Linda Duyer: Fulton Station has historic connections

Farmers 1

The little building often seen by commuters on a daily basis stands in one of Salisbury’s most historic areas and along a short stretch of Mill Street with no fewer than three other surviving historic structures.

Fulton Station, that little shed-like building which fronts Business Route 50, dates to about 1890 and is listed on the Maryland Historical Trust Inventory of Historic Properties.

This was a train station built for the Baltimore, Chesapeake & Atlantic railroad and used primarily for freight, as it sits in the heart of what has long been Salisbury’s riverside industrial district along the east side of the north prong of the Wicomico River.

The inventory describes it as typical in design as freight sheds used for other railroad freight train stations of the 19th century.

It looks unassuming now, but before Route 50 was constructed slicing through town, the railroad next to the station serviced a wide range of businesses along the spur extending southward from the main line above Isabella Street. Part of that spur remains today, visible to countless commuters who take that part of Mill Street as a back way to and from work.  Before the highway went through, the spur extended southward to close to Main and Church Streets. The length of the spur serviced the light industrial businesses wedged between the river and the downtown business district, and its terminus served the grocers and other retail and wholesale businesses within easy access.

On the 1931 Sanborn Fire Insurance map, businesses served by the spur and Fulton Station included the Salisbury Coal Company, Salisbury Water Co. (and the old standpipe that survives), the Farmers & Planters Co. fertilizer warehouse, the Dorman & Smyth Hardware Co., warehouse, the National Biscuit Co., Berlin Milling Co., Pocahontas Coal Co., National Concrete Vault Co., the E.S. Adkins & Co. lumber shed and others.

A large two-story warehouse which stood directly in front of the Fulton Station office was torn down for the construction of the highway. On the 1931 map that warehouse was identified as storage for coal and lime. Immediately south of it had been two- and one- story warehouses used for grain, fertilizer, and farm machinery.

Today, the Farmers & Planters Co. building located across from the side of Fulton Station survives, as does the impressive nearby brick building that had been the T. L. Ruark & Co. grocery warehouse, and Salisbury Monument Company further out at Mill and Isabella Streets.

And that spur pre-dates Fulton Station, servicing earlier business such as the Humphreys Planing Mill, an early lumber yard of M.E. Williams, and the Jackson Brothers steam saw and planing mill and lumber yard. Mill Street was named appropriately.

This building occupies the site of an area that dates to Salisbury’s earliest history, for this wedge of land along the east side of the river was next to the western edge of Pemberton’s Good Will land grant from which Salisbury was founded. And it is in the vicinity of the town’s first tavern and John Nelms’ store, and other long-gone structures of over two centuries ago.

So while much of that physical past along Mill Street has disappeared, some has survived. Fulton Station stands prominently in front of the highway, like a proud punctuation point, demanding it be noticed.

I do not know the inside condition or the plans if any for the structure, but I hope it stays. For me, that little wooden building has had odd powers, a quirky-looking building comforting me as I would cross the bridge returning to my home. In my lifetime, like the other historic buildings of downtown I’ve enjoyed, it was always there.

Linda Duyer lives in Salisbury. Contact her at lindaduyer1@yahoo.com

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