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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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Brief Historical Background:

Diverge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Diverge
Mile: 26.5 Date: Oct 2008
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 D 3 Topographic Maps

West of Germantown Station the original Metropolitan Branch alignment did not curve quite as much here as does the second / current alignment. The trees on the right near the Germantown Road bridge obscure where the original had been.


Repurposed

Repurposed
Mile: 27.4 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: A- View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 B 2 Topographic Maps

Many segments of the original alignment have been repurposed into roads, such as this utility access road. The current aligment is perched about 15 feet higher on the right. I suspect the higher elevation reduces the number of climbs and descents trains need to make as they negotiate the series of minor hills and valleys in this area.


Utility

Utility
Mile: 27.4 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: A- View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 B 2 Topographic Maps

Same spot as prior photo, but looking the opposite direction. The current railroad is on the left while Wisteria Drive is on the right. See "utility" on the map below.


Elevation

Elevation
Mile: 26.5 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B+ View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 B 2 Topographic Maps

This zoom view shows the increasing elevation of the current tracks since Liberty Mill Road (most distant, about a mile back at Germantown Station) to Germantown Road, then Father Hurley Boulevard (closest).



Swale

Swale
Mile: 27.7 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B+ View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 B 2 Topographic Maps

This swale-like cut marks the original alignment near the intersection of Wisteria Drive and Wanegarden Drive. It's narrow because the B&O never installed more than single track here. See "swale" on the map below.


Access Road

Access Road
Mile: 27.7 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 18 B 2 Topographic Maps

Looking opposite the prior photo finds the abandoned right-of-way has been paved over by an access road to the dam at Little Seneca Lake. The serious fencing is odd because 1) this is public parkland, 2) boaters can access the dam via the lake, and 3) much of the opposite bank of the river is not blocked by fences or signage. See "access road" on the map below.


Abutment

Abutment
Mile: 28.2 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: C View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

At top left of the photo the access road has turned left toward Little Seneca Dam. Below near photo center is the the only surviving artifact of the B&O's bridge: the stone abutment that now serves as a retaining wall.


Seneca Viaduct
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood collection

Seneca Viaduct
Mile: 28.3 Date: ~1920
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

The same abutment is below the far end of the bridge in this circa 1920 photo. This steel one lasted from 1896 to 1923, preceded by an even longer timber bridge. For the location, see "viaduct" on the map below.


Dam

Dam
Mile: 28.2 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: C View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

This is the view about 90 years later not far from the same photography spot. The magenta line marks approximately where the bridge had been. The concrete trough across the foreground is the dam's spillway.

Finding the exact matching photo spot is not easy since the forest has regrown, and the area was sculpted during the 1970s to create the lake. As is true of all lakes in Maryland, Little Seneca Lake is man-made.


Trees

Trees
Mile: 28.3 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

The lake can be glimpsed at the left. This is probably closer to where the photographer stood for that 1920s photo above. I'm including it because the original alignment passes through here and because you didn't believe me about the trees.


Map
Photo courtesy Google

Map
Mile: 28.2 Date: ~2010
Ease: View:
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

Perhaps this is a good point for a map. This tour has been progressing from right to left on the map; the magenta line marks the original alignment, black the second / current. By taking a more direct route, the second alignment is about 800 feet shorter.


Winderbourne

Winderbourne
Mile: 28.4 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 K 1 Topographic Maps

The road on the right skirts around the historic Winderbourne estate on the way to a flood monitor near the current railroad bridge over Little Seneca Creek. Between 1873 and 1923 trains had passed here, roughly as marked by the magenta line.

Link: Winderbourne Historic Preservation info


Cut

Cut
Mile: 28.5 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 J 1 Topographic Maps

This cut marks the original alignment as the current approaches on the right. Compared to disused stretches along the Old Main Line, this one is less obvious, probably because it had been single-track.


Cut

Cut
Mile: 28.5 Date: Oct 2014
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 J 1 Topographic Maps

Turn around to see where the two alignments rejoin, briefly, to curve around a hill.


Winderbourne Bridge
Photo courtesy Margaret Coleman

Winderbourne Bridge
Mile: 28.6 Date: ~1920
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 17 J 1 Topographic Maps

The Winderbourne estate was at the mercy of the B&O for access that was provided by this bridge until the railroad apparently renegged on the agreement while contructing the new alignment adjacent the old. Legal action ensued, followed by the B&O buying the estate. Historic records do not describe why a private grade crossing was an unacceptable compromise.


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