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 the 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. These tracks are fenced off for a good reason. You are risking your
life if you do not heed this notice. <<<
What is a Pennsy page doing at a B&O site? The Pennsylvania was a major railroad
in Maryland and had significant impact on the B&O. This page is far from
being a comprehensive guide to the history of the PRR in Maryland. Instead,
its main purpose is to provide a few examples of engineering and surviving
artifacts to compare and contrast with those found on the B&O pages of this site.
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.
In 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 Railroad, a rapidly growing
force in the neighboring state, gave them needed money. The Pennsy had wanted
to gain access to Washington, DC, and 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 Bowie.
Meanwhile, the PRR worked to acquire controlling interest in the Northern
Central RR which had routes into Baltimore from the north.
By 1872 the B&P extension track had been built, and the Pennsy had its route
into Washington. Unlike the B&O, the Pennsy did not have to pay a portion of its
passenger fees to Maryland, and was thus able to offer lower fares to
attract customers. Passenger levels would never be the same for the B&O,
and even today the 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.
In 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 DC was
incorporated into the Pennsylvania RR network until sold to Amtrak