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Old Main Line Photo Tour


B&O Old Main Line
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:

Mt. Clare

Mt. Clare
Mile: 0.0 Date: Feb 1999
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2: 338, 368
Map: Ba 42 K 1 Topographic Maps

This tour starts at Mt. Clare which is located about a mile west of the center of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In 1828, the B&O wanted to begin its railroad downtown at the city's harbor, but wrangling over the exact route delayed progress, so construction started near what was, at that time, the western edge of the active city. Over the century that followed, Mt. Clare would evolve into a major terminal, with a large train yard, car repair shops, locomotive construction facilities, and even the passenger station shown in this photo.

Mt. Clare is the second-oldest railroad station along the Old Main Line (OML), younger than only the Ellicott City station we'll see later in this tour. The station is now home to the B&O Railroad Museum. Behind the station is the 1885 roundhouse that originally served as a car repair shop. Now the structure houses the museum's impressive collection of old locomotives. The B&O Museum is open most days, and is a highly recommended stop for all railfans.

The 1936-dated photo linked below shows a plaque mounted on the exterior of the building which reads, "This Building Erected 1830 is the first passenger and freight station in America and the oldest in the world. At the time of its use, trains were pulled by horses between Baltimore and Ellicott's Mills. Baltimore and Ohio, The Pioneer Railroad of America, the cornerstone of which was laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, July 4, 1828."

Other historical documents show this station building was actually constructed around 1850. A passenger "shack" may have previously occupied this spot, but other records place it a short distance west.

Links: 1936, 1969


Snow Damage
Photo courtesy Library of Congress
NEW! May 2021

Snow Damage
Mile: 0.0 Date: Feb 2003
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 K 1 Topographic Maps

Two feet (60 cm) of snow that fell February 16, 2003 caused much of the roundhouse's roof to collapse and damage the historic equipment on exhibit below. Though this photo appears to be shot outdoors, it was actually snapped from what had been the interior of the roundhouse.

Some unique pieces were damaged beyond repair, but a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution supplied critical experience and funding. A 12-year project followed that restored all that was salvagable. Funding also provided for a new service facility to be added west of the museum within what had been the B&O's Mt. Clare Yard.

Links: 2003 snow damage, LoC source photo, storm aerial vidcaps


C&O 1604

C&O 1604
Mile: 0.1 Date: Jul 1999
Ease: A- View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

Resting behind (west of) the roundhouse is one of the more impressive modern locomotives in the B&O Museum's collection: Chesapeake and Ohio 1604. This 2-6-6-6 Allegheny weighs in at 778,000 pounds, making it the heaviest reciprocating steam locomotive ever built. It's tough to appreciate the immensity of this beast from a photo. Those wheels are about the height of a person.

Despite its size, the power of the steam engine is dwarfed by that of newer transportation technology. For example, the weight of this unit is just about the same as that of a Boeing 747 aircraft. This locomotive generates 7,500 horsepower, but each of the four jet engines on the 747 generate about 15,000 horsepower.

Union Pacific's "Big Boy" locomotives were even larger. UP restored its 4014 Big Boy to operating condition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike during 2019.

Links: 1970?, Golden Spike


Porter 0-4-0

Porter 0-4-0
Mile: 0.1 Date: May 2002
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

For the museum's All Aboard Days during spring 2002, they operated one of their more recently restored steam locomotives, a Porter 0-4-0 type. This locomotive has been used to switch inbound coal deliveries at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Washington, DC. The locomotive itself is coal fired.

Links: 1955, ~1970


TOFC service
Updated May 2021

TOFC service
Mile: 0.1 Date: Mar 2002
Ease: A- View: SE?
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

B&OZ logo In the back lot, the museum keeps a few truck trailers that had been used for B&O's TOFC ("trailers on flatcars") service, such as B&OZ 200490. BOZ was the reporting mark. This particular logo is notable because the engine depicted shows the "sunburst" paint scheme used only briefly during the 1960s. TOFC was one of the earliest forms of the now-ubiquitous intermodal, containerized shipping.

After these photos were snapped, in the wake of the roundhouse's 2003 roof collapse, the museum reconfigured its back lot.


Aerial 1927
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University
NEW! May 2021

Aerial 1927
Mile: 0.1 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

The roundhouse is at upper right. At the time of this photo, Mt. Clare Yard's repair shops had reached their peak expanse: soon the less-labor-intensive diesel engines would dominate motive power.

Steam engines needed their boiler tubes regularly cleared of mineral scale deposited by evaporating water. The soot of burning coal would clog valves and reduce efficiency. The largest engines had close to a mile worth of pipes that required cleaning and checking. Every steam engine spent a significant portion of its life in maintenance shops like those in this photo.


Aerial 1939
Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun
NEW! May 2021

Aerial 1939
Mile: 0.3 Date: 1939
Ease: View: NE
Area: IC2: 372
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

This aerial looks back toward the roundhouse near top center. The complex included machine shops, a carpentry shop, foundries, and more. At bottom right, an elevated siding serves a bulk materials / coal yard's drop bins. That's the Carey Street bridge at bottom.

The last big burst of activity here came with World War II. During the 1980s, what remained of the B&O buildings at center and left would be sold, and the area redeveloped for shopping.

Link: source photo


Mt. Clare Yard
Photo courtesy Library of Congress
NEW! May 2021

Mt. Clare Yard
Mile: 0.3 Date: 1970s
Ease: View: E
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

The yard west of the roundhouse had this appearance during the 1970s. Redevelopment would clear out all of the foreground material, save for one track from/to the museum.

Link: Mount Clare Shops 1976


Mt. Clare Express

Mt. Clare Express
Mile: 0.4 Date: Jul 1999
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

Along the one remaining track, the museum operates a train ride to almost the location of the ceremonial "B&O First Stone". This photo shows much the same view as the prior, but 20-some years later

The Mt. Clare Express tour doesn't quite reach the "first stone" location because that's on part of the active CSX railroad, but even so it makes for a fun experience.

Link: ~1970?


Carey Street

Carey Street
Mile: 0.4 Date: Feb 2001
Ease: A View: S
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 J 1 Topographic Maps

At one time, 6 tracks crossed Carey Street via this 1924-built bridge. Note the B&O logo on the bridge.


Aerial 1927
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University
NEW! May 2021

Aerial 1927
Mile: 0.5 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

About a half-mile west of the roundhouse had stood single-stall engine repair shops. Wilkins Avenue is now named Fulton Avenue, and now leads to museum facilities built during 2005.


Live Steam Weekend

Live Steam Weekend
Mile: 0.6 Date: Apr 2000
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

Periodically, the museum hauls out some of its collection for Live Steam Weekend along the stretch of track it controls west of the station. The event is a great opportunity to see some of this old equipment in operation.

This is the museum's Lafayette engine, a reproduction of a 19th century design built for the B&O's 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse. The coaches being pulled illustrate how, at the beginnings of passenger service, horse-drawn carriages were adopted for use on the railroad. Scientific American's first issue bemoaned the state of the "awkward and uncouth cars of (18)35".

Kudos to the museum staff for the dedication it takes to get these old beasts to breathe once more, and all the work required to keep them in shape for us to enjoy.


William Mason
Updated May 2021

William Mason
Mile: 0.6 Date: Apr 2000
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

aboard 2000 This is the William Mason, the world's oldest railroad locomotive still in operation. This 4-4-0 design dates to 1856 when it was built by the William Mason Locomotive Works in Taunton, Massachusetts. Here it is still wearing the accoutrements and polish applied for its 1998 appearance in the Wild, Wild West movie. After so many mods, the "Ship of Theseus" philosophical question comes to mind.

The John Bull locomotive, now part of the Smithsonian's collection, is often called the "oldest operable locomotive". In 1981, for its 150th anniversary, the engine was operated for one last time.

Links: at 1939 NY World's Fair, 1969, Ship of Theseus


All Aboard Days

All Aboard Days
Mile: 0.6 Date: May 2002
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

Here's the Porter 0-4-0 again, chugging out plenty of smoke while hauling visitors back to the museum.


CSX 9699
NEW! May 2021

CSX 9699
Mile: 0.6 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

CSX sometimes sends retired equipment to the museum for display and operation, like this GP38 that in 1982 Trains Magazine named All American Diesel. Shortly after that designation, it appeared in REM's Driver 8 music video. Here it is still wearing the orange of maintenance of way duty, but the museum has since repainted it into Chessie System livery. This had been B&O 3802 when built in 1967.

Link: pics of B&O 3802


BO 6944
NEW! May 2021

BO 6944
Mile: 0.6 Date: May 2002
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

This model GP30 has served the museum since the mid-1990s. A few years earlier, CSX restored its sunburst paint, the only unit on which it did so. This stretch of track (with BO 6607) appears in the first episode of The Wire.

Links: BO 6944, CSX 4253


Dravo SW 58
NEW! May 2021

Dravo SW 58
Mile: 0.9 Date: Apr 2000
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

Dravo Corporation's SW 58 was an ex-B&O GE 44-tonner switcher. It was built in 1950 as B&O 19 for industrial switching in Baltimore. Renumbered 8801 (1957) then 8301 (1964), it was in 1971 sold to Dravo Corporation, who operated it at their Neville Island, Pennsylvania location. Starting in 1992, it spent time with the Pittsburgh, Allegheny & McKees Rocks Railroad (reporting mark PAM) before being sold for parts.

The B&O employed just two or three of this model, and by the time this example reached the museum, its innards were incomplete. As such, it wasn't the best candidate for restoration, and in 2004 was sent to Nelson Scrap Metals.

Link: B&O 44-tonners


Pere Marquette 11
NEW! May 2021

Pere Marquette 11
Mile: 1.1 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: B View: E
Area: C- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 H 2 Topographic Maps

This is about as far from its museum home that this 1942-built EMD SW 1 ever gets. The Pere Marquette Railway operated in the Great Lakes region from 1900 to 1947, at which time it merged into the C&O. PM 11 then worked about 20 years before being repainted into Chessie System livery as CO 8401. It remained in active service for almost another 20 years before being added to the museum's collection in 1985.

Links: 1966, CO 8401


Gwynn's Run

Gwynn's Run
Mile: 1.2 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: C View: N
Area: D IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 2 Topographic Maps

At Gwynn's Run is found the first stone arched bridge west of Mt. Clare. It dates to before 1830, but was expanded in 1848. As will be illustrated as this tour progresses west, the B&O's Freemason founders were fond of stone's permanency.

Subsequent development has impinged upon what otherwise could still be a pretty location: the streambed is littered with clumps of trash, and nearby sewer lines contribute a distinctive odor. The person in the photo provides perspective on the substantial size of this bridge. He appeared to be a homeless man searching for scrap metal. This is not the best part of town.

You won't find the other side of this bridge because it, along with much of Gwynn's Run, has been sequestered underground. About three miles north of here, the stream can be seen beginning its underground trek at a culvert on the north side of Gwynn's Falls Parkway west of Dukeland Street. Lake Ashburton and Wash Water Lake contribute to its flow, but old maps show Gwynn's Run originating just south of the CSX Hanover Subdivision's grade crossing with Cold Spring Lane. Perhaps the Cold Spring is the source.


First Stone Marker
Photo courtesy David Dudich

First Stone Marker
Mile: 1.2 Date: Unknown
Ease: C View: NW
Area: D IC2: 13, 217
Map: Ba 42 F 2 Topographic Maps

This spot, one mile west of Ostend Street, is the site of the ceremonial first stone laid by the B&O. During the summer of 1828, Charles Carroll, last living signer of the US Declaration of Independence, turned the first spadeful of dirt to begin the construction of the railroad. The original stone has been moved inside the B&O museum and this marker took its place. The marker is shrouded to discourage vandalism. The inscription reads "Site of the First Stone, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad erected July 4, 1828. Marking the 1st mile Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Given by CSX Transportation to the B&O Railroad Museum March 18, 1992."


First Stone Marker 2

First Stone Marker 2
Mile: 1.2 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: C View: NW
Area: D IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 2 Topographic Maps

Tucked within a tiny grotto, with its back to an ugly scrap metal facility, framed by two cars, the shrouded marker can be seen across the tracks. This tour measures distance from Mt. Clare Station (and the museum's roundhouse), some 1.2 miles east.

This is also where the spur from the museum meets up with active commerical railroad. Beginning during the 1960s, the B&O was combined in stages with the C&O and other lines into what is currently CSX Transportaion. CSX-owned routes in the city vicinity are part of their Baltimore Terminal Subdivision.


DC Metro Scrapping
Updated May 2021

DC Metro Scrapping
Mile: 1.2 Date: Feb 2016
Ease: B View: S
Area: D IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 2 Topographic Maps

car car The Washington, DC Metro System does not (yet) reach this far north, but its oldest rolling stock, the 1000 series - aka 1K cars - are seen here being dismantled at Baltimore's United Iron and Metal Scrapyard. Taking on the duties of these 40-year-old originals are the Metro's 7000-series cars.

1950 by Sun Metro's are not the first DC public transit cars to find their way here. This is the same location that scrapped many Capital Transit streetcars, such as number 506 seen at right during 1950 (photo courtesy Baltimore Sun). B&O railcars are in the background.

Two Metro cars per week have been retired and trucked up I-95 from the Metro's Greenbelt Yard, a rate too slow to justify their transport by rail. Furthermore, towing them on CSX's equivalent route is complicated by incompatible braking and couplers, though they could be lifted onto flatcars. A rusty siding into the scrapyard would need cleanup too.

Before becoming a scrap yard this site had hosted a brick yard.

Links: other uses of retired cars, being offloaded


Carrollton Viaduct

Carrollton Viaduct
Mile: 1.4 Date: Oct 2010
Ease: B View: N
Area: C+ IC2: 35, 339, 386
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Built in 1829, the Carrollton Viaduct is the oldest surviving railroad bridge in the world. It remains in active use in its original form, a tribute to its designers and builders. No bridge has been in railroad use for a longer period. The viaduct is 297 feet in length and spans the Gwynns Falls (river).

The B&O wanted to build south out of Baltimore, but politicians feared that doing so would encourage the development of a new, competing port along the Patapsco River, a few miles outside the city. So, they enacted a law specifying that the B&O's route must cross the city line at an elevation of 66 feet above sea level. This forced the railroad to build SW rather than S from Mt. Clare, and cross streams at a higher elevation, thereby necessitating expensive hand-built structures like this viaduct. The viaduct is named in honor of Charles Carroll who owned the land in this vicinity.

Links to older pictures: 2001 with train, Library of Congress ~1971


Gwynns Falls Trail

Gwynns Falls Trail
Mile: 1.4 Date: Oct 2010
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Unsealed in 2005 after being closed for decades is the former carriageway under the southwestern side of Carrollton Viaduct. It's now part of the Gwynns Falls Trail.

Interstate 95 passes about 1000 feet from the viaduct, but you'd never know it. The viaduct is hidden in tree growth and surrounded by industry and a golf course. The best access is by hiking or biking the Gwynns Falls Trail, but note the trail passes through some less-than-great sections of town.

Link: trail info


At Carrollton Viaduct

At Carrollton Viaduct
Mile: 1.4 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: C View: NE
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

This photo looks from the SW side of the viaduct back toward the original location of the B&O's First Stone. Ex-Western Maryland tracks that pass nearby can just be glimpsed at the extreme left side of the image.

The trees in this photo hide the scrap metal facility that operates on the north side of the viaduct.

Change for: Western Maryland tour at this site


From Carrollton Viaduct

From Carrollton Viaduct
Mile: 1.4 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: C View: SE
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Here's the view looking downstream from the top of the viaduct. The Carroll Park Golf Course is on the left, and the ex-Western Maryland tracks are hidden in the trees on the right. That's I-95 near exit 51 in the distance. You should be able to glimpse the viaduct from I-95 during non-leaf season if you know where to look.



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