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Roundhouse shop demolition begins

January 13, 1999

Roundhouse demolishedBy DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Two days before a meeting to save the historic Hagerstown Roundhouse, wrecking crews began razing one of the largest buildings at the complex.

It was a day Hagerstown roundhouse preservationists knew was coming, but they still weren't prepared.

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On Tuesday morning heavy machines smashed into the south erecting shop, a 30,000-square-foot brick and steel building where steam, and later diesel, locomotives once were taken for extensive repairs.

"We've been fearing this for a long time," said Bob Tracey, president of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

"When you see one of the bigger ones go it really brings it home. We dreaded this day," said Tracey, a Herald-Mail Co. employee.

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Many of the smaller buildings at the vacant rail car repair site along South Burhans Boulevard have already been torn down.

The south erecting shop was one of four large buildings that roundhouse museum members wanted to save to turn into a tourist attraction.

The other three were still standing Tuesday. They include the north erecting shop, a store house and the roundhouse.

Except for the roundhouse proper, parts of the other buildings probably will come down in the next few days, according to a field supervisor with the demolition contractor, AWS Remediation Inc. in Pittsburgh.

The roundhouse building and the giant turntable around which it wraps are the last structures scheduled for demolition, the AWS supervisor said.

The demolition could take up to three months, according to AWS.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., is moving ahead with plans to mediate a closed-door meeting between officials from CSX Corp., which owns the roundhouse complex, and state officials to see if any part of the landmark can be saved.

The meeting is to be held Thursday morning in Annapolis.

CSX previously had offered to give the 42-acre roundhouse complex to the state if the state would indemnify CSX from future lawsuits.

State officials said no. The indemnification issue also has blocked the Hagerstown and Washington County governments from taking ownership of the property.

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