Delaware Coast Line shuts down after 36 years

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GEORGETOWN, Del. — After 36 years serving customers in Sussex County, Delaware, the Delaware Coast Line Railroad is calling it quits. To Dan Herholt, son of the railroad's founder Michael Herholt and president of the company since 2008, "It's sort of a forced retirement."

The short line operates trains over two lines under contract to the State of Delaware, Dan Herholt says, and when the contract came up for review in early 2018, another bidder won.

"We wanted to stay," Herholt says. "We talked to everybody and everyone we could think of to try to help us, but it wasn't enough."

Delmarva Central Railroad, owned by Carload Express of Pittsburgh will take over on Jan. 1, 2019.

He said the railroad's last day will be Dec. 31. He and the railroad's handful of employees are preparing the line's remaining five locomotives for sale. Dan Herholt, 56, was sanguine about the change.

"I have other things to do," he says. "We have other family ventures."

Last year, the Delaware Coast Line lost about eight miles of track when the swing bridge at Lewes, Del., was shut down. Only one customer was located on the other side of the manually operated bridge, thought to be the last one in service. The State of Delaware decided it was too expensive to repair the bridge, which carried the railroad over the Intracoastal Waterway, for two or three moves per month.

The railroad operates from Georgetown to Cool Spring and between Ellendale and Milford and handled 430 cars in 2017.
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