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B&O Metropolitan Branch Photo Tour

B&O Metropolitan 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.



Silver Spring Station
Photo credit B&O Museum
NEW! May 2013

Silver Spring Station
Mile: 7.4 Date: ~1940
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2: 170
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

The Ephraim Baldwin designed original B&O station is described in a NRHP Registration Form as follows:

"The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad has been a longstanding landmark in Silver Spring, beginning with the laying of the tracks of the Metropolitan Branch in 1873 and the construction of the first B&O depot in I878. The depot was named 'Silver Spring' after the nearby country estate of Francis Preston Blair, former editor of the Washington Globe. Blair, whose town home, Blair House, is across from the White House, had influenced the B&O Railroad to rechart the Metropolitan Branch through his property instead of along its originally planned course farther to the west. Stretching from Washington, D.C. to Point of Rocks, Maryland, the Metropolitan Branch stimulated commercial and residential development all along its path through Montgomery County.

cart entrance shops

"In 1883, the new Civil Service Act expanded the federal government's workforce, creating additional demand for housing adjacent to the B&O Railroad, and fostering early commuter suburbs, such as Woodside. By 1889 the Silver Spring area was known as a major distribution point for farmers because of the B&O station, and as a country retreat for wealthy Washingtonians who commuted into Washington on the railroad. In 1897 an alternative means of transportation into the District was established for area residents with the completion of the Washington, Woodside & Forest Glen Trolley, which met Washington's 'Brightwood Line' at the Maryland state line and ran through Silver Spring to Forest Glen. Despite the new trolley service, the B&O passenger service, though more expensive, was heavily used by Silver Spring commuters because it provided a quicker trip to downtown Washington."

Link: 1917 (site works poorly)


Redesigned Station

Redesigned Station
Mile: 7.4 Date: Feb 2006
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

Silver Spring deemed its 1878 version too archaic for the town's post-WWII hip suburban image, so the structure made way in 1945 for one of Colonial Revival style built on the same foundation.

Saved from demolition after a wayward automobile had damaged the structure, during the 2000s Montgomery Preservation restored B&O's 1945 Silver Spring station into a combination museum and community center. This is the only building in downtown Silver Spring to be listed within the National Register of Historic Places.

Link: assorted pictures


Interior
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Interior
Mile: 7.4 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

The interior has been restored to its appearance in B&O days, plus a Brio train set.


end

End
Mile: 7.4 Date: 2000
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

The site was looking a bit worn in its final days as a commuter station in year 2000.

A small rail yard was located on the north side of the station (left). In the past a spur emerged from the yard and crossed Georgia Avenue to serve the Griffith and Perry grain storage facility.


CPLs
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CPLs
Mile: 7.4 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

In what's left of the rail yard, a pair of B&O color position light signals rest awaiting restorative installation as museum pieces. I'm told CSX donated these after they were replaced at Kensington, a few miles west of here.

Plans put the Metropolitan Branch Trail through this area, but funding and other issues have been problematic.

Link: Met rail-trail tribulations


Waiting Room

Waiting Room
Mile: 7.4 Date: Feb 2006
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

Across the tracks from the main station (roof in view) the B&O erected a waiting room for eastbound passengers. Expansion for Metro in the mid-1970s pushed the building away from its sibling across the tracks. Soon after this photo the structure was demolished to make room for more office buildings and parking decks. A passenger walkway under the tracks survives, but is now fenced off.

Decades ago in what now seems like another life, the top floor of the distant building at left was home to my offices. Though I had a great view of train activity, I snapped no photos because back then I had not yet taken up studying B&O history.


Green
Photo courtesy anonymous NOAA employee

Green
Mile: 7.4 Date: 2006
Ease: B View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

The waiting room's interior provides an example of the pale green that was popular during the mid-20th century.


MARC 62

MARC 62
Mile: 7.4 Date: Feb 2006
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

Outside the waiting room, MARC 62 is about to transport commuters over the old passenger walkway. MARC 62 is an Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) model GP40WH-2; EMD is now a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc.


Greet
Photo credit EL Thompson
NEW! May 2013

Greet
Mile: 7.5 Date: Jul 1945
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps
zoom

EL Thompson beautifully captured the timeless practice of greeting loved ones returning home.

shack A B&O train has just dropped off afternoon passengers returning from Washington, many of whom are serving in the military. They and their families will soon celebrate the end of World War II which is but a month away.

Also note the original eastbound passenger waiting shack of frame construction. It was replaced in 1946 by the brick waiting room shown a few photos above.


MARC Station
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

MARC Station
Mile: 7.6 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 37 A 10 Topographic Maps

The closure of the B&O's Silver Spring station prompted MARC to open a new station about 1000 feet west.


Construction
NEW! May 2013

Construction
Mile: 7.6 Date: Mar 2013
Ease: A View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 10 Topographic Maps

Under construction is the Paul Sarbanes Transit Center, an oft-delayed, multilevel, multimodal facility incorporating Metrobus, Ride On, Metrorail, MARC train, intercity Greyhound bus, and local taxi services under one roof. Metro's Purple line is planned to connect to its Red line here. The site previously hosted a bus and taxi drop-off area for the Metro station.

Link: Transit Center computer rendering


Overlap
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Overlap
Mile: 7.7 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 10 Topographic Maps

The MARC (right) and Metro (left) platforms overlap. Though there is also some overlap in service between the two, MARC extends far beyond the DC Metro: passengers from MARC stations such as the one at Martinsburg, West Virginia can commute directly to and from offices at Silver Spring.

Link: Silver Spring Metro stop photos


Bridge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bridge
Mile: 7.7 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 9 Topographic Maps

The Silver Spring stop, Metro's busiest station in Maryland, sits above Colesville Road, aka US 29.


Suits

Suits
Mile: 7.7 Date: 1999
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 10 Topographic Maps

Penguin Rush Hour, a 100 foot-long mural painted by Sally Callmer, previously graced a wall under the station but was removed in 2005 for eventual restoration at the Paul Sarbanes Transit Center.


East-West Highway
Photo credit EL Thompson
NEW! May 2013

East-West Highway
Mile: 7.7 Date: May 1950
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 10 Topographic Maps

A westbound B&O diesel passes East-West Highway. That road no longer crosses under the tracks but judging by appearance I believe this is where the penguins above had, and Colesville Road now does. If that's wrong, please let me know.


Milepost 8
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Milepost 8
Mile: 8.0 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 9 Topographic Maps

As we head away from Silver Spring, here's one last look back from milepost 8.


So Long
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

So Long
Mile: 8.2 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: C IC2:
Map: Mo 36 K 9 Topographic Maps

Between the Spring and 16th Street overpasses, Metro bears down to scoot under the railroad. Unseen beyond this east leg of Metro's Red Line tunnels and turns to the north (right) to follow below Georgia Avenue. Several miles from here the B&O will meet the west leg of the Red Line.

Silver Spring served as a Metro Red Line terminal from 1978 until 1990 when this extension segment opened to Wheaton. Had plans from the 1960s been fully implemented, the I-70S North Central Freeway would have also weaved along the B&O's route.

Link: North Central Freeway


CSX 7730
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 7730
Mile: 8.3 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 9 Topographic Maps

A pair of uncommon 8-lamp CPLs watch CSX 7730 and CSX 8779 haul autoracks west at 16th Street where the speed limit jumps to 70 mph.


Grasshopper
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Grasshopper
Mile: 8.4 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 9 Topographic Maps

Overheard at an old but freshly repainted Georgetown Junction control box:

  Foamer Caine: "Strange treasures. How shall I hold them and keep them? Memory?"
  Yardmaster Po: "No, Grasshopper, not in memory, but in your deeds."


Wired
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Wired
Mile: 8.4 Date: Augg 2008
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 9 Topographic Maps

Speaking of strange treasures, I've never seen one of these before, anyone know what it is?


Culvert
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Culvert
Mile: 8.5 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 8 Topographic Maps

Culverts are fewer along the Met than the Old Main Line. This one is small but big enough to walk through, so perhaps it should be called a bridge.


Interior
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Interior
Mile: 8.5 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: C View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 8 Topographic Maps

Inside, the original 1870s construction is revealed as less exacting than found along the Old Main Line, the interior arch lacking precisely cut granite, perhaps due to the small overall size. As seen here near the entrance, a concrete exterior/extension was added subsequently.


Closed
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Closed
Mile: 8.5 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: C View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Mo 36 J 8 Topographic Maps

The interior is dark because the culvert's northeast end is enclosed where its tiny stream is sequestered by a parking lot added above.


CSX 8786
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 8786
Mile: 8.7 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 H 8 Topographic Maps

This is not the first train the rickety-but-charming single-lane Talbot Avenue bridge has seen. The automobile bridge is a repurposed railroad turntable (!) the B&O hauled from Martinsburg, WV and installed here in 1918 when limited resources made recycling the norm. The bridge may not survive Metro's Purple Line construction, so don't delay if you want to see it in person.

Long gone is a B&O Section House that stood at left behind the photographer; it can be seen in the 1948 photo linked below.

The tracks beyond on the left are what remains of the now-disused Georgetown Branch, which has its own photo tour.

Links: 1948, E.L. "Tommy" Thompson photo set, bridge preservation debate, 2008 photos


number 09
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Number 09
Mile: 9.0 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 H 8 Topographic Maps

When the sign department is fresh out of 9s, everyone knows to use an upside-down 6. But what if they are all out of 6s too? Here's an inventive solution near Brookville Road (bridge number 10A, or perhaps that should be 010A). The older milepost-on-a-rail nods in approval at right.

As we'll learn later in the tour, this is only the first of several jerry–rigged Met mileposts.


CSX 693
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 693
Mile: 9.3 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 7 Topographic Maps

Max zoom spies CSX 693 eastbound under Linden Lane. The industry on the right is one of many that no longer receives shipments by train. The W whistle signpost is not an artifact: ahead is the Met's closest-to-DC grade crossing that survives.


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