The following history was related by one of the M&H conductors, Mr. Charles High.

The History:

The M&H Railroad was chartered in 1888 by local businessmen who wanted to increase competition in rates for passengers and freight to come out of Middletown. Up until that point, the Middletown / Hummelstown / Harrisburg area’s transportation needs had been served by the Union Canal (commissioned in 1791 by William Penn in order to connect the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg to Philadelphia and completed in 1827) , the Pennsylvania Canal, the Pennsylvania Railroad and its predecessors. The Pennsylvania Railroad had a monopoly on freight at the time and there was little competition to drive the rates down.

In 1857, the Reading Railroad completed their line to Harrisburg and essentially put the Union Canal out of business. When the Union Canal was finally abandoned in 1884, Middletown realized that an alternate mode of transportation to transport freight to Philadelphia was needed; so, this group of local businessmen decided to build their own railroad to meet this need. The M&H railroad would be constructed along the path of the former Union Canal.

Construction on the railroad began in 1889 on the Middletown side and was completed as far north as Stoverdale by August 1889. In 1890, the bridge over the Swatara Creek was completed and the M&H line joined the Reading Railroad so that they could compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad together. The Reading Railroad purchased the line from the M&H directors and they served the line with passengers until 1939 and with freight until 1972.

1972 is an infamous year in Pennsylvania history due to a massive hurricane named Agnes – a storm which is still frequently mentioned by name today. The M&H was not untouched by Agnes: the storm severed the railroad line between Middletown and Hummelstown when the Swatara Creek flooded as a result of the heavy rains. The Reading Railroad made a deal with the Pennsylvania Railroad: the Pennsylvania would service Middletown and the Reading would service Lebanon. This temporarily solved the problem and allowed freight to continue to pass through Middletown.

In 1976, Mr. Wendell Dillinger bought the railroad from the bankrupt Reading Railroad. From 1976-1986 the line was used solely for freight. In 1986, he decided to start running passenger trains, and they have been running ever since. All of the passenger coaches were built in 1916-1920 and were used in New Jersey until 1984.

Restored Side Dump MW Car

We recently returned our side-dump MW car to service.
Alco pulling freight
The car was about 2/3 submerged in the flood waters of T.S Lee in 2011.
The brake system was full of water and had to be rebuilt.
It needed new journal pads, other brake components, and a new paint job.

MHRailroad side dump car

The shop completed the work over the winter.
After passing an FRA inspection, the car was returned to MW and buffer car service.

side dump MW car
The dumping system is not yet operational since severe damage was done to the flooded dump cylinders, however we can use it like a gon.

MIDH 99398 MW

M&H Railroad Moving A PP&L Transformer

On Friday, January 24th, 2014,  the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad moved a transformer to PPL over our tracks in Hummelstown, PA. This was the first movement of this type in a few decades! Due to our washout at our Swatara Bridge, we had to lease a locomotive from the Norfolk Southern. The movement went as planned without any issues.


Following is an additional note from Charlie High, who was part of the crew working this job:

Norfolk Southern

“Look closely at the red board to the right of the locomotive on the utility pole. That is the original Reading Railroad TRAIN ON BRANCH sign which was used to signal a train had entered the M&H from the mainline in Hummelstown. The M&H dutifully raised the red board upon reaching the sign. Long Live the Reading!”

Snow On The Railroad Tracks

Trains are one of the things that the snow doesn’t stop – at least in south central Pennsylvania.

railroad in snow

We’ve had a lot of snow this 2014 winter!


Fixing The Track That Was Flooded

In November 2013 we began work to restore the track south of the bridge that was washed out during Tropical Storm Lee. This previous post has photos of the track damaged by flooding. In the following photos the sub-roadbed is being put in – when complete over 700 tons of material will be used just for the sub-roadbed! Then it’s on to regular ballast, ties, plates, rail, spike, tamp and drop more ballast. fixing tracks 1

fixing railroad tracks

fixing RR tracks

The south side will be completed over the winter and come spring we’ll begin work on the north side of the bridge.

Amtrak & Western Maryland 151 Alco S6 Side By Side

These pictures were taken in July of 2011.

Amtrak & trolley

1909 441 Rio De Janiero Tram/Rio JT operating on M&H Railroad track.


Amtrak and 151.

amtrak & alco S6

If you have pictures featuring M&H Railroad equipment I’d be glad to feature them on the blog and social media sites. Just email them to mhrailroad at gmail.com.

Railroad Station Gets Spruced Up For Spring

Since locomotive number 2 is finished, we’re now sprucing up the railroad station with newly repainted benches, decking and currently working on the roof eaves.

railroad station eaves

working on the M&H Railroad Station eaves

M&H Railroad Station bench

newly painted M&H Railroad Station bench

railroad station decking

decking around M&H railroad station

We’re trying to make the place look the best that it can! Come check out all the hard work done at our railroad station. See you soon.