BERLIN — The blaring train horn so familiar to Berlin residents has been eerily quiet for the last month after a storm washed out a significant portion of the track near Showell.
For decades, the loud train whistle of the Maryland and Delaware Railroad Company as its locomotives and cars roll through town have been a way of life for Berlin residents and a quaint reminder of a bygone era, but the familiar horn has been silent since the epic storm on Aug. 25, deemed a “1,000 year storm” by some, devastated much of the area. The storm washed out the ground under a section of the Maryland and Delaware Railroad track about 100 feet long just south of Showell in an area where the track runs roughly parallel to Route 113.
The storm, which dumped as much as 15 inches of rain on the Berlin area and flooded homes and streets and stranded motorists, also washed out the sandy soil under a 100-foot section of track just south of Peerless Rd. The track itself remains intact, but is suspended over a washed out area as high as around five feet in some sections.
“We’re out of business down there right now,” said Maryland and Delaware Railroad Company President Eric Callaway this week. “We had a washout of about 100 feet during that August storm and we haven’t been able to run trains south of the washed out area since.”
The Maryland and Delaware Railroad Company, based in Federalsburg, operates a network of around 120 miles of track across Delmarva. The line damaged by the August storm runs roughly from Frankford, Del. to Snow Hill in southern Worcester County. The Snow Hill line largely serves the Lower Shore’s poultry industry, transporting chicken feed, corn and soybeans to and from many of the rural outposts along the route.
Callaway confirmed this week there has been no service to locations south of the disruption.
“The timing isn’t great because we’re at a time of the year when corn is being harvested in the area,” he said. “We have 26 cars stranded on the other side of the washout at Snow Hill. The grain is being moved, but it’s taking a lot of trucking on Route 113 to get it done.”
Callaway said it would cost an estimated $120,000 to repair the damage, funding he hopes might be available from the state.
“Historically, we’re part of the complete transportation system and we’re hoping to get some help from the state, but the Department of Transportation has been a little slow reacting,” he said. “We haven’t given up on it, but we need some help with the repair funding.”