Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum at Antietam Station
Located in Washington County, Maryland, Antietam Station was built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1911. After Antietam Campaign in 1862, thousands of veteran and families passed through the station to look for the survivors or bodies of loved ones. Antietam Station became to be known as Railroad to Reunion. In 1937, the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum was established as non-profit organization. In 1997, They leased the Antietam Station as the museum to publish and promote the historical, cultural, and economic development of railroading to Hagerstown, communities, especially new members of community and visitors.
Backstory and Context
Look back to history of Antietam Station, in 1862, after the Battle of Antietam,the families and veterans wanted to look for survivors or claim the bodies of loved ones after the battle.So they travel by train to Hagerstown or Keeysville and use horse and buggy to come to Sharpsburg. Thousands of veteran and families passed through Antietam Station for starting their journey of reunion. At the end of May every single year, veterans and the family of casualties come to this area to reminisce and decorate the graves of soldiers. Therefore, in 1868, decoration day was celebrated as parade in Sharpsburg. In 1877, the veterans cemetery became one of the first National cemeteries to honor nation’s war dead.
In 1910, Antietam Station was destroyed by fire. After a year, in 1911, the Norfolk and Western Railroad built the current station which is more commodious to accommodate the extra visitors to the area for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. Veterans and family of casualties continued to pass through the Antietam Station for reunion into the 1930’s. In 1937, President Roosevelt and many attendees arrived by train to attend 75th anniversary celebration and re-enactment day. However, the presence of cars reduced the number of railroad passenger. By 1962, Antietam Station had been sold to a private individual.And in 1992, after the threatening of demolition, the station was saved by the Historic Antietam Foundation of Washington County, and various organizations. After that, in 1997, the station belonged to the town of Sharpsburg who leased it to the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum.
In 1937, the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum was founded by Robert H Ryder. It was originally known as the Hagerstown Model Engineering Society. This was the long journey of the good time and bad time. Before leasing the Antietam Station, the Hagerstown Model Engineering Society’s first meeting was held in the back of a hobby shop on Franklin Street. Through the hard time, they continued their meeting and in 1939, the first public shows “Potomac Valley in O Scale” was held. However, after several years, the hobby shop closed. The members of the Hagerstown Model Engineering Society had to find a place for their meeting and for the next eight years, they met in their homes. Fortunately, in 1953, the club got a chance to use the main entrance building of the Hagerstown Fairgrounds for their activities and public shows. At the main entrance building of the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, along with the "Potomac Valley Railroad" they created the Maryland Central in "HO" scale. this was the big dynamic of model railroad layout. They had a long line waiting to see the entrancing Christmas display in December and January every single year. Over the time, when the older members died, the next generation, even women joined to the club. Their mission was like the heird. In 1984, 47 years from the established year, the club registered as non-profit museum. it dedicated to the education, conservation and preservation of railroad history. However, their journey did not stop at the Hagerstown Fairground, in 1992, they had to leave because of the decline of the building. Therefore, the next several years, the club’s meeting held in the members home once again.
Through several hard time of leaving and finding a place for their meetings and shows, finally, in 1997. the town of Sharpsburg, the owner of Antietam Station, voted to lease the Antietam Station to club for $1 a year. At Antietam Station, their project was more complicated held by the Maryland Historical Trust. The members not only work in the display of railroad model layouts, but also work in the tasks of rehabilitation of historic structures. The members removed the non-original material which were added to convert Antietam Station to apartments, they also painted the exterior, roof and preserved the historic structure of Antietam Station.
Come and visit the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum, visitors get a chance to learn more about railroad history of Washington County as well as visitors can have their own model from 2015 Model Train Sales ( Winter Sale in February 14, 2015, Summer Sale in September 12,2015 and Fall Sale in November 28, 2015)