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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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1882_map

1882 Map
Mile: 100 Date: 1882
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Continuing southwest from where the Claremont Branch wye later met the B&P line, one quickly reaches the site of the Catonsville Short Line (CSL), a Class III railroad that served Catonsville, Maryland. Though the CSL ceased operation during 1972, enough artifacts are found to warrant its own tour pages.

Perhaps due to property or grading problems, the CSL met the B&P a short distance northeast of the B&P's St. Agnes Station. The resulting inconvenience to passengers caused St. Agnes Station to be replaced by Loudon Park Station nearer the CSL junction.

The exact location of the B&P's St. Agnes Station has proved elusive. Though the station is named on E. Robinson's 1882 map of The City of Baltimore and Vicinity, the map is ambiguous about the station's location. On the map different colors depict different owners of adjacent land parcels, but which of the small squares represents the station? The overlaid red question mark and arrows suggest two candidates.

During years following this map, Joseph Brinkley's property would be added to Loudon Park Cemetery, and Maidens Choice Road south of the cemetery would be erased, its traffic shifted to the newer and straighter Wilkens Avenue.


Saint Agnes Station

Saint Agnes Station
Mile: 100.4 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6: 337
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

By 1927 buildings survived at both candidate station locations, and Wilkens Avenue had taken over for Maidens Choice Road. That plus the addition of the CSL had caused the B&P in 1885 to abandon Saint Agnes Station for a smaller one about 1200 feet northeast at CSL junction

Polk's Baltimore Maryland City business directory of 1906 describes it, "LOUDON PARK STATION (B&P RR), SE side of Loudon Park Cemetery." The B&P name hung on after it was incorporated into the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad during 1902. Remember, these were little more than names since both companies were under control of the PRR.


Amtrak 650
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Amtrak 650
Mile: 100.2 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: A- View: N
Area: C T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

On a fine autumn day AMTK 650 nears the site of Loudon Park Station, and Loudon Park Cemetery. Serious railfans in their own autumn need look no further for a burial spot with a view.


Loudon Park Station

Loudon Park Station
Mile: 100.2 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6: 337
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Loudon Park Station was one of three B&P structures on the northwest side of the main line tracks between the CSL and the Claremont Branch.

The largest structure was SA Cabin, later named Loudon Park Tower, southwest of a passageway under the tracks that connected Primson Avenue with the cemetery. Loudon Park Station, little more than a waiting shack, sat north of the passageway.


Artifacts

Artifacts
Mile: 100.2 Date: Oct 2016
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B- T6: 338
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

These cut stones are likely remnants of Loudon Park Station's foundation, platform, or stairs. In the cemetery a path of slate pavers leads to this location, but during 2018 Amtrak added fences that block your way to the tracks. The dark red utility box occupies the site of Loudon Park Tower. Between the station and tower is the passageway under the tracks. Aerial photos indicate decreasing use of the passage, as evidenced by increasing plant growth, starting during the 1960s.


Passageway

Passageway
Mile: 100.2 Date: Oct 2016
Ease: B View: SE
Area: C+ T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

The passageway looks surprisingly modern, lined with concrete rather than cut stone. This was a logical place for the CSL and B&P to exchange passengers not only because it is where the two lines met but also because from here people could access both St. Agnes Hospital and Loudon Park Cemetery. Primrose Avenue had connected with the passageway.


1939 Aerial
Photo credit The Baltimore Sun, fair use

1939 Aerial
Mile: 100.3 Date: 1939
Ease: View: W
Area: T6: 338
Map: Ba 42 E 4 Topographic Maps

At first glance this 1939 aerial photo by The Baltimore Sun newspaper appears ready to help, but unfortunately is too low a resolution for us to pick out small trackside structures.

A 1945 Pennsylvania RR list of the Maryland Division confirms Loudon Park Station was located between the Claremont Branch and the CSL junction:

  • Jct. B. & O. R. R. / Baltimore MD / PRR / Interchange / Claremont Branch - 8692
  • Station / Loudon Park MD / PRR / Main Line - 8750
  • Jct. C. S. L. R. R. / Loudon Park MD / PRR / Main Line - 8750
    • Public Delivery / Kenwood MD / PRR / R Freight - All Kinds / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - 8754
    • Public Delivery / State Asylum MD / PRR / R Freight - All Kinds / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - 8756
    • Spring Grove State Hospital / State Asylum MD / PRR / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - 8756
    • J. S. Wilson Co. / Catonsville MD / PRR / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - CV
    • Public Delivery / Catonsville MD / PRR / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - CV
    • End of Catonsville Short Line Railroad / Catonsville MD / PRR / Catonsville Short Line Railroad - CV


Start

Start
Mile: 100.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: SW
Area: B- T6: 339
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Even if the stations and stops are inscrutable, the CSL itself is more evident. As seen from the tuscan red equipment box, the vague gap in the trees right of the boulder reveals where the CSL had ventured. At the right edge of the photo the weeds diminish because Maidens Choice Creek flows below.

The boulder serves no railroad purpose but rests where an 1895 topographical map says an old Baltimore City boundary stone was placed. This was the city's limit after the so-called Belt Annexation of 1888 moved the city's southwest corner to within Loudon Park Cemetery a half mile west of this boulder. Baltimore City would expand to its current (2019) size in 1918.

Change for: Catonsville Short Line tour at this site


Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge
Mile: 100.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B+ View: SE
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Unlike the B&O's Old Main Line, few original stone arch bridges survive along the Pennsylvania RR's line through central Maryland. This one has been modified multiple times, first widened with stone to support the CSL, and later with concrete to shore up weaknesses.


Interior

Interior
Mile: 100.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

The interior's dog leg and masonry products reveal the extent of modifications during the bridge's more-than-150-year life.


AC Motor Stop
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

AC Motor Stop
Mile: 100.3 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: SW
Area: C T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

AC Motor Stop 55 speed A.C. Motor Stop signs are posted where the catenary ends for a given track. The drilled "pixels" endure in a way paint does not.

Some much newer signs, such as the speed 55 at right, emulate the drilled style only in appearance.


Amtrak 625

Amtrak 625
Mile: 100.3 Date: Sep 2015
Ease: B View: S
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 2 Topographic Maps

Bloede Mfg Co 1894 AMTK 625 model ACS-64 speeds past the Loudon Park Substation; some PRR documents spell it Louden Park. This location, also known as Violetville, has long been associated with electricity: in the vicinity were offices of Victor G. Bloede, the person who financed Bloede Dam as part of the Patapsco Electric & Manufacturing Company.

Links: 1970s LoC photo, more about Victor G. Bloede


MARC 33

MARC 33
Mile: 100.3 Date: Aug 2015
Ease: B View: S
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 C 3 Topographic Maps

Occasionally you'll see a mashup of MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) equipment like this: two engines of different designs hauling a mix of bi-level and single-level cars. One standard is the frontmost car is always a quiet car intended for passengers to read, relax, or work rather than talk.

The portion of the Northeast Corridor covered by this tour is known as the Penn Line to the commuters aboard this train. In the background is an overpass carrying Wilkens Avenue.


Safety Stand
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Safety Stand
Mile: 100.9 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

Tall switch stands like this improve visibility of the setting. Another of this design is labeled "Bethlehem Steel Co. Mainline Safety Stand". tanks

This siding is one of few along the NEC between Baltimore and DC that as of 2019 still receives freight service by rail, though the weeds tell you it's not frequent. Each tank car gets its own set of connections.


Amtrak 2013

Amtrak 2013
Mile: 101.1 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

At milepost 101 AMTK 2013 lifts its train over the line's highest spot between Baltimore and the Patapsco River. Note the solar-powered track greaser.


Obscured Signals

Obscured Signals
Mile: 101.1 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

General Railway Signal Co. These signals are placed oddly close to the catenary's horizontal support. Judging by milepost 101, they are also numbered 2 too high.

General Railway Signal Co. equipment from the PRR era remains on duty.

The track on the left leads to the switch stand.


Amtrak 635

Amtrak 635
Mile: 101.1 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: B+ View: S
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

Nine passenger cars chase AMTK 635.

With each engine's pantograph touching and sliding along the overhead power-supply wire in order to draw electricity, one might wonder how quickly that wire wears down and needs to be replaced. Though that wire can endure well over a century, most of the NEC's original 1930s catenary was restrung during the 1960s to support higher-speed trains.


PC 884
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew
NEW! late-Feb 2020

PC 884
Mile: 101.1 Date: 1973
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

By 1973 Amtrak had assumed passenger duties from failed Penn Central, but had not yet repainted all the rolling stock, such as these Metroliner cars.

non-Metroliner 1973 During its early years, Amtrak cobbled together non-Metroliner service from a hodge-podge of equipment, as seen at left.

What's that to the right of the closest track? It appears to be fresh rail waiting installation, except its edges are rusting, which suggests it been sitting there for years. Perhaps the transition from PC to Amtrak delayed such maintenance of way.


PC 4824
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew
NEW! late-Feb 2020

PC 4824
Mile: 101.1 Date: 1973
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 B 4 Topographic Maps

Penn Central's freight operations continued through 1976 when it gave way to Conrail. Here PC 4419 (model E44) shares duty with ex-Pennsylvania RR GG1s 4824 and 4836, the latter two built during 1935. The lead engine's number is not known.

mixed freight 1973 ACFX 23270 in 1973 Their mixed freight consist included NYC 86901, Norfolk Franklin and Danville NFD 2151, Watkins Salt SHPX 63533, PRR 261167, and ACFX 23270. At photo time ACFX was a division of General Electric Rail Services; the tank car at right was likely built around 1950 when ACFX was part of American Car and Foundry. You might still be able to spot a car on duty with NYC or PRR reporting marks, but by 2020 most were either repainted or retired.

Links: PC 4419, PC 4824, PC 4836


Rusty
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Rusty
Mile: 101.2 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: N
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 5 Topographic Maps

On the east side of the tracks it's been awhile since a freight rolled past this box. Anyone know the purpose of the box?

Links: CR 6211 at Knecht Aveunue in 1981, 1981


Heat Shimmer

Heat Shimmer
Mile: 101.7 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 6 Topographic Maps

To that catenary horizontal support pole, add wires plus heat shimmer, and those signals are not easily read from a half mile away.


Beltway

Beltway
Mile: 101.7 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 6 Topographic Maps

Automobile roads built after the railroad sometimes necessitated modifications to the catenary, such as pole relocations or height changes. That's why some poles are less rusted at Baltimore's I-695 Beltway that cut through here during 1957. The bridges for both the inner and outer loops were widened in a series of steps during the 2004 to 2018 period.


Cell Tower
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Cell Tower
Mile: 101.7 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: A View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 6 Topographic Maps

"It's a tall catenary pole." - "It's a cell tower." - Wait, you're both right!

It's someone's job to climb among the live wires to maintain the cell equipment. I'll stick to writing about it.

Link: SNL Shimmer floor wax dessert topping


Limited Speed Sign
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Limited Speed Sign
Mile: 101.9 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 6 Topographic Maps

resume speed sign S advises limited speed on the track ahead, R designates resume normal speed.

These signs are often found in the vicinity of track repair work.


Access Cover
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Access Cover
Mile: 101.9 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 6 Topographic Maps

Usually the cable access ports do not protrude from the ground as far as this. Perhaps recent trackwork has disturbed the amount of ballast.

The digits on the cover, 714 in this case, match those of the closest orange-color cable marker.


Water Gantry

Water Gantry
Mile: 102.0 Date: Jan 2018
Ease: B+ View: W
Area: B T6: 343
Map: Ba 42 A 7 Topographic Maps

water Apr 1938 A disused water gantry can be identified by its A-frame-style supports. This is one of just two such gantries that survive along the 60 miles of line covered by this tour. This gantry does not appear in a 1927 aerial but does by 1938 (left) so, ironically, it dates to around the time the catenary was added. Not coincidentally this one stands near a small stream. Prior to the 1930s electrification of the line, similar gantries also held semaphore-style signals.

The standard PRR steam locomotive water station included a wooden water tank standing high on four concrete pads similar to those supporting the A frame. In this fuzzy 1938 aerial the object at bottom right might be the tank. Since learning this, I have not been to the site to look for the concrete pads.


Masonry Culvert
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Masonry Culvert
Mile: 102.0 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 7 Topographic Maps

brick This one-of-a-kind circular masonry culvert was likely lengthened to support additional tracks above. Its opposite (inlet) side is of cruder construction and thus may be original.


Railroad Tree
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Railroad Tree
Mile: 102.0 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: ?
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 7 Topographic Maps

And the foreman says rail components don't grow on trees.


Amtrak 921
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Amtrak 921
Mile: 102.0 Date: Oct 2007
Ease: B View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 7 Topographic Maps

When the B&P line was being built, the population outside the city areas was less dense, which eased property acquistion for longer stretches of straight track.


Arbutus 1927
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University

Arbutus 1927
Mile: 102.4 Date: 1927
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 8 Topographic Maps

The B&P runs north/south through Arbutus, Maryland. I believe Arbutus Station was the small structure at the top of the A in (SULPHUR SPRING) "ROAD". The rail-served industry seen southeast of it did not survive the Great Depression. Now Waelchli Avenue traces the path of the short siding.


Amtrak 611

Amtrak 611
Mile: 102.3 Date: Jan 2018
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: B- T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 7 Topographic Maps

AMTK 611 is about to pass defect detectors at Sulphur Spring Road's former grade crossing. The grade crossing was closed around 1950 concurrent with the construction of the adjacent Southwest Boulevard.


Sulphur Spring Road

Sulphur Spring Road
Mile: 102.3 Date: Jan 2014
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B T6:
Map: Ba 42 A 8 Topographic Maps

Southwest Boulevard is the closer overpass; the catenary poles beyond reveal where you'll find the Northeast Corridor. Most area roads bridge over the railroad; Sulphur Spring is one of only two non-dead-end roads between Baltimore City and downtown Washington that run under the railroad.


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