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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.


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 apparently 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.

Links: stockyards, intermodal coming in 2015


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. This is the only active Class I railroad grade crossing in the country that is located under an interstate highway.

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.

Link: connection with PA RR


Claremont Yard South

Claremont Yard South
Mile: 2.1 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 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.

This Washington Blvd. 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, but no relics of it are known today.

Links: Jackson Covered Bridge, Chronicles of Baltimore, 1857 riots (scroll to 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 now.


Camden Cutoff

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

About a mile from the south end of Claremont Yard, the OML's looping route over the Carrollton Viaduct (distant engines) joins what is the present day main line (tracks in foreground).

That looping route was a early problem for the B&O, and in 1867 at this location it built a straight shortcut (the foreground tracks) which shaved about 2 miles off the trip to Camden Station, new at the time. This shortcut was known as the Camden Cutoff, and later became part of the main line.

Initially when creating these pages I attempted to list (in the Mile box next to each thumbnail) mileage that corresponded to the original route of the Old Main Line. However, the OML was straightened and shortened in many places, wreaking havoc with my plan. In June 2004 I capitulated, and adjusted all the OML Mile data from here west to agree with the present day mileposts, which appear to use Camden Station as their starting point (mile 0).


Mt. Winans Yards

Mt. Winans Yards
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 Yards 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.

Link to older picture: 1994


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 all accomplished by hand. Hundreds of men worked with shovels and pickaxes around the clock for well over a year to carve into the sticky clay. It came close to bankrupting the fledgling railroad. Still hoping to revisit someday for a better picture.


Lansdowne

Lansdowne
Mile: 3.7 Date: Nov 1999
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 8 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 while awaiting a signal to proceed into Baltimore.

Link to older pic: station in 1912


MOW

MOW
Mile: 3.9 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.

In the distance, CSX's replacement for B&O CPL signals stands guarding access to Mt. Winans Yards. I'm surprised CSX did not retain the design of the 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.


Caboose Row

Caboose Row
Mile: 3.9 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).


Baltimore Beltway

Baltimore Beltway
Mile: 4.6 Date: Apr 1999
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 D 10 Topographic Maps

A non-descript bridge spans the Baltimore Beltway near exit 9.

Link to older pic: Beltway in 1962


Beltway Crossing

Beltway Crossing
Mile: 4.6 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.


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.

Link to older pic: 1942 (same view as picture above)


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.


Baltimore Terminal

Baltimore Terminal
Mile: 5.6 Date: May 2009
Ease: B+ View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 B 11 Topographic Maps

CSX's Baltimore Terminal Subdivision encompasses all the trackage, yards and operations in the Baltimore area, from here northeast to the Philadelphia Subdivision on the north side of the city. It's a nice touch that the Subdivision has echoed for their symbol the B&O's Capitol herald.

Initially I was mistaken that the metal rod attached to the utility pole was somehow related to a nearby Cab Signal Test Slip station. Reader Dave Witty kindly clued me in:

    "The telescoping metal rod attached to the utility pole is called a brake stick. We use it to apply and release handbrakes on freight cars per recent operating rules. It has nothing to do with Cab signal test slips. Cab signal test slips are carried by engineers in their 'grip'. Once a cab signal test has been completed, the engineer puts the completed form into a cab signal box (which looks like a mailbox) located at many places along the right of way."
Cab Signals are part of a safety system that displays on-board to the engineer the state (stop, proceed, etc.) of trackside train signals. The system is tested periodically.


Halethorpe

Halethorpe
Mile: 5.8 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2: 245, 386, 387
Map: Ba 42 A 11 Topographic Maps

Before the era of centralization, Halethorpe was a major traffic control location. Here, with help from HX Tower, south and west bound traffic was switched between the OML and the Washington Branch. The B&O erected HX Tower in 1917, and closed it Oct. 1, 1985; this tower remains the last surviving along the OML.

Presently this area is industrial and very busy. Your best photo opportunities will come on the weekend when things are quieter.

Links: interior, 1978, 1978, 1978, 1987


Fair of the Iron Horse
Photo courtesy The Baltimore Sun
where you can buy reprints
NEW! Jul 2011

Fair of the Iron Horse
Mile: 5.8 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N
Area: B IC2: 264
Map: Ba 42 B 11 Topographic Maps

HX Tower (distance) was ideally positioned to witness the Fair of the Iron Horse, B&O's centennial celebration in 1927-1928. After the Fair, the B&O kept the old equipment at this site within the "Hall of Transportation" until a storm on August 13, 1935 destroyed that building and about half the collection. The B&O moved the surviving equipment to Bailey's Roundhouse in Baltimore, and then to the current Museum site in 1953.

Ironically, Halethorpe was also the site in 1910 of the region's first air show, the transport technology that would supplant rail as the top choice for long distance passenger travel.

Note the stone arch bridge in the distance... approximately 1950 it was either replaced, or filled in and a new bridge built adjacent to allow Halethorpe Farms Road under the tracks.

Links: 1927, 1927, 1927, 1927, 1910 Air Show


Milepost 6

Milepost 6
Mile: 5.9 Date: Apr 2009
Ease: B View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 11 Topographic Maps

Between the siding that serves factories along Halethorpe Farms Road and the main line tracks is a concrete foundation, a remant of the signal bridge that stood at this location for the better part of a century. It was obviated by the newer signals beyond milepost 6, here haloed by the lights of approaching CSX 7926. Beyond the signals are bridges of US 1, and I-195.

This spot is perhaps more notable for what does not appear. Beginning in the 1870s and lasting for a century, the B&O planned to build on the left an alternate alignment to bypass the Thomas Viaduct's curves. The alignment would have remained on the south side of US 1 and joined the Washington Branch near Paradise Avenue in Elkridge. The railroad acquired the necessary property, and graded both ends using material excavated from the Howard Street tunnel in Baltimore. Financial trouble in 1896 halted the work, and ultimately the plan was never fulfilled. A portion of the route adjacent to the Calvert Distillery was sold in 1972 to Seagram, but much of the land remains in possession of CSX even now.

Links: 1978, lots of signal photos


Gadsby's Run

Gadsby's Run
Mile: 6.0 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B IC2: 37
Map: Ba 42 A 11 Topographic Maps

The B&O's early engineers were overly concerned about keeping their railroad level. They feared the steam engines would not be able to pull loads on steep grades, so they restricted the OML to a mere 0.7% grade. To keep things flat, substantial fills were needed at certain locations, such as Gadsby's Run (also known as Herbert's Run). Here a 57-foot fill was built over a small arched bridge. As at the Deep Cut, all this work was done by hand.

This is the only B&O stone bridge to display 3 construction dates, the oldest 1828, the next 1875 when it was widened to support more tracks, and the third 19??. The final date is embossed in concrete that has not survived as well as the adjacent granite, leaving its last two digits tough to decipher. In an act of preservation, for the 1875 widening the new portion was built inside, and the original stone arch retained and moved outward. It's easy to see this by walking part way into the tunnel. In the foreground, an inexplicably odd assortment of rocks embedded in concrete litters the streambed. This is one of the easiest OML arched stone bridges to access. Simply drive to the end of Hollins Ferry Road, and walk a short distance toward the stream.


Pennsylvania Crossing

Pennsylvania Crossing
Mile: 6.1 Date: Apr 2000
Ease: B View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 A 11 Topographic Maps

The electric catenary indicates these are not B&O tracks. This is the view from the B&O bridge over the ex-Pennsylvania tracks as a high-speed Amtrak Northeast Corridor passenger train zooms toward Washington on Easter Sunday. The B&O and Pennsy were fierce competitors when Pennsy muscled into the region. It would be interesting to hear what must have been tense negotiations for the construction of this crossing. The original bridge, a stone arch structure, lasted until replaced by the current, quite ordinary bridge in 1934 by the McClintic-Marshall Corporation.


B&O 4611
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood collection

B&O 4611
Mile: 6.1? Date: 1941
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 6 Topographic Maps

This eastbound steamer's location is uncertain, but it appears to be between the Pennsy line and US 1.


From US 1

From US 1
Mile: 6.3 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: C View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 11 Topographic Maps

The 1929-built Vinegar Hill Bridge that carries US Route 1 over the main line provides an excellent vantage point for photos. This view looks back toward Halethorpe as CSX 8528 rumbles past the spot from which the Pennsylvania Crossing photo (above) was taken.

To obtain this view, you must cross US 1 on foot from Selford Road to reach the hidden and now disused pedestrian walkway. Doing so is quite dangerous because of the heavy volume of high speed auto traffic. Be very careful!

The two tracks on the left are the Old Main Line, while those on the right are the Capital Subdivision. Until sometime in the 1950s, the OML was double tracked for its full length. Despite its unmaintained appearance, that leftmost track remains in active use to serve the industry at Halethorpe; in 2008 CSX reconnected it with its adjacent track as part of a signal upgrade in this vicinity.

At the time of this photo those leftmost rails had date stamps such as "92". That means 1892 (if it were 1992, the full 4-digit year would be stamped). This was likely some of the oldest rail in regular use anywhere in the USA.


MARC

MARC
Mile: 6.3 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: C View: E
Area: B IC2: 245
Map: Ba 41 K 11 Topographic Maps

It's not only CSX that employs this route, MARC (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) trains do as well. This train is actually heading toward the camera on a trip from Baltimore to Washington, DC. The locomotive pushing at the rear is being remotely controlled from end/lead car 7852.


Coal

Coal
Mile: 6.3 Date: Dec 2003
Ease: C View: E
Area: B IC2: 245
Map: Ba 41 K 11 Topographic Maps

Track 3 hosts a mile-long eastbound coal drag, the dual engines in the lead working to pull the heavy load up the small incline. Heat distortion from the engines' exhaust obscures part of the CPL signal bridge as well as HX tower back at Halethorpe. In this view, the engines are crossing over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor lines.

The siding curving on the right marks where the Thomas Viaduct bypass mentioned earlier would have connected.

Links to older pictures: (Railfan.net ABPR Archive) 1977, 1982



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