TrainWeb.org Facebook Page
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! <<<

<< Previous (north) | THIS PAGE: Washington, DC | End of tour >> || main index

Construction 1977
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Construction 1977
Mile: 135.3 Date: 1977
Ease: View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 10 Topographic Maps

While the H Street bridge over the tracks neared completion, one of the first clear signs of railroad activity picking up from the early 1970s doldrums was the addition of an automobile parking deck behind Union Station. A second, larger deck would follow a couple decades later.

Near photo bottom, that's K Street sneaking under the tracks.

Links: LoC source photo, from ground 1977


K Street
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

K Street
Mile: 135.5 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 10 D 13 Topographic Maps

signal blinker Almost underneath K Tower is a combination of stone, steel, and modern concrete that permits K Street traffic to pass.

On the right is a non-standard application of a traffic signal as a warning blinker. The red and green went unused. Since photo time this signal has been removed.


H Street 1960
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

H Street 1960
Mile: 135.7 Date: ~1960
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

The H Street bridge/tunnel, whichever perspective you prefer, shows its original form in this circa 1960 photo. The leftmost two automobiles are easy to identify (1957 Chevrolet, 1959 Chevrolet), the details and others I'll leave as a challenge for readers.

Those are oddly placed windows and coverings on the PRR coach above. I asked around but no one knew what that's about. A converted car?

Link: DDOT source photo


H Street 1972
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

H Street 1972
Mile: 135.7 Date: Nov 1972
Ease: (no access) View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 E 1 Topographic Maps

Before the H Street bridge spanned Union Station's yard, auto traffic used this underpass. At photo time "Amtrak" had not yet been painted onto all rolling stock, hence the "Penn Central"-labelled coach waiting above. (That lettering is difficult to see through lamp glare.)

Just two years after this H Street underpass was relighted with the mercury-vapor lamps seen here, it would be closed to make way for the H Street bridge. On many city streets those bluish mercury-vapor lamps would in a decade or two be swapped out for brighter, orangish sodium-vapor ones.

During the 2010s many sodium-vapor street lamps gave way to LEDs. Though LEDs existed at the time of this photo, decades of research were needed to make them bright enough for street lighting. You'll have to wait until, oh, perhaps the 2030s to find out what lamp comes next.

Links: DDOT source photo, DC street lighting


H Street 1964
Photos courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

H Street 1964
Mile: 135.7 Date: ~1964
Ease: (no access) View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 E 1 Topographic Maps

At the northeast corner of H Street and the rail yard was an REA Express will-call office.

REA Express American Railway Express Agency formed in 1918 by a consolidation of smaller companies that offered package shipment services via railroad. The name shortened to Railway Express Agency, then REA Express by the time of this photo. After World War II the company lost business to roads, cars, and trucks, and declared bankruptcy in 1975, but not before losing the shipment of the first MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer.

Link: DDOT source photos


H Street 1974
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

H Street 1974
Mile: 135.7 Date: 1974
Ease: (no access) View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 E 1 Topographic Maps

Public funding for roads and airports, plus wage/price controls took their toll on railroads. By 1974 the REA office had closed here, and the building, broken windows and all, was left to deteriorate, sadly like much of the Union Station area.

Assigning simple letter names to streets is both democratic and a way to avoid intersecting numbered roadways. In the Maspeth area of New York City, 60th Street, Avenue, Road, Drive, Lane, Place, and Court confusingly intersect each other within a stretch of less than 1000 feet. The trouble is single letters are difficult to hear distinctly, much to the chagrin of physicist Richard Feynman upon his first visit to Washington while consulting about the space shuttle Challenger disaster. For an important NASA meeting, a taxi took Feynman to what was an empty lot on 8th Street rather than the proper office on H Street.

Link: DDOT source photo


Platforms 1974
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Platforms 1974
Mile: 135.7 Date: Aug 1974
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

cart and lamp The H Street bridge would soon cover this section of passenger platforms. Construction required approximately 3 years. Note the probably-original lamp pole near photo center. The zoom at right shows both the pole and a baggage cart that likely date to well before the 1970s.

Links: DDOT source photo, 1978, 1978


Looking North
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Looking North
Mile: 136.0 Date: 1977
Ease: View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

This is a reverse view of the construction as of 1977.

Link: LoC source photo


DC Streetcar

DC Streetcar
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: A T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

DCSC 101B What's old is new. During the past, streetcars ran on H Street below the tracks here as part of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railway (WB&A), and as of 2016 they returned in the form of DC Streetcar. The cost of bringing streetcars back to the H Street corridor was so high (over $100 million for the first mile or so) many have questioned if it is an efficient, wise use of taxpayer money.

Change for: WB&A tour at this site
Link: similar view ~1910


MARCs

MARCs
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: A T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

As trains wiggle through switches near K Tower, when seen from afar they begin to resemble chromosomes.

Link: K Tower interior 1942


Switchers

Switchers
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

Of these four switchers, the ones on the end, AMTK 597 and AMTK 599, are National Railway Equipment (NRE) model 2GS14B. Both date to the 2010s and are nicknamed Luke and Ella, respectively. In the middle, AMTK 533 and AMTK 541 are 1970-built examples of EMD model MP15DC.


MARC 24

MARC 24
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

RR signs Diesel engines like this MARC Motive Power MP36PH-3C unit can depart Union Station and follow any of three commuter routes, the Brunswick, Camden, or Penn Line. Only the Penn Line is equipped with electric catenary.

Someone with a wry sense of humor posted a RR crossing sign within the yard.


MARC 4900

MARC 4900
Mile: 135.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

You'll note this train is not headed by a diesel locomotive. After leaving the station, it will follow the Penn Line north toward Baltimore, a direction opposite that of this tour.

During January 1953, Pennsylvania RR's runaway "Federal Express" train roared through here and rammed into Union Station, just days before crowds were expected for a Presidential inauguration.

Links: 1948, Wreck of the Federal Express, 1986 pic


Platforms 1962
Photo credit William Leffler

Platforms 1962
Mile: 135.6 Date: 1962
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

By the 1960s a confusing array of overhead semaphore signals had given way to trackside dwarf CPLs. On the right is Washington Terminal switcher model RS1 number 59.

Links: 1946, Number 59 in 1978


Platforms 1999

Platforms 1999
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

AMTK 941 exhibits my personal favorite paint scheme on model AEM7 engines.

Links: Walter Johnson here 1924, 1977, 1977, Amtrak ICE 1993


Platforms 2019

Platforms 2019
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

On both MARC 4912 and AMTK 652 the red lamps of reverse movement are illuminated, something not often seen on ACS-64 engines while they ply the Penn Line.

Links: PRR 5401 in 1929, The Senator in 1929, The Senator in 1929, 1980


Operator Cab

Operator Cab
Mile: 135.7 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

panel A very 20th Century looking telephone handset contrasts with the ACS-64's more modern-looking instrumentation. That speedometer registers up to 160 mph, or about 260 kph.

Yes, I was tempted to climb in the cab for a better photo, but did not wish to make anyone nervous. Security staff and cameras are numerous.


Cushy Cab
Photo courtesy Amtrak

Cushy Cab
Mile: Date: 2013
Ease: View:
Area: T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

1953 cab Fortunately Amtrak has already done the necessary cab-climbing, and offered the main photo, the old-looking phone handset curiously absent.

Operator cabs from 60 years prior (right) were a wee bit less cushy. No cupholders back then either though.

Links: Amtrak source photo, MP54 cab 1977


Metro Addition
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Metro Addition
Mile: 135.3 Date: 1977
Ease: View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

Union Station surrendered six tracks to make room for Metro's two, which in this zoom are the rightmost tracks that pass under H Street. The year prior to this photo, specifically on March 27, 1976, Metro service to Union Station was part of the first section of the system opened to public use.

In the shadows beyond, Metro's two tracks dip sharply in order to pass under the elevated spur on the right to the GPO building.

Link: LoC source photo


GPO Spur
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

GPO Spur
Mile: 135.8 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

This disused elevated spur at First and G Streets had connected Union Station (right) with the Government Printing Office (left), now Government Publishing Office. Paper by the trainload could be delivered directly into the GPO without any street running. The GPO has been housed at this location since 1903, which suggests this spur dates to the arrival of Union Station shortly after.


DC Metro

DC Metro
Mile: 135.8 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

Union Station is the busiest stop in DC's Metro system.


Bus Terminal

Bus Terminal
Mile: 135.8 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: W?
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

Various bus stations combined efforts to form the Union Station Bus Terminal.


Concourse 1910
Photos courtesy Library of Congress

Concourse 1910
Mile: 135.9 Date: ~1910
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

The vast rear concourse was found at the gates. Why is there not more seating for waiting passengers? Perhaps outgoing passengers were not permitted here until their train was ready, at which time they proceeded directly through to board.

gates Represented via gate signage are the Pennsylvania RR, Chesapeake and Ohio, Washington Southern, and the Southern. The B&O is not represented, but did serve the station. Now, LED lamp endurance means fewer trips up and down tall ladders to replace burned out bulbs, as at right.

Washington Southern was formed by a merger of Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railway with Potomac Railroad, and during 1920 it merged into the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad.

Links: reverse view 1910, 1921, 1942, 100,000 one day 1944


Concourse 2008
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Concourse 2008
Mile: 135.9 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

The rear concourse has been modified so much as to be unrecognizable to someone from 1910. The gates to the platforms are still on the right though.


Shopping

Shopping
Mile: 135.9 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: ?
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

The front concourse's 1980s makeover installed many shops. Tickets counters are at distant center.


Tickets 1958
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Tickets 1958
Mile: 135.9 Date: 1958
Ease: B View:
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

During the 1950s computers began to handle ticketing, but lots was still done by hand on paper.

Link: 1942 ticketing in lobby


Tickets_2019

Tickets 2019
Mile: 135.9 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View:
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

This is a similar view from about 60 years later.


Food Court

Food Court
Mile: 135.9 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: NE?
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

What had been Union Station's baggage and parcel area was during the 1980s reformed into this food court. Union Station has become a sort of shopping mall with trains, lots of trains.


Lobby 1910
Photos courtesy Library of Congress

Lobby 1910
Mile: 135.9 Date: ~1910
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

signs During 1910 the front lobby was the main waiting area. The signs at distant left read: Telephones, Barber Shop, Smoking Room, Stop Over Ticket Office, Ticket Office, To Carriages, Baggage Room, Information, Parcel Room, Postal Telegraph, Western Union Tel. Not shown is a separate waiting room just for ladies.

Presumably the Stop Over Ticket Office was separate from the main ticket office because passengers who decided to stay in Washington overnight consumed more of the clerks' time with questions about sights to see, how to get there, etc.


Lobby 2008
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Lobby 2008
Mile: 135.9 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

This is a similar view about a century later. The main entrance in is on the left side, with ticketing and trains to the right. Perhaps the honeycomb ceiling design found here served as the inspiration for that in DC Metro subway stations.

Link: ~1921


Union Station 1906
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Union Station 1906
Mile: 136.1 Date: 1906
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

As Union Station neared completion, both horse carts and streetcars were bringing supplies and workers to the site.

Daniel Burnham's architecture here is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style that peaked in the United States around the time the station opened, but which has a timeless quality about it. The railroad industry peaked around that time too, but remains timeless as well.

Links: LoC source photo, streetcar track diamonds


Union Station 1913
Photos courtesy Library of Congress

Union Station 1913
Mile: 136.1 Date: 1913
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

wealth of the indies Rather gradiose inscriptions were chiseled into the exterior stone, for example, "He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in travelling: a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge." -Samuel Johnson

Links: Union Station gallery, ~1908, 1942


Statues

Statues
Mile: 136.0 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

electricity Installed over a span of years, six tall Vermont marble statues by sculptor Louis Saint-Gaudens grace the entrance. The statues represent Apollo, Archimedes, Ceres, Prometheus, Thales,and Themis. The choice of Thales, leftmost in the zoom view, was particularly prescient in that he is the Greek god of electricity, and electrically-powered trains would not begin arriving at Union Station for roughly another 20 years.

Link: Thales statue being installed 1912


Aerial 1921
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Aerial 1921
Mile: 136.1 Date: 1921
Ease: View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

The non-random arrangement of people around Union Station suggests a special event was underway at the time of this photo, but information with the photo did not specify.

Links: Union Station closed 1981, 1980s restoration photos, 1988 reopening


Union Station 1999

Union Station 1999
Mile: 136.0 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 1 Topographic Maps

Union Station's semicircular plaza echoes its early days as a loop for streetcars. Streetcars gave way to automobiles curving along Columbus Circle. A statue of Christopher Columbus stands tall within within the circle, while flags of each of the 50 states line the outside edge.

The B&O Metropolitan Branch tour has photos of the Columbus statue as well as more of the station's exterior. A link to that tour is near page bottom.

Links: 1942, Washington Terminal Project PRR photos


B&P Station
Photo courtesy National Archives

B&P Station
Mile: 137.1 via orig alignment Date: ~1900
Ease: View: SW
Area: T6:
Map: DC 16 B 2 Topographic Maps

Prior to Union Station, the B&P's first Washington station, a small wooden structure, was in 1873 replaced by this masonry structure at 6th and B Streets (now Constitution Avenue) NW, presently the location of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. President James Garfield was assassinated at this station during 1881. The building was demolished soon after Union Station opened.

The B&P reached the station via what has become CSX's Landover Subdivision, previously the PRR's Landover to South End freight line. Today the route is approximately traced by the Anacostia Freeway (DC 295) and the Southeast Freeway (I-695).

Links: pic, 1889


1893 Map
Map courtesy Library of Congress

1893 Map
Mile: Date: 1893
Ease: View:
Area: T6:
Map: Topographic Maps

This Pennsylvania Railroad system map from 1893 displays its view of the railroading world. The B&O is represented with thin lines, and few stops, such as "Wolverton" which should be Weverton. The B&O lines that connect Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are not even depicted. Such was the perspective of the standard railroad of the world, an impressive operation by any measure.

Links: LoC Penn Line photos, Amtrak's Northeast corridor photos


The Northeast Corridor tour ends here. Thanks for following along!

Consider proceeding northwest along the B&O Metropolitan Branch,
or northeast along the WB&A.

<< Previous (north) | THIS PAGE: Washington, DC | End of tour || main index

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

Or, return to main page

Copyright Notice