Snow Hill Branch Line

Consolidated Rail Corporation announced plans, in the early 1980’s, to abandon a line of railroad running from the State of Delaware to Snow Hill, Maryland. This rail service, however, was critical for bringing in feedstuffs to support the Eastern Shore poultry industry. It was also very important to a large printing manufacturer at the end of the line. Moore Business Forms, the printer, and three of the poultry processors, Purdue Farms (headquartered on the Eastern Shore), Showell Poultry and Holly Farms banded together to acquire it and preserve service.

Shepstone Management Company was hired to assist in the organization of the group as the Snow Hill Shippers Association, Inc. and helped negotiate a purchase of the line from Conrail. A contract with a regional rail service provider, the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, was also arranged. Most importantly, financing was secured through the State of Maryland and the cooperation of Worcester County to acquire the line. Setting up this shortline operation required extensive documentation of value to secure a fair purchase price. Freight rate divisions also had to be negotiated. Shepstone Management Company managed these tasks for the Association, assisted it in securing specialized legal services and helped it develop a cost-sharing formula relating to the on-going costs of supporting the operation. The line proved invaluable to the poultry industry the year following acquisition when drought conditions forced it to import large quantities of corn.