It all started

when the December 1836 session of the Maryland General Assembly granted a charter to the Annapolis and Elk Ridge Rail Road Company to build a railroad from Annapois to a point near Elk Ridge where it would connect with the Baltimore and Ohio's Washington Division.  Construction was commenced on June 12, 1838 under the direction of Chief Engineer Colonel George W. Hughes; after overcoming many obstacles - including financail straits, failure by a contractor to deliver the granite necessary to build bridges, and considerable "personnel troubles" - the road was completed.  On December 25 (or 26th, depending upon the source) 1840 - after almost 18 months and at a cost of $405,658.65 - the Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad ran its first train out of its station at the corner of West and Calvert Streets.

Railroads had come to Annapolis.

A&ERR Calvert Street Station

The Station at the corner of Calvert and West Streets would remain active until 1935 when the successor roads of the Annapolis and Elk Ridge succombed to the financial tribulations of the Great Depression.   Before that time, however, trains ran over the line almost continuously.   The track layout also remained relatively unchanged during that period.

The A&E was still in operation when the Civil War broke out.  On April 23, 1861, in order to ensure mvoement of troops and supplies through Annapolis to Washington and points beyond, Massachusetts Brigadier General Benjamin Butler commandeered the Annapolis and Elk Ridge for government purposes.

There is recorded in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion this amusing anecdote involving the A&E during its time of servitude:

Upon Butler's seizure of the railroad, Maryland Governor Thomas Hicks objected, stating that the Legislature was to convene the following Firday and needed the railroad to come into town.   A day or so earlier, at a meeting between Butler, Governor Hicks, the Mayor of Annapolis, and several other federal officials, Hicks stated that the Federal government could not use the railroad to convey troops or supplies because the rails of the A&E, being private property, had been taken up.   Butler, in reply to Hicks' protestations that the Legislature needed the railroad to come into town, mused: "It is difficult to see how it could be that if my troops could not pass over the railroad one way, the members of the Legislature could pass the other way".

Troubled times lay ahead for the Annapois and Elk Ridge following the War.  In October 1879 the President of the A&E, Annapolis attorney Sommerville Pinkney, was called before the Maryland Board of Public Works to explain why, in the 40 years of its existence, the railroad had not paid a single cent in interest on the State's investment of $300,000.00.  Pinkney explained the failure to pay interest was because the A&E had to drastically lower their fares in the face of stiff competition from ferryboats.  Furthermore, Pinkney continued to explain, the little money they did attain from fares was drained from their coffers by the Baltimore and Ohio in the form of interchange tarriffs.

The Baord of Public Works had no synmpathy for the A&E - nor did the railroad's private stockholders, who also decried the failure of the railroad to pay interest.  In 1884 the private stockholders sued to have the railroad sold to recover what part of their investments they could; the state, however, wanted to protect its own considerable stake in the matter and filed an injunction to prevent the sale.   The injunction stood for approximately one year, but was dissolved in July 1885 and on November 10 of that year the Aannapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad was sold for $100,000.00.

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Created Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Last updated Teusday, July 26, 2011