TrainWeb.org Facebook Page
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.


<< Previous (east) | THIS PAGE: Orange Grove to Ilchester | Next (west) >>

CSX 60

CSX 60
Mile: 8.1 Date: Oct 1999
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 F 11 Topographic Maps

Most portions of the OML were reduced from double to single track during the mid-20th century, however some segments were retained for sidings. This siding, just west of Avalon, sees frequent use, and makes an easy place to find a cooperative photo subject. This location is within Patapsco Valley State Park, which can be accessed from US Rt 1 near I-195.

Many people may not realize that diesel locomotives are almost always diesel-electric: they employ diesel engines not to turn the wheels directly, but rather to generate electricity that is then fed to motors at the wheels. This design is being made available in an increasing number of automobiles where it is termed hybrid.


Bridge 9

Bridge 9
Mile: 8.2 Date: Mar 2000
Ease: A View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 E 11 Topographic Maps

Bridge 9 over the Soapstone Branch is the first significant bridge on the OML west of Relay. It is unique in being the only original stone/masonry bridge left on the OML under which you can (legally) drive your car (access is via Patapsco State Park).

The appearance of the structure indicates it was rebuilt during the first half of 1900s (I could not find a date). Probably at that time, the stream it spanned was directed into a narrow channel seen at the right side of the tunnel. This is another feature I've not observed in any other B&O bridge.

Link: Girl Scouts are Glenartney


Avalon Nail and Iron Works
Photo courtesy JD Hiteshew
NEW! Mar 2014

Avalon Nail and Iron Works
Mile: 8.2 Date: 1976
Ease: A- View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 E 11 Topographic Maps

Avalon Lithograph Floods from Tropical Storm Agnes during 1972 scoured the Patapsco's banks and exposed the ruins of the Avalon Nail and Iron Works, disused since the flood of 1868 destroyed it beyond repair. Agnes completed the effort by knocking down the Avalon Dam (inset, right) that somehow survived the 1868 calamity. Later during the 1970s the State of Maryland would remove much of the brick and stone in the foreground.

Though the railroad is perched higher, it also sustained heavy damage in both floods but each time was rebuilt. Traversing bridge 9 in the background are coal empties of a Chessie System train.


Sample Culvert

Sample Culvert
Mile: 8.3 Date: Mar 2000
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 E 11 Topographic Maps

Typical of dozens of stone culverts along the OML is this one located just west of bridge 9. It has been doing its job quietly since about 1830. To get here, drive to bridge 9 and park, then walk a short distance west along the park trail.


Bridge 10

Bridge 10
Mile: 8.6 Date: Mar 2000
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 D 10 Topographic Maps

Perhaps the most attractive of the bridges along this portion of the OML is Bridge 10. The design makes me think the external portion dates from about 1830. The tunnel is lined with concrete, which was likely added or redone in the 1900s. The Vineyard Spring Trail crosses under the tracks here.

By virtue of travelling through a state park, the scenery along this portion of the OML is quite appealing. Coupled with the underused park trails, this is an excellent area for a quiet walk, birdwatching, leaf peeping, etc. Let's face it, railfanning is largely a male obsession, and it's tough to get the ladies as interested. But, the scenery here becomes an excellent way to convince your girlfriend or spouse to join the fun. Plan a picnic along one of these little streams, and she'll be thrilled. And, when the latest CSX equipment rolls by, you will be too.


Bridge 11

Bridge 11
Mile: 9.0 Date: Oct 1999
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 C 9 Topographic Maps

The mortared stones indicate Bridge 11 is no longer the original. Walk through the tunnel and follow the small stream uphill for about a quarter mile and you'll find a scenic little waterfall with a decent vertical drop.


S-Curves
NEW! Mar 2014

S-Curves
Mile: 9.0 Date: Jan 2014
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 C 9 Topographic Maps

Somehow these snaking tracks have remained railroad worthy for most of two centuries.


Culvert
Updated Mar 2014

Culvert
Mile: 9.6 Date: Mar 2000
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 9 Topographic Maps

1977 2014 Though this 1830-era culvert seems to have loose stone blocks that require repair, the photo from 1977 (left, courtesy JD Hiteshew) reveals it looked just about the same then as it did in 2000 (above), and more recently (2014, right).

Based on the volume of water, it appears this spot might have deserved an arched bridge.


Trackside Then
Photo courtesy JD Hiteshew
NEW! Mar 2014

Trackside Then
Mile: 9.7 Date: 1966
Ease: A- View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 9 Topographic Maps

Eastbound trains enjoyed this autumn 1966 view. What would this area look like about 50 years later? See the next photo...


Trackside Now
NEW! Mar 2014

Trackside Now
Mile: 9.7 Date: Jan 2014
Ease: A- View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 9 Topographic Maps

The seasons and decades change, but the state park and railroad look much the same.


Swinging Bridge
Updated Mar 2014

Swinging Bridge
Mile: 9.7 Date: Oct 1999
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 17 D 1, Ba 41 B 9 Topographic Maps
Orange Grove Mill 1900

The Swinging Bridge marks the location of Orange Grove, a flour milling factory and town that survives only in the form of some crumbling foundations. The mill was built in 1856, squeezed rather precariously between the railroad and the Patapsco River. Somehow it survived the flood of 1868 and continued to expand such that by 1900 it was said to be "the largest flour mill east of Minneapolis." Many of the mill's employees lived across the river in Howard County, from where these photos were snapped. Fire claimed the mill in 1905.

The park road (River Road until Agnes erased it during 1972) follows the south side of the river to this point, ending in a large parking lot. This makes access to the Swinging Bridge very easy. This is also the location of the Cascades, a scenic waterfall that is popular and which gets quite busy on weekends.

Link to older picture: ~1900


Orange Grove Mill

Orange Grove Mill
Mile: 9.7 Date: Oct 2002
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A IC2: 131
Map: Ba 41 B 8, Ho 17 D 1 Topographic Maps

Here from the Baltimore County side of the swinging bridge we look up toward the trackside ruins of the Orange Grove Mill. The opening in the stone structure seen here was likely a chute to allow unloading from cars directly into the mill.

Reader Robb Bailey contributed details:

    "The chute is located above where the Corliss steam engine was once located in the mill complex, so the chute would have accomodated coal, not grain. Morever, the mill burned in May 1905, long before grain was carried in hoppers. Grain was transported in box cars at the time the mill was in operation. Period photos of the mill in operation clearly show box cars behind the mill complex."

Link to older picture: Station ~1910, ~1910, Mill workers


B&O Blue
Photo courtesy JD Hiteshew
NEW! Mar 2014

B&O Blue
Mile: 9.7 Date: 1966
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8, Ho 17 D 1 Topographic Maps

Nature and a blue B&O locomotive conspire to paint a wintry scene.


Signal Finial

Signal Finial
Mile: 9.9 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: B View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8 Topographic Maps

Back at trackside, the decorative finial at the top of this post attests to both the age and the remoteness of this signal, which had been in use through 2004. I believe such signals had been installed during the 1920s. OML CPLs with a plain cap at the top were added during the 1950s when the line was converted into single-track operation.


Signal Installation

Signal Installation
Mile: 9.7 Date: Jul 2004
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8 Topographic Maps

A scene that brings a tear to a railfan's eye: the B&O's old, signature CPL signals giving way to replacements of less flair. CSX crews were working even on this July weekend to make the exchange.


Bridge 12
Updated Mar 2014

Bridge 12
Mile: 10.0 Date: Feb 2009
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8, Ho 17 C 1 Topographic Maps

A little further west of the Swinging Bridge on the Baltimore County side is where you'll find railroad Bridge 12. This is another pretty stone arched structure. The keystone is engraved "1869" which makes it likely this bridge was rebuilt shortly after the disasterous flood the previous year. This is one of only two bridges along the OML that has a dated keystone.


Mile Marker 10

Mile Marker 10
Mile: 10.0 Date: Oct 2002
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8 Topographic Maps

The faded digits of an old "mile marker on a rail" claim we're 10 miles from somewhere in Baltimore (Camden Station, I believe). The further west you go on the OML, the more likely you'll find an old marker like this near a modern milepost.


autumn

Autumn
Mile: 10.1 Date: Oct 1999
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2: 19
Map: Ba 41 B 8, Ho 17 C 1 Topographic Maps

I waited about an hour to add a train to this beautiful autumn scene, but the daylight was starting to fade so I had to settle for the tiny streak of a plane's contrail.


Stringer Wall
Photo courtesy Steve Schuler

Stringer Wall
Mile: 10.1 Date: Dec 2001?
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8 Topographic Maps

Several people have told me there is a retaining wall west of bridge 12 that is constructed at least partially of stone stringers (disused parts of the original track bed).


Building a Railroad
NEW! Mar 2014

Building a Railroad
Mile: 10.1 Date: Feb 2009
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 B 8 Topographic Maps

At the stringer wall this trailside sign describes the B&O's early track construction techniques.

A panel at the lower left corner of the sign illustrates the three main track designs the B&O used before adopting the metal-T-rails-on-wooden-ties approach now ubiquitous. The leftmost design, stone stringers, was, relatively speaking, the most recent of the three as well as the most durable hence its artifacts are found in many spots. Before that the B&O tried the middle design, iron strap rail on wooden stringers, but it quickly proved too flimsy so very little of it was built, and no known artifacts survive. The oldest design is on the right, iron strap rail on wooden stringers on stone blocks. Only with much hunting and luck can one find a remnant of this technique.


block track
NEW! Mar 2014

Block Track
Mile: Date: Jan 2014
Ease: View:
Area: IC2:
Map: Topographic Maps

What little remains of the B&O's block trackage, the oldest of all the track designs tried by the nascent company, is buried under the existing railroad, exposed only when nature or CSX deign to do so. This photo shows one such block. Note the rust stain that, in this photo, traces up/down between the nail holes, perpendicular to the longer side of the stone. That's a fingerprint: had this been part of the stringer design that came later, the rust stains would instead connect the nail holes and trace parallel to the longer side of the stone.


Buzzard's Rock

Buzzard's Rock
Mile: 10.2 Date: Nov 1999
Ease: B- View: SE
Area: A IC2: 279
Map: Ba 41 A 8 Topographic Maps

Buzzard's Rock may not look formidable today, but it was a substantial obstacle when all you had was a pickaxe and hammer. This picture hides the size of the rock face, which extends over 100 feet up. Even now, the high cliff above is a favorite place of scavenging birds. You can also see Buzzard's Rock by looking upstream while crossing the Swinging Bridge.


Agnes Damage
Photo courtesy Mike Cather
Updated Mar 2014

Agnes Damage
Mile: 10.2 Date: Jul 1972
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 A 8 Topographic Maps

Floods from 1972's Tropical Storm Agnes wreaked havoc all along the Patapsco Valley, and the railroad was no exception, such as east of Ilchester Tunnel. The area eroded by the flood had likely been landfilled by the B&O when straightening the alignment as part of the tunnel construction. Nature eventually reclaims what man borrows.

I'm surprised the track is jointed as I thought the OML has been continuously welded by 1972. Also note the fresh ballast dropped by Chessie. The OML would lie dormant for several years while repairs were finished.


Air Line
Photo courtesy Mike Cather
Updated Mar 2014

Air Line
Mile: 10.3 Date: Jul 1972
Ease: B- View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 A 8 Topographic Maps

When a railroad company advertised itself as an "Air Line" this was not what it meant. The Patapsco River is still muddied in this picture, likely taken a week or two after the tragic event.

Links to other Agnes pictures: Gun Road, Ilchester, Ellicott City, Ellicott City, Ellicott City, Ellicott City, Daniels


Washout
Photo courtesy JD Hiteshew

Washout
Mile: 10.2 Date: Apr 1973
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 41 A 8 Topographic Maps

By the time of this photo in 1973, the floods had long ago subsided but additional erosion claimed the rails. As seen at right, the B&O laid temporary tracks to skirt around washouts like this. The OML east of Mt. Airy stood on the brink of abandonment, and would not see regular train service return until April 1974.


Damage
Photo courtesy JD Hiteshew
NEW! Mar 2014

Damage
Mile: 10.3 Date: 1973
Ease: B- View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 13 B 13, Ba 41 A 8 Topographic Maps

Here's another view of the damage, this time from the Howard County side. Note the struggling railroad utility pole across the river on the left. Agnes cleanup work was underway but this section of River Road (underfoot) would never be rebuilt.


Ilchester Tunnel E

Ilchester Tunnel E
Mile: 10.3 Date: Nov 1999
Ease: C View: NW
Area: A IC2: 204
Map: Ba 41 A 7 Topographic Maps

The first tunnel west of Baltimore is found here at Ilchester. The tunnel was built in 1902-3 to bypass a speed-limiting sharp curve, one of many that plague the OML. At slightly over 1400 feet in length, Ilchester Tunnel is the second longest on the OML east of Harper's Ferry. Trackage through the tunnel was reduced from double to single in the 1960s, perhaps to accommodate the height of trains hauling auto racks.



<< Previous (east) | THIS PAGE: Orange Grove to Ilchester | Next (west) >>

Or, return to main page

Copyright Notice