A few years ago, I was driving through Cecil County, MD and crossed over the Little Elk Creek. Briefly, looking over the side of the bridge I saw a very faint but distinct trace through the woods. Stopping, I was positive it was an old right of way. Aside from the obvious need for minimum grades, which were often found along creeks and rivers, why was it there? Later on that day using a popular satellite mapping software I was able to trace a very discernable roadbed from Child’s Station on the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, present day CSX, mainline from Baltimore to Philadelphia up the Little Elk Creek, which eventually just disappeared in the woods. Along the trace though were several businesses tucked up tight to the creek. It was too late to drive back and check out the businesses, so I did some internet research and found the prize.In 1893 the Lancaster, Cecil, and Southern opened for business as a 4.5 mile spur from Child’s Station to Providence. While this spur was not a long one, it was important to mill owners. It served Marley Paper Mill, Harlan’s Book Board Mill, Carter’s Cecil Paper Mills, Levis and Brothers Flour Mill, and finally Providence Paper Mill. The Little Elk Creek was an important source of power for manufacturing in Cecil County. A variety of mills and factories occupied the stream banks of the rapidly flowing stream. The road network in Cecil County at the time was primitive to non-existent making the expense of transporting inbound raw materials and outbound product challenging to the bottom line. Until the completion of the L.C. and S, the expense of hauling was a significant cost for local manufacturers. The line was finally abandoned in 1972 as part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A brief peek over a bridge abutment was all it took to learn this history of an essential part of my local community and its conveyance of products to the rest of the country.
For additional information: www.cecilhistory.org/researchreports/los.pdf