Western Maryland Railroad Company (Issued to John D. Rockefeller)


SKU: 3715
Product Details

Intricately engraved antique bond certificate from the Western Maryland Railroad Company dating back to the 1910's. This document, which is signed by the company Vice-President and Assistant Secretary, was printed by the International Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 13" (w) by 9" (h).

This piece is issued to, but not signed by, John D. Rockefeller.

This certificate features a long vignette of a train steaming down the tracks.


The images presented are representative of the piece(s) you will receive. When representative images are presented for one of our offerings, you will receive a certificate in similar condition as the one pictured; however dating, denomination, certificate number and issuance details may vary.

    Historical Context

    The Baltimore, Carroll and Frederick Railroad was chartered in 1852 and began building west from Baltimore. The railroad was completed to Hagerstown, Maryland in 1872. Within a year, its name was changed to Western Maryland Rail Road Company, and eventually, it became the Western Maryland Railway Company.

    The Connellsville Extension was built west from Cumberland, Maryland, to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, beginning around 1906 and was completed in 1912. In 1931, the Western Maryland became part of the Alphabet Route, a competitor to more major railroads including the Pennsylvania Railroad.

    The West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway began as a narrow gauge line in 1880, its name and gauge changed in 1881 and in the ensuing years it opened a huge swathe of timber and coal territory in northern West Virginia to use, creating such towns as Elkins, Davis and Thomas. A major connection was made with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's Greenbrier Branch at Durbin, West Virginia in 1900. Sold to the Gould interests in 1902, it became an important part of the WM in 1905 and contributed heavily to that road's prosperity in the coal and lumber trade down to modern times.

    Thus, although never a giant, the Connellsville subdivision of WM handled through midwest fast freight traffic and coal from company-owned mines near Fairmont, West Virginia, and Somerset, Pennsylvania. In 1930, the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railroad Company reached Connellsville to hook up with the WM. That line operates today as the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway."

    In 1964, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) jointly filed for permission to acquire control of the Western Maryland Railway with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). In 1973, as part of the Chessie System, the Western Maryland ownership went to C&O and it was operated by the B&O. In 1987, it was merged into the C&O which itself became part of CSX Transportation.

    John D. Rockefeller

    John D. Rockefeller was an oil industry business magnate, industrialist, and philanthropist. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history.

    Rockefeller was born into a large family in upstate New York and was shaped by his con man father and religious mother. His family moved several times before eventually settling in Cleveland, Ohio. Rockefeller became an assistant book-keeper at age 16 and went into a business partnership with Maurice B. Clark and his brothers at 20. After buying them out, he and his brother William founded Rockefeller & Andrews with Samuel Andrews, and they concentrated on oil refining rather than drilling. In 1867, Henry Flagler entered the partnership, and the Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler company grew by taking over local refineries. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870 as an Ohio partnership with William, Flagler, Andrews, Jabez A. Bostwick, and silent partner Stephen V. Harkness. He ran it until 1897.

    Rockefeller's wealth soared as kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, and he became the richest person in the country, controlling 90% of all oil in the United States at his peak. Oil was used throughout the country as a light source until the introduction of electricity, and as a fuel after the invention of the automobile. Furthermore, Rockefeller gained enormous influence over the railroad industry which transported his oil around the country. Standard Oil was the first great business trust in the United States. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy, along with other key industrialists such as steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. His company and business practices came under criticism, particularly in the writings of author Ida Tarbell.

    The Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that Standard Oil must be dismantled for violation of federal anti-trust laws. It was broken up into 34 separate entities which included companies that became ExxonMobil, Chevron Corporation, and others—some of which still have the highest level of revenue in the world. Individual pieces of the company were worth more than the whole, as shares of these doubled and tripled in value in their early years, and Rockefeller became the country's first billionaire with a fortune worth nearly 2% of the national economy. His peak net worth was estimated at US$400 billion (in 2017 dollars; inflation-adjusted) in 1913. Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement at his estate in Westchester County, New York. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy through the creation of foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research. His foundations pioneered the development of medical research and were instrumental in the near-eradication of hookworm and yellow fever in the United States.

    Rockefeller was also the founder of the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University and funded the establishment of Central Philippine University in the Philippines. He was a devout Northern Baptist and supported many church-based institutions. He adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life. For advice, he relied closely on his wife Laura Spelman Rockefeller with whom he had five children. He was a faithful congregant of the Erie Street Baptist Mission Church, taught Sunday school, and served as a trustee, clerk, and occasional janitor. Religion was a guiding force throughout his life and he believed it to be the source of his success. Rockefeller was also considered a supporter of capitalism based on a perspective of social Darwinism, and he was quoted often as saying, "The growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest".