The Pennsylvania Midland is a bridge line between the New York Central at Mill Hall, Pa., and the Baltimore & Ohio and Western Maryland at Hancock, Md.
The Pennsylvania Midland serves local customers along its northern end, and interchanges with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Reedsville on the PRR's Milroy Secondary and seeks an interchange with the Penn Family Lines near its southern terminus.
The Pennsylvania Midland also operates the former Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain as a division.
The Central Railroad of Pennsylvania ran from Bellefonte to Mill Hall, Pa. Founded in 1889, the railroad's early success was due to the iron produced in the valley. It interchanged with the Bellefonte Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad in Bellefonte, and with the Beech Creek Railroad (operated by the New York Central) at Mill Hall.
This income disappeared nearly overnight when better grade ore was discovered in the Missabe Range in the mid-west. The CRP limped along and finally succumbed, running its last passenger train in 1917. The line was to be taken up in 1918, with the Beech Creek Railroad retaining a short connection between Mill Hall and a large quarry at Salona.
With inside information that two new quarries would be opening in the coming year at Pleasant Gap, very close to the CRP right-of-way, Theodore Gerrish took advantage of the situation and purchased the CRP at auction. Gerrish had been an investor in a prior railroad endeavor, an earlier Pennsylvania Midland, whose success was blocked by the PRR in 1905.
Under Gerrish, the CRP flourished with the new quarry traffic; general traffic to/from Bellefonte was a bonus. Most of the outbound stone went to the New York Central via Mill Hall, onward to Newberry Yard at Williamsport, where it was handed off to the Reading (or PRR) for points east.
The Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad Acquisition
In 1940, the Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad, a neighboring shortline, was preparing to close due to lack of traffic. Gerrish's existing quarry customers informed him of a sand quarrying operation that they were proposing to start near Mill Creek, several miles beyond the terminus of the KV at Belleville. Although the location was very close to the Pennsylvania Railroad main line, grades and curves made a rail connection there impossible. With the promise of sand traffic, Gerrish purchased the KV at auction and extending the line from Belleville to Mill Creek. A new centralized yard was constructed just north of Belleville and the line continued to interchange with the PRR's Milroy Secondary at Reedsville.
A Bridge Route
The New York Central took notice of the acquisition. Long looking for a shorter route to the south -- without involving its rival the PRR -- the Central saw the CPR and KV as possible "stepping stones" for a new bridge route. New York was "coal hungry" and the Baltimore & Ohio and the Western Maryland were more than eager to send coal to customers in the north. The three railroads met with Gerrish and worked out the details.
A connection from Pleasant Gap on the CRP, through Centre Hall and Milroy, was built to connect with the KV at Reedsville. In between was a formidable obstacle -- the Seven Mountains. Crossing these mountains by rail had long been sought and was an original goal of the Mifflin & Centre County Railroad, which eventually became the PRR's Milroy Branch, later known as the Milroy Secondary. The remnants of several logging railroads which ascended from Milroy to the summit provided a starting point. The railroad was constructed as the Seven Mountains Railroad, a separate entity, in order to protect the existing companies (common practice for the time).
A connection was constructed from the end of the [extended] KV, at Mill Creek, south to Hancock, Md., where it terminated and met the B&O and WM. The right-of-way required a crossing of the East Broad Top Railroad. To protect its interests, the EBT required an agreement which prohibited the line from participating in the coal industry -- other than bridge traffic -- between the Juniata River and Wooden Bridge Creek. The line was constructed as the Mill Creek, Waterfall & Hancock Railway.
In 1947, the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania, the Seven Mountains Railroad, the Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad, and the Mill Creek, Waterfall & Hancock Railway were merged to form the Pennsylvania Midland Railroad Company.
In 1952, to ease a car shortage, the PMRR leased 50 AAR 70-ton tripple hoppers from the Allegheny Midland and Virginian & Ohio railroads.
The PM expanded again in 1954 with the purchase of the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain. A connection was constructed from Huntingdon to Mill Creek. The H&BTM's coal yields increased over the coming years due to advances in mining technology.
PM dispatchers at Big Valley Yard direct traffic across the entire system, coordinating local traffic with bridge traffic.
The New York Central operates a single train each day, running south out of Williamsport onto the PM at Mill Hall. The consist typically includes interchange traffic for the PM, WM, and B&O. The train terminates at Big Valley Yard and, after a short layover to allow connections, returns to Williamsport with interchange traffic for the NYC, Reading, and points north. Head end power is usually four diesels due to the climb over the Seven Mountains. The lashup often includes Reading locomotives.
The B&O operates a single train each day, running north onto the PM at State Line via Hancock, Md. The consist typically includes interchange traffic for the PM, NYC, and Reading. The train terminates at Big Valley Yard and, after a short layover to allow connections, returns south with interchange traffic for the B&O and points south.
The WM operates a single train each day, running north onto the PM at State Line via Hancock, Md. The consist typically includes interchange traffic for the PM, NYC, and Reading. The train terminates at Big Valley Yard and, after a short layover to allow connections, returns south with interchange traffic for the WM and points south.
Transfer runs operate as extras, as needed, out of Big Valley Yard to the PRR at Lewistown, to Centre Hall (siding), and Long Siding Yard on the former H&BTM.
A daily local operates south out of Big Valley Yard, serving customers as far south as Mill Creek.
A daily local operates north out of Big Valley Yard, serving customers as far north as Milroy.
A daily local operates out of Centre Hall, serving customers from Potters Mills to Cedar Springs, as well as from Zion to Bellefonte. At Bellefonte cars may interchange with the Bellfonte Central and the PRR.
Locals operate as extras, as needed, out of Long Siding Yard, serving customers on the former H&BTM.
An interchange with the Penn Family Lines at Needmore is proposed.
Passenger service is being considered.