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The Tale of the Pennsylvania Midland:Birth of the Railroad

The Pennsylvania Midland Railroad, as described in this series of articles, is a freelance railroad created by Jerry Britton. The railroad is inspired by actual events and histories of related railroads in Mifflin and Centre counties of Pennsylvania. Past history is not changed, but leveraged to create future outcomes that never came to fruition.

It was the mid 1930s. The Britton family, longtime residents of the "Big Valley" in Mifflin county, discovered substantial sand deposits on their land on the north side of Jacks Mountain. This shouldn't have come as a surprise, as the north side of Stone Mountain, next door to the north, had been quarried for sand for years. The Pennsylvania Glass Sand Company had a substantial processing plant on the banks of the Juniata River at Mill Creek and trucked sand from the nearby quarries to the plant. The plant had multiple sidings connecting to the Pennsylvania Railroad at that location.

When the Britton's approached the Pennsylvania Railroad about the prospect of a connection between Mill Hall and their location, the railroad deferred, citing the curvature of the main line at that location, combined with the grade differential, as not conducive to successful operations.

The Pennsy suggested a new railroad might cross above the Pennsy at Mill Hall, then curve west and descend alongside the Juniata River. The proposal had the line crossing the Juniata just west of Ardenheim and interchanging with the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad immediately south of Huntingdon. Though a few extra miles, the route would be safer and the grades would be acceptable. A connection directly with the Pennsy at Ardenheim would have resulted in an undesirable facing point connection, whereas the H&BTM connection was trailing point. The Pennsy offered to finance and construct the Juniata River crossing in anticipation of the freight income.

As a result, the Pennsylvania Midland Railroad was chartered and incorporated on June 20th 1937. Offices and yards were established south of Huntingdon. The railroad opened for business on August 9th 1938.

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