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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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Ilchester Bridge
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood collection

Ilchester Bridge
Mile: 10.7 Date: 1941
Ease: B View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 40 K 7, Ho 13 B 13 Topographic Maps

With the ruins of the Patterson Viaduct unseen off to the left, from above the tunnel the rocky face enjoyed by climbers affords a view of the current bridge along the realigned route. This bridge dates to 1902 and remains in use by CSX; unlike its predecessors in this vicinity, this bridge has had a long life.

Trackside across the river you'll find Ilchester Station's second location.


Ilchester Tunnel W

Ilchester Tunnel W
Mile: 10.8 Date: Apr 1999
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2: 203
Map: Ho 13 B 13 Topographic Maps

The new alignment's Ilchester Tunnel emerges from the hillside just upstream from the Patterson Viaduct, and promtly crosses the bridge over the Patapsco River and Ilchester Road. Here is the view you can obtain simply by driving past on Ilchester Road.

I wonder if some of the granite blocks in the bridge support were originally part of the destroyed portion of the viaduct.

Link to older picture: 1972


Ilchester Station

Ilchester Station
Mile: 10.9 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 13 A 12 Topographic Maps

The cement slab in the brush on the right marks the relocation of the small Ilchester Station. The station survived until about 1960.

The former Thistle Mill is located just across the river (left) from here. It was constructed in the 1820s, and through the years manufactured both cotton and paper. Until recently the buildings were still in use as a paper recycling plant, but in 2003 a fire destroyed most of what was not made of stone. It is unlikely a business will reopen at the location, thus bringing to end an almost 200-year long Patapsco-related chain.

Links to older pictures: ~1920, ~1960, ~1970, 1985


CSX 8761

CSX 8761
Mile: 11.0 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 13 A 12 Topographic Maps

As dusk approaches on a cool autumn evening, CSX 8761 leads loaded autoracks east.


Lees Water Tank

Lees Water Tank
Mile: 11.4 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: C+ View: S
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 K 11 Topographic Maps

Approximately midway between Ilchester and Ellicott City are the ruins of both Lees and Gray, two very small settlements. Pictured here is the water tank at Lees, as seen from the current tracks. This would be very easy to miss if you walked past during leaf season. Lees had been a stop for water since the 1800s.


Lees
Photo courtesy John Teichmoeller collection
NEW! May 2007

Lees
Mile: 11.5 Date: ~1950
Ease: C+ View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 K 11 Topographic Maps

At Lees, steam locomotives took on water via the trackside penstocks in the foreground; the Lees coaling tower is seen in the background. According to Harwood in his Impossible Challenge books, the coaling tower was added during World War II to provide a locomotive refueling location outside the immediate Baltimore vicinity. Presumably this reduced overcrowding at Baltimore during the busy wartime years.


Lees Coaling Tower

Lees Coaling Tower
Mile: 11.6 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: C+ View: SW
Area: A IC2: 279
Map: Ho 12 J 11 Topographic Maps

The Lees tower survives, albeit in a useless form. One source reports it was intentionally tipped over in 1953 by the railroad to get it out of the way.

The black mound between the tracks and tower is some leftover coal uncovered by recent CSX track work.


Lees Coaling Tower 2
Photo courtesy Gene Leache

Lees Coaling Tower 2
Mile: 11.6 Date: May 2005
Ease: C+ View: SE
Area: A IC2: 279
Map: Ho 12 J 11 Topographic Maps

Gene Leache contributed this better view of the coaling tower that he snapped during the spring.


Grays Water Tank Ext
Photo courtesy Gene Leache

Grays Water Tank Ext
Mile: 11.8 Date: May 2005
Ease: C+ View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 J 11 Topographic Maps

Hiding in the trees a little further west is yet another water tower, this one a discovery of Gene Leache, who recalled it from his youth and found it again.

Link to older picture: Gray's Factory


Grays Water Tank
Photo courtesy Gene Leache

Grays Water Tank
Mile: 11.8 Date: May 2005
Ease: C+ View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 J 11 Topographic Maps

Here's a view of the brick lined interior. The wooden pieces are remnants of the tank's roof.


Switch

Switch
Mile: 12.0 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: B- View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 H 11 Topographic Maps

This switch marked the start of a roughly half mile long siding to the mill at Ellicott City (behind the photographer).

Records indicate the first railroad bridge crossing to the factory was built around 1830. This necessitated a switch to be implemented in the track somewhere in this vicinity, perhaps the first railroad switch in the USA!

In 2007 reader Marty Hager reported the switch has been disconnected.


Burro

Burro
Mile: 12.5 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 H 10 Topographic Maps

For years the siding had served as convenient temporary storage, such as for this CSX maintenance-of-way crane BC 9611.


Ellicott Mill
Photo courtesy Herb Harwood collection

Ellicott Mill
Mile: 12.6 Date: 1941
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B+ IC2: 204
Map: Ho 12 G 10 Topographic Maps

In exchange for land, the B&O promised to build a connection to the Ellicott brothers' mill on the Baltimore county side of the river. The flour mill at this location was one of the B&O's earliest and best customers. The factory is still processing grain (now hauled in and out by truck), as it has been doing at this location since before the American Revolution.

Link to older pic: 1984


Patapsco Branch

Patapsco Branch
Mile: 12.7 Date: Mar 2000
Ease: A- View: SE
Area: B+ IC2: 204
Map: Ho 12 G 10 Topographic Maps

This bridge to the flour mill at Ellicott City hasn't seen a train since the 1980s, but still looks serviceable. The B&O thought this substantial enough to assign to its own branch. After some work, perhaps it could be used as part of a turnaround wye if passeneger or tourist trains ever again visit Ellicott City.

The next time you are in a supermarket in the region, look at a box of Washington brand corn meal. You'll see the address is given as Ellicott City. A few decades ago, the plant was operated by the Doughnut Corporation of America.

Link to older picture: Factory ~1920



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