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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: >>> Places described on this page host quiet, high-speed trains. Stay well clear! <<<

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1927 Aerial
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University

1927 Aerial
Mile: 92.0 to 93.0 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6: 296
Map: Topographic Maps

The tour continues from where we left off the main line at Bay Tower, found at the right side of this aerial, and proceeds west (left). roundhouse 2017 courtesy Google

In this vicinity note the Orangeville Engine House, the PRR's primary locomotive repair facility in Baltimore. Some rusty rails and an arc of the roundhouse's concrete pads have survived into the 21st Century, but now are surrounded by weeds, junk, and high voltage fencing! Easiest views now come from above, such as that at right courtesy Google.

West of Orangeville the main line tracks enter the first of two S curves in order to line up for Union Tunnel.

Links: 1974, 1975, 1975, 1977, 2013


S Curve

S Curve
Mile: 92.5 Date: Aug 2018
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: C T6:
Map: Ba 35 K 12 Topographic Maps

Within a quarter mile after the curve, trains cross four grade separation bridges: closest in photo is Pulaski Highway (US 40), then Kresson Street, Monument Street, and Haven Street.

The leftmost pole holds the skeletal remains of a PRR signal. To my knowledge Amtrak no longer mounts signals on NE Corridor catenary poles, but sometimes leaves behind PRR-era relics of such.


Monument Street

Monument Street
Mile: 92.6 Date: Aug 2016
Ease: A View: W
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 K 11 Topographic Maps

Monument Street sees two railroad bridges because the closest is for what became the PRR main line while the disused one beyond was an 1871 Union Railroad line built to connect the Northern Central RR south to the Canton waterfront port.


Haven Street

Haven Street
Mile: 92.7 Date: Aug 2018
Ease: A View: SE
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 K 11 Topographic Maps

The same two bridges are visible from Haven Street. Originally these lines met Haven and Monument Streets at grade. Note the ledge in the stonework for the spur to Canton (right) permits double tracking of that line. The spur last saw a train during the 1970s.

Link: Haven Street revival


Amtrak 603

Amtrak 603
Mile: 92.7 Date: Aug 2018
Ease: B+ View: SE
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 K 11 Topographic Maps

signal skeleton AMTK 603 leads a southbound over Monument Street, bridge number 61 as seen in the zoom. Few of the PRR's painted-on bridge numbers have survived this long. Note the stack of metal plates attached to the top of the bridge; that may have been a later addition to reduce the bridge's flexing under heavy loads.

In the zoom, the signal skeleton has been highlighted on the pole in the distance. At the time of the photo I had not noticed that relic otherwise I would have sought a better view.


Amtrak 656

Amtrak 656
Mile: 92.7 Date: Aug 2018
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 K 11 Topographic Maps

In what was likely an equipment move, three engines pull one car over Haven Street.


Original Alignment

Original Alignment
Mile: 93.1 Date: Aug 2016
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 J 11 Topographic Maps

The photographer is standing on what apparently had been the PW&B's original alignment in the area between Monument Street and Edison Highway. It was presumably bypassed at the same time the grade separation bridges seen above were built.

The old alignment was retained to serve the Southern Can Company (later Continental Can Company). The B&O also had rails to the can manufacturing site, in fact the ex-PRR and ex-B&O tracks connected within the boundaries, a connection that was not dismantled until the early 2000s.

That's milepost 93 visually below and right of the distant Amtrak Acela unit 2019.

Link: site cleanup info


Amtrak 2014

Amtrak 2014
Mile: 93.1 Date: Aug 2016
Ease: B View: W
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 35 J 11 Topographic Maps

From the same spot, looking west finds AMTK 2014 traversing the middle section of the broad S curve, about to pass under Edison Highway. It was here during the 1870s the PW&B initially connected with the Union Railroad, an operation founded by the Canton Company to bring more rail service to their port.

Links: LoC 1970s aerial, bridge status


S Curve 2
Photos courtesy Johns Hopkins University

S Curve 2
Mile: 93.7 to 94.7 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: Topographic Maps

West of the first S curve lies another, sharper one within a Baltimore neighborhood called Middle East.

1937 aerial The 1937 aerial at right zooms into three sidings in this vicinity. The rightmost one, known as Patterson Park Yard, was at grade, the middle was elevated with bins below for coal, and the leftmost was covered.

The narrowest rowhouses seen here were 12 feet wide. Most south of the railroad have been torn down. As of this writing, many north of the railroad are abandoned; this was/is the roughest neighborhood on Baltimore's east side, though unlike the west side, here I have never been greeted by gunfire.

Aerial photos suggest the three sidings faded from use beginning during the 1950s, with the middle one still in use into the 1980s. Though none remain in service some artifacts can be found...


Collington Avenue

Collington Avenue
Mile: 94.0 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: C T6:
Map: Ba 35 F 11 Topographic Maps

The bridge for the middle of the three sidings, the one with the drop bins, survives in a disused state to span Collington Avenue.

A Maryland Department of the Environment report tells the history:

    "The site was initially developed as a coal yard (Wilcox Ziegler Coal Storage Yard) in the 1800s and portions of the property continued this use until the 1980s. In 1928, the property was listed as Gross Coal Company. In 1956, the property was listed as the Potomac Coal Storage Yard. In 1964, the property was listed as Anderson Auto Sales. In 1969, portions of the property that were not utilized as a coal yard were used as an automotive sales and junk facility. In the 1960s and 1970s, Wise Fuel Oil operated on a portion of the property. In 1981, the property was purchased by James Kane from Penn Central Corp."


Chase Street

Chase Street
Mile: 94.1 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: A View: NE
Area: C- T6:
Map: Ba 35 F 11 Topographic Maps

The leftmost siding still hangs on at the edge of the bridge at Chase Street near Castle Street. The in-service section of the rust bridge looks to have been rehabbed by Amtrak, but the siding has been left as is, which is lucky for us because it displays the only surviving, if faded, "The Pennsylvania Railroad" paint I've found in the Baltimore area.

The masonry of the bridges in this area is a combination of stone and concrete because the PRR widened all of them from 2 to 4 tracks during the 1930s. In places the pervasive menace known as rust washes down from the catenary poles to stain the masonry to almost a PRR red.

Anyone who has been trackside in a storm knows shiny rails begin showing rust within seconds of being pelted by rain drops.


Traffic Signals

Traffic Signals
Mile: 94.2 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: A View: W
Area: D T6: 309
Map: Ba 35 F 10 Topographic Maps

The elevated RR shadows intersections of Biddle Street at Washington Street, where the PB&W had maintained a station, as well as here where Preston meets Wolfe. Traffic signals on unique mounting poles sprout from the supports.

Links: Biddle Street Station, 1945 trackside details, ordered west to east


Broadway

Broadway
Mile: 94.6 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: A- View: E
Area: D T6:
Map: Ba 35 E 10 Topographic Maps

Ths S curves end at Broadway, the widest of the crossings. If this view looks familiar, you have seen it in a few Season 4 episodes of The Wire where Marlo and his henchmen discuss plans as Amtrak trains roll by, similar to the southbound led by AMTK 621 in this photo. Johns Hopkins Hospital is about a half mile south of here.


From Bond Street

From Bond Street
Mile: 94.6 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: A- View: E
Area: D T6: 324
Map: Ba 35 E 10 Topographic Maps

Southbound AMTK 2003 is about to cross Broadway then enter Union Tunnel. This is the obstructed view from Bond Street above the tunnel's north (east) portal.

Broadway Tower had controlled switching at this end of the tunnel until demolished during September 1924 when its functions were transferred to Union Junction Tower at the other end of the tunnel.


Union Tunnel

Union Tunnel
Mile: 94.6 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: D T6: 230, 326
Map: Ba 35 E 10 Topographic Maps

URR 1871 As Baltimore grew, the streets became too crowded to be shared by trains, so during 1871 the Canton Company's Union Railroad (URR) began drilling under Hoffman Street in order to reach the Jones Falls Valley where the Northern Central operated. The tunnel on the right opened in 1873, and in 1935 the PRR added the adjacent, wider tunnel on the left. Both tunnels make a straight run of about 2/3rds of a mile; one can see light from the opposite end of the original tunnel.

After decades of decline, during the 2010s the surrounding neighborhood started to gentrify, being propped up by nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital that has been buying abandoned houses, rehabbing some, and selling them to employees at deep discount.

The two gray color boxes above AMTK 634 appear to be communications related.

Links: 1870s engraving, 2011, JHH Eager Park


Power

Power
Mile: 94.6 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: D T6:
Map: Ba 35 E 10 Topographic Maps

The original Union Tunnel did not anticipate electric trains so did undervoltage relays not have sufficient clearance for two tracks with catenary. After the tunnel's floor was lowered, one centered powered track was installed.

Adjacent the tunnel is this disused, and mostly pillaged, utility box, with a few bits of remaining equipment like these General Electric undervoltage relays that appear to date from the 1930s.

From here to Washington the PRR employed Oilostatic Okonite Cable for its 132 kV transmission lines, that choice driven by the special needs of running power lines through the Union and B&P Tunnels. Between 2004 and 2009 these original cables were replaced since they had outlived their expected service life.

Link: replacement project report (PDF)


South Portal
Photos courtesy Amtrak

South Portal
Mile: 95.3 Date: 2013
Ease: B View: E
Area: C+ T6: 229
Map: Ba 35 C 10 Topographic Maps

AMTK 2002 emerges from the original tunnel's south (west) portal on a snowy day. The newer, double-track tunnel is adjacent off photo-edge right.

Link: 2013


Hill

Hill
Mile: 95.5 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: C View: E
Area: B- T6: 230, 325
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

overhead view Both tunnels are visible as AMTK 634 peeks out from the south portal. These views illustrate the hill through which the tunnels bore. During the 1930s, houses on the south side of Hoffman Street were demolished, presumably to acquire rights to put the second tunnel under their land.

The treed area on the left is part of Green Mount Cemetery.


Turntable
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University

Turntable
Mile: 95.4 Date: 1927
Ease: A View: N (up)
Area: B- T6: 230, 314
Map: Ba 35 C 10 Topographic Maps

CS Tower stood at the south portal, revealed by its trackside shadow below the L in Belvidere. By 1927 the only remnant of the Northern Central's Guilford Avenue Engine Terminal, a repair facility, was its turntable used to spin locomotives to face the desired direction (circle left of photo center).

That turntable endured into the 1950s before 1) the JFX (I-83) was built over boxcars 2018 the Jones Falls, and 2) wye trackage was added as a substitute. The wye also supported trains heading south to customers such as the Baltimore Sun newspaper at its former location within Calvert Street Station (Calvert at Franklin). Calvert Street Station was built by the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad, which was later incorporated into the Northern Central Railway.

In the 2018 view (left), the turntable had been at photo center, just beyond the red PRR boxcars stranded here for decades as storage.

Link: pics 1940s - 1960s


Amtrak 2035

Amtrak 2035
Mile: 95.5 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- T6: 319
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

signals After emerging from Union Tunnel, as seen from track level this southbound is rolling under Guilford Avenue, and slowing to stop at Penn Station.

As the train clears, the second tunnel's south portal becomes visible in the distance; "1934" is embossed above the portal. Unlike the north portal, for reasons unknown this opening is rectangular. In the foreground are two types of PRR signals, a dwarf and a pedestal, both still in service.

Link: MARC 7853 in 2012


Union Junction

Union Junction
Mile: 95.5 Date: Jun 2018
Ease: B View: W
Area: B- T6: 313, 319
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Upon quick glance from Guilford Avenue, many people mistake the building at left for Baltimore's Penn Station, whereas actually the structure is a former US Post Office Union Junction Tower Parcel Post facility (sometimes incorrectly described as a Post Office) that handled package shipments via rail.

Penn Station is hiding behind. One can see a small piece of it beyond the right edge of the near building.

At photo center, track level, previously stood Union Junction Tower; photo at right credit Library of Congress.

Links: LoC source photo, same view in 1958, MARC 4915 in 2012


Union Junction Tower
Photos credit Library of Congress

Union Junction Tower
Mile: 95.5 Date: 1983
Ease: View: NW
Area: T6: 313, 319
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Union Junction Tower was built during 1910 with powered interlockings as an upgrade of Greenmount Junction Tower at the same location. levers

The tower was upgraded again in 1935 to handle changes brought by the line's electrification. Most of the 95 electro-pneumatic switch levers installed at that time endured until the tower was removed during the 1980s to give way to train control from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since in this system compressed air at approximately 80 psi was moving the track switches, the operator did not need the leverage supplied by long levers.


1974 Aerial
Photo credit Library of Congress

1974 Aerial
Mile: 95.5 Date: 1974
Ease: View: NW
Area: T6: 313, 319
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

The area around Penn Station is captured in this 1974 view from above Guilford Avenue. Union Junction Tower is at the bottom.

Link: LoC source photo


Disused Pole

Disused Pole
Mile: 95.6 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: B- View: W
Area: T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

caution Though Amtrak actively removes disused railroad items, it has let stand this old catenary pole that dates to when Track A ran along the south side of the Parcel Post building and Penn Station.

It is the only non-electrified former catenary pole around Penn Station, and, ironically, the only one with a sign that reads "Caution Overhead Power Lines". That's Calvert Street behind, and I-83 / JFX on the left.

Link: night 1980


PC 7243
Photo credit Library of Congress

PC 7243
Mile: 95.6 Date: 1974
Ease: View: NE
Area: T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

We're getting closer. On the south side of Penn Station and adjacent the JFX, that's a GP9 locomotive the ill-fated Penn Central had inherited from the Pennsylvania RR. At the time, Maine Central's slogan was "Modern Efficient Cushioning," a play on their MEC reporting mark.

Long before MARC, local commuter trains operated by PRR and NC pulled up to this side of Penn Station.

Link: LoC source photo


Pennsylvania Station
Photo credit Library of Congress

Pennsylvania Station
Mile: 95.5 Date: 1974
Ease: View: N
Area: T6: 311, 317
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Penn Station's marble ediface practically glows on a bright 1970s day a few years after Amtrak had assumed passenger service from bankrupt Penn Central.

The Northern Central Railway's Charles Street Station that opened during 1873 was first at this location. That wooden structure was quickly outgrown and replaced in 1886 by a brick Union Station. That endured about twice as long until the even larger Union Station seen in this photo opened during 1911. Its name was later changed to Pennsylvania Station.

In 1911 "Union Station" was something of a misnomer because most of the trains that stopped here were under control of the PRR, plus the city's native B&O was left out. Both the Western Maryland and Maryland & Pennsylvania railroads had their own stations in the area so only a few of their trains served Union Station.

Link: LoC source photo, 1983


From Charles Street

From Charles Street
Mile: 95.7 Date: Feb 1999
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B T6: 236, 312, 314
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Male/Female statue Nov 2018 Penn Stations survive in many of the major cities that had been served by the Pennsy: New York, Wilmington, Philadelphia, among others.

Only Baltimore's has an aluminum Male/Female statue outside. The controversial 2004 installation seems to have grown on people as time passes. It makes an excellent identifier for a meeting location, "I'll look for you at the statue."

Links to older pictures: Union Station, 1917, 1974


Busy

Busy
Mile: 95.8 Date: Sep 2016
Ease: B View: E
Area: C T6: 236
Map: Ba 35 A 10 Topographic Maps

That's Charles Street right-to-left in the foreground. As the quantity of taxis suggests, this remains a busy rail passenger station served by Amtrak, MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter), and Baltimore's light rail.

Links: 1974, 1974, 1974


Interior

Interior
Mile: 95.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B T6: 385
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

The main waiting area had this appearance during the late 20th Century. When a gate opened ticket holders would walk down stairs to platforms below.

Links: 2014, exterior and interior photos


Inside Penn Station

Inside Penn Station
Mile: 95.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

The interior of the station had been drab and claustrophobic since the elevator Nov 2018 Amtrak takeover, but in the 1990s received a facelift that brightened it significantly.

A happy consequence of Amtrak's limited budgets is the retention of many original decorative station components, some still in their early 1900s form, such as these elevator doors. The mechanism and controls are newer, but the doors have been kept; at some point a restoration of their paint/art is in order. Had the money flowed, by now all this equipment would likely have been scrapped for some generic 1970s, non-artistic model that has more lights and beeps.


Penn Station Track

Penn Station Track
Mile: 95.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Trains stop behind the station. The MARC car on the right, with Pennsylvania RR keystone herald and "Alliance Inn", is a former PRR PS21B sleeper car built by the Budd Company in 1949. It underwent several remodels, and is now part of the B&O Museum collection where it is used for Mile One Express train rides.

Link: history of this car


Amtrak 946

Amtrak 946
Mile: 95.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

At photo time the platforms were being remodeled. As these AEM-7 locomotives stairs Nov 2018 aged they were joined on the Northeast Corridor by Amtrak's Acela model. This paint scheme was perhaps the AEM-7's most attractive.

Original platform columns and stairways remain in place as of 2018, survivors from the end of the Beaux-Arts era, ready for restoration instead of removal. Until the 1960s passengers boarded from the ground level.

Link: more AEM-7 model photos


Light Rail

Light Rail
Mile: 95.6 Date: Nov 2018
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

As MTA 5004 will attest, Baltimore's light rail system has a spur to the station.


Amtrak 905

Amtrak 905
Mile: 95.6 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 35 B 10 Topographic Maps

Having recently passed through the B&P Tunnels, northbound AMTK 905 slows to stop.

On the next tour page we'll journey through those tunnels.


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