by GEOFF FOX
Train signals that have been dormant for decades will be seeing new life once they are restored and placed in areas along the Western Maryland Rail Trail where they once stood.
Tom Taylor, a part-time resident who owns the old Hancock Bank Building, said two rail signals were found near the town’s Public Works building.
There is a concrete block base at the bottom of Church Street in Hancock that used to hold one of the signals.
With the number of trails and byways that intersect in Hancock, Taylor said the signals would give a locus to create a trail portal in Hancock.
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is looking to establish a portal in Hancock, giving greater visibility to the town and the role it plays on the Tuscarora Trail, Taylor said.
Taylor began getting in contact with organizations that would have the expertise to restore the signals and put them back on the trail where they once stood.
He reached out to the Roundhouse Museum in Hagerstown and also to the Western Maryland Railway Historical Society outside of Frederick.
Both groups sent their respective presidents and board members to Hancock to look at the signals and what could be done.
“It turns out, very luckily for us, they’ve already restored several of these signals and have the expertise needed to restore, actually, both,” Taylor said.
In looking at the signals, Taylor thought only one could be restored because they were in bad shape.
However, the groups have suppliers and collectors who have parts that could be used to restore the signals and get them back in working order.
“That will mark a great location to have a portal, a Hancock portal, to the trails we have coming through our town,” Taylor said.
With the restoration, Taylor said it could be within a year’s time before the signals are put back on the trail as it takes a step-by-step process that involves the evaluation of what the signals look like now, what materials are available, and what materials are available through the town.
Mayor Ralph Salvagno thanked Taylor for spearheading the project after he brought it forward and asked to do the project.
The mayor said within a week Taylor had gotten in touch with the organizations and back to him.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful project,” Salvagno said, adding that the town would be supportive of Taylor and those involved with the project.