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Take a field trip to the Hagerstown Roundhouse

August 21, 2000

Take a field trip to the Hagerstown Roundhouse



By KERRI SACCHET / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Hagerstown Roundhouse MuseumFor those of you who love trains, know what a half-o-gauge is and enjoy seeing how the railroad industry has changed over the century, the Hagerstown Roundhouse offers room after room of railroad memorabilia.

Window frames from the razed roundhouse now act as picture holders to capture the memories of the structure that the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum is dedicated to remembering.

The frames hold photographs of Christmas ceremonies at the roundhouse dating back to the late 1970's. As you enter the museum, you will see that there is not one wall that is left without pictures on it.

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Men wearing engineer caps, overalls, and smiles on their faces are framed in pictures next to a photo of the Blue Mountain House.

The titanic-style house, built in the early 1900's, with its huge wooden structure and abundance of rooms was placed along the railroad near Rouzerville, Pa. and gave engineers and their families a chance to spend time together during the breaks. The hotel burnt to the ground in 1913.

Children and adults alike will enjoy the model railroad room with its miniaturized town surrounded by railroad tracks. Figurines enter churches and homes as an oil pump moves back and forth into the ground and a train's whistle blows as it goes under a tunnel.

As you move out of the downstairs model room, those of us who enjoy getting the real experience can ring a bell from a train or sit in a control room seat.

Because the roundhouse employed thousands of people in the area for years, relatives and coworkers can look up names of those who were employed by the railroad in the alphabetized Western Maryland Employee Roster from the 1800's to present.

The second floor of the museum holds three large model tracks, one of a country-side railroad and the other, a model duplication of the roundhouse layout.

As the 42 buildings of the Hagerstown Roundhouse continue to decay into an area of broken windows and weed-covered tracks, the model layout lets you see the roundhouse through the eyes of Hagerstonians in the early 20th century.

A railroad library and research room sits off to the left of the second floor for patrons curious about Western Maryland and national railroad history.

Lined with toy trains and books filled with glossy color pictures of railroads, the gift shop on the first floor could be an indulgence for children and parents both.

Besides a roundhouse museum, members of the Hagerstown Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society hold special events including their fall excursion on a train ride from Hagerstown to Oakland, Md. from Oct. 14 to 15.

The society also holds safety lessons for teaching the national program "Operation Lifesaver" which informs drivers and pedestrians the do's and don'ts of crossing or being near railroad tracks.

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