A picture found on Wikimedia Commons of a locomotive in Brunswick, Maryland. Courtesy of Ray Soderberg.
A picture found on Wikimedia Commons of a locomotive in Brunswick, Maryland. Courtesy of Ray Soderberg.

History of Brunswick As A Railroad Town

From Humble Beginnings To Burning Coal

February 24, 2023

     Brunswick — a small township located within southwestern Maryland — holds a rich yet largely unknown history with specific regard to the development of the city as a railroad town. 

     The Town of Berlin, later to be known as Brunswick, had been established in the year 1787. Not until the year 1834 was a single track constructed within the town by the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad Company, though it had not begun to hold prominence until the late nineteenth century due to several extraneous factors; these had included, but were not limited to, the prioritization of the C&O Canal with regard to Berlin’s economic activity and the Civil War.

Dr. Wayne Allgaier and his grandson Matthew Allgaier giving a thumbs-up gesture.
Dr. Wayne Allgaier and his grandson Matthew Allgaier giving a thumbs-up gesture.

     Following a catastrophic flood which had damaged the C&O Canal to an extent making repair unaffordable, the B&O Railroad Company had purchased ownership of the canal itself in order to effectively secure control over a majority of Berlin’s economic activity. After the B&O Railroad Company had further acquired land within Berlin’s jurisdiction, Berlin had become a municipal corporation we now know as Brunswick.

     Upon the land the B&O Railroad Company had acquired, more tracks, real estate, bridges, and other things beneficial to Brunswick’s economy had been constructed. As a result of this, Brunswick’s population had begun increasing substantially, “The B&O Railroad Company enabled the population to grow from around 300 to over 3,000 people,” says Dr. Wayne Allgaier, a member of the Brunswick History Commission. Over time, the significance of railroads in the United States has decreased due a plethora of reasons, from the economic impact of the Great Depression to the introduction of more ideal transportation solutions.

A picture found on Wikimedia Commons of Downtown Brunswick from the perspective of someone standing on Potomac Street, Brunswick, Maryland.
A picture found on Wikimedia Commons of Downtown Brunswick from the perspective of someone standing on Potomac Street, Brunswick, Maryland.

     Brunswick’s label as a railroad town has most definitely made itself apparent among the populace, as there are a plethora of symbols hinting at the railroad: “You’ll see the railroader caboose at Brunswick High, the railroad park currently in development, and Boxcar Burgers’ branding,” Dr. Allgaier said. If you’re interested in either learning more about Brunswick’s history or how to preserve it, he invites you to attend Brunswick History Commission meetings on Thursdays at 2 p.m. in the second floor conference room of Brunswick City Hall.

 

 

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