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B&O Photo Tour

B&O Camden Cutoff
Modern day photo tour

Accompanying each photo below are:

Click a photo to see a larger view. Please send your comments and corrections to Steve.


Brief Historical Background:

Map
NEW! Apr 2016

Map
Mile: Date: (Apr 1964)
Ease: View:
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 Topographic Maps

Before the Camden Cutoff, to reach Camden Station from the west, trains followed a winding route through what is now Mt. Clare Yard, over the Carrollton Viaduct, then a sharp right onto the Locust Point Branch, then a left at Bailey's Wye. In addition to the inefficiencies of the winding route, soon the B&O discovered traffic was so heavy the double-tracked Carollton Viaduct was a bottleneck. Their solution in 1867 was to build the so-called "Camden Cutoff" that bypassed the snaking route over the Carrollton Viaduct, and led more directly to Camden Station.


Camden Cutoff

Camden Cutoff
Mile: 3.2 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B IC2: 117
Map: Ba 42 E 6 Topographic Maps

In the view looking NE from Patapsco Avenue bridge, we see the southern end of Mt. Winans Yards. The tracks at the extreme left are the original B&O main line that traverses the Carollton Viaduct, a route CSX calls the Mount Clare Branch. The tracks on the right being negotiated by the coal car are those of the Camden Cutoff, which this page follows all the way to Camden Station.


Gable Avenue
NEW! Apr 2016

Gable Avenue
Mile: 2.9 Date: Dec 2003
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

Though Gable Avenue closed as a grade crossing around 1970 it continues to provide an overlook into the yard.


Tank Cars
NEW! Apr 2016

Tank Cars
Mile: 2.8 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

Sometimes the yard is near empty, and other times you'll see equipment like this, a very different kind of tank car.


Zepp's Bridge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew
Updated Apr 2016

Zepp's Bridge
Mile: 2.6 Date: Sep 2009
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 6 Topographic Maps

The Curtis Bay Branch gains elevation by following the Old Main Line on the left, then curving right and over the yard via what is known as Zepp's bridge.

Tour: Curtis Bay Branch at this location


Mt. Winan's Yards

Mt. Winan's Yards
Mile: 2.4 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: C View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

This view looks back into the yard.

Though "Camden Cutoff" could mean "Bypass of Camden Station" instead it is the "Route to Camden Station".


Mt. Winan's Yards

Mt. Winan's Yards
Mile: 2.4 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: C View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

The view to the northeast from the same spot as the prior photo is more interesting. On the left is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The brick structure at the center is the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards. To the right is the former PSINet Stadium, home of Baltimore Ravens football.

Ahead the yard necks down to a grade crossing with Hollins Ferry Road.


CSX 8446
NEW! Apr 2016

CSX 8446
Mile: 2.2 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

As seen from the Hollins Ferry Road grade crossing, a mix of engine designs leads coal out of the yard on a gray winter day.

The puddles reflect on the loss of a large pond that had existed on the right before being landfilled during the 1960s.


Assistants
NEW! Apr 2016

Assistants
Mile: 2.2 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

Assisting are CSX 8567, unknown, and CSX 4.


Signals
NEW! Apr 2016

Signals
Mile: 2.2 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

Now our coal train is further along. This photo captures the brief period the B&O's CPL signals (right) and CSX's new variety (left) co-existed here. That's I-95 behind them.


To Baltimore
Photo courtesy Tom Cochran
Updated Apr 2016

To Baltimore
Mile: 2.1 Date: Apr 1977
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 4 Topographic Maps

A similar view in 1977 without as much zoom shows Baltimore's then-new, pentagonal-shaped World Trade Center where Inner Harbor revitalization was just beginning. Within a few years I-95's Fort McHenry Tunnel route will rise above to span the railroad about a half mile ahead. Tom reports the building on the left was the Maryland Glass Corp.


Western Maryland
NEW! Apr 2016

Western Maryland
Mile: 1.9 Date: Feb 2015
Ease: A- View: SE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 4 Topographic Maps

The B&O and Pennsy had Baltimore mostly to themselves during the 19th Century, but then the 20th Century arrived and with it the Western Maryland. The WM dug its route under the B&O here.

Tour: WM line at this location


Gwynn's Falls Bridge

Gwynn's Falls Bridge
Mile: 1.8 Date: Dec 2001
Ease: B View: SW
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 4 Topographic Maps

The Camden Cutoff bypasses the Carrollton Viaduct, but it has to cross the same stream (the Gwynn's Falls) as that venerable structure. It does so here via what is listed as the Blue Top Bridge, just south of where I-95 now crosses overhead. This view looks back SW, away from the city.

This is the place the OML should have crossed the Gwynn's Falls originally. It's far more level, straight and simpler here than at the Carrollton Viaduct. Rail construction at this spot dates to the 1850s and almost certainly initially spanned the stream via a Bollman bridge. It's likely this bridge seen in this photo replaced the Bollman design sometime in the early 1900s. There are four tracks crossing the water here, three active and the one in the foreground obviously abandoned some time ago.


CPL Tower
NEW! Apr 2016

CPL Tower
Mile: 1.7 Date: Dec 2001
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 4 Topographic Maps

Before CSX removed it, this CPL Tower near I-95 was one of the more stately in the area. When better visibility is required due to hills or visual clutter, the CPLs are mounted high on towers. The signal on the right is just two shy of a a complete set of lamps, missing only the pair that can display a Restricting aspect.


Monroe Street Bridge
Updated Apr 2016

Monroe Street Bridge
Mile: 1.6 Date: Dec 2001
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C IC2: 143, 273
Map: Ba 42 J 3 Topographic Maps

At a location called Carroll, the Camden Cutoff joins what had been the Locust Point Branch (extreme left) but is now part of the Mt. Clare Branch, and South Baltimore Branch (right) for the trip to Baltimore. The green/yellow bridge in the near distance carries Monroe Street over the tracks; it has since been replaced by another bridge at the same location.

This is the view toward the city from under I-95. At the right, almost hidden by the shadow of the interstate highway overhead, is an all but forgotten concrete whistle post that has seen many trains roll past. Until it was torn down in 1985, CX tower (Carroll) had been located here on the right.

Links to older pictures: ~1980, ~1980, ~1980


City View

City View
Mile: 1.2 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: A View: NE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 3 Topographic Maps

As we near the city, here is the view from the Bush Street grade crossing. That's the Bayard Street grade crossing a short distance away, and beyond that a curve before reaching Ridgely Street.


Reverse View
NEW! Apr 2016

Reverse View
Mile: 1.0 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 K 2 Topographic Maps

Each of the three tracks here has a corresponding signal. The center track shows the rarely-found maximum CPL lamp configuration: 8 lamps on the head, plus 3 marker lamps above and 3 below. Some of the marker lamps were added just a few years before CSX retired all these CPL signals. To reduce energy consumption and extend lamp life, the lamps are lit only when a train is near, something called "approach activated". Crossing over the tracks teyond the signals is Interstate 95.


Ridgely Street
NEW! Apr 2016

Ridgely Street
Mile: 0.9 Date: Oct 2010
Ease: A View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 3 Topographic Maps

After the Ridgely Street grade crossing trains pass under Russell Street / MD 295, then decide whether to continue straight to Locust Point or turn left for Camden Station and points north. Where the tracks diverge ahead, known as Bailey's Wye, the B&O had a major repair operation called Bailey's Roundhouse.


Camden Spur

Camden Spur
Mile: 0.8 Date: May 2001
Ease: A View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 43 A 3 Topographic Maps

This view looks back to where the prior photo was snapped. This is at the southern side of Bailey's Wye, which is on the right. This spot is easily reached with help from Stockholm Street.

The track in the immediate foreground is obviously disused. The one to its right is heading east to Locust Point which is behind us. The tracks on the other side of the signal are lead to Camden Station and to points northeast via the Howard Street Tunnel.


Stadium

Stadium
Mile: 0.8 Date: May 2001
Ease: A View: N
Area: C+ IC2: 141, 385
Map: Ba 43 A 3 Topographic Maps

Same spot at the prior photo, but turned to the right to look in the direction of Camden Station, which is a short distance past the stadium. Bailey's Roundhouse had been on the right. The tracks in the foregroud lead to Locust Point.

Link to older picture: 1977

Tour: Locust Point Branch at this location


Bailey's Wye

Bailey's Wye
Mile: 0.6 Date: Mar 2001
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2: 141
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

In this view from the north back to the location of the prior photo we find CSX 8777 bending around the northwest side of Bailey's Wye bound for the Howard Street Tunnel, which is adjacent to Camden Station.

Bailey's was the location of one of the B&O's busiest roundhouses. By 1875, the rapidly expanding railroad had outgrown not only the repair facilities at Mt. Clare, but also those associated with Camden Station. The centrally located Bailey's was therefore selected for the shops known as Bailey's Roundhouse. For about the next 75 years, countless trains would pass by or be serviced here.

Links to older pictures: ~1900, Camden Yards


Light Rail

Light Rail
Mile: 0.5 Date: Mar 2001
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

The Baltimore Light Rail system cozies up to the Camden tracks briefly. Here, a southbound train moves away from the camera, departing for a scenic ride over the middle branch of the Patapsco River.

Today, courtesy construction of I-395, the Light Rail, and the stadiums, little more than the tracks indicate this was the location of Bailey's Roundhouse. In this view south, on the right you can see the tracks diverge making two pieces of Bailey's Y.


Middle Branch

Middle Branch
Mile: 0.8 Date: June 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 43 A 3 Topographic Maps

Time out for a quick tangent. If you were riding that light rail train of the prior photo, you'd soon be treated to this scenic view as the route crosses over the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. That's I-395 on the left. Since the time of this photo the light rail has added a second track.


PSINet Stadium

PSINet Stadium
Mile: 0.5 Date: Mar 2001
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

CSX 746 powers a coal drag past PSINet Stadium, still decorated to celebrate the Superbowl Championship of the Baltimore Ravens less than two months prior.


Looking North

Looking North
Mile: 0.5 Date: Mar 2001
Ease: B View: N
Area: B+ IC2: 294, 215, 217
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

Same spot as the prior photo, just looking the opposite direction. By now, CSX 746 is deep in the Howard Street tunnel while the final coal car follows along.

The Hamburg Street highway bridge is in the foreground, obscuring Oriole Park in the distant left. The clock tower just right of the stadium is Baltimore's famous Bromo Seltzer tower. Impossible Challenge II page 214 has a great photo looking back to this spot in 1912. Wow, has this area changed!

Link to older picture: ~1970


Howard Street Tunnel

Howard Street Tunnel
Mile: 0.4 Date: Mar 2001
Ease: B View: N
Area: B+ IC2: 196, 316
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

That's the Howard Street tunnel entrance on the left. When I-395 and Oriole Park were being constructed, the portal was rebuilt and lengthened about a quarter mile south to the location seen here.

The aging Howard Street Tunnel represents a freight traffic bottleneck that has no inexpensive solution.

Links about solving the Howard Street Tunnel problem: 2011 MDOT report (PDF), B&P Tunnel


Warehouse

Warehouse
Mile: 0.4 Date: June 2002
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 43 B 2 Topographic Maps

Here's the hulking B&O warehouse that is now adjacent to Oriole Park. This is the view from I-395 as it leads you into downtown Baltimore. Constructed in 1899, at over 1000 feet long the B&O warehouse is the longest building on the US East Coast.

Link to older picture: 1977


From Light Rail

From Light Rail
Mile: 0.4 Date: June 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 43 A 2 Topographic Maps

This view looks south from within the cab of a light rail train. We're about even with the Howard Street Tunnel portal, which is on the right (not visible). A series of CSX autoracks are moving into the tunnel. I-395 is on the left.


Camden Station

Camden Station
Mile: 0.1 Date: June 2002
Ease: A View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 1 Topographic Maps

Here's the south face of Camden Station as seen from I-395. A light rail train is in the foreground and the Bromo Seltzer clock tower in the background.

I've heard that when it was built, the Bromo Seltzer tower was the tallest building south of New York, but I don't know if that's correct. It was one of the first buildings to be illuminated with electric lights. Supposedly, the glow of the blue color lights chosen by the Bromo Seltzer company could be seen from 20 miles away in the dark night sky.

Links to older pictures: Bromo Seltzer atop tower ~1900, as Emerson Tower, then-now views from tower


Camden Yards Stop

Camden Yards Stop
Mile: 0.1 Date: June 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 1 Topographic Maps

Another view from inside the Light Rail. We're closer to Camden Station now, which is behind us. On the right is the Camden Yards stop of the Light Rail.

Through the clutter left of the stop, you can spot the red nose of a MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) train. Its route terminates here.

Notice the | signal on the post just left of center near the top of the image. That's a "proceed" signal for the Light Rail train.

The grade crossing is that of Conway Street, better known now as the ramp onto I-395. The hulking brick building on the right is the former B&O warehouse.


Warehouse

Warehouse
Mile: 0.1 Date: Jul 1999
Ease: B View: SE
Area: A IC2: 216, 358
Map: Ba 42 A 1 Topographic Maps

Camden Yards lives on as the home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. I doubt the warehouse ever expected to be the target of left-handed sluggers.


Camden Station

Camden Station
Mile: 0.0 Date: Dec 2001
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B IC2: 81, 213, 333, 385
Map: Ba 42 A 1 Topographic Maps

Camden Station opened in 1857, but thanks to Civil War delays, was not completed until 1865. Many changes were made during later years, but in 1992 it was restored to its original appearance.

In this picture, the B&O warehouse can be seen behind the left edge of the station. The RR crossing sign refers to the light rail line.

Links to older pictures: 1869, 1920, Pic Group


This tour ends here!

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