After the Battle of Antietam in 1862,people who wanted to look for survivors or claim the bodies of loved ones had to travel by train to Hagerstown or Keedysville and then by horse and buggy to Sharpsburg. Thus began a constant stream of visitors that has not even stopped today.
Veterans and families of casualties seem especially drawn to the area and began to gather every year at the end of May on decoration day to reminisce and decorate the graves of soldiers. In 1868 decoration day was celebrated with a parade in Sharpsburg which continues to this day every memorial day weekend.
In 1877, the veterans cemetery came under ownership of the federal Government, becoming one of the first National cemeteries to honor our nation's war dead. The Shenandoah Valley Railroad was just coming through on its way to Hagerstown and a small frame site was built near the site of the present station. Shortly afterward, slate curbing and wide walkways were built along along either side of what is now called Sheperdstown Pike or Maryland route 34 from the Station, through Sharpsburg, to the cemetery. Norway maples were planted along both sides of the road to shade the veterans as they walked, and some of those trees still stand today.
The railroad was a boom to the local economy. Not only did it allow travel directly to and from Sharpsburg, it allowed farmers to send produce and livestock more easily by rail, and it delivered mail and goods to local storekeepers. The station stood until 1910 when it was destroyed by fire. The Norfolk and Western railroad, which had earlier acquired the Shenandoah Valley railroad, then built the more commodious current station in 1911to accommodate the extra visitors to the area, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.
One can easily picture the station full of activity as each train pulled up. Men unloading freight, rolling barrels over to waiting wagons, people kissing goodbye, and many survivors from the battle meeting and embracing other survivors as they make there way down to the sacred battleground and to later pay respects to there fallen comrades at the National Commentary.
Veterans continued to return for reunions into the 1930's. There was a huge 75th anniversary celebration and reenactment in 1937 attended by President Roosevelt, and certainly many attendees arrived by train. Unfortunately our country's love of cars caused the decline of passenger rail use by the 50's. By 1962 when thousands journey to the area to observe the centennial, the station had been sold to a private individual.
In 1992 the station was saved from demolition due to the efforts of 'Save the Historic Antietam Foundation of Washington County, the MHT, and various entities. It was turned over to the town of Sharpsburg in 1997 who leased it long term to the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum.
Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.