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Pennsy / Amtrak Photo Tour

Pennsy / Amtrak in Maryland
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.


Special Note and Brief Historical Background:


Pennsylvania Station

Pennsylvania Station
Mile: Date: Feb 1999
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

This is Baltimore's version of Penn Station. Penn Stations survive in many of the major cities that had been served by the Pennsy: New York, Wilmington, Philadelphia, among others.

This is not the first railroad station at this location. Two versions of the Northern Central's Union Station had been here, the first opened in 1873 but was quickly outgrown and replaced in 1886. That station also had a short life, being torn down in the late 1800s and replaced in 1911 by the Penn Station that we still see today.

Links to older pictures: Union Station, 1917, ~1920, ~1926, 1977


Inside Penn Station

Inside Penn Station
Mile: Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

The interior of the station had been drab and claustrophobic since the Amtrak takeover, but in the 1990s received a facelift that brightened it significantly. Now trains from both the Northeast Corridor and Baltimore's Light Rail System stop here.


Penn Station Track

Penn Station Track
Mile: Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Trains from Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Baltimore's Light Rail System and MARC Penn Line commuters stop behind the station. In a nod to the route's heritage, MARC has graced some of the passenger cars, like that seen here, with a small red and yellow Pennsylvania RR keystone herald.

Upon leaving the station for destinations northeast, Amtrak trains soon enter an 1873-opened tunnel of the former Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad.


Amtrak 2016

Amtrak 2016
Mile: Date: Oct 2010
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

This is the scene just northwest of Penn Station as Amtrak 2016 makes like a caboose as it rolls away from the camera bound for Washington, DC.

The B&O had early dominance of the downtown Baltimore area so the later RRs had to loop somewhat awkwardly around. As a result, the Pennsy first heads northwest out of Penn Station, then turns west and south to Halethorpe.

The golden arches in the distance do not belong to McDonalds but rather carry Howard Street over the Jones Falls Valley. After Howard Street, trains negotiate the B&P Tunnels that date to 1873.

Detour: B&P Tunnel tour


Keystone

Keystone
Mile: Date: Jun 2011
Ease: A View: E
Area: C- IC2:
Map: Ba 34 F 12 Topographic Maps

A few original Pennsylvania Railroad keystone logos still lurk, such as this one embossed in concrete at Mulberry Street (US 40) next to the West Baltimore MARC station (left).


Gwynn Tower

Gwynn Tower
Mile: Date: Jan 2016
Ease: B+ View: SW
Area: D IC2:
Map: Ba 34 E 13 Topographic Maps

Gwynn Tower, situated on the west of the Gwynns Falls Bridge, saw use into the 1980s. Gwynn is one of few extant PRR towers in Maryland.

Links: 1980 pic with GG1, PRR tower list


Gwynns Falls Bridge

Gwynns Falls Bridge
Mile: Date: Dec 2015
Ease: B- View: NW
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 1 Topographic Maps

In 1914 the Pennsylvania replaced the B&P's original bridge across the Gwynns Falls Valley with this substantial open-spandrel concrete arch viaduct. The B&O spanned the Falls downstream via the Carrollton Viaduct. The ex-Western Maryland (foreground tracks) also crosses the Falls at various spots albeit via smaller bridges at lower elevations.

Tour: Western Maryland at this spot


Amtrak 2011
NEW! May 2016

Amtrak 2011
Mile: Date: Feb 2016
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C- IC2:
Map: Ba 42 E 2 Topographic Maps

bent

1977 Amtrak now maintains the bridge, or defers maintenance.

Look! That catenary pole is bent and probably about to tumble!

Uh, no. Per the HAER photo clip on the right it was bent and leaning when ex-Pennsy Amtrak GG1 910 powered by in 1977, and probably was years before then too.

Link: bridge in 1977


MARC 4915
NEW! May 2016

MARC 4915
Mile: 99.2 Date: Feb 2016
Ease: A- View: E
Area: D IC2:
Map: Ba 34 E 13 Topographic Maps

A mid-day run of Maryland Rail Commuter bi-level passenger cars crosses the viaduct on its way to Baltimore.

Links: view from tower east 1984, west 1978, west 1984


Milepost 100

Milepost 100
Mile: 100.0 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: A- View: W
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

This spot near St. Agnes Hospital is 100 railroad miles from the PRR's Broad Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Amtrak 625

Amtrak 625
Mile: Date: Sep 2015
Ease: A View: S
Area: C IC2:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Amtrak 625 model ACS-64 speeds past the Loudon Park Substation.

Link to older picture: 1977


Halethorpe

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

Departing Baltimore the Pennsy opted for a route west of the B&O, but at Halethorpe switches sides. From this point down to Washington, DC, the ROW will remain on the east side of the B&O's. In 1835 the B&O chose a more inland route, one closer to the fall line where it could serve the various early factories and small towns that had already dotted the central Maryland landscape.

By contrast, the 1850s-constructed route to the east that the B&P (later PRR) selected was through more sparsely settled areas, and at a lower altitude. This meant the track could be straighter and necessitated fewer cuts through high ridges and fewer tall bridges.


Santa Fe

Santa Fe
Mile: Date: Nov 2002
Ease: C View: E
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 13 Topographic Maps

Concrete ties courtesy the Santa Fe? That's how they are stamped.


Patapsco Bridge

Patapsco Bridge
Mile: Date: Nov 2002
Ease: C View: SE
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 13 Topographic Maps

Compared to the B&O's grand Thomas Viaduct which is located a mile or two upstream, Pennsy's bridge across the Patapsco River is positively mundane. Undoubtably, it was also much less costly to construct.

My guess is the stonework is of original B&P construction from the 1860s, and may have been built (or rebuilt) by the Wilson Brothers Company. The concrete sections reveal that at some later date the piers were widened.

Link to older picture: ca. 1900


Deferred Maintenance

Deferred Maintenance
Mile: Date: Nov 2002
Ease: C View: E
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ba 41 K 13 Topographic Maps

Amtrak is desperately in need of a "round tuit" when it comes to repainting the bridges they inherited. It is now in excess of a half century since the steel portions of the Patapsco Bridge last received a coat of paint.

When this bridge was last painted in September 1952, Amtrak was but a gleam in some government bureaucrat's eye, Pennsy Pacific K4s steamers were hauling passengers between New York and Washington, and President Harry S Truman was busy with a police action in Korea.

Of course, the Thomas Viaduct hasn't been painted in over 180 years. ;-)


Furnace Ave.

Furnace Ave.
Mile: Date: Nov 1999
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 1 J 6 Topographic Maps

On the east side of Elkridge, stands what might be the oldest surviving PRR underpass along the ROW between Baltimore and Washington. I know of no others with this granite block construction; it could be original and date to the decade of the 1860s. Like the bridge over the Patapsco, the western side of this one also appears to have been widened.

Of much newer construction is I-195 which towers behind the narrow Furnace Avenue underpass. In the foreground is Stony Run, a stream that the RR parallels as it continues south to Severn, MD.

Reader SFC Charles Thompson wrote:

    "Steve, I really enjoy your website. I am currently serving in Afghanistan, and between missions I like to go to your site on my down time, as it is like a short visit home.

    "I do not know if many people are aware of this, but a small portion of the Pennsy, specifically the Furnace Ave. bridge, was featured in the TV show from 1975 called 'Moving On', starring Claude Akins. The episode was #2 from season two, called 'From Baltimore to Eternity'. During the show the green semi 'Sonny' operated became stuck under the Furnace Ave. bridge. Claude's character, Sonny, climbed up onto the right of way to inspect the problem just as a Metroliner went past. Pretty dramatic footage to me at age 11. The bridge seemed remote to me, especially since this was before the construction of the I-195 spur to BWI. I don't know where to get a link to footage from the show, but it would be great for the Furnace Ave. bridge section."


BWI Station

BWI Station
Mile: Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 1 K 10 Topographic Maps

It's been called the ugliest train station on the Northeast Corridor, and I have to agree. The BWI Rail Station leaves much to be desired architecturally, but it does provide a handy connection with the airport.

Here an Amtrak train on the center track blows past a MARC commuter train which is slowing to stop at the station.

Links to other pictures: aerial view 1999, 1999


Amtrak 173

Amtrak 173
Mile: 106.9 Date: Oct 2002
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 1 K 11 Topographic Maps

An Amtrak Acela flies past maintenance of way vehicles parked near the former Stoney Run Road grade crossing. The grade crossing has been closed and superceded by the Hanover Road overpass seen in the distance.

Due to shutter lag, these high speed trains were a real challenge to photograph with early digital cameras.

Link to older picture: a wee bit slower ca. 1890


P.R.R. T.&T.D.

P.R.R. T.&T.D.
Mile: 106.9 Date: Oct 2002
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 1 K 11 Topographic Maps

A Pennsylvania RR relic is found here in the form of initials on a utility accessway cover.

The meaning of the P.R.R. part is obvious, even with the extra period. My guess is T.&T.D. stands for Telephone and Telegraph Division. Anyone know for sure?


MOW

MOW
Mile: 107.0 Date: Oct 2002
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 1 K 12 Topographic Maps

Amtrak MOW equipment N14901 takes a break from the daily grind. This particular unit was labeled "undercutter" on the side.


Amtrak 4910

Amtrak 4910
Mile: Date: Dec 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 6 J 3 Topographic Maps

Amtrak 4910 rushes Christmas Eve passengers northeast past Old Dorsey Road's former grade crossing.


777A

777A
Mile: Date: Dec 2008
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 6 J 3 Topographic Maps

I have not studied the history of the line enough to know if this signage is some sort of mile marker left over from the Pennsylvania RR. Can anyone explain the purpose of 777A?

Reader "DC Vince" says:

    "That is a fiber optic route sign. The 777A sign is designed so as to be read from the air by aircraft or satellite photo."


Odenton

Odenton
Mile: Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

In the 1860s, Odenton, in an ego-stroking effort that rewarded the town with its second railroad, renamed itself for B&P President Oden Bowie. Oh, did we forget to mention that Mr. Bowie was also Maryland governor from 1869 to 1872?

The first railroad in town was the never-very-profitable Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroad which in 1840 connected Annapolis Junction (where?) with Annapolis.

Odenton's adopted Pennsy heritage is displayed in bright red at the town's MARC commuter rail station. As best as I can tell, the grade crossing with the A&ER had been located just past the far end of the station seen here.

Until the AE&R tracks were torn up in the 1980s, there had been a connection from here west to the ex-B&O Washington Branch at Annapolis Junction.

Video: watch Amtrak engines 88 and 134 fly through the station at about 80 mph; shot Apr 2003; 320x200 resolution, 15 seconds; 1.4M file size MPEG.

Detour: A&ER


Piney Orchard Yards

Piney Orchard Yards
Mile: Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 12 G 5 Topographic Maps

No, that's not a jellyfish hovering over the yard, it's just the Piney Orchard water tower.

This small yard appears to be an Amtrak repair facility. During my visit, the place was deserted, except for several run-down looking MOW units.


Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue
Mile: Date: Aug 2000
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 12 C 9 Topographic Maps

The tracks cross over tiny, capriciously-named Fifth Avenue in the very sleepy area known as Woodwardville. Note the surviving CPL-style signal bridge, still in use at the time of this photo.


Patuxent River

Patuxent River
Mile: Date: Aug 2000
Ease: C View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: PG 10 B 2 Topographic Maps

The PRR bridge over the Patuxent River is much like its one over the Patapsco: low and long. At one time it supported 4 tracks, but only 3 have been raised and upgraded for Northeast Corridor use, while the 4th, seen straight ahead in this photo, grows moss as a maintenance truck accessway.

The B&O spanned the Patuxent River via a higher, shorter bridge at Laurel, about 10 miles upstream (left).

Reader Greg Hager commented:

    "In looking at your section on the Pennsy/Amtrak section I may have a note to add. The fourth track on the Patuxent River bridge may have been used to access the Bowie race track."
Greg has a good point. A spur split off near here to serve the race track some 2 miles south (right).

About the spur, reader Jim Younger added:

    "The wye at 'Arundel' where the main met the branch is long gone. The actual right of way through the pines is now a vehicle road, which is more or less passable. All along the ROW there are ties and spikes, now mostly hidden by vegetation.

    "Where the branch met the WB&A (now the WB&A trail), you can see where two legs of the wye crossed the asphalt service road (to some county building). A little further on, amid more ties and spikes, there IS the remainder of a trestle that crosses Horsepen Creek. This is at the base of the hill up to the actual grandstand area. Unfortunately, the PRR didn't signal the branch, opting to telephone between the shanty at Arundel and the one at the grandstand (both long gone).

    "When the grandstand was there, you could see the tracks in the pavement and you have a link to that already. Now that the grandstand is gone, the pavement and rails may be history too.

    "I always thought this branch was an interesting rail operation. It's just a shame to let it slip into obscurity."

Links to older pictures: bridge ~1900, 1961 wreck, ~1970, race track spur 1992


Bowie Station

Bowie Station
Mile: Date: 2000
Ease: A View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: PG 9 K 5 Topographic Maps

This MARC commuter station adjacent to Bowie State University is located about a mile northeast of where the Pennsy's Bowie Station had been.


Amtrak 2002

Amtrak 2002
Mile: Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2:
Map: PG 9 E 9 Topographic Maps

The last grade crossing to be eliminated on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC and New York provides a nice spot to watch Amtrak 2002 zoom past. This location is near Bowie, MD where Springfield Road had crossed the tracks.


Bladensburg Road

Bladensburg Road
Mile: Date: Nov 2003
Ease: A View: NE
Area: D IC2:
Map: DC 10 J 10 Topographic Maps

"Pennsylvania Railroad" fades on this bridge over Bladensburg Road. A half mile west (left) of here, prior to 1907 the ROW had crossed over the B&O's Washington Branch, but construction of Washington's Union Station prompted the two competing railroads to share a single ROW for the roughly two remaining miles to that station.


Amtrak 562

Amtrak 562
Mile: Date: Jul 2005
Ease: B View: SW
Area: D IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 11 Topographic Maps

Switcher 562 sits idle adjacent to Amtrak's Coach Yard Building while in the distance the Washington Monument stands tall.


Amtrak 941

Amtrak 941
Mile: Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

An Amtrak train slides out of Washington's Union Station for points northeast.


Union Station

Union Station
Mile: Date: Jun 1999
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A IC2: 228
Map: DC Dwn 9 C, PG 17 D 1 Topographic Maps

Union Station in Washington, DC is the end of the line for the Northeast Corridor and ex-Pennsylvania RR. After years of neglect, in the 1980s the station was restored to its original glory. Fortunately, the grand structure was recognized for its place in history before it could be demolished and replaced. This was where the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway met to exchange passengers in the heyday of rail travel. These days, it remains an important station for train travel.

Links to older pictures: ~1970, Images of Union Station


Both the Northeast Corridor and this tour end here!

For other tours here now, select from the map: clickable map

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