The historic Sand Patch grade and Sand Patch Tunnel on the former B&O Pittsburgh division draws railfans on a regular basis. Climbing north and west from Cumberland, Maryland the line travels 100 miles of grades and curves over the Allegheny Mountains to Pittsburgh.
It is one of the steepest railroad grades in the East Coast, ascending more than 1,000 feet in elevation in about 20 miles from Hyndman, PA to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains.
Near the summit is the well known Sand patch Tunnel. Construction on the original Sand Patch Tunnel began in 1854. It was rebuilt in 1871 and was expanded to accommodate two tracks in 1914. The tunnel is 4,475 feet long. This ex-B&O line became part of the Chessie System in 1972 when the Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio, and Western Maryland railroads all came under common management.
We’ll follow the Chessie’s varied freight trains as they battle their way from Cumberland, MD up the east slope to the Summit and down the west slope to Rockport, PA and back in June of 1978 with Jonathan Reck and friends. Popular locations include Cumberland, Hyndman, Mance, Sand Patch Tunnel, Keystone, Salisbury Viaduct, Yoders and Rockwood.