In early 1993 plans were announced to construct a rails-to-trails project along the abandoned Western Maryland Railway through Somerset County. With the support of the Somerset County Commissioners, a group of Meyersdale citizens formed the Western Maryland Railroad Station Committee for the purpose of restoring the Western Maryland Railroad station in Meyersdale. In September 1993, the committee was formally incorporated as the Meyersdale Area Historical Society with the expanded objective of fostering and actively participating in the preservation and acquisition of personal property, buildings, sites, landmarks, documents and other items of historical interest and aesthetic and social value; reviving pioneer arts and crafts; fostering interest in and appreciation for the history of the area and carrying on research in the same.
The initial goal of the society was the restoration of the Meyersdale Western Maryland Railroad Station which could be used as a home for the society and as a museum for local artifacts depicting the history of the region in general, with a focus on the industrial heritage of the area and development of the railroad, coal and lumber industries and their contribution to the development of the region.
The Meyersdale Western Maryland Railroad Station
When the Western Maryland Railway was being built in 1910, the railroad’s real estate agent promised that he would build “the finest station between Cumberland and Connellsville” if the town fathers would grant permission to build the railroad through Meyersdale.
Permission was given, and the brick semi-Tudor style station was the result. Initially, the depot served two passenger trains in each direction daily, but regular passenger service ceased in 1931. The station continued to serve freight customers and as a maintenance base. After the Western Maryland Railway was abandoned in 1975, the building fell into disrepair.
The station is owned by the County of Somerset. The Historical Society leases the station from the owner. The station has been restored to its 1911 external appearance and was reopened to the public in 1995. Since the initial restoration, three of the interior rooms have been used for displays of historical and cultural significance, and one room serves as a guest shop. The entry hallway gives the illusion of a railway platform. A fourth, larger room is currently being renovated.
Today, the restored Meyersdale Western Maryland Railroad Station welcomes visitors with exhibits that tell the stories of the industries, farms, and people that make the Maple City “the sweetest place on earth.”
The Great Allegheny Passage
The railroad station is located adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) which is a scenic rail-trail project that connects Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland. In Cumberland, the GAP connects to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park which extends to Washington, D. C. The combined GAP and C&O Canal Towpath form a 400-mile bike and walking path. The portion of the GAP alongside the station was originally part of the Allegheny Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania which has become part of the Great Allegheny Passage. As a condition of the society’s lease, the railroad station serves as a trail head facility to accommodate trail users. Hence, the station and the historical society accommodate individuals whose interest is history or recreation or both.