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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.



Milepost 14
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Milepost 14
Mile: 14.0 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 H 12 Topographic Maps

No surviving trace of B&O's Halpine station at milepost 14 was found. Twinbrook Parkway is the next overpass, but before that shrouded on the left an old acquaintance, the DC Metro Red Line, rises from the subterranean to rock and roll alongside.


Twinbrook Metro
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Twinbrook Metro
Mile: 15.7 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 E 8 Topographic Maps

As foretold, Metro appears... it's on the right because we're looking back from the Edmonston Drive bridge to a pair of headlights departing Twinbrook Metro station, over a mile distant.


Then
Photo credit EL Thompson

Then
Mile: 15.7 Date: 1947
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 E 8 Topographic Maps

The Edmonston Drive bridge was new in 1947 when EL Thompson spotted B&O 74 EMD model E7A bound for Washington.

Click the thumbnail to peer into the distance and you'll find a bridge with a pyramidal support structure.


Now
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Now
Mile: 15.7 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 E 8 Topographic Maps

Sixty years of highway expansion in the DC-to-Frederick corridor boosted Rockville's skyline changes, and brought Metro which subdivided the B&O right-of-way into halves.

The pyramidal structure remains extant, peeking above the bridge for Veirs Mill Road in the foreground.


Pyramid
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Pyramid
Mile: 16.4 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 29 D 7 Topographic Maps

This unusual bridge has been sparsely documented. One source reports a pedestrian bridge to Rockville Station has existed in this vicinity since the late 1800s, but another suggests the bridge was added only after a 1936 collision between train and school bus at the Baltimore Road grade crossing. After that bridge collapsed, supposedly it was converted into this pedestrian bridge in 1974. Who knows the real story?


Zoom
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Zoom
Mile: 16.4 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 29 D 7 Topographic Maps

CSX, Metro, MARC and Amtrak all roll through here, with good views of the action from the pyramid bridge. The B&O's Rockville Station is shrouded by trees on the left.


Rockville
Photo credit B&O Museum

Rockville
Mile: 16.5 Date: ~1900
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 D 6 Topographic Maps

This is basically the same view as the prior photo, though from ground level, and before about a century of change. The E. Francis Baldwin-designed station dates to the 1873 opening of the Metropolitan Branch. About the time of this photo, the passing siding here was the longest on the branch.

The wooden boards parallel to and outside the rails reduce the trip hazard the ties present to passengers.

Link to older pic: ~1900


B&O 4051
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood

B&O 4051
Mile: 16.5 Date: 1972
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2: 169
Map: Mo 29 D 6 Topographic Maps

The oldest survivor on the line, Rockville Station spent its final decade at this spot as an Amtrak station.

Links to older pics: 1978, 1978


Rockville
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Rockville
Mile: 16.5 Date: 1978
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 D 6 Topographic Maps

This Baldwin-designed station is virtually identical to the one in Silver Spring, though the layout is mirrored.

Link: Ephraim Francis Baldwin


Offices

Offices
Mile: 16.5 Date: Jul 2012
Ease: A View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 29 D 6 Topographic Maps

To make room for Metro, in 1981 the station and associated freight house were picked up, moved about 200 feet south, and rotated almost 180 degrees clockwise before being set down on new foundations. Workers in the law offices now housed inside can watch Metro and CSX action in their backyard, while on break of course.

Link to older pic: 1981 move


Boxes
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Boxes
Mile: 17.1 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 29 C 5 Topographic Maps

A collection of aging equipment boxes lines the tracks near what remains of the passing siding upon which, on this day, several Maintenance-of-Way machines rest. Unity Bridge opened in 1999 for pedestrian use.


Hungerford Drive
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Hungerford Drive
Mile: 17.4 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 29 B 4 Topographic Maps

From Unity Bridge we can spy the western limit of the siding. On the left Hungerford Drive traces the eastern edge of the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College so students can drag race Metro.


Offloading
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Offloading
Mile: 17.8 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: E
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 29 B 3 Topographic Maps

Suburban Propane is one of CSX's active customers here. The special bays facilitate tanker offloading.


CSX 5288
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 5288
Mile: 19.0 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 20 A 13 Topographic Maps

Ack! The railroad was supposed to put engine 1919 in the lead. Heads will roll.

Link: CSX 1919


Derwood Station
Photo credit Montgomery County Historical Society

Derwood Station
Mile: 19.0 Date: ~1910
Ease: B View: S?
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 20 A 13 Topographic Maps

Representative of the B&O's smaller stations / depots was this one at Derwood, which a B&O schedule places at mile 19. The station survived until razed by fire in 1954; all artifacts of it were erased when Metro overlaid the site in the 1980s.

The grade crossing in the photo has been eliminated, but was what is now Paramount Drive / Chieftain Avenue.

Link: Short History of Derwood


CSX 7515
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 7515
Mile: 19.1 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 20 A 12 Topographic Maps

Eastbound at Redland Road, over a mile of autoracks give new cars their first miles, without it showing on their speedometers. CSX 7515 is a GM model C40-8, colloquially known as "Dash 8", built May 1989.

Meanwhile, a distant CPL watches mirage-like at the crossovers despite the summer afternoon heat. Unseen on the left, Metro's Shady Grove station terminates the Red Line.


CPLs
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CPLs
Mile: 19.5 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 K 12 Topographic Maps

Three signals with a similar sense of duty keep the first CPL company. A siding splits off on the left, then splits a few more times... perhaps there are some trains over thataway.


Container Yard
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Container Yard
Mile: 19.5, 0.4 siding Date: Oct 2008
Ease: C+ View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 J 12 Topographic Maps

Sure enough: not only trains (CSX 8528) but also containers pausing from piggybacking. The yard's B&O rail hardware with 1930s and 1940s dates is reused from other locations.

Some of the containers are used by Montgomery County's Shady Grove Transfer Station to send trash west to the Dickerson Generating Station seen later in this tour.


Signal
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Signal
Mile: 19.5 Date: Oct 2008
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 K 12 Topographic Maps

If you've been following the tour, you know where another of these US&S signals can be found: at the exit of the now-disused Georgetown Branch.

The purple switch flag is a new one on me. Based on closeup photos it does not appear to be faded from a different color.


Rail Tool
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Rail Tool
Mile: 19.8 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 K 12 Topographic Maps

A then-new Brandt Rail Tool, number HBC 200802, is hardly working after working hard on the newest bridge over the Met (next photo).

Via the rubber grouser pads the Rail Tool can climb up, down and all around the rails, while a variety of attachments make it a versatile machine. Looks like fun; I want one. This particular attachment reminds me of a fiddler crab.

Link: fiddler crab waving


CSX 359
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 359
Mile: 20.0 Date: Oct 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 J 11 Topographic Maps

CSX 359 carts a short mixed freight below construction of the newest bridgework over the Met, a widening to accomodate MD 200, the Intercounty Connector toll road that opened March 2011. Formerly, narrower bridges had carried I-370 over the tracks here.

Link: MD 200


Railroad Street
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew
NEW! Sep 2012

Railroad Street
Mile: 20.5 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 J 10 Topographic Maps

A doubledecker of DC-bound Amtrak passengers rumbles across Railroad Street (wonder how they came up with that name). This is the first grade crossing in the past 7 miles of the tour; they become more common as the Met tracks further from densely populated areas. Note the array of crossing signals to match the complex intersection. Squint into the distance to find the same MD 200 as in the prior photo.


Washington Grove Station
Photo credit William F Smith
NEW! Sep 2012

Washington Grove Station
Mile: 20.7 Date: ~1940?
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2: 210
Map: Mo 19 J 10 Topographic Maps

In 1906 this Washington Grove Station replaced the original depot building. Note the USPS mailbox, a fixture at railroad stations during the steam age. The station survived until 1958.

Link to pics: ~1958, 1986, 1986


MARC Shack
NEW! Sep 2012

MARC Shack
Mile: 20.7 Date: Jul 2012
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2: 210
Map: Mo 19 J 10 Topographic Maps

Near the site of the B&O's depot and station, yet more diminutive than both, now stands this MARC commuter waiting shack. The fate of the humpback bridge in the distance may change this structure yet again.

Washington Grove was established in 1873 as a Methodist religious retreat camp. In 1951 a dog caused a work train to derail here, and the legal case eventually found its way to the Supreme Court.

Links: Wikipedia, 1951 derailment


Humpback Bridge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew
NEW! Sep 2012

Humpback Bridge
Mile: 20.8 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 H 10 Topographic Maps

Even with a hump this bridge is about 2 feet too low for the double-stack trains scheduled to soon ply the Met. The bridge is newer than its timber supports imply, having been rebuilt in 1988 to copy the original 1947 form. The locals have grown fond of the quirky bridge and do not want CSX to remove it.

Links: news report, history


Deer Park Drive
NEW! Sep 2012

Deer Park Drive
Mile: 20.8 Date: Jul 2012
Ease: A View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 H 10 Topographic Maps

Though the humpback's roadway is wide enough for opposing traffic, the visibility is poor, so an uncommon system of traffic signals limits access to one travel direction at a time. Getting over the hump must be a challenge during winter ice and snow.

Link: in the snow 2011


MoPac 13577
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew
NEW! Sep 2012

MoPac 13577
Mile: 20.8 Date: Aug 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 H 9 Topographic Maps

When Robert Herbert wanted the perfect office, he found Missouri Pacific caboose 13577 in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. After several months and several thousand dollars, the 1972-built unit arrived in Gaithersburg.

Links: Missouri Pacific info, news report


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