Rail Hike from Kitzmiller, MD (Blaine, WV) upstream towards Schell Rd. Swim-hole.
An extraordinary 8 mile round-trip rail hike along the N. Branch of the Potomac River is chronicled in photos in this gallery.
We actually found an abandoned ghost town once called Potomac Manor or Dill. This property is private, and it is courteous not to trespass on to it. With a couple of dozen structures, homes, out buildings,
garden and fountain structures and more, this former virgin forest logging town died when the virgin forests accessible along the rail
lines were obliterated early in the 20th century.
Follow this rail hike and venture where few have walked before this century. See rugged
white water, cascades, waterfalls, deep swim holes and tributaries of this pristine high mountain river as only those who once
inhabited the past hamlets and abandoned towns once observed, very long ago -- revisit the forgotten river.
Directions: From Abram's Creek Campground: Take US Rt. 50 East for 4.7 miles and turn left onto Rt. 42 North towards
Elk Garden. Continue on 42 North all the way through Elk Garden and down the steep mountain to the Potomac River crossing between
Blaine, WV and Kitzmiller MD -- about 7 more miles. Step into the Coal Bucket Cafe (100 year old renovated Company Store and restaurant) and see old photos on their
wall of the once forgottten mining and logging towns. Park anywhere and walk across the highway bridge to the WV side and start your hike. Walk as
far as you feel like walking and double back when finished. If you think that you can find an easy and safe river crossing (hopping along
rocks, cross over and walk back past other former logging and mining towns. Be safe and enjoy your hike.
More -- paper back book: Ghost Towns of the Upper Potomac
This book focuses on a very small area along the Potomac River that divides Garrett County, MD and Grant and Mineral
Counties, WV, a total of about 30 miles or so. Within that distance the book (a joint effort published by the Garrett
County Historical Society) lists and describes about 30 coal towns, most of which are ghosts or barely still in existence.
A few places such as Kitzmiller and Bayard are still very much alive and even support post offices yet.
The most interesting feature of the book is the inclusion of a large number of photographs and postcards of most
of the towns - some of them taken shortly after one or another of the numerous floods that occur along this mountainous
stretch of Potomac River. These coal towns seem gritty and fragile places, though stubborn in their existence: many of
them could only be entered or left via the railroad. The book is an interesting look at once thriving places of not too
long ago that may or may not have seen better days.