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Catonsville Short Line Photo Tour

Catonsville Short Line
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: Catonsville Short Line

Map

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

This tour progresses generally west (left) from Amtrak's Northeast Corridor on the right.

Black lines trace various railroad alignments; where they lack perpendicular lines rails had previously existed but are no longer extant as of 2015. The route of the Loudon Park Cemetery Trolley is speculative since only one artifact was located.

Mp 1 and mp 2 indicate distance into the branch in miles, no actual mileposts were found extant.


Wye

Wye
Mile: -0.1 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

The CSL had met the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad, later Pennsylvania and now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, here, or more precisely at the boulder between the end of the train on the right and the tuscan red equipment box.

Some CSL trains -- I doubt many -- would follow the B&P/Penn tracks all the way to Calvert Station at the intersection of Calvert and Frankin Streets in Baltimore. To get there trains would have to trek 5 miles east of here and run past Baltimore's Union/Penn Station. Calvert Station, demolished about 1950, was part of the Northern Central Railway, and like the CSL under control of the Pennsylvania.

In the distance Wilkens Avenue, MD 372, bridges overhead. The elevation dip of the rails at the boulder marks where a creek is spanned; for reference note both it and the equipment box.

Link: Calvert Station, Calvert Station


Saint Agnes Station
NEW! Nov 2016

Saint Agnes Station
Mile: 0.0 Date: 1927
Ease: A- View: N (up)
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Saint Agnes Station had served the nearby hospital of the same name, and was probably the terminus for many CSL trains. The building, in 1885 renamed Loudon Park Station, stood next to a passageway under the tracks that connected Primson Avenue with the cemetery. This 1927 aerial photo shows a building or locomotive at the southwest corner of the passage as well as buildings at the northeast corner. One of them was likely the station, but which?


Maybe Here
NEW! Nov 2016

Maybe Here
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

This, the southwest corner, is the most logical place for the station since it could be easily served by both CSL and Pennsy trains. The "station or locomotive?" caption of the 1927 aerial photo points here. Do you see any evidence of a station? That concrete block this side of the reference tuscan red equipment box is a possibility, but the grading falls off so rapidly on the left there appears no room for a structure. Perhaps the tracks were not as close then.

Whatever the big object was in the 1927 photo, it does not appear in one from 1937, by which time perhaps it had given way for the catenary support beam beyond the equipment box. Electrification of this stretch occurred during the 1930s.


Artifacts
NEW! Nov 2016

Artifacts
Mile: 0.0 Date: Oct 2016
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

If the above speculation is correct, the station might have been superceded on the opposite side of the under-track passageway by a simple platform and stairway. These cut stones could be remnants. In the cemetery a path of slate pavers leads to this location. Unfortunately even newer aerial photos lack sufficient detail to resolve the station uncertainty, but do indicate decreasing use of the passage, as evidenced by increasing plant growth, starting in the 1960s.


Passageway
NEW! Nov 2016

Passageway
Mile: 0.0 Date: Oct 2016
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

The passageway looks surprisinly modern, lined with concrete rather than cut stone. Whether the station was on the northwest or southeast side of the tracks, logically it would have been near this corridor so people could access both St. Agnes Hospital and Loudon Cemetery. If the station had been on the other (southeast) side of the railway, evidence is now obscured by self-storage bins that occupy the site.


Start

Start
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

As seen from the tuscan red equipment box, the vague gap in the trees right of the boulder reveals where the CSL had ventured. At the right edge of the photo the weeds diminish because Maidens Choice Creek flows below.


Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B+ View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Unlike the B&O's Old Main Line, few original stone arch bridges survive along the Pennsylvania RR's line through central Maryland. This one has been modified multiple times, first widened with stone to support the CSL, and later with concrete to shore up weaknesses.


Interior

Interior
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

The interior's dog leg and masonry products reveal the extent of modifications during the bridge's more-than-150-year life.


Mound

Mound
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B+ View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

For people dying to get to Catonsville, this mound extending east from the bridge previously led the CSL into Loudon Park Cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1853 some 30 years before the arrival of the CSL.


Rails

Rails
Mile: 0.0 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Within a few hundred feet of the bridge the first abandoned rails can be found. Much of the track through the cemetery has never been, umm, dug up.


xing

Xing
Mile: 0.2 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: A View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 3 Topographic Maps

These vehicles run errands, and shovels, around the cemetery. The one on the left is crossing CSL track embedded in pavement.


Paved

Paved
Mile: 0.2 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 3 Topographic Maps

Did trains blow their horn for this grade crossing? Those horns are loud enough to wake the dead.


Moribund

Moribund
Mile: 0.3 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 3 Topographic Maps

remains The moribund CSL runs into a pile of cemetery discards. Yes, that's a concrete burial vault on the hill.

Also scattered about are gravestones, casket interiors, and well, I did not want to look too closely. Rusty rails running directly into this detritus will be tough to top on my list of odd trackside sightings.

Until the 1970s rather than discards this had been where a bridge carried a different railroad over the CSL. Yes, during the early 20th century one train line was not enough for Loundon Park Cemetery.


Disused Bridge

Disused Bridge
Mile: 0.3 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 3 Topographic Maps

in use The other train line was Loudon Park Cemetery's own trolley. Where it and the CSL met grade separation was required because the trolley was electrified. Now the bridge is being consumed by debris and brush. Drivers turn right and can cross the CSL's rails at the Xing seen previously.

The 1971 or 1972 aerial photo at right depicts the bridge before it expired, decades after the trolley had done so.


Trolley

Trolley
Mile: Date: Aug 2015
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 2 Topographic Maps

This structure crossing Maidens Choice Creek is the only trolley-specific artifact of the route that connected the cemetery's two main entrances. The culvert underneath the bridge represents a stream that was sewered to make way for the trolley above it. trolley 1913

The trolley was electric-powered from its 1905 start: note the catenary in the old photo. The masoleum in the photo still stands albeit in a state of disrepair. The trolley, with just two cars, named the Linden and Loudon, endured until the plug was pulled during 1931. Other trolleys, such as the #8 Line, plied city streets to bring both mourners and corpses to the cemetery's Frederick Road entrance.

Links: Cemetery history, Funeral Car, trolley outside cemetery, Route 8 at Catonsville Loop


No Rails

No Rails
Mile: 0.6 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 3 Topographic Maps

Beyond the trolley crossing about a quarter-mile of CSL appears to be track-free, though the rails might merely be buried.


Trees

Trees
Mile: 0.7 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: A- View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 3 Topographic Maps

Within the next forested section decaying wood ties are pushing up not daisies but rather new lumber.


Beechfield Avenue

Beechfield Avenue
Mile: 0.9 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 3 Topographic Maps

Remnants of the CSL still share a grade crossing with Beechfield Avenue, the western edge of the cemetery.

Link: this crossing in 1968


DMZ

DMZ
Mile: 1.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 3 Topographic Maps

In 1983 the Charlestown retirement community replaced the St. Charles College Seminary that closed during 1977. The CSL marks the northern edge of both, its right-of-way now fenced as if a narrow demilitarized zone. No rails remain along this stretch.

A little distance ahead a short spur had peeled off to serve the seminary, likely bringing coal to its powerhouse. The spur is marked with a ? on the map because I am uncertain of its exact location.


Culvert

Culvert
Mile: 1.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B- View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 3 Topographic Maps

The other end of this CSL culvert is within Charlestown's walled-off confines. Has anyone seen The Shawshank Redemption?


Benches

Benches
Mile: 1.4 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 J 3 Topographic Maps

As we proceed west eventually we meet the east end of the Catonsville Short Line Trail, a project of the non-profit Catonsville Rails to Trails group. Charlestown's fence lurks behind benches that have been installed. The fence traces the route of the spur used to transport coal to the seminary's power house (off photo on the right) during the pre-Charlestown era.

Though the group salvaged CSL leftovers, a few artifacts escaped their attention, such as the rusty rail at photo bottom.

Link: Catonsville Rails to Trails


Trail

Trail
Mile: 1.4 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 J 3 Topographic Maps

Crushed stone is an appropriate walking surface.


Piped Culvert

Piped Culvert
Mile: 1.5 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 J 3 Topographic Maps

Peek around the green fence (right) and you'll find whatever culvert style the CSL had initially used here -- probably similar to the one at Charlestown -- has been replaced by a more modern version (bottom left). One report online says it dates to 1967 though it appears newer.


Post

Post
Mile: 1.7 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 H 3 Topographic Maps

Mile markers now list trail, rather than rail, distances. Another type of marker is found further right...


Baltimore National

Baltimore National
Mile: 1.7 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 H 3 Topographic Maps

sign Red, white, and blue (and green). The Baltimore National Cemetery is a Federal cemetery built during the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.

The sign describes the route in a reverse direction to this tour: "The Catonsville Short Line Rail Road ran from the heart of Catonsville, through Spring Grove Hospital, to Shady Nook, Paradise, Maiden Choice Lane, and passed by the Baltimore National Cemetery as it completed its route through St. Charles Seminary (now Charlestown), Loudon Park Cemetery, to Calvert Station in Baltimore City. The Catonsville Rails to Trails (CRTT) organization is converting the former Short Line right of way into a walking/biking path. This 'Cemetery Overlook' park was created in May 2013 by students from Mount Saint Joseph High School doing a senior project (Evan Smith, Paul Neumann, Matt Reed and Michael Valderas and their sponsor Sheldon Smith). Funding was provided by CRTT and Sheldon Smith. Special thanks to Link Mechanical (Chris Podowski and crew) for donating their labor to grade and gravel the site."

Links: project photos, Calvert Station (scroll down)


Maiden Choice Lane

Maiden Choice Lane
Mile: 1.9 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 41 H 3 Topographic Maps

No rails are embedded within the pavement of Maiden Choice Lane in Catonsville, but more stretches of rusty track will be found ahead when this tour resumes...


Continue to Part 2 of the Catonsville Short Line tour

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