Click a photo to see a larger view. Please send your comments and
corrections to Steve.
>>> : The places described on this page host high-speed trains.
Venturing near these tracks is VERY dangerous because quiet Amtrak electric trains
traveling near 100 mph can be upon you with almost no warning. I strongly recommend
you avoid all track areas. If you must visit, do so only at passenger stations and
overpasses. You are risking your life if you do not heed this notice. <<<
As the major railroad in Maryland, the B&O faced competition from other lines,
most notably the Pennsylvania Railroad that muscled into the region by financing
and acquiring other railroads. This tour illustrates examples of engineering and
surviving artifacts to compare and contrast with those found on the B&O pages of
Starting in 1835 the B&O enjoyed a government-sanctioned monopoly on rail service
between Baltimore and Washington. In exchange for this agreement, the B&O
paid the state a large fee for each passenger carried on its Washington Branch.
During 1853 a small startup company, the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad secured the
right to build a line from Baltimore to southern Maryland, an area not yet
served by the B&O.
The cash-starved B&P struggled until the Pennsylvania RR gave them needed money.
The Pennsy had long wanted to gain access to Washington, DC, but had been thwarted
by the B&O's monopoly until they discovered the B&P's charter allowed the small
railroad to build a branch from its main line up to 20 miles in any direction.
Twenty miles was just enough that the B&P could reach Washington from the town of
While the B&O was recovering and repairing from the Civil War, the B&P extended
its Baltimore to Bowie line by building its so-called "branch" from Bowie to
Washington, the net result being a route between Baltimore and Washington.
Unlike the B&O, the B&P, by this time under Pennsy control, did not have to
pay a portion of its passenger fees to Maryland, and was thus able to offer
lower fares. Passenger levels would never be the same for the B&O, and even
today the ex-B&P, ex-Pennsy route is the one used by Amtrak for passenger
service, and the ex-B&O route is the one used by CSX for freight.
During 1902 the remaining portions of the B&P were purchased by the Pennsy and then
merged with some other small lines (Northern Central, and the Philadelphia, Wilmington,
and Baltimore) to become the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington RR. The route
into Washington was incorporated into the Pennsylvania RR network until sold to
Amtrak in 1981.
This tour begins northeast of Baltimore at the Susquehanna River then follows what
is now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor generally southwest to Washington, DC.