Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad

The Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad was a 56-mile railroad that operated between Fairmont, West Virginia, and Uniontown, Pennsylvania.


The Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad was a 56-mile railroad that operated between Fairmont, West Virginia, and Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad

In 1852, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad undertook a significant engineering feat as it forged its way across the Allegheny Mountains, starting west of Cumberland, Maryland, and extending further beyond. 1 This ambitious project involved the construction of 11 tunnels and 113 bridges along the stretch between Cumberland and Wheeling. Among these, a bridge built over the Monongahela River gained distinction as the longest steel span in the United States at that time.

Coinciding with these developments, James Otis Watson initiated the first commercial shipping of coal by rail from the region in the same year. 1 The early 1860s witnessed a surge in mining activity, largely fueled by an influx of capital from Baltimore. Several new mines were established during this period, many of which were linked to the business interests of Watson and A. B. Fleming, marking a period of rapid industrial growth in the area.

In March 1881, the Iron Valley & Morgantown Railroad was established. Subsequently, in September 1883, it underwent a name change, becoming known as the West Virginia Midland Railway. No work was attempted with both companies because of a lack of financing.

On December 10, 1883, the Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad (FM&P) was established, with financial backing from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. 2 The FM&P aimed to build a new line along the Monongahela River, stretching from Palatine Junction, just north of Fairmont, to Morgantown, and further extending to the Pennsylvania state line. There, it would connect with the State Line Railroad, linking Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and the Fayette County Railroad, which extended to Green Junction and the Connellsville area. The line would serve as a strategic cutoff between the B&O’s main lines, and offer additional coal traffic sources and interchange opportunities with the Monongahela Railway.

In March 1884, the West Virginia Midland Railway sold a segment of its planned railway line to the Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad (FM&P). In August 1893, the State Line Railroad merged with the FM&P.

The 32.7-mile stretch of the FM&P from Fairmont to the Pennsylvania state line was inaugurated on April 12, 1894, 2 with the entire through route to Uniontown covering 56 miles. It had branches from Fairmont to Hoult and Hiuckman Run Junction to the end of the line. As anticipated, the FM&P emerged as a significant coal transporter, facilitated by the opening of new mines and spurs along the route. Besides coal, the line also transported a variety of goods including sand, glass, ice, petroleum products, and others.

Several railroads were integrated into the Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh Railroad (FM&P), notably including the Cheat River Railroad and Cheat Haven Railroad in June 1907, despite these railroads having no track mileage. Additionally, in February 1915, the 13.5-mile Smithfield & Masontown Railroad also became part of the FM&P.

Morgantown evolved into a pivotal hub for these coal haulers in north-central West Virginia. 2 It hosted several key railroads: the FM&P, cutting through the town in a north-south direction; the Morgantown & Kingwood Railroad, established in 1907 between Morgantown and Rowlesburg; and the Monongahela Railway, which intersected with the FM&P north of Morgantown at Randall, and was initially built by the Scotts Run Railway, later known as the Scotts Run Branch.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began operating the FM&P starting in March 1915. This acquisition led to the creation of the FM&P Branch, which later became known as the FM&P Subdivision within the Pittsburgh Division. 2

In 1972, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, along with its parent company Chesapeake & Ohio and the B&O-controlled Western Maryland, were collectively integrated into a new holding company named the Chessie System. This conglomerate was further expanded in 1980 with the formation of CSX Corporation, resulting from a merger between the Chessie System and several southern railroads.

As the 20th century progressed, the significance of the FM&P line diminished due to the closure of the coal mines that were once abundant along its route. This decline was marked by the cessation of passenger service on September 25, 1953. 2 Additionally, the completion of Interstate 79, which ran parallel to the railway, further contributed to a decrease in freight traffic on the line.

Around 1983, the section of the railway line south of Morgantown was taken out of service due to a washout at Hildebrand. 7 Consequently, coal trains that usually traveled between Grafton and the areas of Brownsville and Connelsville in Pennsylvania were rerouted. This rerouting was facilitated through trackage rights on the Monongahela Railway, which ran north of Rivesville on the west bank of the river.

In 1989, CSX petitioned to abandon the FM&P between Fairmont and Point Marion, Pennsylvania. 6 A landslide between Morgantown and Fairmont om December 1990 severely impacted the FM&P Subdivision, prompting CSX, the owning company at the time, to decide against repairing the damage. As a result, they chose to abandon the line between Fairmont and the CSX M&K Subdivision (former Morgantown & Kingwood Railroad) in Morgantown in January 1991 5 and utilize trackage rights over the parallel Monongahela Railroad.

As of 2023, only a portion of the original FM&P line remains operational. This includes a 21.5-mile stretch operated by the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad running from Greene Junction to Smithfield in Pennsylvania, serving a rail-to-truck sand facility that supports the natural gas and oil industry. Additionally, a shorter 2.3-mile section is still in use, extending from Palatine Junction near Fairmont to a pulp recycling facility near Sanford. This latter section operates as part of CSX’s American Fibers Industrial Track.

Rail to Trails

In 1991, the Mon River Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization, was established with the goal of creating a trail network along declining or abandoned railroad corridors near the Monongahela River in north-central West Virginia. 4 By 1996, the Conservancy, in collaboration with the city of Morgantown, had acquired 51 miles of the former Fairmont, Morgantown & Pittsburgh (FM&P) rail corridor from CSX. 3 4 This acquisition was for the purpose of railbanking the corridor to develop a non-motorized trail system. Subsequently, the lands were held under a lease agreement with the West Virginia State Rail Authority.

The resulting trail network, encompassing the Mon River, Caperton, and Sheepskin Trails, was developed over the former FM&P line, extending from Pricketts Fort State Park north of Fairmont to Point Marion, Pennsylvania. Over $2 million from Transportation Enhancement and Recreational Trail funds were invested in the acquisition and construction of this rail trail system in the Morgantown area.

In 2006, the Mon River and Deckers Creek trails achieved the distinction of being designated as a National Recreation Trail.




  1. Ross, Myron Howard, and Charles E. Beachley. “Early History of the Fairmont Region.” History of the Consolidated Coal Company, 1864-1934, The Company’s Seventieth Anniversary, New York, NY, 1934, pp. 37-39.
  2. Mon River Trail History.” TrailLink.
  3. The Ghost of a Train.” MonTrails.
  4. Spellman, Andrew. “A new path to economic development: Mon River Rail-Trail inducted into Rail-Trail Conservancy Hall of Fame.” Dominion Post, 22 Aug. 2020.
  5. Little Creek.” West Virginia Historic Property Inventory Form, Jan. 1991.
  6. Robie, Dan. “Morgantown and Kingwood Railroad.” WVNC Rails.
  7. Workman, Michael. “Fairmont, West Virginia: A Historic Industrial Survey.” The Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology, 22 Mar. 1993, p. 63.


Add Yours →

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.