This is pretty incomplete in terms of tooling around Baltimore and looking
at actual railroads. Ironically, it is both very easy and somewhat difficult.
The easy part is that, if you are anywhere in the south part of town, it's
almost impossible not to run across trackage. The hard part is trying
to find a place to watch from where you won't get robbed, run over, or
arrested. With three kids I can't afford to experiment.
The B&O Museum
The B&O museum, which
is one of the USA's great rail museums, has just reopened after the disasterous collapse of
the roundhouse roof. I haven't yet had a chance to revisit it. The admission price has
gone up considerably, but it now includes a train ride out to the "cornerstone" (assuming
CSX hasn't blocked the tracks).
If you have time for only one museum trip in the area, this is the one
to take. The Pennsylvania State museum in Strasburg
is the only one comparable that is less than an all-day trip away. You
can get there by going to Camden Station
(MARC or light rail) and walking west on Pratt St.; to drive, use Lombard
St. from MLK Blvd. instead and follow the signs.
The Streetcar Museum
Streetcar Museum, located a bit to the north of Penn Station. It is
incredibly difficult to find due to the way it is tucked beneath the Jones
Falls Expressway. The inside exhibits are nothing special, but the trip is wonderful,
as it goes by a lot of the old Md. & Pa. RR buildings, including the
roundhouse. Unlike the trolley museum near Washington
most of their rolling stock is original to the city. A fairly active CSX line passes overhead a short distance down
Of the four stations in Balto., one remains in active use (Penn), one semi-active
(Camden), one is now an arts center (Mt. Royal), and the last, and oldest,
is only a facade (President St.). (None of the existing Mt. Clare buildings
was ever a station.)
This is the oldest B&O station in Baltimore, and in the course of the
Camden Yards development it have been brought back, more or less, it its
original appearance. It represents the terminus of the "Camden Line" MARC
trains (althought the actual MARC station is separate) and is also served
by the light rail; if you drive
in on I-395, you will be deposited right next to it. There is ample parking
in the area, unless there is a game going on. On its west side stands the
immense warehouse which was retained as part of the Camden Yards development.
For some puzzling reason its most recent restoration took it all the way
back to its original appearance, but in fact the central tower was reduced almost
Mt. Royal Station
Mt. Royal station has not been used in forty years, but it has been converted
to an arts center and is well-preserved. Its appearance owes nothing to
any other B&O station in the area. Like Camden, it is relatively easy
to get to; it has a stop on the light
rail, and if you follow MLK Blvd. to where you are forced onto Howard
Ave., its tower will rise up at you shortly after you turn.
This extremely undistinguished Beaux Art box houses both Baltimore's Amtrak
station and a station on the MARC "Penn" line. Exterior photography is
problematic, since it literally sits in a hole. It is fairly
close to Mt. Royal and the streetcar museum.
President St. Station
The only remnant of the President St. Station is little more than a facade,
and contains some sort of Civil War museum. It is right downtown, but at
an extremely difficult spot to get to on the far eastern end of the Inner
Harbor. It is hardly architecturally distiguished.
Baltimore used to have an extensive trolley system, which one can see preserved
to a degree at the trolley museum. There is also
a historical site run by Adam Paul.
MTA has recently reorganized
their website again, this time to emphasize the "system" they have. This is more
or less nonsense. The various lines were built (or started operation) at various times
without any real relationship between the parts.
For some reason or another, it was decided to build a subway line starting
in Owings Mills and terminating at the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus. I know next to nothing
about it except that it is a conventional "heavy rail" system with third
The light rail, on the other hand, although also a single line, is considerably
more rational in its route. It starts in Timonium and runs down along Jones
Falls, down Howard St., and thence to BWI Airport and Glen Burnie, passing
Camden, Mt. Royal, and Penn stations in the process. (To be precise, there
are actually two lines: one from Timonium to the airport, and the
other from Penn Station to Glen Burnie. But since they share all trackage
from Mt. Royal to Linthicum, and given that Mt. Royal is the first station
after Penn, it makes more sense to look at it as a single line with a fork
at the south end.) It is a typical modern light rail system, with cantenary
and self-service ticketing. Be advised that the police are near to fanatical
about ensuring that passengers are properly ticketed. I haven't ridden
the southern section of the line, but the trip from Timonium to Camden
station is pretty scenic and passes a lot of interesting old industrial
buildings. The northern part follows the southernmost part of the old
Northern Central line (ex-PRR); on the way out of town to the south it follows
parts of the old WB&A and B&A grades at various points.
The B&O main line heads south out of town and splits at Relay, with
the main trunk continuing south to Washington
and the Old Main Line heading west. There are
several points along the way which may be of interest.
This is the oldest railroad bridge in the country. I haven't visited it,
but Harwood describes how to get there.
Gwynns Falls Viaduct
Same story here as with the Carrollton Viaduct.
This is where the Old Main Line joins up, even
though the rails don't diverge for another mile. There is a big signal
bridge and a (non-working) tower. I have never found a good way to get
close to this.
If you follow the signs to "Halethorpe Station" you will end up on the
Northeast Corridor. This is one of several places to watch Amtrak and MARC travelling
at somewhat reduced speeds.
This is a MARC station-- no building, unfortunately. (It used to have one matching
that at Germantown.) You can see the
signals from Halethorpe off in the distance. It's one possibility for watching
traffic of all sorts, since everything passes through here.
If you head south along the tracks here (trespassing, of course) you
will come to Relay. At this point the line to Washington
curves off to the left and crosses the Thomas
Viaduct, while the Old Main Line curves
off to the right on the north bank of the Patapsco. There really is nothing
left of any real interest anymore (other than the classic North end Thomas
Viaduct photo spot), since virtually everything was torn down in the late
fifties, and the plaque erected in place of the hotel has long since been
Rails In Town
There's not a lot of places in town that I would describe as exactly amenable
to train watching. Over on the North side of the harbor, to the East, lies
the Canton Railroad, a switching road
with a really snazzy paint scheme. (Follow the link for more info.)
The Northern Central Trail
One of the oldest right-of-ways in the country is now preserved as the
Northern Central RR trail. This is a classic rails-to-trails conversion,
using the old RR bridges as much as possible. A lot of other RR stuff was
allowed to remain, such as the signal masts and some stations, so there
is more interest here for the railfan than one might think at first.
Utterly unrelated to all this real trains stuff, in Leaken Park on southeast
side of town there is an extensive live steam setup run by the Chesapeake
& Allegheny Live Steamers. It is open to the public on the second
Sunday of the month, April to November, and they give rides for free (please
donate, of course). They also appear from time to time at various local