Delaware Coast Line Railroad Article

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Delaware Coast Line Railroad
Delaware Coast Line Railroad (logo).jpg
Reporting markDCLR
Locale Sussex County, Delaware
Dates of operation1982–January 1, 2019
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length23 mi (37.0 km) [1]
Headquarters Georgetown, Delaware

The Delaware Coast Line Railroad ( reporting mark DCLR) is a short-line railroad located in Sussex County, Delaware. The company operates two lines on track owned by the State of Delaware: one running from Ellendale east to Milton and another running from Georgetown east to Cool Spring. The railroad interchanges with the Delmarva Central Railroad in Ellendale and Georgetown. [2]


Historic railway station in Georgetown, Delaware, located along track formerly used by Queen Anne's Railroad

The rail lines operated by Delaware Coast Line Railroad (DCLR) were part of the former Queen Anne's Railroad (QA), which began providing rail service between Queenstown, Maryland and Lewes, Delaware in 1894, and extended its track to Love Point, Maryland in 1902. [3] [4]

Through a complex chain of acquisitions in 1905, the track previously owned by QA became part of the Maryland, Delaware & Virginia Railway Company (MD&V), a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). MD&V was consolidated with another subsidiary in 1923 to form the Baltimore & Eastern Railroad (B&E), which incorporated in Maryland on June 13, 1923. [4] [5] Passenger service on the B&E was discontinued in October 1931. [3]

The lines passed from PRR to Penn Central in 1968 and Conrail in 1976. In 1981, Conrail announced plans to abandon the railroad lines between Ellendale and Milton and between Georgetown and Lewes. The same year, a group of private investors led by Mike Herholdt of Milford purchased the two lines, saving them from abandonment. [6] DCLR incorporated in Delaware on June 23, 1982 [7] and began operating the Ellendale-Milton and Georgetown-Lewes segments of the former QA under contract with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), current owner of these segments.

The Maryland & Delaware Railroad (MDDE) assumed operation of the two rail lines in 1994 when it was awarded a five-year contract by Delaware. MDDE did not seek renewal of the Delaware contract and operation of the two lines was returned to DCLR in 1999. [3] [8]

As of 2015, DCLR was led by Dan Herholdt, the son of founder Mike Herholdt. The railroad hauls approximately 550 cars per year. The sole customer along the Ellendale to Milton line is a propane distributor. Customers along the Georgetown-Lewes line include two propane distributors along with Mountaire Farms, for whom the railroad hauls dry distiller's grain that is used in chicken feed. DCLR also formerly served SPI Pharma, a manufacturer of chemical components for antacids, at the end of the line near Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. DCLR is based in out of a shop at the Sussex County industrial park in Georgetown and has eight employees who perform multiple duties for the railroad. [6] The railroad maintains tracks, signals, and sidings for private companies throughout the Delmarva Peninsula and also offers railcar storage. [9]

DCLR crossed over the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal in Lewes on a historic, anachronistic swing bridge that had to be hand-cranked in order to reach SPI Pharma. [6] The swing bridge was originally built in 1869 and modernized by PRR in 1916. The bridge was reconstructed in 1997. [10]

In September 2016, the swing bridge was found to be structurally unsound, having dropped 7-8 inches due to settlement in the canal and seeing some pieces of timber split. As a result, the bridge was closed to rail traffic by DelDOT. [11] The only customer beyond the bridge was SPI Pharma, who had averaged two to three railroad transports a month. As a result of the bridge closure, SPI Pharma began shipping by truck. Three tank cars remained stranded at SPI Pharma. In 2017, DelDOT determined that repairs to the swing bridge would be too costly and the line will be abandoned from Lewes to Cool Spring. Originally the tank cars were to be transported across the swing bridge, but due to the instability of the bridge it was later to decided to transport the tank cars by truck across the canal and reassemble them onto the tracks on the other side for them to be hauled by rail to Georgetown. [12] The three tank cars were trucked out of SPI Pharma in November 2017. [13] A train pulled the tank cars out of Lewes on December 15, 2017, ending train service to Lewes. [14]

In October 2016, the first phase of the Lewes-to-Georgetown rail-with-trail opened between Savannah Road and Gills Neck Road in Lewes. [15] In December 2017, the Lewes city council voted in favor of preserving a section of the railroad line between Kings Highway and Adams Avenue. [14] The swing bridge over the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal will also be removed. DelDOT will retain ownership and railroad rights along the roadbed. The trail is slated to reach Minos Conaway Road by fall 2018. [16]

In early 2018, DCLR was informed by the State of Delaware that its contract would not be renewed. The Delmarva Central Railroad won the bid to take over the contract and will extend its existing operations to include the DCLR's tracks effective January 1, 2019. DCLR will exit the railroad business and sell off its equipment. [17]

Engine roster

Model Location
2 ALCO RS-36 Georgetown, Delaware
19 ALCO T-6 Georgetown, Delaware
23 ALCO RS-1 Georgetown
182 MLW RS-18 Georgetown
4024 GE B23-7 Millsboro, Delaware
4054 GE B23-7 Georgetown
44 GE 44-ton switcher Georgetown

Source: [18]

Note: No. 2 has been put up for sale on the Sterling Rail website [19], No. 23 was scrapped years ago, [20], No. 44 was sold to a new owner in West Virginia, and a new addition to the roster is No. 1982, a GE 65-ton centercab.

Major clients

Customer Location
Baker Petroleum Milton, Delaware
VFL Industries Indian River (Delaware)
H & K Indian River
Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Georgetown

Source: [1] Note: There is no spur into Atlantic Concrete and DCLR President Dan Herholdt has stated that the company is not a customer.


  1. ^ a b "Welcome to the Delaware Coast Line Railroad Info Page!!". Delmarva Rail Fan Guide. TrainWeb. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  2. ^ "Freight railroad service to every county". Delaware Economic Development Office. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Queen Anne's Railroad". State of Delaware, Delaware Public Archives. October 31, 2007. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Richard Parks (August 15, 2009). "History of the Baltimore and Eastern Railroad". Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  5. ^ Christopher T. Baer (December 2009). "PRR Chronology 1923" (PDF). A general chronology of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Pennsylvania Technical and Historical Society. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c MacArthur, Ron (October 9, 2015). "Riding the rails in coastal Sussex". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "Entity search results for Delaware Coast Line Railroad". Delaware Department of State: Division of Corporations. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "History". Maryland and Delaware Railroad Company (February 2, 2010). Retrieved 2010-06-04
  9. ^ Forney, Dennis (March 17, 2017). "Railroads, indigestion, and America's crumbling infrastructure". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  10. ^ Roth, Nick (July 11, 2017). "Cool Spring to Lewes railroad to be decommissioned". Cape Gazette. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  11. ^ MacArthur, Ron (September 28, 2016). "Swing bridge over canal closed for repair". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  12. ^ MacArthur, Ron (August 27, 2017). "Era or train travel over Lewes-Rehoboth Canal ends". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  13. ^ Roth, Nick (November 1, 2017). "SPI Pharma rail cars to leave Lewes". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Roth, Nick (December 15, 2017). "Last train from Lewes". Cape Gazette. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  15. ^ Murray, Molly (October 19, 2016). "New connector trail opens in Lewes". The News Journal. Wilmington, DE. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  16. ^ Roth, Nick (November 21, 2017). "Future of railroad at crossroads in Lewes". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  17. ^ Laepple, Wayne (August 22, 2018). "Delaware Coast Line shuts down after 36 years". Trains. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "Delaware Coast Line RR Co Photographic Roster". RR Picture Archives .net. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links