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Claremont Branch Photo Tour

Claremont Branch
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: Claremont Branch

Map

Map
Mile: Date: (Mar 1972?)
Ease: View:
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 Topographic Maps

This aerial photo marked March 1972 captures the entire Claremont Branch. This tour progresses generally west from CSX's Mount Clare Yard on the right to the Pennsylvania Railroad / Amtrak Northeast Corridor on the left.

Black lines trace various railroad alignments; where they lack perpendicular lines rails had previously existed but are no longer extant as of 2015. Note at photo bottom that at photo time Interstate 95 had not yet been completed through Baltimore and the then on-the-drawing-board Fort McHenry Tunnel, instead it terminated at Caton Avenue.

Though its labelleing suggests a photo date of March 1972, trees appear in full leaf growth so the image was likely recorded earlier, perhaps during summer 1971.


Mount Clare Yard

Mount Clare Yard
Mile: -0.2 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 4 Topographic Maps

We're looking toward the north end of the Mount Clare Yard (the B&O called it Claremont) that is part of the B&O Old Main Line. Originally the Claremont Branch had curved away to the west (left) in the distance. Beyond that you can glimpse the southwest end of the track over the Carrolton Viaduct. About a mile further east lies the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. Interstate 95 casts shadows from above.


From I-95

From I-95
Mile: -0.2 Date: Jun 2002
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Though the view is obstructed, with luck while zooming past on I-95 you might spot a westbound train rolling off the Carrollton Viaduct to enter the yard.

Note the gap in the weed growth on the fence just ahead of the train. That's where the Claremont Branch had originally split off before curving sharply around the building on the left.


From Plane
Photo credit HABS/HAER

From Plane
Mile: -0.1 Date: 1971?
Ease: View: NW
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

This view from the air captured the the Claremont Branch's original alignment at its start near the smokestack.

That's the Carrollton Viaduct at right, and the Western Maryland track going under the B&O.

Link to Library of Congress: source photo


Peeling
Photo credit HABS/HAER

Peeling
Mile: 0.0 Date: 1971?
Ease: View: S
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 2 Topographic Maps

The reverse view shows the Claremont Branch's original alignment peeling away from the yard at lower right.

This photo pre-dates I-95 over the yard.

Link to Library of Congress: source photo


Wilmarco Avenue

Wilmarco Avenue
Mile: 0.3 Date: Oct 2010
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 3 Topographic Maps

Wilmarco Avenue looks like it may have supplanted the branch's right of way but actually the tracks had parallelled it behind the industrial building on the right. Assorted sidings served industry here, including ones represented by rails-in-concrete near the white vehicle ahead.


Xings

Xings
Mile: 0.4 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Those sidings are more easily seen when looking back from the vehicle location. One of them was extended and repurposed into a new branch alignment from the yard, where we'll return next...


New Start

New Start
Mile: -0.1 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 4 Topographic Maps

When Interstate 95 arrived here during the early 1980s CSX realigned its Claremont Branch connection to share the Mount Clare Yard entrance. Eastbound trains from what had been the B&O Old Main Line can enter the yard and in the past could exit it via the Claremont Branch shown here curving away to the left.

The realignment also left room for a wye that would permit westbound trains to be routed similarly, however such a connection has not (yet) been built. It would permit access between Locust Point rail operations and what is now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, which is where this tour is headed. Such a connection is a key part of what IMO is the most efficient option to resolve the bottleneck that is the aged Howard Street Tunnel.

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


CSX 8084

CSX 8084
Mile: 0.0 Date: Oct 2010
Ease: A View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 4 Topographic Maps

Portions of the Claremont Branch rails have been pulled up so this train will not be making the trip to the Northeast Corridor, however trains that had done so (into the 1990s?) sometimes paused here.


Bernard Drive

Bernard Drive
Mile: 0.1 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

At the Mount Clare Yard entrance -- or in this viewing direction the exit -- the Claremont Branch crosses Bernard Drive. This Trico crane was dismantling ramps built decades ago to directly connect I-95 and I-70. I-70's abrupt end 2008

The ramps became useless because environmentalists blocked within Baltimore City the final 5 miles of I-70's 2000+ mile route. Ironically countless gallons of gasoline are now wasted each year in traffic jams caused by the lack of such a connection. The photo at right illustrates I-70's ignominious eastern terminus as a Park 'N Ride at the Baltimore City line.


xing

Xing
Mile: 0.3 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 3 Topographic Maps

We've arrived back at the Claremont Branch's grade crossing near Wilmarco Avenue. The original alignment had curved in from the right before proceeding ahead.


Check Rails

Check Rails
Mile: 0.6 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 3 Topographic Maps

After a brief trackless stretch as we head west we find rusty check rails that help protect derailed cars from straying too far from the track. They are often used atop bridges, and are also called guard rails and bull rails. These check rails are of the style employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, suggesting at least this segment of the Claremont Branch was its responsibility. I have not been able to determine exactly where the B&O and Pennsy control had met.


Weeds

Weeds
Mile: 0.7 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 2 Topographic Maps

Sure enough, next is a bridge, now being consumed by weeds, trees, and plenty of poison ivy. This bridge spans Wilkens Avenue.


Bridge

Bridge
Mile: 0.7 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 2 Topographic Maps

The branch had never been double tracked. Can anyone loan a weed-whacker and saw?


Supports

Supports
Mile: 0.7 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 2 Topographic Maps

Though patinaed with rust the bridge supports appear in suitable condition for train service to resume. Of course, engineer crews would need to verify.


Wilkens Avenue

Wilkens Avenue
Mile: 0.7 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: E
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 2 Topographic Maps

store From street level the bridge does not appear to need as much groundskeeping.

Nearby, neighborhood stores supply the essentials. If you ever need Harware-Toilet Tissue, Soap Locks, or key food groups, now you know where to find a Convenient Store that can help.


Overgrown

Overgrown
Mile: 0.9 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A- View: E
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 2 Topographic Maps

Utility lines parallel the Claremont Branch. Yes, rails are hiding in this overgrowth as seen looking back from Wellesley Street. Behind the photographer a dense stand of trees have taken hold, suggesting the track between here and the Northeast Corridor was dismantled some time ago.


Caton Avenue

Caton Avenue
Mile: 1.1 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: S
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 2 Topographic Maps

The vined Caton Avenue bridge would blend well within Sanctuary in the 1976 Logan's Run movie. We're close to the Northeast Corridor now (unseen on the right).


Wye

Wye
Mile: 1.2 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Milepost 100 The Claremont Branch met the Pennsylvania RR / Amtrak in a wye formation near milepost 100, as measured from the PRR's Broad Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so that trains could proceed both east and west along the Northeast Corridor. Now Amtrak and MARC keep busy along this stretch where Wilkens Avenue spans overhead.

In the photo above, note the boulder between the end of the train on the right and the equipment box. That boulder resides where the Catonsville Short Line had diverged from the Pennsy. Old aerial photos suggest sufficient track switches had never been installed to permit trains to roll from the Claremont Branch onto the Catonsville Short Line.


Zoom Left

Zoom Left
Mile: 1.2 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

All but a few remnants of both legs of the wye are gone. In this zoom view, some track segments -- plus beyond them ballast curves or shadows -- mark where the wye had split off.


Pole

Pole
Mile: 1.4 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Looking back from the boulder, note the short pole on the right with a corresponding concrete block for a pole on the left. These may have been associated with the Claremont Branch.


MARC 33

MARC 33
Mile: 1.4 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

MARC 33 passes the Loudon Park Substation on the left, another possible reason for the extra poles.

MARC Penn Line trains like this follow what had been the route of the Pennsylvania RR between Baltimore and Washington, DC. MARC Camden Line trains follow the B&O's route between those cities, the only route that serves the home stadiums of the Orioles and Ravens. A connection near Baltimore, such as via a revived Claremont Branch, would also permit Penn Line trains to bring fans to and from the stadiums.

Link: Substation HABS/HAER entry


Wider

Wider
Mile: 1.4 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

MARC 20 speeds local passengers past tall catenary poles. Note how the poles near the train are located the usual distance from the rails while those ahead are further from the rails. The ones ahead had provided room for the Claremont Branch's now-dismantled westbound wye track.


Amtrak 643

Amtrak 643
Mile: 1.2 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

closer Now we've moved a bit east, across from what had been the center of the wye; the eastbound leg had extended into the distance on the right. In that direction to the right of the quickly approaching engine note the white tank. That's now a fixed-location tank but into at least the 1970s tank cars were picked up and dropped off there by the railroad.

About two seconds later Washington-bound Amtrak 643 model ACS-64 has obscured much of our view while dead insects similarly challenge the operator.


1939 Aerial
Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun
NEW! Nov 2016

1939 Aerial
Mile: 1.4 Date: 1939
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 4 Topographic Maps

This aerial photo captured the western end of the Claremont Branch during its active days.

Link: source photo page


Thanks for following along! You might enjoy the Catonsville Short Line tour.

For other tours here, select from the map: clickable map

Or, return to main page

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