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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.


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CSX 508
NEW! late-Jan 2019

CSX 508
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jan 2019
Ease: A- View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

As trains round round the bend, they see into Gaithersburg...


Gaithersburg
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Gaithersburg
Mile: 21.5 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

A combination of productive farms and good roads made Gaithersburg a busy stop for the railroad. Within a few years after the Met's opening, tons of fertilizer and a hundred thousand bushels of wheat were shipping annually with help from the B&O's brick Freight House that survives right of photo center. Double tracking of the Met worked outward from DC but did not reach here until 1893.

The Baltimore, Cincinnati and Western Railroad at one time planned to stretch from Laurel, Maryland to here, and then west, but ultimately was never built. The rusty tracks in the foreground - disconnected from the main not long before this photo - had served the station, and now host static railroad displays.

Links to older pics: 1978, 1991


B&O 1951
NEW! late-Jan 2019

B&O 1951
Mile: 21.6 Date: Sep 2012
Ease: A- View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

RDC operators booth, Jan 2019 One railcar on display is this ex-B&O Budd RDC unit originally numbered 6652 when built during 1953. The operator's control cabin (right) was period-typical sparse: no cupholders!

Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) were manufactured by Budd from 1949 to 1962. They operated as a single car thanks to being self-propelled by two diesel engines. Though this example at Gaithersburg has not operated for decades, its interior still carries the scent of diesel fumes, one of the downsides of the otherwise smart design. The engines powered the wheels directly, not via electricity.

The B&O sold this unit to MARC who refurbished it and ran it on commuter lines within Maryland during the 1980s.

In an experimental design called the M-497 "Black Beetle", the New York Central Railroad affixed two jet engines to a Budd RDC similar to this one, and set a US rail speed record of 183 mph during 1966, a record that as of this writing (2019) still stands.

Link: more about the Black Beetle


Freight House
NEW! late-Jan 2019

Freight House
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jan 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

The former B&O Freight House has been remade into the Gaithersburg Gaithersburg International Latitude Observatory Community Museum. Area photos and artifacts are housed within, arranged in attractively-designed, informative displays, suitable for both young and old. During my visit I found the staff to be both courteous and knowledgable. This museum is worth going out of your way to visit.

Perhaps the museum's most tech-heavy artifact is a specialized telescope (right) that had been used to accurately measure the Earth's precession, or "wobble", on its axis. Gaithersburg was home to one of six coordinated International Latitude Observatories scattered around the globe, all at the same latitude. The observatory operated most years from 1899 to 1982, but its precisely measured location still serves as a reference point for GPS satellites.

Links: more about the observatory, museum info


B&O Caboose 2490
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

B&O Caboose 2490
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

On display beside the freight house rested this attractive B&O caboose. An attached sign read:

    Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) "Wagontop" Bay Window Caboose 2490 - This class I-12 steel caboose was built by the B&O Railroad in January of 1942 on an outdoor assembly line at the railroad's shops in Keyser, West Virginia. After many years in regular freight train service, it was last used by the railroad in work train service in the New Martinsville, West Virginia area in December of 1985. The "Wagontop" design is unique to the B&O Railroad, and was also used on some of their box cars and covered hopper cars. The "bay windows" enabled the train crew to observe the train, watching for signs of dragging equipment or overheated journal bearings on the freight cars. The caboose is also equipped with an air pressure gauge and a brake valve so that the crew could monitor the brake pipe pressure and stop the train in an emergency. This type of caboose has an unusual "Duryea Underframe", which is a sliding center sill that is attached to the caboose body with horizontal "springs", and was an early attempt to soften the shocks inherent in freight train operation.

Link to other pics: 2013


C&O 904512
NEW! late-Jan 2019

C&O 904512
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jan 2019
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

caboose interior 1943 After the B&O Wagontop caboose moved to the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, Gaithersburg replaced it with this C&O model, refurbished sans full caboose interior so the space could be used for meetings and education. Various photos of the life of railroad employees are posted on the interior walls.


Buffalo Creek & Gauley 14
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Buffalo Creek & Gauley 14
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

The Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad operated on and off during the 20th century to cart coal from the mines to the B&O at Dundon, West Virginia. During its first operational period from 1904, the BC&G never switched to diesels, and instead kept its steam engines chuffing until 1965.

BC&G Consolidation 14 began life as an 0-8-0, but after wrecking in 1956 it was rebuilt into 2-8-0 form, which may be one reason it espcaped scrapping so that we can still enjoy it today.

Links: older pics, newer pics


Gaithersburg Station
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Gaithersburg Station
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

As you may have guessed from all the equipment on display, Gaithersburg is also graced with a B&O station, this one of E. Francis Baldwin design dating to 1884. A coffee shop has taken up residence within which makes it all the easier for railfans to get a glimpse inside the nicely restored structure. MARC trains now stop here for commuters.

Link to older pics: 1984


TurboTrain
Photo credit Ara Mesrobian

TurboTrain
Mile: 21.6 Date: 1972
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2: 171, 345, 395
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

Turning to look back east for a moment we spy United Aircraft Corporation's TurboTrain approaching in Amtrak garb, operating well below its record 170 mph speed. Gas turbines powered the TurboTrain whose passenger cars passively tilted around curves. The C&O railroad pioneered the TurboTrain's design.

Note that a switch appears this side of the Summit Avenue grade crossing...

Links: 1986, Turbo train pictures


East Leg Then

East Leg Then
Mile: 21.6 Date: (~1910?)
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2: 396
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

The track switch of the prior photo had been the eastern limit of the Gaithersburg Wye, a formerly important train turning location. In this view looking west again, the wye is on the left, beyond the grade crossing, where a steam locomotive pauses perhaps after turning. The B&O had regularly operated local service between DC and Gaithersburg, hence the wye. Helper engines were turned at the wye as well.

In 2012 a copy of this photo hung in the passenger waiting area inside the station. The building across Summit Avenue from the station appears to be signed Ruchter's Paint, though I could find online no confirmation of such a store during that time period.


East Leg 2008
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

East Leg 2008
Mile: 21.6 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2: 396
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

This more recent photo looks the same direction, though the photographer is standing at the grade crossing. All traces of the wye's east leg are gone.

The multi-level building opened around 1990 to provide automobile parking for MARC commuters. Along the elevated walkway, the Capitol dome herald (inset) proudly displays the town's B&O heritage.

Link: fixing broken coupler (video, 2011)


ATEX 0006
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

ATEX 0006
Mile: 21.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B+ View: E
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

If the wye were still extant, the lead engine would be at the middle of the straight side. Following behind are CR 2474 and ATEX 0006, an Asplundh Tree Service unit in action spraying defoliant to reduce trackside weed growth that could become a fire hazard as a dry summer wears on.

Link to older pic: 1986


West Leg
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

West Leg
Mile: 21.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B+ IC2: 396
Map: Mo 19 F 9 Topographic Maps

The strips already devoid of grass and weeds at bottom center reflect the scant remaining evidence of the Gaithersburg Wye. This was the western limit of the wye's western leg. The overpass behind CSX 6155 carries MD 355, Frederick Avenue, over the tracks.


CSX 815
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 815
Mile: 22.2 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 D 9 Topographic Maps

CPL signals give CSX 815 and CSX 555 the green light to drag some coal out of the mountains. The extra digits help identify signals where they are mounted back-to-back. Since the time of this photo CSX replaced these CPLs with in-line signals.

This had been single-track territory until the 1890s.


Pushers
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Pushers
Mile: 22.2 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 D 9 Topographic Maps

The B&O built the Met to minimize curves at the expense of changes in elevation, which means the track rises and falls with the terrain much more than it does along the Old Main Line. As a result, heavy trains need the help of pusher engines; this time CSX 5013 and CSX 135 perform that duty. This view looks back to the Chestnut Street grade crossing as the engines move away from the camera.


Siding
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Siding
Mile: 22.4 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 D 8 Topographic Maps

The Montgomery County Fairgrounds get a rusty 1300-foot long siding to call their own.


I-270
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

I-270
Mile: 22.8 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 C 8 Topographic Maps

A multi-span bridge traverses multi-lane Interstate 270.

Link: I-270


Mileposts 23
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Mileposts 23
Mile: 23.0 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 B 8 Topographic Maps

Not even number twenty-three shortages could stop CSX from replacing the concrete milepost with one cobbled-together. As at many Met mileposts, the concrete version has been left as so much litter. The milepost-on-rail, oldest of the twenty-three family, is buried too deeply to shake its head.


Quince Orchard Road
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Quince Orchard Road
Mile: 23.1 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 B 8 Topographic Maps

By a half hour later, CSX 5013 and CSX 135 have detached from one coal train and head west to search for another to push.


Spur
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Spur
Mile: 23.4 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 19 A 7 Topographic Maps

A disconnected spur hopes for a new life east of the Metropolitan Grove MARC station.


Game Preserve Road
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Game Preserve Road
Mile: 24.2 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 J 6 Topographic Maps

Game Preserve Road is the only place along the Met at which you can legally drive under one of the line's stone arch bridges. This one is numbered 25A and was likely widened for double track around 1900.


Detectors
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Detectors
Mile: 24.2 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 J 6 Topographic Maps

An array of detectors watches for dragging equipment and other troubles. Waring Station Road crosses in the distance, but before we get to it, there's somethine else of note.

Link to older pic: 1985


Waring Viaduct
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Waring Viaduct
Mile: 24.7 Date: Nov 2007
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 H 6 Topographic Maps

Just east of Waring, this multi-arch stone bridge dates to the Loree-era when the B&O was under control of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It replaced a steel trestle over Great Seneca Creek. New bridges after this period generally returned to steel as their main ingredient.


C&O 7427
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood

C&O 7427
Mile: 24.8 Date: 1979
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2: 211
Map: Mo 18 H 6 Topographic Maps

Harwood saw C&O 7427 and B&O 3556 glide westbound over the triple-arched viaduct prior to its 75th birthday. Before 1906 the B&O had replied upon the original single-track wooden trestle here.

After the C&O but before CSX there was the Chessie System, which operated the Met from 1973 to 1980. Chessie was a holding company for the C&O, B&O, Western Maryland and a few smaller railroads. At the time of this photo these locomotives had not yet been repainted into Chessie livery.


Gunners Branch
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Gunners Branch
Mile: 25.4 Date: Jun 2008
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 G 5 Topographic Maps

This fine, probably-not-original stone arch carries the tracks over Gunners Branch. Outlet portals from a dam at Gunners Lake can be spied through the arch.


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