Ma & Pa Roundhouse on Falls Road
The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, known as the Ma & Pa, connected Baltimore, Maryland and York, Pennsylvania, over a circuitous seventy-seven mile route. In 1881, the Falls Road site became the Baltimore terminal for the Baltimore & Delta Railway (a predecessor of the Maryland & Pennsylvania) originally including a wood frame roundhouse. The original roundhouse burned down in 1892 but, in 1910, the Ma & Pa rebuilt built tracks, roundhouse, the adjoining yard office and power house, as part of a $47,000 investment in their terminal facilities. The Ma & Pa thrived in the 1900s and early 1910s providing regular commuter service between Belair and Baltimore, country excursions for city residences, and milk and mail delivery between Baltimore and Pennsylvania. The business began to decline after WWI and, by the 1950s, passengers had dwindled to about 12 people per train. After the company lost the contract to operate the Railway Post Office, they abandoned their Maryland operations and moved offices to York, Pennsylvania. In 1960, two years after the Ma & Pa ceased operations, the city bought the roundhouse and the terminal complex. Baltimore City purchased the buildings for $275,000 with plans to use the roundhouse as a highway department warehouse. For the past 58 years, the site has been used by Baltimore City for truck parking and winter road salt storage. While the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum has successfully preserved the former Mount Clare Roundhouse in southwest Baltimore as an iconic attraction for railroad buffs young and old, most roundhouses have been lost to demolition or neglect. Years of service to the Baltimore Department of Transportation has taken a toll on this structure too. Unfortunately, in August 2014, the roof at the roundhouse suffered a partial collapse when the several salt-damaged supports failed. Action is needed to stabilize the building and prevent further deterioration.
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