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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.



I-495
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

I-495
Mile: 9.7 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

Many DC-area residents have seen this bridge thousands of times, but not from this angle. Here CSX spans the busy I-495 Capital Beltway. Given that the Beltway dates to the 1960s, this railroad bridge is one of the Met's newer and was likely funded by Interstate Highway dollars.


Temple
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Temple
Mile: 9.7 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

In DC, a railroad bridge can span the separation of church and state. Art, politics and statements of the human condition contrast with views of a Mormon Temple, more accurately the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Bridge

Bridge
Mile: 9.7 Date: Oct 2012
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

This bridge is known for a "Surrender Dorothy" graffito inspired Emergence by a prank in 1974 by schoolgirls of nearby Holy Child School whose play that year was The Wizard of Oz. The graffito has appeared in several forms, but the one I recall spread one letter per riveted segment, as seen here overpainted by darker blue rectangles.

For outer Beltway drivers the bridge obscures the temple until it emerges into view as illustrated at right.

Links: Surrender Dorothy, schoolgirls, Wikipedia's entry


Forest Glen Station
Photo credit B&O Museum

Forest Glen Station
Mile: 9.8 Date: ~1920
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ IC2: 223
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

The B&O's Forest Glen station was an EF Baldwin design erected in 1887 prior Cart to the opening of the National Park Seminary adjacent, a private girls school.

In front of the station awaiting the next train appears to be a baggage cart stenciled with "Baltimore and Ohio".

Link: B&O station


Forest Glen
Photo credit B&O Museum

Forest Glen
Mile: 9.8 Date: ~1920
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

Between the time of this photo and the next the B&O replaced the railcar siding on the right with a passenger shack, accessible via a tunnel under the tracks. After passenger demand diminished, during the 1950s the railroad removed all these items, plus the station, leaving behind little more than the rails. For reference in the photos below, note the turreted "castle" at right.


Castle Then
Photo credit EL Thompson

Castle Then
Mile: 9.8 Date: 1928
Ease: A View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

EL Thompson caught this DC-bound B&O Pacific engine chuffing through Forest Glen and past the "castle" in 1928. At the time the building was part of the Mail Crane National Park Seminary. The ground floor was occupied by the Sanitary Grocery Company, which later evolved into Safeway supermarkets.

Magnification brings out details such as the mail crane at the distant end of the passenger platform. Via a mail crane, a train could pick up mail "on-the-fly" without stopping.

Links: mail crane info and video, in action in WV 1966, Sanitary Grocery in DC in 1926


Castle Now
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Castle Now
Mile: 9.8 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: A View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 36 G 6 Topographic Maps

In much the same view some 80 years later, nothing much remains except the rails, the "castle" and the Linden Lane grade crossing (CSX calls it St. Johns Road). Note only is the Forest Glen Station dead, but it is buried: the building of the railroad bridge over I-495 necessitated realigning the tracks to the west (left) such that they now cover its foundation. In the 1960s the "castle" became a Hungarian restaurant, and is now home to various professional offices. Long views and easy access make this a decent railfan location, though noisy I-495 is nearby.

Links: Seminary history, wikipedia's entry


B&O 5143
Photo credit EL Thompson

B&O 5143
Mile: 9.9 Date: 1945
Ease: B+ View: E
Area: B IC2: 223
Map: Mo 36 F 6 Topographic Maps

After WWII, EL Thompson caught another B&O Pacific at Forest Glen; number 5143 formerly belonged to the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh.


Bridge 10E
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bridge 10 E
Mile: 9.9 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 36 F 6 Topographic Maps

Just beyond the grade crossing one can find this substantial 1870s original stone arch bridge. A concrete portal on the opposite side shows the bridge was widened by a small amount in 1979, subsequent to what appears to be earlier widening work. The widening was likely associated with realignment driven by I-495 construction.


MARC 72
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

MARC 72
Mile: 10.0 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 36 F 5 Topographic Maps

CSX shares the Met with a horse of a different color pulling DC-bound MARC commuters. Though the line began life in single-track form, traffic warranted completion by 1893 of double-tracking between DC and Gaithersburg.


Signals
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Signals
Mile: 10.6 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 36 E 4 Topographic Maps

Within the past few years, the Met's CPL signals gave way to the inline design like those here adjacent to Metropolitan Avenue. Note the red collared white pipes, likely encapsulating sensors of some type... anyone know specifics?


Supports
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Supports
Mile: 10.9 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 E 4 Topographic Maps

Decades ago rails spanned these supports designed to allow easy unloading by gravity of bulk materials like coal and stone from railcars. Similar supports can be found adjacent to the B&O in Elkridge and Hyattsville. This siding had room for 16 cars and is visible where it joins the Met in the 1978 photo linked below.

Link to older pics: Elkridge 2002, 1978


Kensington
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Kensington
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jul 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

A summertime retreat community began in the 1880s when farmer George Knowles sold property where the B&O bisected the Rockville-Bladensburg road. Around 1890 Brainard Warner formed a planned community here, and chose the name Kensington.


Commuters
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood

Commuters
Mile: 11.0 Date: 1972
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

Unlike the Old Main Line, passenger service has never ceased along the Met, though the organization providing that service has changed. This photo captures the final years of the B&O as sole provider. As suggested by the spartan conditions illustrated (drive right to the tracks), this was not busy nor a big money maker for the railroad, and by 1974 the State of Maryland began subsidizing it.

In 1983 B&O successor CSX and the State combined to form MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) to provide passenger service along the Met, or what by then was known as the Brunswick Line. That arrangement ended in 2013 when Bombardier Transportation Services took on the task.

Link: wikipedia's MARC entry


Station Then
Photo credit Montgomery County Historical Society

Station Then
Mile: 11.0 Date: 1901?
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2: 224
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

This Baldwin-designed building was originally named Knowles Station.


Station Now

Station Now
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jul 2012
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

Here is the appearance after refurbishing into a MARC commuter station. A tall utility pole is still there, moved slightly. The adjacent (freight?) shack at left is long gone, but a similar structure has taken its place.


1891
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

1891
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

The B&O name is remembered adjacent to the construction year. Note the unique signal combination that warns passengers. CSX trains operate at up to 70 mph here.


CSX 5458
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 5458
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

Did someone mention a train?


View Then
Photo credit Montgomery County Historical Society

View Then
Mile: 11.0 Date: 1901
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2: 170
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

Waiting passengers had this view when the station was but 10 years old; at that Crossing time B&O passenger service along the Met had reached its peak of 18 trains per day. This 4-4-0 engine is bound for DC. The building at right advertises Littlefield Real Estate, Rents, Loans.

The St. Paul Steet grade crossing (now closed) hosted a tower, semaphore signals, crossing gates, and a mail crane (left). During the century that followed, all of those would be gone, survived by the rails, utility poles and the building behind the tower.


View Now

View Now
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jul 2012
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

The survivor building right of center was the home of Mizell Lumber and Hardware from 1931 to 2011.

Link: Mizell Hardware shuttering


Mile 11
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Mile 11
Mile: 11.0 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2: 170
Map: Mo 36 D 4 Topographic Maps

For about a half-mile west the tracks run in what would appear to be a cut, but instead is earth mounded around the tracks to facilitate grade separation. Starting with the closest, the three bridges are Connecticut Avenue (bridge 11 C), Summit Avenue, followed by a 2008-new signal bridge 0.6 miles distant. Beyond that the tracks slope down as they approach Rock Creek.


Rock Creek
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Rock Creek
Mile: 11.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 B 3 Topographic Maps

Creek, railroad and road make for a complex arrangement where the tracks cross Rock Creek Park at Beach Drive.


Winter

Winter
Mile: 11.8 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 B 3 Topographic Maps

Less greenery reveals the B&O did some fill work here: the tracks traverse at an elevation roughly 50 feet above Beach Drive.


Substantial
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Substantial
Mile: 11.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 B 3 Topographic Maps

Stand close and it's tough to capture this bridge in a single photo. This is the most substantial stone arch we've seen on the Met tour so far. The pock marks on the stones are an artifact of circa-1900 quarrying methods.


Abutment
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Abutment
Mile: 11.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: ?
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 B 3 Topographic Maps

An adjacent abandoned abutment is notable for two platforms at separate levels... B&O bridge afficianados recognize this as the hallmark of the railroad's signature Bollman design. Indeed, a 450-foot multi-span Bollman bridge had graced this location before the stone arch behemoth supplanted it in 1896.

Link: Rock Creek Historic Districts (PDF)


Garrett Park
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Garrett Park
Mile: 12.4 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 2 Topographic Maps

"It's a grade crossing." "It's a sign store." "Wait! You're both wrong."

Once upon a time, this location hosted both a B&O station and typical automobile grade crossing, but post-WWII decline in passenger demand led to their closure. Nearby residents enjoyed the solitude. Later in the 20th century fuel costs rose and more people wanted to again commute by train. This demand see-saw tug-of-war is nowhere better exhibited than at Garrett Park where competing desires produce the curious, confusing amalgam that sometimes evolves from compromise.

Perhaps fittingly, the adjacent park is named not Garrett but rather the hyphenated Waverly-Schuykill. The name Garrett originates with a B&O President, but the locals disagree whether it was John Garrett or Robert Garrett.

Link: the Met in winter


Shack
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Shack
Mile: 12.4 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 1 Topographic Maps

MARC commuters can await trains about 150 feet west of the quasi-grade crossing in this shack that originally - wait for it - belonged to the Pennsylvania Railroad (at Landover, Maryland).

Link: Historical Marker Database entry


Tiny
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Tiny
Mile: 12.5 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 1 Topographic Maps

Culverts don't get much smaller than this one just a few feet across. Like many/most Met culverts, a masonry shelf extends the full length.


Railfox
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Railfox
Mile: 12.6 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 1 Topographic Maps

Two wild and crazy foxes are Czeching out the rails. (Sometimes one SNL reference per tour page is not enough.) There's plenty of time to relax since a white SUV blocks the tracks beyond. Actually, no, that's the Randolph Road grade crossing seen through about a mile of max-zoom heat-distorted June air.

When trackside you need to be ready for critters of all kinds. Even black bears are known to venture this far east, particularly during May and June when younger males are establishing new territory.

You won't find this magnitude of grade change along the Old Main Line. By the time the Met was engineered (40 years after the OML), the B&O had learned to worry about keeping the track straight first, level second.

The white rectangle on the right is milepost 13, beyond that is a bridge for Nicholson Lane / Parklawn Drive, and a bit further is a forgotten B&O stop named Windham. Since I have not found any pictures of a Windham Station, I assume little more than a passenger waiting shack had existed.


Poles

Poles
Mile: 13.0 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 1 Topographic Maps

Looking back both directionally and temporally reminds that when CSX removed the utility poles, the right-of-way lost some traditional railroad flavor.


Windham
NEW! Aug 2015

Windham
Mile: 13.2 Date: Apr 1999
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 K 13 Topographic Maps

Turning to look the other way, this is a 20th century springtime view from the Nicholson Lane bridge. Long ago Windham Station had been in this area. The trackside W signs are reminders to blow the whistle for the Randolph Road grade crossing, where you see the blue car.


Randolph Station
Photo credit B&O Museum

Randolph Station
Mile: 13.6 Date: ~1920
Ease: A View: SE?
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 J 12 Topographic Maps

Randolph was never a major stop so this small station sufficed; it is no longer extant. I believe the Randolph Road grade crossing was immediately behind the photographer.

Link to other pics: Randolph Station


Randolph Road
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Randolph Road
Mile: 13.7 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 J 12 Topographic Maps

CPLs at Randolph Road sleep, saving their lamps for impending retirement. This is the Met's busiest at-grade crossing; grade separation has been on the drawing board for years.


CSX 7366
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 7366
Mile: 13.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 J 12 Topographic Maps

Both CPLs awaken when CSX 7366 enters the block with empty racks westbound to pick up more autos.


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