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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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Defect Detectors

Defect Detectors
Mile: 18.1 Date: Oct 2000
Ease: C View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 32 B 8, Ho 12 D 0 Topographic Maps

On the west shore of the Daniels bridge are these automated defect detectors. The flaps on the left are a dragging equipment detector while the scanner on the right checks for hot axle bearings.

There's no easy way to get here: it's a hike from both east and west, unless you want to wade across the river, or risk crossing the bridge on foot (definitely NOT recommended!).

Link: sound recording of detector (340K WAV file)


Cut
NEW! May 2014

Cut
Mile: 18.1 Date: Mar 2014
Ease: C View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 32 B 8, Ho 12 D 0 Topographic Maps

This hill was one reason the B&O spent its first 80 years going around (left).


Brice Run
Updated May 2014

Brice Run
Mile: 18.5 Date: Apr 2014
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A IC2: 204
Map: Ho 12 C 0, Ba 32 A 8 Topographic Maps

The 1906 alignment is straighter than the older ones, but is not without streams to cross, such as Brice Run.


Mist

Mist
Mile: 18.5 Date: Oct 2004
Ease: B- View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 32 A 8 Topographic Maps

Mist after a freak October hail storm rises off Brice Run bridge.


Ballast Train
NEW! May 2014

Ballast Train
Mile: 18.7 Date: Apr 2014
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 12 B 0, Ba 32 A 8 Topographic Maps

As seen from across the river, this MoW train is dropping stone ballast. Another crew will follow later and scoop the ballast under the rails where needed to level them. A crew member walks alongside the slowly moving train to monitor the action, opening and closing hopper doors as needed via remote control. The doors are electrically powered, hence the solar panels on the sides and tops of these cars.

Link: four-second video of the action (MPG format)


Dorsey Tunnel, East

Dorsey Tunnel, East
Mile: 19.0 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 31 K 8 Topographic Maps

At mp 19 you'll find Dorsey (Dorsey's Run) Tunnel, one of the most inaccessible OML tunnels. It is the OML's third longest (1022 feet) and, with neighbor Davis Tunnel, the newest (1906). The gentle 4 degree curve at the east portal makes this a great location to obtain a head on engine photo (if you want to wait for a train).


Dorsey Tunnel, West

Dorsey Tunnel, West
Mile: 19.3 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 31 K 8 Topographic Maps

And, here's the Dorsey Tunnel's west portal.


CSX 263

CSX 263
Mile: 19.6 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 31 J 8 Topographic Maps

CSX 263 roars out of Dorsey Tunnel.


To Davis Tunnel

To Davis Tunnel
Mile: 19.6 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ba 31 J 8 Topographic Maps

As CSX 263 sped past, I spun 180 degrees and shot this photo of the train as it crossed the bridge back into Howard County, bound for Davis Tunnel in the distance.

This track segment is particularly interesting because you can stand midway and view both the Dorsey and Davis tunnels, which are separated by a distance of about 1 mile.


Eureka Bridge

Eureka Bridge
Mile: 19.7 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C+ View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 6 K 13, Ba 31 H 8 Topographic Maps

Tucked inconspicuously between Dorsey and Davis tunnels, and spanning the Patapsco River, is Eureka Bridge. An old B&O station list claims the Eureka Mining and Operating Company was located near here, but I have not been able to find any remains of it. Immediately west of the bridge, the current route briefly rejoins the original.

The lower-right portion of this photo suggests a waterfall, but in reality is just the reflection of trees and sky.

Contributor Dave Hiteshew may have found the Eureka Mine:

    "We explored the long way around the hill with the Dorsey Tunnel. From east heading west, there seems to be a very obvious flat, treeless shelf, which eventually splits into 2 or 3 levels. We found 2 square wall sections which look like foundations, and several large dug-out holes, and several large piles of rubble. At least 1 pile looked like it was all pieces of pink granite. Maybe this was the mining company's area?"


Line Run Bridge
Updated May 2014

Line Run Bridge
Mile: 19.8 Date: Apr 2014
Ease: C View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 6 K 13 Topographic Maps

This bridge over Line Run was constructed as part of the same effort that bored the nearby Davis Tunnel.

If you follow this stream north to the river, you'll find another arched bridge. It's older and marks the location of a previous alignment. The stones on the left bank you can glimpse in the distance through the arch are remnants of an even earlier alignment, the original. It might have been cannabalized to build the bridge in the foreground.


Davis Tunnel, East
Updated May 2014

Davis Tunnel, East
Mile: 19.8 Date: Dec 1999
Ease: C+ View: W
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 6 K 13, Ba 31 H 8 Topographic Maps

date Davis Tunnel was the last of the early 20th century Old Main Line tunnels to be completed. The original route heads to the right in this photo and meanders around the hill. Note that Davis tunnel is not marked on most editions of the ADC street maps.

Detour: follow the disused original alignment
Link: 2004 pic


Davis Tunnel, West

Davis Tunnel, West
Mile: 20.0 Date: Jan 2003
Ease: C View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 11 J 1 Topographic Maps

Here's the west portal of Davis Tunnel. This tunnel is just shy of 500 feet in length. The B&O CPL signal that guards the east end of the 9200-foot Davis siding was removed since the time of this photo.


Coal Drag

Coal Drag
Mile: 20.3 Date: Nov 2000
Ease: C View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 11 H 1 Topographic Maps

Typical Patapsco River winter scenery is shown here as CSX 713 leads an eastbound coal drag. The siding stretches between Davis Tunnel and Woodstock. According to a 1917 B&O Station list, a previous siding here was named the "Fannie R. Frost" siding.

I could not find the origin of the name, but a reader named John says:

    "My statements below are derived from 'Minerals of the Washington, D.C. Area'; by Lawrence R. Bernstein; 1980; Dept of Natural Resources; Maryland Geological Survey; Educational Series #5; Pages 56, 57 and 58.

    "I am certain the name 'Fannie R. Frost' siding is directly related to the name of the quarry referenced in the above citation. The name of this 'abandoned' quarry is the 'Fannie Frost Feldspar Quarry'. It is located approximately 1/3 of a mile South of the Old Main Line inside the Patapsco State Park property close where your photo was taken.

    "I frequently visit this area and often run into Geologists (pretty sure they are hobbyists) searching for minerals like titanite at the quarry. According to Bernstein, It was operated in the early part of the 20th century for feldspar. I'm curious if/how/where items like feldspar from the quarry where loaded onto the trains."

Reader Phil Stackhouse contributed the following historical background:

    "Fannie R(isteau) Frost (1865-1957) was my great aunt, sister to my grandmother Kate Frost Stackhouse and lived on and managed the ancestral Frost farm which was adjacent to the railroad at that location. So the simple answer may be that the siding was simply named for the adjacent landowner. As you probably know, besides the station stops along the Main Line, there were any number of 'flag' stops - called that because the train would stop only if flagged down. They were used for both passenger service and freight. There were also regular milk stops along the route for the morning and evening milk trains going to Baltimore. One of the regular flag stops on this section of the road was for the Frost farm and it may be this location that gave the siding its name.

    "I am intrigued by the reference to a Fannie Frost Feldspar Quarry. I know the location of this quarry and from family stories, believe that stone was shipped from it on the railroad. But I've never heard it referred to by that name. Aunt Fannie was a school teacher by profession and while very capable of running the farm as well, I suspect that she knew little of quarrying. I grew up in an extended family on that property that included Aunt Fannie and one of her sisters, but never heard them mention the quarry. She died in 1957 and as I was still fairly young at the time, don't remember all the stories. I haven't been back to the quarry for many years and was surprised to hear from your correspondent John that others even know of its existence.

    "It might also be of interest that my grandfather Samuel Dorsey Stackhouse and his brother William were rail agent, postmaster and storekeepers at Woodstock from 1881 until ca. 1887. Both of them married Frost sisters that I am sure they must have met as customers in the store. I have all of the store records for those years as well as the rail ticket sales records for some."


Davis Branch Bridge

Davis Branch Bridge
Mile: 20.5 Date: Nov 2000
Ease: C View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 6 H 13 Topographic Maps

Finally, here's another original stone arched bridge still in use (the first since that over Sucker Run back near Ellicott City).

This 1830-era stone arch bridge over the Davis Branch receives support from steel braces. The abutments also show signs of shoring up, so perhaps this bridge was damaged in a storm.

The stream may have been named for the Davis family who lived in this vicinity.

A short distance just west of here there was a 2-mile long spur than spanned the river to serve the Guilford & Waltersville Granite Company in the town of Granite in Baltimore County. That spur is the subject of the next page of the tour.

Link: Henry Gassaway Davis bio



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