In the early 1800's this area was known as Yough Glades or Armstrong's, a remote crossroads of Indian trails and an "interstate" highway from Winchester, Virginia to Morgantown, Virginia. Some early commercial activity was centered around a couple of water-powered mills, one can still be seen on the Little Yough in the birds-eye view above. Circuit riders from West Union, Virginia (now Aurora, West Virginia) augmented Sunday School held by Isaac McCartney, an early settler amd mill owner. The settlement was destined to remain the small market center of the surrounding farmland until the arrival of the B&O in the early 1850's. Being adjacent to the 1800's version of the super highway was reason enough for renaming and laying off the town seen above. The town grew as a mountaintop resort with the privately owned Glades Hotel and the B&O's Oakland Hotel taking advantage of the cool summer climate. Later in the century, the large sawmill at Crellin would increase the town's commercial base and create the first bank. Oakland Maryland owes its existence to the B&O railroad, and oddly enough, action taken in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1846 (see Railroutes of the Alleghenies).
This B&O station dates from 1884 and served passengers through the early 1970's and as a commercial siding into the 21st century.
About the time these photos were taken, the station had been "saved" by converting it into town-owned museum. The small commercial siding activity was moved to Mountain Lake Park.
For rail history fans, Oakland is fortunate in still retaining rail traffic. This 2002 coal drag could have been loaded at Whitetail in Preston County or it could have come from the far away Cowen Sub. Rail routes over the Alleghenies were indeed hard to come by!
A literal mountain of coal has passed eastward through Oakland in the last 150 years. Although Oakland is close to the West Virginia border, some of this coal came from Garrett County. The largest producer was the KRAY (Kendall, Ream, Ashby and Yutzy) coal mines at Crellin, Maryland. These mines produced coal for shipment on the Preston RR from the 1920's to 1960 (see Preston RR).
. Even before commercial shipments, the Crellin mines fed the boilers at the huge Kendall sawmill and supplied fuel for the 42 mile-long railroad. The Preston RR interchanged with the B&O right on the state line at Hutton, using the original B&O mainline to Corinth WV as an interchange yard . A much more obscure loading point was immediately west of Oakland on the Herrington Manor Road. A reload tipple was located on the right of way of the George D. Browning logging railroad up until the 1960's, although when coal was actually loaded is unknown to this author. The probable source were some "groundhog" mines in the 88 Bridge
vicinity (later the site of the town's landfill). The coal potential of the area must have been low as two coal barons, Thomas Johnson and Carl DelSignore later owned the surface and coal in this area, but never mined it.
The only other traffic on the old B&O West End is Q316/Q317. This mixed freight serves, in essence, as a very long local between New Martinsville WV and Cumberland MD, kept alive by the Westvaco fine papers mill at the bottom of the Seventeen Mile Grade..
The railroad went from being the reason for the town in 1851 to a conduit to a major resort industry in the latter part of the century. Even with the demise of the resort hotels in the early 20th century, the B&O still provided local employment for maintenance of way, tower and agency employees; and a link to the outside world for heavy freight shipments. Except for the large sawmill at Crellin, the B&O or others never developed significant industry based on the railroad around Oakland (a cannery existed for some years at Loch Lynn). Today, this historic railroad is taken for granted by many and is a nuisance to some. The overhead highway bridge on Oakland's Oak Street was a problem for years, its abrupt drop off on the west end trapped low-boy trailers with regularity. When the town and State wanted to replace the bridge, CSXT objected to their engineering, noting that the proposed clearance would not accomodate double-stack TOFC. The locals noted that the gigantic Kingwood Tunnel to the west was also too low. In probably the safest bet ever made, the governments promised to raise the bridge if the tunnel was ever improved to the new mainline standards.
This shot is taken from probably the same location that the artist used for the panorama at the top of the page. The basic size of the town has not changed since 1906. Some of the 1906 building remain such as the Center Street school, the "Church of the Presidents" and of course, the railroad station. Oakland still boasts a hometown, independent bank, a rarity west of metropolitan Maryland. The immediate foreground of this photo was the location of the Oakland Hotel. Sorry for the blurred photo, the lens was obscured by my sweat in climbing this hill.
A final note about Oakland- the earliest B&O surveys seem to have bypassed the spot that would become Oakland. The first routing across the Glades had the railroad leaving the Little Yough and traveling up Pleasant Valley to Cherry Creek near Gortner. Following Cherry Creek to the Yough at Underwood, this route took advantage of the watergap through Charcoal Hill. At the later town of Crellin, the early B&O route accessed Snowy Creek for the route up to Cranberry Summit (Terra Alta).
105 years ago
The heavy fall of snow last week made excellent sledding, much to the delight of farmers and teamsters who are engaged in hauling limestone, lumber, etc. The railroad yards at Oakland are stacked to overflowing with timber and staves, as high as twenty-five teams coming into town a day with product of the numerous mills in this section.
Oakland Republican 02/21/1901-(Vol.24, No.50)
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