GC&C on January 17, 1907. The GC&C was a small but key part of the Gould master plan for a transcontinental railroad link. The financial panic of 1907 put an end to these grand schemes. Bankruptcy followed. Operation of the GC&C was taken over by the newly reorganized Western Maryland Railway in July of 1913. A full merger and consolidation took place on January 23, 1917. The line was operated until 1939, when the Western Maryland abandoned the track from Georges Creek Junction to Midland. Mines west of Midland were served through the connection with the C&P at Jackson Junction, near Lonaconing.
The GC&C motive power all came from the Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works. Ten engines were rostered. All of the engines were of 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, except for the 4-6-0 passenger engine. All of the engines went to the Western Maryland, and all were reported scrapped between 1914 and 1917. The GC&C rostered predominately coal hoppers; two hundred are listed for the year 1884. In addition, the 1884 Poor's lists two box cars, and 10 platform cars. The various ICC valuations list 24 cabooses for 1911 and 1912, and 20 for 1913. The GC&C had several passenger cars, including an observation car with open sides. This car was popular for political outings and picnic excursions, but not in the winter.
The GC&C was big on trestles. During construction of the line, a single contract for 1.5 million feet of pine trestling lumber was let. Bridge 42 was the Winchester Road Viaduct, which crossed just south of the C&P Bridge. Uphill of the line's two tunnels was Bridge 50, the Percy Hollow Trestle. Past Clarysville was Needham's Viaduct, also called Bridge 81. Clises Run Viaduct, Bridge 115, at Cabin Run was a major structure. This was of wooden construction first, then later replaced with a steel structure. The stone abutments still exist. Bridge 137, the Midland viaduct, bisected the town. The stone abutment for the northern end can still be seen between Routes 936 and 55, at the end of the town. Beyond Midland, there was a bridge over Douglas Run, the stone ends of which can still be seen. A turntable was located at Midland Junction. Bridges were necessary at Mile post 16 and 17 to cross Georges Creek multiple times, the road, and the line of the Cumberland and Westernport Electric railway. Bridge 06 crossed the Pine Hill Plane. Bridge 20, the Jackson Wye viaduct, was located on the Jackson Branch, near milepost 19. A trestle was necessary over Castle Run at milepost 20, on the branch to the Koontz mine.
Passenger stations were located at Cumberland, Vale Summit, Midland and Lonaconing. The station at Lonaconing was located up the hill from the town, and was inconvenient to reach. The line is still evident in this area, but no rails remain. The GC&C used the Hay Street Station in Cumberland, and had a passenger stop at Mechanic Street. The most impressive structure was the roundhouse and turntable at City Junction. The original roundhouse was build before 1885. Maintenance of the line was handled from City Junction.
The truss bridge crosses Will's Creek
City Junction, C&P on the right, GC&C on the left. The house to the right of center still stands.
The January 18, 1887 published schedule shows two trains per day from Cumberland to Lonaconing (except Sunday). If you took the 10:45 from Lonaconing, you could lunch in Cumberland before catching the 1:15 to New York over the Pennsylvania Railroad. This express service would arrive in New York at 7:10 AM the next day. There was checked baggage service on this line.
From 1869 to 1879, James A. Millholland, son of the James who set up the C&P shops, was the second vice-president of the C&P. He was lured away to become General Manager, later President, of the Georges Creek and Cumberland Railroad. Part of the deal was his new house, located behind the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Washington Street in Cumberland.
Millholland House, Cumberland, Md.
This house stands on Washington Street, behind the Emmanual Episcopal Church
The GC&C started as two separate pieces, the line to Vale Summit and Lonaconing called the GC&C, and the connection to Pennsylvania, called the Pennsylvania Railroad in Maryland, discussed in the next section. The two pieces were merged under the name Georges Creek and Cumberland. Later, the Connellsville Extension of the Western Maryland RR was built under the umbrella of the GC&C. On July 1, 1913, the GC&C was formally absorbed into the Western Maryland System, and the Connellsville extension became WM trackage, as did the Pennsylvania RR in Maryland.
Junction of the GC&C with C&P
Lonaconing Junction, looking south. Tracks are in use by CSXT. Patrick E. Stakem photo
traces of double track near Lonaconing
Mr. Albert C. Green, a Director of C&O Canal Co. and outspoken superintendent of the Borden Mining Co. had a C&P engine named after him.