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B&O Georgetown Branch Photo Tour

B&O Georgetown 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.


Bethesda
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bethesda
Mile: 3.3 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 12 Topographic Maps

We emerge back into the light near Bethesda's Woodmont Avenue. The rails to trails conversion was completed here in the year 2000.

Links to older pics: 1956, group, ~1970


Sign
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Sign
Mile: 3.4 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 12 Topographic Maps

This sign describes the history of the B&O in the area:

    "The Capital Crescent Trail follows the route of an old railroad line called the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O). It's all that remains of an unrealized attempt by the B&O to construct a major rail link between the Baltimore-Washington area and southern states. Had it been successfully developed, this part of the Washington area might look very different today.

    "In the late 1880s, the B&O was eager to capture more business in southern states but lacked a good Potomac River crossing and rail connections. The Pennsylvania Railroad, a major competitor also wanting more southern business, had restricted access to its bridge and rail links. B&O devised a plan to build a rail line to connect its Metropolitan Branch line in Silver Spring, Maryland to northern Virginia by bridging the Potomac near Chain Bridge and linking up with the southern lines at Fairfax Station and at Quantico.

    "In the early 1900s the railroad competitive atmosphere stabilized somewhat, and the B&O was able to use the Pennsylvania Railroad's route through Washington into Virginia, eliminating the need for a separate and costly B&O line. The proposed bridge and Virginia section were never built. After overcoming financial difficulties in the 1890s, the B&O completed the line from Silver Spring to Georgetown in 1910 and named it the Georgetown Branch.

    "The single-track Georgetown Branch was never intended to carry passengers but did a fair business hauling freight - mainly coal to Georgetown and building supplies to Chevy Chase and Bethesda. Demand declined steadily after World War II and few trains ran on the line after 1980. The B&O was taken over by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1963, which in turn was acquired by the CSX Corporation in the 1980s. The last train on the Georgetown Branch ran in 1985 and CSX sought to abandon the line in 1986. Local interest in preserving the corridor led to its development as the Capital Crescent Trail, a rails-to-trails project."

The 100 YEARS ON THE GEORGETOWN BRANCH RAILROAD timeline reads:
  • 1888 B&O Railroad developed the concept of creating a railroad line that would connect its Metropolitan Branch with two Virginia lines, crossing the Potomac River near Chain Bridge. Georgetown Barge, Dock, Elevator and Railway Co. formed in Georgetown.
  • 1889 The Washington and Western Maryland Railroad formed for the section from Delacarlia to the Aqueduct Bridge.
  • 1890 The Metropolitan Southern subsidiary of the B&O Railroad formed for the Maryland section, and the Metropolitan Western subsidiary formed for the Virginia section. One mile section of rail completed from Rock Creek to the Aqueduct Bridge.
  • 1891 The B&O Railroad takes over the Georgetown Barge, Dock, Elevator & Railway Co.
  • 1892 Two miles of track laid from the junction with the B&O Metropolitan Branch in Linden to Chevy Chase, including the 1400 foot-long wooden trestle over Rock Creek.
  • 1895 The Arizona Avenue trestle is built over Canal Road and the C&O Canal.
  • 1904 The Rock Creek trestle is rebuilt and shortened by 281 feet in length by adding fill on either end.
  • 1906 Plans for a crossing of the Potomac River near Chain Bridge and connection with railroad lines in Virginia abandoned.
  • 1909 Metropolitan Southern Railroad completes additional 4.5 miles from Chevy Chase to the District line, including Delacarlia Tunnel.
  • 1910 Georgetown Branch is completed and operated by the B&O Railroad.
  • 1914 Tracks temporarily extended across Rock Creek to bring limestone for the construction of the Lincoln Memorial.
  • 1928 Rock Creek trestle rebuilt again, reinforced with steel girders on the central span.
  • 1942 A flood washes railroad cars into the Potomac River in Georgetown.
  • 1967 Major fire burns portion of Rock Creek trestle.
  • 1972 Rock Creek trestle rebuilt after damage by hurricane Agnes.
  • 1980 CSX Corporation formed and absorbed the Chessie System railroads, which had taken over the B&O Railroad in 1963.
  • 1985 Last train runs on the Georgetown Branch.
  • 1986 Application is filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) for abandonment of the Railroad.
  • 1988 ICC issues a certificate of Interim Trail Use for the Montgomery County section.


Resume
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Resume
Mile: 3.5 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 36 A 12 Topographic Maps

the trail resumes...

In this vicinity the B&O had maintained a freight station and small yard.

Links: 1956, 1959, Freight Station in 1978, track map


Bradley Blvd
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bradley Blvd.
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 12 Topographic Maps

Ahead is Bradley Boulevard and the most substantial of the B&O's grade crossing bridges along the Georgetown Branch.


Bigger
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bigger
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

This surviving 1959 incarnation of the bridge replaced a smaller model that had spanned Bradley Boulevard when it was a 2-lane road.

Links to older pics: 1959, 1979


Bradley Bridge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bradley Bridge
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

If you are less than 14 feet tall, you'll fit under.

Links to older pics: 1959, 1969


Paint
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Paint
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

My guess is painters did their thing here on April 22, 1990. If graffiti scribblers want their marks to endure, they should make them look like this. Reminds me of some official-looking, but fake, harmless signs I posted at school around 1980. They're still there.


Herald
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Herald
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

Originally this herald on the bridge's center support proudly advertised the railroad via standard B&O blue color, but now survives in the form of concrete embossing. Still looks good.

Link to older pic: 1950s Ride the Rapid (Staten Island, NY)


Bridge
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Bridge
Mile: 3.9 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

This undated bridge over the Little Falls Branch is similar to the Old Main Line's bridge 30B from 1973.


Little Falls Pkwy
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Little Falls Pkwy
Mile: 4.0 Date: Nov 2008
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Mo 35 K 13 Topographic Maps

The 21st century brings smaller wheels to the Georgetown Branch at the Little Falls Parkway grade crossing.

Links to older pics: 1965, 1973, 1983



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