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B&O Washington Branch Photo Tour


B&O Washington Branch
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.


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Licking Run

Licking Run
Mile: 14.5 Date: May 2002
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 K 1, Ho 20 E 12 Topographic Maps

With help from paths made by dirt bikers, it was possible to wind your way down from the tracks to this 1835-era culvert. It's been shored up since with concrete (and spray paint), but someone has created a walkway to the entrance. Are people crazy enough to dirt bike through here? The opening is about 4 feet high.

This stream is unnamed on the ADC maps. A rule of thumb: unnamed streams on the ADC maps are usually spanned via culverts, and named streams are usually spanned via stone arched or steel bridges. An 1860 Martenet's map names this stream "Licking Run".


Stringers

Stringers
Mile: 14.5 Date: May 2002
Ease: C View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 K 1, Ho 20 E 12 Topographic Maps

But the real surprise comes if you employ the wooden walkway to get close enough to the culvert to look inside: many of the granite blocks are recycled stone stringers! These had been used for the initial (circa 1830) track construction on the Old Main Line. I've marked with small circles some of the holes where the iron strap rail had been affixed to the heavy blocks.

In 1830 these blocks had been hewn by hand, and B&O wasn't one to waste all that effort. When the stringers proved unacceptable as a track bed on the OML, B&O pulled most of them up, and obviously hauled some here.

This is one of only two known bridges/culverts to have been built primarily with the recycled stringers, but there are likely others waiting to be discovered.


Collapse
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Collapse
Mile: 14.5 Date: Mar 2007
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 K 1, Ho 20 E 12 Topographic Maps

During 2007 the stringer culvert's concrete cap gave way. CSX deemed the remaining structure safe so merely tossed some erosion-reducing stone blocks down the embankment. Trees have since regrown in this area.


MARC 74

MARC 74
Mile: 14.7 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: A View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 E 12, AA 5 K 1 Topographic Maps

MARC 74 speeds commuters past Burnettes Spur. Though here the spur looks disused, railcars were seen on it during 2022. Per their web site, the Burnette company manufactures "technical polyurethane foams for the use in transportation, medical, acoustical, personal care, and other markets."


Montevideo Road

Montevideo Road
Mile: 14.9 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 D 13 Topographic Maps

CSX 7534 barrels southwest past dirty mounds of snow toward Montevideo Road, one of the busiest grade crossings on the line.


CSX 997

CSX 997
Mile: 14.9 Date: Apr 2021
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 D 13 Topographic Maps

For CSX 997, a run-in with a tree put an eye out, but the loco tore off one of the tree's limbs to carry proudly as a souvernir. CSX 3051 trails.


CSX 249

CSX 249
Mile: 14.9 Date: Apr 2021
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 D 13 Topographic Maps

Montiviedo Road CSX 364 follows 249. Plans have existed for decades to build an overpass for Montevideo Road.

In multiple railroad references, I have seen this, umm, let's call it an alternate spelling of the grade crossing road's name. I'd guess some master document has it spelled Montiviedo. The other side of this box shows the more-common Montevideo spelling.


Milepost 15

Milepost 15
Mile: 15.0 Date: Sep 2003
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 J 3, Ho 20 D 13 Topographic Maps

All the milestones I've located so far are on the Anne Arundel county side of the tracks. This one is tucked away so deep in the brush it's easily missed. Since photo time, this taken-for-gran1te stone has been removed.

At roughly this location over on US Route 1 had stood the One-Spot Flea Killer factory with its dog-shaped building. The site, in the southwest quadrant of US 1 and Hicks Road, is now occupied by a Super 8 motel.

Link: One-Spot Flea Killer


Jessup Station

Jessup Station
Mile: 15.7 Date: Sep 2000
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2: 312
Map: AA 5 G 4, Ho 20 K 5 Topographic Maps

Under a sky of puffy cumulus clouds, CSX 682 heads a westbound train of containers through Jessup on track 1.

An 1870s map shows B&O's Pierceland / Hooversville Station within the northeast quadrant of this former grade crossing, about where the passenger waiting shack is on the right. The Jessup Road grade crossing was eliminated during 1942.

Link: 1975


Jessup Road

Jessup Road
Mile: 15.7 Date: Sep 2000
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B IC2: 312
Map: AA 5 G 4, Ho 20 K 5 Topographic Maps

As of 2021, clearance at MD 175's / Jessup Road's bridge has not yet been signal expanded to permit passage of double stacks. The scene still looks much the same as in this 2000 photo except CSX has swapped out the CPL signals for their new counterparts, such as that at right.

Given the amount of effort CSX has expended since the mid-2000s to eradicate B&O's CPL signals, one might expect they'd use the opportunity to simultaneously convert to LEDs, but that did not happen, at least not here. Along the Penn Line, Amtrak has been changing signals from incandescent to LED. There is a downside to the LEDs though: they do not generate enough heat to melt snow, so are at risk of being obscured by a snowstorm.

Links: 1994, 2011


MARC 68

MARC 68
Mile: 15.7 Date: Jul 2018
Ease: A- View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 K 5, AA 5 G 4 Topographic Maps

MARC's last remaining model GP40WH-2 engine in revenue service pushes through Jessup at 80 mph. This had been Conrail engine 3205. MARC 17 is along for the ride.

Link: MARC 68 pics


Jessup Parking

Jessup Parking
Mile: 15.7 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2: 312
Map: AA 5 G 4, Ho 20 K 5 Topographic Maps

The Jessup commuter station has parking room for about 50 cars but even on a weekday it goes underutilized. During the 2010s signs of this style were erected at all MARC stations.


Weld

Weld
Mile: 16.0 Date: Sep 2003
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 G 5, Ho 20 J 5 Topographic Maps

Mr. Carnegie, meet Mr. Illinois.

Two rails, from two different manufacturing plants, from two different years, become one via continuously welded rail, aka "ribbon rail".


MARC

MARC
Mile: 16.1 Date: Sep 2003
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 G 5, Ho 20 J 5 Topographic Maps

Churning a cloud of dust behind, MARC engine 61 pushes this set of 3 commuter cars toward DC during an early autumn afternoon. To reduce the need for turning, MARC engines are designed for remote operation from the end passenger car.

In the foreground is one of only two concrete whistle signs I've seen surviving on the Washington Branch.


New Signals

New Signals
Mile: 16.1 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 G 5, Ho 20 J 5 Topographic Maps

Checking the site 14 years later finds new signals.

Too small to be worth showing is a concrete block on the right just beyond the signals, the last relic of a spur that brought coal to the prison at Jessup. The spur shows up first on 1907 USGS topo maps, and is visible in aerial photos into the 1960s after which it was removed when the prison shifted away from coal for heating. Perhaps during the early decades prisoners were also transported via train.


Widening

Widening
Mile: 16.2 Date: Apr 2021
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

Retaining walls (unseen on right) have been installed on the northwest side of the line in preparation for one more track into Jessup Yard (distant left).


Not Wye

Not Wye
Mile: 16.2 Date: Apr 2021
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

This connection with the Waterloo Branch (foreground, and subject of the next tour page) was not remade into a wye. Jessup Yard already has a wye closer to it should the need arise to turn an engine around.


Signals

Signals
Mile: 16.2 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

Despite heat-induced atmospheric distortion, with digital camera at max zoom in the past we could look almost a half mile north back toward Jessup Station to find the old color position light signals. Since then, CSX has replaced all but a few CPLs.

The bridge in the distance carries MD 175 over the tracks.

The amber signal seen here means "Medium Approach Medium", that is, proceed at medium speed approaching the next signal at medium speed.

Reader Ralph Hough wrote:

    "hey steve. i am a conductor for csx and i was looking at your website. very nice site i thought. i really enjoy learning the history of the b&o. one thing i need to bring to your attention is mile 7.2 picture (signals) the amber signal is 'approach' not 'medium approach medium'. i followed your link to mikes signal page and he has it wrong also. again, very nice website. i will be stopping back frequently. thanks...."

Ex-B&Oer Mike Blair added detail:

    "Conductor Hough is quite correct that the one displayed in your picture is an approach signal and would require The engineer to immediately reduce to medium speed and approach the signal at Dorsey prepared to stop. ( !! UNLESS his train was greater than 7300 feet long ! In which case he would have to act quickly to stop at Montevideo Road to avoid blocking the roadway, since trains greater than that length will not fit between the road and Dorsey signal.)"

Links to illustrated descriptions of signals: Mike's B&O Signals Page, Todd's CPL Home Page


Seven Dwarves
NEW! Jan 2022

Seven Dwarves
Mile: 16.2 Date: Dec 2021
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

With the 2021 addition of a second track into Jessup Yard, CSX installed dwarf signals that are numbered, the only such application of which I've seen.


jockeying
NEW! Jan 2022

Jockeying
Mile: 16.2 Date: Dec 2021
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

As an autorack train reaches each numbered dwarf, the signal changes to a very holiday-appropriate green-over-red. I believe these signals are intended to instruct not a train approaching from behind the camera, but rather CSX 7259 as it jockeys back and forth to gather empty autoracks.


Dorsey Run

Dorsey Run
Mile: 16.3 Date: Apr 2001
Ease: B View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 G 6, Ho 20 J 6 Topographic Maps

bridge 17b This B&O bridge over Dorsey Run is the only one I've found with both brick arch and brick interior walls. Its masonry appears more modern than that found in brick arch examples dating to the 1870s. I suspect brick was used to reline an original stone arch here, or this could be the last brick arch bridge built by B&O.

About 200 feet behind me were the noisy grounds of the Maryland House of Correction aka "the Cut". Multiple guard towers overlook this bridge.

The stones in the foreground, near the base of the large tree, are evidence of an older bridge, one for the road that had been the prison's south entrance.


1969 Widening

1969 Widening
Mile: 16.3 Date: Apr 2021
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 J 6, AA 5 G 6 Topographic Maps

The upstream end is archless and appears to be a 1969 addition to support one lead track into the then-new Jessup Yard. It was extended farther during 2021 for a second yard track.



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