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Sylvia A. Mosser, AICP
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B&O Railroad Rolling Mill Plant

(a.k.a. Former CSX Bolt and Forge S​​ite)​

Site Location

221 Williams Street ​​● 617 Park Street ​​● 739 Park Street ​​● Williams-Maryland Avenue​
Cumberland, MD 21601​​​



Site Environmental History

The Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad reached Cumberland from Baltimore in 1842. The B&O Railroad Rolling Mill plant and the Miltenberger Lumber Company (a.k.a. former CSX Bolt and Forge Site) served, respectively, as a railroad steel mill and lumber yard for the growing railway. The steel plant produced rails and other rolled products for the railroad and included a brick manufacturing operation to supply the adjacent residential construction. The industrial sites were located immediately west of a primarily residential neighborhood (now known as the Rolling Mill Historic District [District]). Historic brick and wood duplex residences were predominantly built to house steel mill workers between 1880 and 1910, with houses post-dating 1920. The district comprises 173 properties and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 24, 2008.

According to available Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps , the site area comprised the B&O Railroad Rolling Mill and railroad spurs in 1887, 1892, 1897, and 1904 (labeled buildings/areas include storage, oil storage, machine shop, carpentry shop, waste house, storage with oil room, rail storage, blacksmith and machine shop, hydraulic machinery, finishing shop, etc.). The facility is described as mostly being operated by Schonthal Iron & Steel Company, while B&O Railroad maintained some storage space at the facility​. Subsequently, the facility was operated by United States Rail Company in 1910. According to MDE’s fact sheet for the site, the facility was utilized for steel bolt fabrication and metal forging from 1920 to the early 1970s. Hazardous materials associated with the site operations would have included heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and solvents. From the 1970s until site decommissioning and razing in the 1980s, it was used as the railroad’s engineering department offices.

Site Features

​Landscape & Geology​Ridge and Valley Province
​Incentive AreasEnterprise Zone ​​● Sustainable Communities ​​● One Maryland Jurisdiction ​​● 
Metropolitan Planning Organization​​



After the site was razed, environmental investigation/remediation and redevelopment actions were halted for about 15 years due to concerns about contamination and associated cleanup costs. Following a soil and groundwater investigation by the property owner’s environmental consultant in 1996, five areas of soil contamination were identified, including volatile organic compounds, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and petroleum hydrocarbons, generally to a depth of approximately ten feet and mostly concentrated in two-acre areas in the northeastern portion of the property. Groundwater contamination was also identified due to dissolved metals and chlorinated volatile organic compounds. The site was accepted into MDE’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) in October 1997, and the former CSX Bolt and Forge Site became Maryland’s first brownfield and redevelopment project (after several mergers the B&O Railroad became part of CSX).

Two months later in December 1997, MDE approved a VCP application from Ahold Real Estate Company (Ahold), as the company purchased approximately 11.5 acres of the CSX property. MDE approved the company’s request for inculpable person status, which demonstrated that the company had no prior or current ownership interest in the property and had not caused or contributed to the contamination at the site (note that Ahold’s application was later amended to change the participant to ARC Cumberland LLC ). In October 1998, ARC Cumberland LLC applied for the Brownfields Revitalization Incentive Program (BRIP) property tax credit through the city, which had enacted the state’s BRIP legislation, and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (now the Maryland Department of Commerce). The application for BRIP was approved on December 29, 1998 as the first property to participate in the program.

MDE issued a Certificate of Completion (COC) for the 11.5-acre parcel on November 8, 1999. Two additional COCs were issued for the northern-adjacent parcels in 2004 (2.11 acres) and 2005 (0.83 acres) under the VCP. The COCs limit land use at the parcels to a commercial use, and require the maintenance of environmental exposure mitigation controls, including groundwater use restrictions, dust control requirements for excavations, and pavement maintenance.

As of 2022, CSX still owns 18.5 acres of the site property and plans to remediate the vacant portion as the property is purchased and developed. MDE will grant CSX a final approval for the entire site remediation after remediation requirements have been met on the entire property. MDE’s LRP map site listing (see the “Notes” section) indicates that CSX submitted two new VCP applications for two additional parcels (​Lots 4 and 5) on February 26, 2018. A February 2018 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) for CSX Lots 4 and 5 explains that COCs were not previously issued for these two lots, so the properties were re-entered into the VCP in February 2018, with submittal of the Phase I ESA meeting part of the application requirements. According to information provided by MDE, the applicant/property owner currently plans to withdraw from the VCP and transition to MDE’s Controlled Hazardous Substance (CHS) Enforcement Program for remediation oversight. The transition to CHS will enable the property owner to mitigate environmental issues under MDE oversight, while concurrently seeking a prospective purchaser. The property owner or a prospective purchaser can reapply to the VCP during or after remediation is complete to obtain a COC for the property.


As described above, the purchaser of the 11.5-acre parcel that was first remediated utilized the BRIP tax credit, which afforded the property owner a 10-year tax credit (five years is standard, and the property was eligible for an additional five years due to its location in an Enterprise Zone) following completion of the VCP in 1999 for 50% of the property tax attributable to the increase in assessment of the brownfield site. Cumberland was one of the first two jurisdictions in the state to enact BRIP legislation, which is required to allow property owners in a jurisdiction to access the BRIP tax credit. The property taxes for the parcel were listed as $86,916 as of 2017, so the savings in the pre-vs. post-remediation property taxes over 10 years would have been significant.

Remediation for this project was owner-funded. According to CSX, the total cost of remediation was approximately $787,000.

In addition, funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission provided several hundreds of thousands of dollars, which was required to be matched with a combination of state and/or city funds, toward the extension of utilities to service the site.


The plant buildings were demolished in the early- to mid-1980s and the site was remediated between 1997 and 2005. The three site parcels that have been redeveloped between 1999 and the mid-2000s are currently operated as a retail strip mall (known as Queen City Centre shopping plaza), and include a grocery store anchor, restaurants, and service stores.

The 2013 Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan Volume 1 of 2 (pages 21–22) indicates the Rolling Mill neighborhood “is now characterized as an emerging residential/commercial transition zone between the City’s traditional downtown area and the Virginia Avenue commercial district.” In addition, Cumberland rezoned a corridor of the neighborhood as “Highway Business” during its 2008 Comprehensive Rezoning to spur commercial redevelopment of “the vacant and dilapidated structures concentrated in this area” after efforts to encourage redevelopment of the structures with small businesses failed due to the lack of off-street parking.

In addition, there is active community interest in the interpretation of the comprehensive plan vision for the historic residential neighborhood near the industrial properties (not including the contaminated properties which are not allowable for residential development). A campaign of neighborhood residents (Save Rolling Mill) expressed concerns about the redevelopment plans for the community. The website indicates that the Cumberland Economic Development Strategic Plan (Plan) for the Rolling Mill Neighborhood has been misinterpreted to support large-scale demolition of neighborhood structures; instead, the campaign’s view is that the Plan calls for mixed-infill development (although the COC limits land use at the parcels to a commercial use only; no residential use would be allowed).

​The campaign indicates the Plan supports large-scale commercial (e.g. big box retail) development at the large, vacant property that remains under CSX ownership pending subdivision, as described above, and that Plan findings include that “existing and new residential development in Rolling Mill will provide a customer base for retail/service businesses and possible employees who might be attracted to positions close to home. Rolling Mill has the greatest potential to become a live/work destination within the city” (Save Rolling Mill Historic Walking Tour Brochure). Preservation Maryland, “Maryland’s oldest, largest and most effective preservation organization…started in 1931” (preservationmaryland.org) also opposed removal of the homes in the Rolling Mill Neighborhood and felt that better alternatives existed to demolition. The differing perspectives between the city and neighborhood residents highlight the importance of the continual public participation process in brownfield assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment projects. Decades can pass between brownfield remediation and redevelopment of a site and surrounding properties. Ongoing community feedback is critical to ensuring the neighborhood meets the planning needs of the residents.

Community Benefits

  • Environmental cleanup improves the health and well-being of wildlife and its citizens, and improves and restores the quality of the soil, groundwater and streams.
  • Renovation and utilization of vacant property revitalizes the neighborhood and community, removes blight, and reduces crime.
  • Establishment of a strip mall with a grocery store anchor, restaurants, and shops provides necessary services to the community.
  • Operation of non-hazardous facilities at a commercially-zoned, former industrial site preserves and protects the environment against further contamination.



Information for this success story was gathered from the following sources:  Wikipedia Rolling Mill Historic District website; Maryland Historical Trust website; Preservation Maryland website; United States Environmental Protection Agency website; Maryland Department of the Environment Land Restoration Program’s website, web-based mapping application, and fact sheet; Library of Congress website; Cumberland, MD website for review of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan Neighborhood Plan Volume 1 of 2 and the municipal code for BRIP legislation; the Save Rolling Mill webpage; Phase I Environmental Site Assessment for Parcel B, Lots 4 and 5, prepared by TRC Engineers, Inc. in February 2018; Final Response Action Plan Summary Report for the former CSX  Bolt & Forge Site, prepared by Earth Tech, Inc. on September 24, 1999; and emails with Preservation Maryland, Maryland Historical Trust, and Choose Cumberland..

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