Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad

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Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad
Reporting mark MIDH
Locale Dauphin County, Pennsylvania
Dates of operation 1976–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Middletown, Pennsylvania

The Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad (reporting mark MIDH) is a shortline railroad which operates freight and passenger excursion trains in Middletown, Pennsylvania to Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Hershey and Harrisburg.

Passenger excursion trains[edit]

The company uses both steam and diesel locomotives for passenger excursions. Coaches are 1920s-vintage Delaware, Lackawanna & Western cars. Passengers board at the 1891-era freight station in Middletown for an 11-mile (18 km) round-trip excursion along the Swatara Creek and Union Canal; a narrator relates history of the canal and various sites along the trip.

There is also a collection of heritage railway rolling stock displayed in the Middletown Yard. A more modern 1969 engine is used to transport freight trains. Freight service has been provided since 1976 and passenger excursion service has been provided since 1986.

U.S. Route 322 restriction[edit]

Though the railway owns the trackage between its two namesake towns, it until 2011 only regularly operated as far north as Indian Echo Caverns. U.S. Route 322, a four-lane limited-access highway, lies between Indian Echo Caverns and Hummelstown proper, where the railway connects with Norfolk Southern's (NS) Harrisburg Line line. PennDOT restricted the M&H to 12 crossings per year. However, the M&H had requested additional crossing allowances and was willing to install additional crossing hardware (gates, additional flashers).

Freight business is minimal on the M&H, partly due to the restricted access to NS on the north end. The railroad has stated that this restriction greatly hampers growing freight potential. PennDOT said it believes more discussion regarding warning devices for the crossing is needed given the volume and type of traffic on Route 322. In addition, the Hummelstown Borough Council has expressed NIMBY concerns with having additional freight trains passing through town.[1]

2011 flood damage[edit]

Historic flooding in September 2011 from Tropical Storm Lee damaged significant parts of the railway along the Swatara Creek, including completely washing out one approach to the bridge crossing the creek. Repairs have been estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, and thus the route stops short and no longer reaches Indian Echo Caverns or Hummelstown.[2]

2014 Transformer Delivery[edit]

On Friday, January 24, a leased Norfolk Southern locomotive operated by a M&H crew delivered a transformer, using the M&H line, to the PPL sub station on Fiddlers Elbow Road. Following extensive track repairs to the line, north of the 322 crossing over the summer, the transformer was delivered by Norfolk Southern Engine GP38-2 #5046. The transformer was brought in from the Norfolk Southern line, crossed U.S. Route 322 and then used the spur line to deliver the transformer to the sub station. It would be the first time since 1994 that a transformer was delivered to the substation via the M&H line. [3]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ pennlive.com "Hummelstown wants hearing on M&H Railroad"
  2. ^ Diana Fishlock "Weekend railroad ride takes passengers back in time", The Patriot-News, October 09, 2012.
  3. ^ Drew Weidman, [1], "The Sun Newspaper", January 30, 2014.

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