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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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Claremont Yard

Claremont Yard
Mile: 1.6 Date: Jan 2001
Ease: C View: S
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Claremont Yard is part of the loop that goes over the Carrollton Viaduct. Long ago the loop was bypassed by the Camden Cutoff shortcut, but CSX has seen fit to keep the Old Main Line's route over the Viaduct as a siding of sorts, and has renamed this portion Mt. Clare Yard. The original Mt. Clare Yard was between Mt. Clare Junction and Mt. Clare Station (now the B&O Museum).

Here CSX 102 and 731 take on fuel with I-95 in the background. Trains can bypass the yard via track off the left edge of this photo.

Links: Library of Congress ~1971, stockyards, double stacking scuttled


Bernard Drive

Bernard Drive
Mile: 1.8 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: A View: SE
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

The entrance to the yard is on the left from Bernard Drive where a spur splits off from the yard and soon encounters a grade crossing under interstate 95. For awhile I thought this was the only active Class I railroad grade crossing located under an interstate highway, but I later found another in Glen Burnie at MD 710 and the Baltimore Beltway I695.

The elevated road hosting a backhoe is a ramp from I95 east to I70 west that remains unused after environmentalists halted work on that connection. Speaking of connections, in the past the tracks in the foreground provided a connection between the B&O and Pennsy.

Change for: this site's Claremont branch tour


Circus

Circus
Mile: 1.9 Date: Apr 2017
Ease: B View: W
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Since the mid 1800s various circuses have entertained in locations all around the USA, moving from one town to the next via train. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the last of its kind, decided that 2017 would be its final year of operation, ushering the end of an era.

One of RBBB's last stops was Baltimore where during late April the circus train's equipment was stationed at its usual location, Mt. Clare Yards, for one last time.

Link: final visit to Baltimore prompts nostalgia


Circus Wagons

Circus Wagons
Mile: 1.9 Date: Apr 2017
Ease: B View: W
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

Key elements of intermodal handling so popular today originated with the intermodal layout circus for quick loading and unloading of wheeled equipment like these wagons.

To address the Howard Street Tunnel clearance problem, CSX wanted to remodel Mt. Clare Yard into a double-stack intermodal facility (right) but NIMBY disgreements and withdrawal of State funding ended the plan. Attention then shifted to increasing the height of the Howard Street Tunnel until during December 2017 CSX chilled to that idea.

Links: intermodal milestones, CSX withdraws from tunnel project December 2017


CSX Bad Order Forms

CSX Bad Order Forms
Mile: 2.1 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B View:
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 3 Topographic Maps

When equipment breaks down, there's a form for that, like these found blowing around at the yard.


Claremont Yard South

Claremont Yard South
Mile: 2.2 Date: Feb 2001
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 4 Topographic Maps

In this reverse view, we're looking into the south end of Claremont Yard (CSX Mt. Clare Yard) as seen from the Washington Blvd. overpass in Morrell Park. That's I-95 bisecting the yard in the distance. On a cold, dim February afternoon, a group of derelict engines and cars sits at left hoping for eventual restoral at the B&O Museum.


Washington Boulevard

Washington Boulevard
Mile: 2.2 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 4 Topographic Maps

This Washington Boulevard crossing is the site of Jackson's Bridge, a wooden structure the railroad built in 1829 for the benefit of the Turnpike company. The bridge was precedent setting in that it marked the first location in America where a railroad intersected with the road of chartered Turnpike. Since the Turnpike company had rights that predated the railroad's, the B&O paid to build and maintain a bridge for the Turnpike to cross over. Though at the time the B&O much preferred stone structures, they were not about to go to that expense for the Turnpike, and thus instead built their first wooden bridge. The bridge survived until about 1870 before being replaced.

Links: Jackson Covered Bridge, Chronicles of Baltimore, 1857 riots, page 555


Curtis Bay Junction

Curtis Bay Junction
Mile: 2.5 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 G 5 Topographic Maps

At this wye, a branch to Curtis Bay Yards peels off to the left from the Old Main. If these were still main line tracks, the old B&O CPL signal at distant right would have been replaced by photo time. The same signal appears from different angles in the photos below.

Change for: this site's Curtis Bay Branch tour


Camden Cutoff

Camden Cutoff
Mile: 2.9 Date: Dec 2003
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 6 Topographic Maps

CPL At Mt. Winans Yard, the OML's curving route being negotiated by the distant engines joins what is the present day main line (tracks in foreground). The engines are passing a CPL showing "restricting" that signals the operator about entering unsignalled trackage. CSX has since replaced that CPL (right) with color light signals.

The OML's original curving route out of Baltimore was an early problem for the B&O, and in 1867 at this location it built a straight shortcut that shaved about 2 miles off the trip to Camden Station, new at that time. This shortcut, known as the Camden Cutoff, later became part of the main line.

Change for: this site's Camden Cutoff tour


Narrows

Narrows
Mile: 2.9 Date: Feb 2011
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 F 6 Topographic Maps

At the southwest end of Mt. Winans Yard the various tracks combine to fit under Patapsco Avenue. OML milepost 3 measuring from Mt. Clare Station / the B&O Museum stands at the right, where it happens to be very close to 3 miles from Camden Station via the Camden Cutoff.


Mt. Winans Yard

Mt. Winans Yard
Mile: 3.1 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B IC2: 117
Map: Ba 42 E 6 Topographic Maps

Here's Mt. Winans Yard as seen from Patapsco Avenue. The OML is on the extreme left, today's active main line tracks on the right (being negotiated by the coal cars) and the yard in between. These CPLs are no more.


Deep Cut

Deep Cut
Mile: 3.1 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: B+ View: SW
Area: B IC2: 36
Map: Ba 42 E 6 Topographic Maps

Looking the other direction from the present day Patapsco Avenue bridge we can see the northern end of the Deep Cut. The Deep Cut was made into the ridge between the Gwynns Falls and Patapsco River. The original effort turned out to be much greater than the railroad had anticipated. At 68 feet deep and 3000 feet long, the cut is more impressive when you learn it was accomplished by hand. Work around the clock involving hundreds of men continued for for well over a year to carve a notch in Maryland's sticky clay. It came close to bankrupting the fledgling railroad.


Green and Red
NEW! late-Dec 2019

Green and Red
Mile: 3.4 Date: Sep 2019
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 7 Topographic Maps

As seen from Hammonds Ferry Road, an eastbound train of Waste Management empties has passed through the Deep Cut, near where a CSX crew is repairing a switch. The distant buildings are part of downtown Baltimore's skyline.


Lansdowne

Lansdowne
Mile: 3.5 Date: Feb 2017
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 7 Topographic Maps

Dec 2003 During the 2010s, these signal bridges replaced a smaller signal array that in 2003 (right) was one of the earliest installations of CSX's color light signals in the Baltimore area. For several decades beginning during the 1940s a significant siding had peeled off from here to serve industry on the right.

I'm surprised CSX did not retain the design of the B&O's CPL signals. In a CPL, the lights are lit in pairs, green: top and bottom, red: left and right, amber in between. The angle of the pair of lights provided a second way for an engineer to know the state of the signal, something particularly useful when due to distance or weather the color is not easily discerned.

Link to older picture: 2007


CSX 8770

CSX 8770
Mile: 4.0 Date: Nov 1999
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 7 Topographic Maps

Lansdowne presents the first easy location for active train spotting along the OML. The route is paralleled by Hammonds Ferry Road for some distance. The neighborhood is mostly blue collar residential. This is a comfortable, but not scenic, area to observe CSX action. In the photo, CSX 8770 poses with CSX 7304 still in Conrail paint while awaiting a signal to proceed into Baltimore.

Link to older pic: station in 1912


MOW

MOW
Mile: 4.1 Date: Apr 2009
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 8 Topographic Maps

Adjacent to parallel Hammond's Ferry Road, Maintenance-of-Way vehicles SC200702 and TBM 200101 take a break from track work on a rainy spring day.

The site of Courcey Station is on the left.

Links to older pictures: 1991, 2003, 2006


Caboose Row

Caboose Row
Mile: 4.1 Date: Jun 2002
Ease: A- View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 8 Topographic Maps

Until improvements to Hammonds Ferry Road forced their move in late 2007, a row of cabooses sat stranded on the southeast side of the tracks. Most if not all of the cabooses were sold off to individual collectors. This had been the view from where Sulphur Spring Road had previously crossed the tracks. A nearby underground pedestrian walkway is dated 1967, which probably reflects the closure of that grade crossing. Around the same time the construction of Baltimore Beltway interchange #10 obliterated the original intersection of Sulphur Spring Road with Washington Boulevard (US 1).

Detour: end caboose at new location


CR 8722
NEW! late-Dec 2019

CR 8722
Mile: 4.2 Date: Dec 2003
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 7 Topographic Maps

This is actually CSX 8722, photoed after being renumbered from CR 5755 but before repainted into CSX livery.


Bridge 6A

Bridge 6A
Mile: 4.4 Date: Feb 2017
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 9 Topographic Maps

Shallow-arched bridge 6A over Roberts Run is not entirely original, having been widened on the inlet side via a concrete addition. The stones at this side may date to circa 1830 but mortar suggests they were subsequently refit. The ADC maps omit Roberts Run.


Realigned
NEW! late-Dec 2019

Realigned
Mile: 4.4 Date: Sep 2019
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 7 Topographic Maps

Above bridge 6A, the clear area on the left reveals a previous alignment, one replaced when the Baltimore Beltway (ahead) cut under and necessitated a rail bridge. The bridge was built on the northwest side of the B&O's original alignment.


Baltimore Beltway

Baltimore Beltway
Mile: 4.5 Date: Apr 1999
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 10 Topographic Maps

The plain bridge that spans the Baltimore Beltway near exit 9 dates to the carving of the Beltway here around 1958.

Links to older pics: Beltway in 1962, July 4, 1962 aerial


Beltway Crossing

Beltway Crossing
Mile: 4.5 Date: May 2009
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 9 Topographic Maps

Trackside with wet camera lens at the Beltway crossing... dry days were few and far between during the spring of 2009.

There's some milepost slight-of-hand coming: milepost 5 is about 1000 feet too close to milepost 4. That's more than made up between mileposts 6 and 7 which are 1700 feet too far apart. Some of this weirdness likely originates with the construction of the Camden Cutoff.


Distillery

Distillery
Mile: 4.9 Date: May 2009
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 10 Topographic Maps

With proximity to shipping by both rail and sea, this area a few miles from Baltimore became a hub of liquor distilling in Maryland. Rye whiskey was the most popular form of whiskey in the northeast, and the Maryland style, less spicy but brighter than its Pennsylvania cousin, was a top seller. Monumental, Heilman, and Calvert were just a few of the distilleries in this vicinity.

In 1919 the 18th Amendment to the United States Consititution (Prohibition) forever changed distilling in Maryland, and put the smaller companies out of business for good. Soon after Prohibition was repealed Calvert was purchased by Seagram's. Others, such as Monumental, resumed operation, but like their ad here, gradually faded away and were bought out or reorganized. Monumental continues now under the name Majestic Distilling Company but ceased producing Maryland Rye in 1972.


Car Stop

Car Stop
Mile: 4.9 Date: May 2009
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 10 Topographic Maps

Along the distillery's siding, this Q&C brand car stop hangs on. Q&C, a Chicago-based manufacturer of railway equipment founded by Charles F. Quincy, merged into the Quincy, Manchester, Sargent Company in 1906. This car stop, which likely predates that merger, was installed to prevent cars from rolling off the end of the siding. This is just one of various car stop and bumper post designs.


Widest

Widest
Mile: 5.1 Date: May 2009
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 10 Topographic Maps

Excluding rail yards, the 4 tracks plus a spur here illustrate the Old Main Line at its widest. This spur sprang to life for access to the hosting grounds of the B&O's Fair of the Iron Horse in 1927; the spur remains active now to serve local businesses along and near Hollins Ferry Road.

During this route's earliest years, and almost certainly prior to the opening of the Washington Branch in 1835, this stretch likely supported fewer than 4 tracks.



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