You will find the Washington-Baltimore area has a lot to offer
the visiting railfan. Baltimore lays claim to being the
birthplace of American railroading. Washington has always served
as the gateway between North and South. Whether you have a few
hours or a few days, you should find something of interest in our
area. Listed below are some of the highlights. Many are
accessible via public transportation.
Ohio Railroad Museum is a real jewel,
located in Baltimore a few blocks west of Camden Station
and the Camden Yards ballpark. The first common carrier
railroad in the United States started here and ran to
Ellicott City eight miles west in 1830. Open daily.
Address: 901 W. Pratt Street. Phone: 410-237-2381.
Capital Trolley Museum houses a good
collection of Washington and European streetcars.
Visitors can ride the classic cars over the museum's one
mile of track. The museum is located in the Maryland
suburbs of Washington, D.C. Open weekends. Address: 1313
Bonifant Road, Wheaton, MD. Phone: 301-384-6088.
Streetcar Museum is another good collection
of historic trolley equipment. The museum is located in
central Baltimore, four blocks northwest of Penn Station.
Open weekends. Address: 1901 Falls Road. Phone:
Smithsonian Museum of American History
boasts Railroad Hall on its ground floor. The collection
includes four steam locomotives, including Southern
#1401, 4-6-2. Open daily. Address: 14th &
Constitution, N.W., Washington, D.C.
B&O Railroad Museum is housed in the
1831 railroad station, which served as the first terminus
of the B&O in its early years. Open weekends, plus
some weekdays in summer. Phone: 410-461-1944
Washington Union Station has been
beautifully restored after some tough times in the 1970s
and early 80s. The station serves as the southern anchor
of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, as well as hosting MARC
(Maryland) and VRE (Virginia) commuter trains. The
station also houses many retail stores, restaurants, and
movie theaters. (The Washington chapter offers a nice description
of the station.)
Along the CSX (former B&O) mainline west of Washington:
Silver Spring's small brick station was
constructed by the B&O after World War II. The
B&O advertised the station as a convenient suburban
stop for its intercity trains. Alas, only the long
platforms hint at its former glory. MARC trains no longer
stop here, but the station been preserved. You can find
the station a few blocks southeast of the Silver Spring
Metro stop, where the railroad tracks cross Georgia
Kensingtion was constructed by the
B&O in 1891, using a standardized single-story wood
design. The station retains a rural feel, even though the
location is now heavily suburbanized. MARC trains
continue to stop here.
Rockville was forced to relocate its
Gothic brick station for Metro construction in the 1980s.
The 1873 station is a short distance south of the Metro
station on the west side of the tracks.
Gaithersburg's charming brick depot was
contructed in 1884. A coffee shop now occupies the
station, which MARC also uses. A freight house of the
same vintage stands nearby.
Dickerson station was constucted in 1891
using the same standardized design as Kensington.
Point of Rocks is a picturesque
Victorian station designed by architect E. Francis
Baldwin. Built in 1875, it remains a stop for MARC
commuter trains. Point of Rocks is located where U.S.
Route 15 crosses the Potomac River--about a one-hour
drive west from D.C. or Baltimore.
Between Baltimore and Washington:
Laurel boasts a brick station built by
the B&O in 1884. MARC commuter trains continue to
visit the location.
Odenton sees more activity than ever in
its half century of life. The humble Pennsylvania RR
building is now surrounded by high-level platforms. MARC
commuter trains keep the station busy all day.
Baltimore Penn Station remains a busy
site on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The Beaux Arts
building opened in 1911 and continues to serve its
original purpose. MARC trains use the station. One of the
city's Light Rail lines terminates on the lower level.
Camden Station in Baltimore was built by
the B&O between 1857 and 1865. MARC trains from
Washington still terminate there. The Italianate
structure was restored as part of the construction of the
nearby baseball stadium. The B&O's former Camden
warehouse serves as the signature backdrop for baseball
games at Camden Yards. Light Rail trains serve the
President Street Station in Baltimore
was opened in 1850 by the Philadelphia, Wilmington, &
Baltimore RR. In a nod to its historic status, the
building now house the Baltimore Civil War Museum. In
1861, mobs attacked passenger cars carrying
Washington-bound Union troops as they transferred via
street trackage between President Street and Camden
Mount Royal Station in Baltimore opened
in 1896 to serve the B&O's Royal Blue passenger
trains to Philadelphia and New York. Architect E. Francis
Baldwin designed the Romanesque-Renaissance structure and
the trainshed, which remains intact. The railroad vacated
the building with the end of Royal Blue service in 1958,
but an art school now uses the building. Light Rail
trains stop near the station.
Along the B&O "Old Main":
Ellicott City, built in 1831, probably
qualifies as the nation's oldest surviving railroad
station. However, passengers didn't use the station until
1856. Before then, passengers used the Patapsco Hotel
across the street.
Sykesville is another Baldwin design.
Located along the "Old Main Line," the station
no longer sees passenger trains, only CSX freights.
However, the building houses a restaurant which takes it
name from the architect. Sykesville is about 25 miles
west of Baltimore, just north of Interstate 70.
South of Washington:
Alexandria Union Station was built to
serve RF&P, Southern and C&O passenger trains,
and continues to serve Amtrak and VRE. The station was
restored recently. If you look carefully, you can spot
the vestiges of Virginia's Jim Crow segregation in its
architecture. The station was built with separate waiting
rooms for white and "colored" passengers. The
station is adjacent to the King Street Metro station.
Manassas boasts a brick station built by
the Southern railroad. VRE commuter trains
and Amtrak trains still use the station.
Please be aware that all local jurisdictions have strict laws
against trespassing. For you own safety, please stay off
Parking garage at Washington Union Station provides
a bird's eye view of the northern approaches. During
evening rush hour, you'll see Amtrak corridor trains,
Amtrak long-distance trains, MARC commuter trains, and
VRE commuter trains. Not recommended for picture taking.
At Alexandria (Va.) Union Station, a
road bridge just south of the station provides a good
vantage for picture taking. CSX and Norfolk Southern
freight trains pass the station, as well as the VRE and
Amtrak trains which stop there.
Braddock Road Metro station provides
another good location to view the action on the
ex-RF&P trackage through Alexandria.
Point of Rocks (Md.) station provides a
perfect backdrop for afternoon photos. Located at the
junction of the B&O "Old Main Line" and
Metropolitan Branch, the station sees plenty of CSX
freights, as well as MARC commuter trains and Amtrak's
At Bowie (Md.), the grounds of the
Huntington Railroad Museum offer a great place to safely
obeserve Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. From this grassy
knoll, you can watch the parade of Amtrak and MARC
trains. The museum is located where Maryland Route 564
crosses over the track in historic Bowie.
That Route 564 bridge over the tracks at
Bowie is a good vantage point for photographing
northbound (eastbound by timetable) MARC and Amtrak
trains in the morning. Depending on the time of the year,
the museum and the tracks are well lighted until about 9
or 10 AM. If you use a 35 mm wide angle lens it is
possible to get the tower in the scene.
The area's public transportation authorities provide ample
opportunity for riding the rails.
Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC)
provides a highly successful commuter service.
Penn Line provides service on
Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (ex-Pennsylvania RR)
between Washington and Baltimore Penn Station.
The line provides nearly hourly service all day,
with rush-hour extensions to Perryville, Md.
Camden Line operates on the CSX
(ex-B&O) track between Washington and
Baltimore Camden Station. Service is pretty much
limited to rush hour, but operates in both
Brunswick Line uses the old
B&O Metropolitan Branch to provide service
from Washington, DC to Brunswick, MD., Frederick,
MD and even Martinsburg, WV The line provides
essentially rush-hour service in one direction.
Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
has been operating trains to Washington, D.C. for
Virginia commuters since 1991. Manassas trains use
Norfolk Southern (ex-Southern) trackage. Fredericksburg
trains use CSX (ex-RF&P) trackage. The Fredericksburg
line provides essentially rush-hour service in one
direction, but the Manassas line has some midday service
and operates in both directions during rush hour. The
service is limited to weekdays.
Rail system takes advantage of some historic
railroad rights-of-way. The Hunt Valley-Glen Burnie line
follows the route of the Northern Central RR on the north
end and the Baltimore & Annapolis RR on the south
end. From Patapsco Avenue to Linthicum Junction, the line
follows the alignment of the old Washington, Baltimore
& Annapolis interurban. From Linthicum Junction to
BWI airport, the Light Rail still remains somewhat
faithful to the old WB&A alignment. Freight trains
still use some LRT trackage at night.
system is over 40 years old. Some above-ground highlights:
Yellow Line crosses the Potomac on a bridge
parallel to CSX's (formerly Conrail's) Long
Bridge and continues through what-used-to-be
Potomac Yards to Alexandria.
Red Line parallels the former B&O (CSX) main
line for most of its above ground sections.
Orange Line's eastern end shadows Amtrak's
Green Line's northern section runs alongside the
former B&O (CSX) Washington-Baltimore main
Blue Line follows CSX (ex-RF&P) from
Alexandria to Springfield.
Metro Subway operates along a 15.5 mile line
between downtown Baltimore and Owings Mills, with 14
stations serving the communities along the system.
A local short line offers another opportunity:
Southern runs weekend excursion trains on
the old Frederick Division of the Pennsylvania railroad.
If you have questions or suggestions, please e-mail our
Webmaster: Bill Holdsworth,