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A Stay at Mrs. Howard’s Hotel

Photographer: Larry Kline

                                                                                  Photo by Larry Kline


A Stay at Mrs. Howard’s Hotel

 In 1978, when my son was 4 years old, I suggested to my wife a railfan trip to explore the B&O West End around Rowlesburg. She agreed and I bought some USGS topographic maps so I could find my way around the area. I also read the B&O West End articles in the November 1945 and August and September 1960 issues of Trains Magazine. I had heard about Mrs. Howard’s Hotel so I planned to stay there. We drove to Rowlesburg and got a room at the hotel. Mrs. Howard wasn’t there anymore. It was being run by two guys. When my wife saw their kitchen she decided that we were going to eat somewhere else.

I used the USGS Rowlesburg and Kingwood maps to find my way to Amblersburg on the Cranberry Grade. We found a good spot by the tracks. The first train we saw was a westbound train of coal empties with B&O GP35 3515 in B&O blue leading, followed by B&O GP9 5967 in Chessie paint and a C&O geep in blue. The next train was an eastbound grain train with C&O GP38 4823 in blue leading followed by B&O GP40-2 4192 and WM GP40-2 4258 both in Chessie paint along with two more blue geeps. There were four B&O SD35 helpers, 7400 and 7408 in Chessie paint and 7401 and 7413 still in B&O blue. The sound was impressive as all that power went up the hill.

We stayed at Amblersburg until I photographed the SD35 helper set as it came back down the hill. Then we returned to Rowlesburg and used the USGS maps to find our way through the woods to Tunnelton. We saw another eastbound grain train there along with the same SD35 helper set. After the sun started below the mountains we went to a restaurant in Kingwood for dinner and returned to the hotel. We didn’t get much sleep that night. The crossing signal bell outside our open window was very loud and woke us up every time a train came through. My son thought that all the trains were great. My wife and I weren’t as enthusiastic. We went on to Grafton the next day and photographed the engine terminal and the station before returning to Pittsburgh.

Larry Kline

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