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Bel Air

Bel Air station taken on the last day of passenger service on the M&P, August 31, 1954. View is facing north from atop the Reckord Mill's lower shed roof. Photo by Louis F. High - from the collection of the Maryland Rail Heritage Library.

Over the years in M&PA timetables and other documents, the railroad spelled the station's name two different ways. In various timetables from 1883 until 1904, it was listed as both "Bel Air" and "Belair". From June 1904 until February 1924, it was spelled as one word in the timetables. Employee timetables printed between June 1930 and January 1957, show it as two words.

Prior to World War I, photographic proof exists of the name on the depot's sign being spelled both ways. After WWI and until the end of service in 1958, the railroad seemed content to leave the name as one word on those signs.

Many railroad related structures surrounded the station, sidings, and multiple yards at Bel Air. On the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, the station was situated at mile post 26.5 and was designated as station #27 on its timetables. Within six months of the narrow gauge rails of the Maryland Central Railroad reaching Bel Air, a two-story station was built by December of 1883. The Adams Express Company handled the shipment of express packages on the railroad in the early part of the 20th Century. In the late teens and part of the 1920's, this work was performed by the American and then Southeastern Express Companies (Southeastern was created by the Southern Railway in 1921). The Railway Express Agency then took over the job until the last trains departed Bel Air in 1958.

The station at Bel Air was a Type 2W102 railroad structure, and was built as per drawings from Western Maryland Railway. The M&P's official insurance survey of all its structures dated May 1940, placed a total value of $4,000.00 on this structure. By 1960, with the railroad gone and no one to care for it, nearby townsfolk were complaining about its dilapidated condition and that it was becoming an eyesore. At age 78, and after 75 years of continuous railroad service, the Bel Air station was razed in June 1961.

Reckord Mill was a tall commercial building and other structures forming a complex served by a stub siding. The siding came down from the north and ran along the east side of a one-story structure with a shed roof. The Reckord Mill structures were located on the north side of Main Street. Another business was McComas Brothers Company, served by way of a 495' stub siding. It came across Main Street just east of the main line and ran along those building's west sides. McComas Brothers sold coal, building materials, and general merchandise in Bel Air. Also nearby was the Southern States Company that was served by the same long siding that also handled the Reckord Mill. Starting at this location in Bel Air about 1937, the Southern States Company handled fuel oils, feed, farm, and general supplies.

Above information excerpted from Rudy Fischer's articles, THEN and NOW: Bel Air Station Area - Harford County, Maryland, Part I and Part IV; TIMETABLE, Vol 19, Number 4, Fall 2003 and Volume 20, Number 3, Summer 2004; The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society, Inc.
© Copyright The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society, 2004 and 2005.


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