If you’ve ever driven through downtown Aberdeen, you’ve seen the old railroad station. It was built in 1885, by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which was the first common carrier in the United States.
Construction of the B&O Railroad began in Baltimore on July 4, 1828, and among the attendees at the ceremony was Charles Carroll, a Marylander and the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, according to a website devoted to railroad history.
Though the Aberdeen station is far from its glory days, it was once a bustling depot. The railroad helped the canning industry become a flourishing business for the town and it helped make the Baker family canning business a success.
Soldiers passed through Aberdeen on B&O’s Royal Blue Line on their way to serve our country in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.
The station was also a link between a small town and the larger world. Residents could easily travel to Baltimore, Philadelphia and all points between.
In fact, this station is the, “last wooden station extant on the former B&O line between Philadelphia and Baltimore,” according to an article in The Baltimore Sun.
Although preservation efforts are in the works to ensure the station has a future, its past is a story unto itself.
Frank Heyling Furness (1839-1912) was a noted Philadelphia architect who designed the Aberdeen station. He is such a prominent figure in railroad history that there is a Furness Railroad District in Wilmington, DE, dedicated to the preservation of his stations.
In addition to designing over 600 buildings mostly in the Philadelphia area, including Main Line mansions, libraries, churches and banks, Furness also stands apart from most architects of the time for an achievement he made before he began his career.
Furness was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Civil War, during the Battle of Gettysburg. On June 12, 1864, he, “voluntarily carried a box of ammunition across an open space swept by the enemy's fire to the relief of an outpost whose ammunition had become almost exhausted, but which was thus enabled to hold its important position,” according to the website.
The fact that the architect of Aberdeen’s station was a man of note at the time, coupled with the fact that the station is the last surviving station on a line which once had a station every two or three miles between Baltimore and Philadelphia certainly highlights its unique place in history.
According to the Harford Historical Bulletin No. 54: “For its era, it is a simple building.” The bulletin adds that “many more elaborate stations were among the 33 attributed to Furness between Baltimore and Philadelphia.”
And, Aberdeen is lucky enough to be the home of the sole survivor of a golden age of railroading.