Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad

Middletown, Pennsylvania | C.1888

Photo Credit: Shannon Flannery

The Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad is a small railroad that operates freight and passenger trains in the state of Pennsylvania between the towns of, wait for it, Middletown and Hummelstown.

The M&H Railroad was chartered in 1888 by local businessmen who wanted to increase competition for passengers and freight coming out of Middletown. Up until that point, the area’s transportation needs had been served by the Union Canal and the Pennsylvania Railroad – which had a monopoly on freight.

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 was needed to carry freight to Philadelphia. The same group of local businessmen decided to build their own railroad to meet this demand.

Construction began in Middletown in 1889. The following year, the bridge over the Swatara Creek was completed and the M&H line joined the Reading Railroad, allowing M&H and Reading to compete against the Pennsylvania Railroad together. The Reading Railroad purchased the line from the M&H directors and provided passenger service until 1939 and  freight service until 1972.

In 1972 a massive hurricane named Agnes severed the railroad line when the Swatara Creek flooded. The railroad companies made a deal: the Pennsylvania Railroad would service Middletown and the Reading Railroad 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, and the line was used solely for freight for the next 10 years. In 1986, he decided to start running passenger trains, and they have been running ever since.

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