Facebook Page
Baltimore to Washington
Updated December 2002

Baltimore to Washington on the B&O

This line continues the line out of Baltimore, and separating from the Old Main Line at Relay and turning into the Metropolitan Sub at the wyes in the Washington Union Station approaches. You can ride both ways on the MARC trains over this trackage, which they list as the "Camden Line", but trains are concentrated during the rush hours. Some of what I will describe is not easily accessible without a car.

Roughly paralleling this is the Northeast Corridor, which loops quite a ways to the east. I'm not going to describe it here in much detail because I haven't explored it much. In general it isn't as interesting unless you specifically want to watch passenger traffic.

The Thomas Viaduct

The Thomas Viaduct is probably the B&O's most famous structure, endlessly popular in company photo sessions. Supposedly the best photo vantage spot is the shoulder of the Harbor Tunnel Thruway; this is illegal (and they do ticket for this), and besides, you have to go through the tunnel to get there. If you are going south, stay in the right lane and start looking as soon as you pass the US 1 exit; you will get several glimpses, and then two good views as you come upon the bridge, one looking directly down onto the viaduct. At the moment they are working on the bridge itself, so there is no clearance; you're likely to get killed rather than ticketed.

Another equally iffy spot is the I-95 bridge over the Patapsco; if you are in the rightmost lane or so, going North, the viaduct is plainly seen as you pass. Stopping is definitely not advised.

I can suggest several legal vantage points. You can go to the north side from two points; either enter the Avalon area of Patapsco State Park and hike back (this costs money on weekends except in the winter), or head to the St. Denis station and follow the tracks south (trespassing all the way, of course). On the south side you can park at the Elkridge station. The south side of the bridge over US 1 is interesting in that you can see several decades worth of B&O logos, including some that are very old. To get to the viaduct, go around the other side of the RR bridge and take the first road west. This goes under the viaduct; look for the high water mark from the flood of 1933. Immediately after the viaduct a road doubles back up the hill; this leads to the viaduct. You can walk right up to the end of it.

Annapolis Junction

Another spot near Laurel of some interest is Annapolis Junction. The "junction" aspect has been defunct for years, and unfortunately Hinkel's Restaurant closed some years ago and was subsequently burned, but across the road from where the restaurant was you might find at least some switching loco working away. For years this was an Alco, but at present I believe they are using some small EMD road engine. You could get here by train, but I wouldn't recommend it; from Laurel, go up Rt. 1, go east on MD 32, and get off at Hinkels Way.

The junction here was with the old branch into Ft. Meade. For those who like to trace out old railroad grades, you can follow this in your car by continuing east on MD 32 (getting harder as they chew up the roadside). Having crossed the mainline, you can plainly see the old grade at the edge of the trees to your right, up to the point where it turns to cross the road and you can see rails at the edge of the road.

The Dover Harbor

The Dover Harbor is a private car owned by the Washinton DC chapter of the NRHS. For many years it sat on the team tracks in Silver Spring, but these have long since been removed, and it is currently to found on a siding in an industrial park, a short ways north of Savage.

Here's how to get there: go North on US 1 from MD 32 or South on US 1 from MD 175. At Patuxent Range Road, turn left if coming going South, or right if going North. Turn into the industrial park on your right and cross the RR tracks; continue to circle the first building on your right until you come back around to the tracks again. Here you should find a sign, and the car and its support cars should be behind the building-- unless it is out on a trip!

For a picture of the car as it appeared in its Silver Spring days (not that it has changed any), click here.


If you visit the Laurel station by car, there are two interesting bridges nearby. First, go north on US 1 and turn left at Gorman Road, which will shortly lead you to Savage. The old truss bridge there is a Bollman truss bridge dating from just after the Civil War. Amazingly, it carried railroad traffic into the mill up into the '40s, over the spur which one can see traces of along Gorman. (It now ends at the LPG place on the opposite side of US 1.) This is really worth the trip, and the areas around the mill (now an antique market) are interesting too. (Unfortunately the guy who had a lot of B&O memorabilia is gone.)

The other bridge is a plain old truss which happens to have survived the rails that ran over it (an extension of the Savage spur) by nearly 70 years. If you have Harwood's first book, ignore his directions, because the expansion of MD 32 has changed everything. From Savage, go back out to US 1, go north, and just above the MD 32 interchange, turn left onto Guilford Road. This heads west until it comes to a T, the left branch of which ducks under 32. Turn left and keep your eyes peeled for a very short road on the left which connects the road you're on to a parallel road which is obviously older. It should be the first road you come upon, with a nice big sign for a hike-and-bike trail, and if you get to the light at Murray Hill you've gone too far. Turn off onto this older road (which is the original Guilford Road) and park in the lot. You will see that county parks people have put a rather narrow wooden bridge on the old truss, part of a trail that now follows the old R-O-W back towards Savage. This bridge held the spur into a granite quarry which sat about where-- well, one of the marks of this is how the surrounding landscape is almost nothing like what it was even 15 years ago.


Laurel features a large station, which has been renovated nicely after a fire. A short walk up Main Street will take you to Peach Creek Shops, a very nice little model RR store.

Greenbelt Metro & MARC Station

At the Greenbelt Metro station thre is also a MARC station which is somewhat unusual. It is, in essence, a pair of passing sidings, allowing the trains to pull out of traffic. I know of no other station in the area which is so arranged. The signals can be seen from the Metro, but other than that the area is not too accessible.


The station in Hyattsville is in the center of a fairly messy junction; the best spot to watch the action is just north of the Rt. 1 bridge, but you must trespass to be there. There are innumerable signals; I do not know if the tower has been torn down. The station is a nothing, and the neighborhood is not great; however, there is a lot of junction traffic here, and there are numerous meets. The line which branches off here is the CSX route to Alexandria; the ex-B&O mainline turns north at Ivy City (i.e., the Union Station approaches) and turns into the line to Balto.; hence, everything going south passes through here. The line to Alexandria is visible from the Metro Orange line as the single track which crosses over the Metro and continues along its east side south of Cheverly.

On the Corridor

The Corridor doesn't offer any interesting buildings much. There are stations at a few spots, but they are pretty ugly. However, at the New Carrollton Metro/Amtrak station, you can watch Corridor action effectively. My favorite spot here is at the west entrance. Watch the fastest push-pull trains in the world. This station is on the Metro Orange Line.

You can also drive up to the BWI station or take a MARC train there. This is a great place to watch Amtrak from. It is also a stunningly ugly station. There are shuttle buses from here to and from the airport, from when you can catch the light rail.

To Main Train Page