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PRR / Amtrak Photo Tour


PRR / 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: >>> The places described on this page host quiet, high-speed trains. Stay well clear! <<<

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A&ER RR

A&ER RR
Mile: 113.5 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Decades before the Baltimore & Potomac built north-south here, the Annapolis & Elk Ridge RR (A&ER) had built east-west. The A&ER had connected Maryland's state capital with the B&O's Washington Branch, what is now CSX's Capital Subdivision. During the early 20th Century the A&ER was acquired by the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis that electrified the line as its South Shore division.

During the 1860s when the B&P's route was being planned, land developers here christened the location "Odenton" for B&P President Oden Bowie, who was also Maryland governor from 1869 to 1872. Coincidentally (or not) the B&P chose to intersect with the A&ER in Odenton. Connections between the two systems were built in at least 3 of the 4 intersection quadrants; only the one seen on the left in the photo has survived into the 21st Century.

Change for: A&ER tour at this site


Amtrak 615

Amtrak 615
Mile: 113.6 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Amtrak last stopped in Odenton during 1983.


MARC 83

MARC 83
Mile: 113.6 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

MARC picked up the slack, on the left with a model SC-44 unit only a few months old.


MARC 4912
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

MARC 4912
Mile: 113.6 Date: Jul 2010
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

These HHP-8 units had wheel slip problems on wet rails, and were not-so-affectionately nicknamed Hippos. MARC favors diesel units even though they are slower, ostensibly because MARC's other lines (Brunswick, the ex-B&O Metropolitan Branch, and Camden Line, the ex-B&O Washington Branch) do not have catenary to supply electric.

Adjacent parking lots at Odenton have room for about 2000 cars, and as of 2019 generally fill to capacity.

Links: retired HHP8s, 2001


MARC 24
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

MARC 24
Mile: 113.6 Date: Aug 2009
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

At photo time MARC's MP36PH-3C engines were less than a year old.

Odenton's rail stop is the Penn Line's closest to Fort Meade and NSA. On the Camden Line, Savage Station is even closer.

Change for: B&O tour at this site
Links: 1992, 1992


Amtrak 926
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Amtrak 926
Mile: 113.6 Date: Nov 2009
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

AMTK 926 trails on track 1. In the distance Maryland 175 bridges overhead. Amtrak retired all its boxy AEM-7 engines, nicknamed toasters, by 2016; many had been in use since 1980.

Links: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981


Amtrak 2018
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Amtrak 2018
Mile: 113.6 Date: Nov 2009
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

On track 2 AMTK 2018 is doing the trailing this time.


Amtrak 2039
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Amtrak 2039
Mile: 113.6 Date: Feb 2010
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Odenton can be a decent train watching spot.


turntable
Photo credit GM Leilich

Turntable
Mile: 113.7 Date: 1935
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6: 345
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

The B&P/PPR line and the A&ER/WB&A crossed at a diamond immediately north of the existing Odenton Station. An engineering issue arose when the B&P/PPR electrified: the PRR's power system and WB&A's power system were not compatible. The wires of each system could not be allowed to touch, but all trains needed a power supply across the intersection.

Railroad historian Herb Harwood shared info about the solution:

    "When the PRR electrified its line in 1935, the ex-A&ER crossing at Odenton became an engineering problem, since a 1200-volt DC line had to cross a (then) double-track 11,000-volt AC line. The solution was to place the 1200-volt WB&A wire at a lower level than the PRR catenary with a break over the PRR tracks. This break was bridged, when needed, by a form of turntable placed at the bottom of an overhead bridge over the Pennsy track.

    "When a WB&A train needed to cross, the turntable was lowered and rotated to form the 1200-volt bridge across the Pennsy track. I'm not sure I've made this clear, but maybe you can get a crude idea. The device only lasted a few months before the WB&A quit, and I doubt if it was used too much, since the Annapolis passenger trains terminated at Naval Academy Junction and normally wouldn't cross the PRR. I suppose there was some interchange freight to/from the B&O and Fort Meade, though."


Turntable Remnant
NEW! early-Aug 2019

Turntable Remnant
Mile: 113.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6: 345
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

This 2019 photo roughly replicates the view of Leilich's photo above. WB&A bracket

The turntable's structure and machinery are long gone, but almost a century later two special wiring brackets still hang on. The one in the zoom view at left can also be found in the 1935 photo. These brackets appear to no longer serve a purpose, but in 1935 might have facilitated a common electrical ground sharable between the two otherwise independent power systems. A similar pair of brackets can be found at Catonsville and Landover where two branches met/meet.


Bi-Level

Bi-Level
Mile: 113.7 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

The two lines had crossed here, at the south end of the present-day passenger platform. This MARC bi-level car is acting as control cab for an engine pushing at the back of this train.

Link: 1981


First Station

First Station
Mile: 113.7 Date: ~1900 (Oct 2017)
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

This photo was snapped a century earlier from slightly south of the 2017 view above. The A&ER track appears to cross left-right at diamonds found between the B&P's original Odenton station and tower on the right. Waiting shacks for passemgers stand along the west side of the tracks. This circa 1900 photo hangs inside the current Odenton Station that opened during 1943.

Until the former A&ER tracks were torn up during the 1980s, there had been a connection from here west to the ex-B&O Washington Branch at Annapolis Junction. Three of the four possible connections existed; the one never built was at the southwest side.

Change for: A&ER tour at this site


Odenton Station

Odenton Station
Mile: 113.7 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6: 347
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

When nearby Fort Meade was active for World War II, Odenton received this station, built where the waiting shacks of the prior photo had been.

Link: 1975


Odenton

Odenton
Mile: 113.7 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A- View: N
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Odenton's adopted Pennsy heritage is displayed in bright red at the rail station.

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.


Odenton Station Interior

Odenton Station Interior
Mile: 113.7 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: A- T6: 346
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

1945 The station's interior is ordinary mid-20th Century.

Hanging inside is a WW II era photo, apparently snapped from the station's roof. The sign at right reads "Use Subway - To Northbound Trains - Baltimore Wilmington - Philadelphia New York". No, Odenton did not have a subway, the word refers to the likely-new-at-that-time passageway under the tracks.


Platforms On Flat Cars
NEW! early-Aug 2019

Platforms On Flat Cars
Mile: 113.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

While track work was underway during the summer of 2019 these platform extensions were rolled into place. Flat cars such as KRL 701220 make the temporary extensions easy to position as needed.

KRL is the reporting mark of Kasgro Rail Lines, a short line common carrier whose trackage is less than the total length of its railcars, i.e. it's mostly a railcar leasing company.

Links: ~1975, ~1975


MARC 68
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

MARC 68
Mile: 113.7 Date: Mar 2010
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

What was a subway is now called an underpass.

Since the time of this photo number 68 was retired from revenue service. It hung around as the last survivor of MARC's GP40WH-2 units, spending its final years in maintenance of way duty.

Links: 1981, 1981


Amtrak C&S

Amtrak C&S
Mile: 113.8 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B T6:
Map: AA 12 H 4 Topographic Maps

This is the newest version of the trackside manhole covers. C&S stands for Communication & Signals.


Piney Orchard

Piney Orchard
Mile: 113.8 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: B View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: AA 12 H 4 Topographic Maps

In the Piney Orchard vicinity the line reaches its highest elevation within Anne Arundel County. Here the ascent from the Patapsco River becomes a decline to the Patuxent River.

Link: Derailment 12 Jul 2019


Piney Orchard Yards

Piney Orchard Yards
Mile: 114.5 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B+ T6:
Map: AA 12 G 5 Topographic Maps

Piney Orchard's water tower does its best jellyfish imitation near an Amtrak yard.

This small yard appears to be an Amtrak repair facility. During my 2003 visit, the place was deserted, except for several run-down looking MOW units. Later visits found more activity. The yard dates to 1981.

Apr 2003 MARC 68, Oct 2017 AMTK A16501, Apr 2003 LMIX 506, Oct 2017 AMTK A16104, Oct 2017 Oct 2017 SBC-8, Oct 2017 Apr 2003

Links: 1988, 1988, 1988, 1988, 1988


Signals

Signals
Mile: 115.0 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: AA 12 F 5 Topographic Maps

Trains bypassing the yard come under the jurisdiction of these signals.

Deep zoom reveals heat distortion even on a mild autumn day. This tour has more deep zoom photos than other tours because reasonable access to the Penn Line is more limited. Enjoy only from a safe distance.


Amtrak 617

Amtrak 617
Mile: 115.0 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: AA 12 F 5 Topographic Maps

Oct 2018 These bi-level cars are Viewliner Sleeper Cars. The car at the end carries baggage.

Before the 1970s, many of the PRR's baggage cars doubled as railway post office (RPO) cars for the United States Post Office Department. About 1835 the B&O had procured the first contract to regularly carry mail. The last RPO run between New York and Washington happened on June 30, 1977.

Links: Viewliner info, baggage car info


MARC 26

MARC 26
Mile: 115.5 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: B View: SW
Area: C? T6:
Map: AA 12 E 6 Topographic Maps

Northbound MARC 26 leads six bi-level cars that are not Sleeper Cars, though some exhausted commuters have been known to doze off in them.


Range Road

Range Road
Mile: 115.6 Date: Aug 2000
Ease: A- View: NW
Area: F? T6:
Map: AA 12 D 7 Topographic Maps

Original B&P stonework is found along the western side of the bridge over Range Road and Rogue Harbor Branch. The remainder is relatively looking SE, Nov 2018 newer concrete, probably dating from when the bridge was widened for 3 tracks around 1930. Four tracks might fit as well.

As might be obvious from the stream's location, these two photos look opposite directions. Since Range Road no longer connects through, driving from the location of the photo above to the one at left involves a roughly 14-mile, 40-minute trek.

Note that judging by post-2000 graffiti and gunfire, this seems to have become a favored hangout of well-armed teenagers.


Little Patuxent

Little Patuxent
Mile: 116.0 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: C View: SW
Area: C? T6: 347
Map: AA 12 D 8 Topographic Maps

Rain at 39 degrees arrived earlier than forecast, making for one of the more miserable - but memorable - rail history research outings. I'm told, "Nothin' lasts forever, even cold November rain."

looking NW, Oct 2017 The view at left from downstream came during a much more pleasant autumn day, though it seemed no amount of waiting would produce a train. This bridge will need to be widened before it has room for the planned 4th track.

North of the river between the railroad and Patuxent Road, from the 1920s to the 1950s the Salvation Army operated a summer camp known as Happyland, and later Camp Patuxent, for disadvantaged families of Washington, DC. Attendees arrived via train, and later by bus.

Link: Happyland


Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue
Mile: 116.4 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A- T6:
Map: AA 12 C 8 Topographic Maps

Sleepy Woodwardville's capriciously-named Fifth Avenue is the Penn Line's only driveable single-lane underpass. Fifth Avenue serves a tiny trackside community, the only one between Odenton and Bowie on the west side of the line. The B&P's stop in this vicinity was named Patuxent. During the 1800s a cannery had operated near here.

Stonework dates this grade separation to circa 1870 original B&P construction. The bridge for the trains was widened for 3 tracks probably around 1930, with room made for 4 plus a maintenance road.


MARC 7857

MARC 7857
Mile: 116.5 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A- T6:
Map: AA 12 C 9 Topographic Maps

South of Fifth Avenue MARC 7857 splits the uprights.


Split

Split
Mile: 116.5 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: B View: S
Area: A- T6:
Map: AA 12 C 9 Topographic Maps

A little farther south we come upon one of the Penn Line's more insulated crossbar curious (re)configurations. What had been triple track on the left was during the 1980s split into two separate rights of way.

The bracing between old and new catenary columns appears to be a customized crossbar, insulated to prevent current from flowing between the rights of way, even if a live wire falls onto it. The other end of the split does not have similar bracing. The black rectangles at the track detect problems with the cars rolling above.


MARC 18

MARC 18
Mile: 116.9 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: C View: S
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 C 10 Topographic Maps

The original triple-track alignment was retained, reduced to single track. This is the only place along the Northeast Corridor that one can find a train on a single-track alignment.


Amtrak 656

Amtrak 656
Mile: 117.0 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: C+ View: S
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 C 10 Topographic Maps

The new alignment received double track. At maximum the new alignment is 150 feet away from the original. Though the new alignment lessens a curve; if that were the goal an even straighter path was possible.


C&S Shed

C&S Shed
Mile: 117.4 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: B View: NW
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 B 11 Topographic Maps

keystone Very possibly the last survivor of its kind in Maryland, this PRR-keystone-sporting Communications and Signals shed (right) stands in relative obscurity along the least-developed Penn Line mile between Baltimore and Washington. This PRR concrete design was popular during the 1908-1918 period after which the railroad shifted to steel sheds. The PRR used a three-window version of this shed as a Block Station.

The B&P had a stop in this vicinity named Anderson.

As for CUT SEC, SEC refers to a Section of powered catenary, hence the insulated track joints in the foreground. CUT? Perhaps circuit? This is where the Severn (PRR section 22) and Bowie (PRR section 23) substation circuits meet.

Link: PRR power overview from 1935 (PDF file)


MARC 32

MARC 32
Mile: 117.5 Date: Oct 2017
Ease: B View: SW
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 B 11 Topographic Maps

Baltimore-bound MARC 32 reaches the Conway Road grade crossing that closed during the 1940s when Fort Meade expanded.


Amtrak 2031

Amtrak 2031
Mile: 117.5 Date: Mar 2019
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 B 12 Topographic Maps

Crews were working on the original alignment as AMTK 2031 took the newer route. A disused signal bridge rusts in the foreground.


Amtrak 651

Amtrak 651
Mile: 117.9 Date: Mar 2019
Ease: C- View: SW
Area: A T6:
Map: AA 12 B 12 Topographic Maps

On a gray day, milepost 118 peeks up on the right to see that northbound AMTK 651 has just crossed into Anne Arundel County.


Patuxent River

Patuxent River
Mile: 118.1 Date: Aug 2000
Ease: C View: NE
Area: A T6:
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).

Link: bridge ~1900


Underneath

Underneath
Mile: 118.1 Date: May 2018
Ease: C View: NE
Area: A- T6:
Map: PG 10 B 2 Topographic Maps

The line's piecemeal widening over time is revealed by the varying styles of track supports.

With Maryland being prime B&O turf, surprisingly little has been written about the history of this B&P/PRR line. As of this writing this photo tour is the most comprehensive online historical documentation of the line.


Aerial
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Aerial
Mile: 118.2 Date: 1970s
Ease: View: E
Area: T6:
Map: PG 10 B 3 Topographic Maps

The Patuxent River separates Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, plus makes this railroad bridge necessary. A B&P two-track version that predated this bridge survived the flooding of August 13, 1873 because the embankments at both ends were washed downstream, thus widening the passage for the river.

Links: 1873 flood, LoC Source photo ~1970


Amtrak 616

Amtrak 616
Mile: 118.3 Date: May 2018
Ease: B- View: NE
Area: A T6:
Map: PG 10 B 3 Topographic Maps

Deep zoom looking back north finds AMTK 616 passing milepost 118 as it approaches PG County.


Bowie Racetrack Wye

Bowie Racetrack Wye
Mile: 118.3 Date: May 2018
Ease: C View: SW
Area: A T6:
Map: PG 10 B 3 Topographic Maps

About the Bowie Race Track Branch, reader Jim Younger wrote:

    "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.

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

The next page tours the branch...


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