Members of the Severna Park Museum Inc. are sharing their memories of historical landmarks around Severna Park in this limited six-part series.
If you lived in Severna Park in 1880 - or Boone as it used to be called - you would have seen the first railroad steam engine running from Baltimore to Annapolis roaring down the tracks. The B&A short line integrated electric engines from 1906 to 1908. Up until 1930, steam engines carried freight and electric cars carried passengers. Town residents could ride the train every hour from 6:00am to 10:00pm.
In 1931 during the Great Depression, the railroad also fell on hard times and was put into a receivership to avoid bankruptcy. The last passenger trip was February 5, 1950. Until 1968, a diesel switcher hauled coal to the Naval Academy.
The first half of the Boone Railroad Station was built in 1919 after Oscar Hatton, developer of Boone and Rolland Teel, headmaster of Severn School, formed a group to raise funds for the structure. The group is now known as the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association (OSPIA). The station was later known as the Severna Park Railroad station after the town’s name change in 1925.
Also in 1925, the building was made larger as the community started to grow. The station was also used as a post office (until 1951), supervised by then-postmaster “Sharky," who lived on B&A Boulevard.
“The improvement association would decorate the fir tree in front of the station for Christmas every year,” recalled longtime Severna Park resident Scott Jay. “Residents would come out to sing carols and Santa would fly down. It was a huge town event."
In 1952, the building was Jay’s third-grade classroom. “Severna Park Elementary was overcrowded and that was the overflow building," Jay said. “My dad built the cupola on the top of the building in 1948." That was rebuilt by Scott and friends in 1988.
The building was also Aurora Savings and Loan under manager Clyde Burke. In the late 1950s, the building served as the first Severna Park Library, and in 1963, the Severna Park Model Railroad Club was formed by Frank Foight and remains there until this day.
“I used to ride the train as a kid and I wanted to make sure residents remember the history of this town," Jay said. He recalled a story where, “Kids would put lard on the tracks and when train cars came into the station, they would slide right past the building." With a laugh, he said, “They used to put cows and goats on the tracks and the motorman would have to stop the train – those were the days!"
Severna Park Museum Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-stock corporation sponsored by the Winkelmeyer family. Donations are welcome at 528 Melrose Lane.