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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.


Tarmac Switcher

Tarmac Switcher
Mile: 17.8 Date: Feb 2000
Ease: A View: N
Area: C+ IC2: 95
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

Here's a closer and slightly older (Feb 2000) picture of the blue, ex-Lehigh Valley, ex-Conrail U23B switcher 2779 when the plant was operated by Tarmac. Prior to that it was operated by Whimpey Minerals, and after by Vulcan Materials.

Link: 2004


Conveyor

Conveyor
Mile: 17.8 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

At the minerals plant, hopper cars are pushed onto the former Annapolis & Elk Ridge RR right of way and in the process pass over this area where their contents are dumped through the screen seen here onto a conveyor system waiting below.

Visible behind the conveyor's lift in the distance is the MD 32 bridge.


CSX 8414

CSX 8414
Mile: 17.8 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: A View: NE
Area: C+ IC2: 95
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The mineral plant's elevator rises behind CSX 8414 while the engine waits for the red signal to clear. The bridge behind the signal is that of MD 32.


Cantilevered Signal

Cantilevered Signal
Mile: 17.8 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: A View: NE
Area: C+ IC2: 95
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Zooming from the same spot as the prior photo shows the elderly cantilever signal stand. It's only after surveying most of the route that I've grown to appreciate this rusty survivor. In fact, it's the only one of this vintage I've seen on the Washington Branch. Two others can be found on the Old Main Line at West Baltimore (Gable Road), though I've heard they've been replaced within the past few years.

Sharper-eyed railfans than me have pointed out this is an 8-lamp CPL, an uncommon breed. Most CPLs max out at 6 lamps, choosing to go naked at the NW and SE slots. Eight-lampers are installed where there is the occasional need to display what is known as a "Rule 290" Restricted Speed signal, a warning that unsignalled track lay ahead.

As of May 2013 this signal is not longer extant: CSX replaced it with newer-style signals.


Roster Shot

Roster Shot
Mile: 17.8 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: A View: E
Area: C+ IC2: 95
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps
Henkel's 1930s

The standard "roster shot" angle is one you won't see very often at this Web site. This time it serves to illustrate this engine's gray paint scheme.

You can drive right to the spot at which I snapped this photo. From MD 32 take the Dorsey Run Road exit, then find Henkels Lane which parallels 32 on the south side. Drive to where it ends trackside. A decade earlier Henkel's Restaurant would have blocked the view, as in the 1930s photo at right from near the same spot as mine; the photo appears to include a B&O penstock (water for steam engines) at right. Henkel's 1980s menu

Until it closed in 1997, Henkel's was located within a ~100 year old Annapolis Junction hotel. The restaurant was famous for its overstuffed sandwiches, and was a favorite of railroad crews. A menu dating to the 1980s is inset at right. In 1999, the building was intentionally burned down for a fireman training exercise.

Link: Henkel's history


Parking Deck

Parking Deck
Mile: 17.9 Date: Sep 2014
Ease: A- View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 G 9 Topographic Maps

During the 2010s CSX upgraded the stretch west from Annapolis Junction with new signals, switches and track. The switch near photo center suggests room for expansion, possibly a new Savage station siding for MARC trains.

In the distance, multi-deck parking for commuters is under construction adjacent to the MARC station. The edge of expanding Fort Meade is two miles to the east.

Link: Fort Meade info


PA Tower

PA Tower
Mile: 18.0 Date: Sep 2014
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 G 10 Topographic Maps

One last look back as we depart Annapolis Junction... in case you are wondering, at photo time the U23B switcher still called this place home, and sat behind the distant gravel pile.

PA Tower? CSX normally calls this area Fort Meade Junction, so why the PA Tower label? Can anyone chime in?


Mile Stone 18

Mile Stone 18
Mile: 18.0 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: A View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 G 10 Topographic Maps

Neglected, forgotten and hiding in weeds is original mile stone 18, which sits 18 rail miles from Baltimore. The opposite side of the marker has the mileage engravings, but is partially obscured by a discarded slab of concrete which is pushing the marker and causing it to lean. This is not a very respectful way to treat a loyal worker who has been on the job since around 1835.

I was unable to refind the stone marker while visiting the site during 2014.


Savage Station

Savage Station
Mile: 18.1 Date: Sep 2000
Ease: A View: NE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 D 9, Ho 20 G 10 Topographic Maps

Helping Annapolis Junction fade into the past is the normally quite busy commuter station named Savage. It's located only a short distance west of the old railroad town.


Departing Station

Departing Station
Mile: 18.1 Date: Jun 2004
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

MARC 57 has just discharged evening commuters, and now it has a green light to continue toward Baltimore. This 8-lamp CPL is no longer extant.


From Deck
Photo courtesy Kirk Nabors
NEW! Aug 2015

From Deck
Mile: 18.1 Date: Jul 2015
Ease: B+ View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

The parking deck provides a great vantage point even if the NSA (distant right) can see you.


Looking West

Looking West
Mile: 18.2 Date: Jan 2003
Ease: A View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 D 10, Ho 20 F 10 Topographic Maps

On a rainy winter day this is the view of westbound trains shortly after they depart Savage Station. Brock Bridge Road parallels the tracks.

A map from around 1900 shows a road split off here to the left, headed south, crossed the Patuxent River and connected into what is now the Russett Community accessed via Rt. 198.


Spur

Spur
Mile: 18.6 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: C View: W
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 F 10, AA 5 C 9 Topographic Maps

An almost mile-long spur splits off from a siding to serve the area around the Little Patuxent Water Treatment Plant. Until the 1980s, this spur connected to a large number of industrial facilities in both the Corridor Industrial Park and Junction Business Park. Much of that track has been pulled up, but some still does venture far enough west to cross Greenwood Place. As of 2004, the track there has some shine to it and a few boxcars are sitting on a siding.

Brock Bridge Road parallels the tracks on the left, but is too low to provide a view of this spur. Despite driving past here many times, until recently I did not know this spur still existed.

Reader Al Moran filled in some details:

    "The track that parallels the mains west from Jessup to Savage is called the Westbound Storage Track and the track to the Corridor Industrial Park comes off of it. You are right in that you can't see it from the road because it is at a lower elevation then the main. At one time, there were at least 20 customers up there but now there is only one, Hannah Paper."


On Spur

On Spur
Mile: 18.6, spur Date: Oct 2003
Ease: C View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 E 9, AA 5 C 9 Topographic Maps

Autumn colors are just starting along the infrequently used spur, where a lonely coal hopper sits on a siding. In the background, someone is very serious about getting good TV reception. (Anyone know who operates this tall communications antenna?)

Reader Russ Forte wrote to say:

    "That antenna in the image you just posted is part of the new Police/Fire communications system for eastern Howard County. It is one of three. The second is on top of the hill by the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City, and the last one is at Howard High School. Howard High is near the 100/108/104 junction. The new tower at HHS is 650 ft. tall. There was an older tower 550 ft. tall there before. For a couple of years both towers were standing. They just tore down the old one a month or two ago.

    "They built this new system because of dead spots with the old one. There was that big fire in downtown Ellicott City a few years ago and the fire department radios didnít work and they had to use runners to relay messages."


Looking Southwest

Looking Southwest
Mile: 19.0 Date: Oct 2003
Ease: C View: SW
Area: B IC2:
Map: Ho 20 E 10, AA 5 B 9 Topographic Maps

Back on the main line, this is the view southwest at mile marker 19. There was no mile stone here that I could find, but there was a old "mile marker on a rail" hidden in the brush on the opposite side of the tracks.


Little Patuxent Bridge

Little Patuxent Bridge
Mile: 19.4 Date: Sep 2000
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 5 A 10, Ho 20 D 10 Topographic Maps

Continuing south, the next significant structure along the Washington Branch is this bridge over the Little Patuxent River in Savage. At one time, a Bollman Bridge spanned the river here, but now this rather plain one does the job. This is the location of the very first Bollman Bridge installed by the B&O. Before the Bollman, a 50-foot single (!) arched stone bridge was used, but it washed out in a flood on October 7, 1847.

To obtain this view, look carefully through the trees while driving past on Brock Bridge Road.


Little Patuxent Bridge

Little Patuxent Bridge
Mile: 19.4 Date: Sep 2001
Ease: C View: SW
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 20 D 10, AA 5 A 10 Topographic Maps

Here's the view from trackside looking south.

A plaque on this corner of the steel structure says it was built by the "American Bridge Company, U.S.A. 1920".

Between the bridge and the tall signal tower in the distance, the Patuxent Branch veers off to the right (northwest). The Patuxent Branch is the subject of the next page of this tour.

Link: Real-time USGS stream flow data near this location


Little Patuxent Bridge

Little Patuxent Bridge
Mile: 19.4 Date: Aug 2013
Ease: B- View: E
Area: A IC2:
Map: Ho 20 D 10, AA 5 A 10 Topographic Maps

At one time, the B&O considered starting its Metropolitan Branch (the shortcut that connects Washington and the Old Main Line) here. The route would have followed the Patuxent River, then branched to Gaithersburg, then up to the OML. Had that route been chosen, land development in central Maryland would have progressed quite differently (for example, less undeveloped room for the town of Columbia?).



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