Roads Before Rails

Custodian With a dry mop in a hallway

By Jody Brumage, Archivist, Heritage Frederick

When Myersville residents began digging up the dirt road that was Main Street in 1898 to install tracks for a new trolley line, they could hardly imagine the rapid transformation their town would experience during the ensuing decades.

The Frederick and Middletown Railway Company established its trolley system over Catoctin Mountain in 1896. Seeing the opportunity for improved access to markets for agricultural products, residents of the upper Middletown Valley raised $30,000 to construct a five-mile line connecting Myersville to Middletown, which opened two years later in 1898.

In the succeeding years, the small village transformed into a growing, modern town, which incorporated in 1904. Main Street was the scene of frequent construction, including many new houses, two banks, general stores, a boarding house and warehouses for storing and preparing produce and other goods for shipment on the trolley. By 1915, several buildings in town were wired for electricity that was provided by the trolley company.

Further growth accompanied the opening of an eight-mile line connecting Myersville with the Hagerstown Railway. Until 1938, Myersville was the halfway point for people traveling on the trolley between Hagerstown and Frederick. However, in 1945 the last trolley left Myersville; the entire system became obsolete because of the popularity of automobiles and the construction of U.S. 40.

Frederick Magazine