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A&ER RR Photo Tour

Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroad
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.


Brief Historical Background: Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroad

Start

Start
Mile: 0.0 Date: Nov 2002
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2: 282, 393
Map: Ho 20 G 9, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

Here at Annapolis Junction the Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad at its westernmost reach connected with the B&O's Washington Branch. The tracks in the foreground are the ex-B&O, now CSX, mainline. Vulcan Materials' elevator and blue painted switcher are located within what had been the wye that connected the A&ER with the B&O.

Reader Charlie Wingate wrote:

    "In your picture, the front porch of Henkels would have just barely peeked into the left edge of the picture. The green area was where the corner of the building sat."

Until it closed in 1997, Henkel's Restaurant 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. In 1999, the building was intentionally burned down for a fireman training exercise.

The bridge in the foreground is that of MD 32. In the distance is the bridge that carries Guilford Road over the tracks.

Link to older picture: ~1900 (almost same view as photo above)


Looking Back

Looking Back
Mile: 0.3 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2: 393
Map: AA 5 F 9, Ho 20 H 10 Topographic Maps

In this view back toward the Vulcan Materials plant (note the elevator in the distance behind the telephone, now utility poles), we can see that some A&ER track survives. It is now used to stage hopper cars that deliver stone and minerals to the plant.

Parallel MD 32 is obscured by trees on the right. In some places the utility poles have been shifted to make room for the highway, but otherwise they help mark the original route of the A&ER railroad. You'll see them in many of the photos below.

Link to older map: 1860 (Pierceland is now named Jessup)


Bridge Remains

Bridge Remains
Mile: 0.6 Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: SW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 5 F 10, Ho 20 J 10 Topographic Maps

The only (barely) surviving remains of an AE&R bridge I've found are here at Dorsey Run. The brush is doing an excellent job of hiding the stone supports and the wood beams which someone has jammed in as a preservation effort. The guardrail of eastbound MD 32 is seen at the bottom of the picture.


Bridge in 1975
Photo courtesy Robert Weir
NEW! Feb 2005

Bridge in 1975
Mile: 0.6 Date: 1975
Ease: View: W
Area: IC2:
Map: AA 5 F 10, Ho 20 J 10 Topographic Maps

I expected the AE&R bridge of the prior photo to have gone undocumented, but to my surprise Robert Weir emailed and said he had a few pictures of it. With his kind permission, I've included the best one here. Thanks Robert!

He writes:

    "First off let me say what an amazing compilation of information you have at your B&O RR Photo Tours site. I grew up in Annapolis Jct. in the 60's, the house was at the current location of the 7-11 at Guilford Rd.and Dorsey Run Rd.

    "As a kid I often played in and around the ROW of the B&O and WB&A I have that same picture of the Hammond Branch Trestle bridge in my memory.

    "The bridge at mile 0.6 on the WB&A always fascinated me, at that time it was still being used, cars were often staged on the line but I don't know if any locomotives were ever run across it. Up close it is (was) quite an impressive structure. The stone work that still remains was topped by a wooden trestle bridge similar to the Hammond Branch bridge though not as large and without the steel center span. The stone work is braced with a frame work of used ties and the first 2 or 3 courses of stone arch stones are there, whether this was a stone bridge or viaduct that was never finished or if it had been finished and was then somehow damaged, with the wooden bridge built as a quick fix I do not know. I can't believe Dorsey Run ever flooded enough to damage it and there is no stone debris on the down stream side (that I can remember) to hint at a collapse so one would think that the stone work was never completed...but the wooden bridge certainly doesn't date from the 1840's.

    "The wooden bridge was taken down during the Rt. 32 construction...the pilings were cut off at ground level and no doubt are still there. I believe there were 3 trestles on each bank, #'s 1-2-3 on the east side #'s 4-5-6 on the west. The height of new Rt. 32 next to the RR bridge detracts from its actual height, old 32 crossed the run about 8 foot above the water level and the RR bridge loomed high above through the trees.

    "This view was taken from the east end of the bridge looking west; the hopper cars on the siding in the distance were full of scrap steel."


Construction
Updated Feb 2005

Construction
Mile: 1.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 H 12, Ho 20 K 13 Topographic Maps

I'm standing on the A&ER right-of-way, zooming the camera northwest toward the BW Parkway. In the distance, eastbound MD 32 bounded by concrete walls has been temporarily displaced south over the old ROW to facilitate the construction of an overpass. Meanhile, our trusty utility poles hover overhead.

I asked Robert Weir about the railroad's crossing with the B/W Parkway. He replied:

    "The B/W Parkway was built in 1954....a couple years before myself, I recollect the tracks spanning the parkway on a steel bridge. Checked with my brother and he recalls the steel bridge also. It was of the type that had steel side walls rising 3 or more feet above the tracks (similar to the #33B Bush Creek bridge). In the sixties Fort Meade still had rail traffic so this and the Dorsey Run bridge were in use. The Rt. 32/parkway interchange was not of the typical cloverleaf design, the only ramp on the south side of Rt. 32 (the track side) was the parkway north bound exit ramp which crossed the tracks at grade then came to a stop sign at Rt. 2. The new Rt. 32 eastbound bridge is just about over top of the old rail bridge location as your photo at mile 1.4 shows.

    "Have you ever heard about the Annapolis Jct. train wreck during the summer of 1964-66 (not to sure of the year) train derailed because of the heat? The locomotive and the first several cars were unaffected. A box car parked itself across Henkel Lane (which ran between old Rt. 32 and Henkels so that vehicles could not pass and I also remember a flat car carrying bulldozers laying on its side. I will have to check with my dad and see if he remembers the year and if there are any photos still around."


NSA

NSA
Mile: 1.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2: 248
Map: AA 5 H 12, Ho 20 K 13 Topographic Maps

Here's the same view as the prior photo, except unzoomed.

Directly across MD 32 on the right is Fort Meade and the home of the National Security Agency. This is not an area to tread carelessly during your railroad tour. If you do not wish to be stopped, questioned and checked out by the Feds, do not visit here in person. Instead simply enjoy the work of your intrepid historian photographer. I was monitored the entire time I was in this vicinity, and was careful to stay on the disused railroad right-of-way.


A Bit of Track

A Bit of Track
Mile: 1.8 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 H 13 Topographic Maps

The disused track remained in place until around the year 2000, but was then removed as part of the road work along MD 32. For unknown reasons, a small segment of track with ties still attached was pushed aside instead of being carted away. It can be seen in this view that looks southeast.


A Siding

A Siding
Mile: 1.9 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 H 13 Topographic Maps

Nearby, another small rail artifact can be found. This appears to have been part of a siding that crossed MD 32 to serve Fort Meade near the new Samford Road interchange.


Ties

Ties
Mile: 2.3 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B+ View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 11 J 2 Topographic Maps

Look closely and you'll see the remains of wooden ties slowly disintegrating in the dirt.


MD 198

MD 198
Mile: 2.5 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 11 J 2 Topographic Maps

This is the view southeast along the old ROW from the now disused segment of MD 198 just west of where it had intersected with MD 32. In 2001/2002 MD 198 was extended further east via the old A&ER right-of-way so as to merge with MD 32 via an interchange.


ROW

ROW
Mile: 2.7 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 11 K 2 Topographic Maps

Just before the interchange and accompanying traffic circle, the new MD 198 bends off to the right, leaving the old railroad ROW and its utility poles to fend for themselves.


Ft. Meade Yards

Ft. Meade Yards
Mile: 3.5 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 12 B 3 Topographic Maps

On the left multilane MD 32, built in the 1980s, sits atop the disused site of the Fort Meade rail yard.

Reader Dave Witty wrote to say:

    "I really enjoy your website! I wanted to clear up the question though, of where the Annapolis and Elkridge ROW goes through Fort Meade. Multi-lane MD 32 was not built on top of the right of way east of the MD 198 interchange. The A&ERR actually goes through the Army Base itself. The BG&E poles mark 90% of the ROW through the base and are visible from the highway (32) although you should pay attention to the traffic instead of looking towards the base (like I do). Some of the pole line has been relocated east of the 198 interchange. If you take the exit ramp from westbound 32 to 198 you will see a 'cut' on the left side as the ramp parts ways with 32. Along the way through the base the ROW passes a building that looks like a railroad station. I do not know anything about the building except that it sits in the vicinity of the old Admiral Station of the WB&A. Who knows, maybe it IS the Admiral Station?"

Reader Tim Moriarty gives a first-hand account:

    "After completing a three-year Army enlistment in January 1978, I joined the Army Reserve and started coming out to Fort Meade in April of that year. Having originally enlisted as one of the last active duty Army railroaders, I naturally took an interest in the railway on post. I remember it was in poor shape, and on the east side of the post, near the connection with the NEC at Odenton, there was a US Army GE 80-ton centercab locomotive as well as a boxcar and a flatcar, also Army-owned. I continued to come to Fort Meade for monthly drills until the summer of 1980, when I transferred to AFROTC. Two years later I got commissioned in the Air Force and left the area, and by 1984 I was back in Germany. After returning to the States, I came out to Fort Meade in September 1990 to visit my old USAR unit, which was about to be inactivated. I noticed that the tracks were then mostly torn up, but some rails are still in place in selected locations. (A couple of years ago an employee in what used to be the post's railway station said a Reserve engineer company came in during its two-week summer training and pulled up the rails some years ago. It appears they didn't finish the job within two weeks and the post hasn't bothered to finish it since then.)

    "I have a partial copy of the Fort Meade newspaper article from July 25, 1974 that covers the post railway. The part I have indicates the three rail employees had been there since the Korean War. I'm trying to get a complete copy of the article from the post's public affairs office. When I do, I'll be sure to send a copy of the article to you for possible use on your website. I'd also like to find a subsequent article indicating when the line was closed. I know the switcher was later moved to McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, OK, but the boxcar and flatcar were probably scrapped in place."


Morgan Road

Morgan Road
Mile: 5.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

We're getting close to Odenton now, but this view looks back toward Fort Meade. Other than the utility poles cutting a route through the trees, little evidence remains that a railroad had plied this route for about 150 years.


From Odenton Station

From Odenton Station
Mile: 5.8 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

In the 1860s the Baltimore and Potomac railroad built track that crossed the A&ER here, and a town grew around the intersection. The B&P later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the town was named Odenton, a name derived from that of Maryland governor and B&P Railroad president Oden Bowie.

The east-west AE&R and north-south B&P met at a grade crossing, and had connections in at least 3 of the 4 quadrants. This view looks west from the platform of Odenton's MARC station. I believe the northwest quadrant connection between the two railroads had been near where the bus is located in this picture.

Link: a prior MD governor protests Civil War takeover


Odenton Station

Odenton Station
Mile: 5.8 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Odenton's Pennsy heritage is displayed in tuscan red at the Odenton MARC commuter rail station. This is now part of Amtrak's electrified Northeast Corridor.

As best as I can tell, the grade crossing with the A&ER was located just past the far end of the station seen here.

Noted-author Herb Harwood wrote with this interesting info:

    "When the PRR electrified its line in 1935, the ex-A&ER crossing at Odenton became an engineering problem, since a 1200-volt DC line had to cross a (then) double-track 11,000-volt AC line. The solution was to place the 1200-volt WB&A wire at a lower level than the PRR catenary with a break over the PRR tracks. This break was bridged, when needed, by a form of turntable placed at the bottom of an overhead bridge over the Pennsy track. When a WB&A train needed to cross, the turntable was lowered and rotated to form the 1200-volt bridge across the Pennsy track. I'm not sure I've made this clear, but maybe you can get a crude idea. The device only lasted a few months before the WB&A quit, and I doubt if it was used too much, since the Annapolis passenger trains terminated at Naval Academy Junction and normally wouldn't cross the PRR. I suppose there was some interchange freight to/from the B&O and Fort Meade, though."

Link: Odenton RR history, with pictures


Acela

Acela
Mile: 5.8 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C+ View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

Here an Amtrak Acela blows through Odeton at around 100 mph and is about to pass under the MD 175 bridge.

The pile of broken concrete at right may be the remains of the foundation for an interlocking tower which had been located here in the northeast quadrant.

Note also the spur that leads off to the right. This had been the northeast quadrant connection between the A&ER and B&P, but is now an infrequently used spur that serves a few businesses on the east side of the tracks.

Link to older picture: 1975


Spur

Spur
Mile: 5.9 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: S
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

In this view south, the rusty spur track bends off to the left (east).


Tracks!

Tracks!
Mile: 6.0 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

This short stretch is the only portion of the original A&ER right-of-way that still has rail, and it is operational rail at that. The segment is sandwiched between Odenton station and MD 170 (Telegraph Road) and is now part of the approximate half mile long spur.

The brick building in the distant left is at MD 170.


MD 175

MD 175
Mile: 6.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 J 3 Topographic Maps

After spanning MD 170, the spur bends to head northeast, and crosses MD 175 as seen here. The road intersection ahead is that of MD 170 and MD 175.


Spur End

Spur End
Mile: 6.5 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 J 3 Topographic Maps

Ahead the short spur ends unceremoniously.

Herb Harwood sent the following historical background:

    "At roughly the point where the freight spur that runs east from the ex-PRR line in Odenton turns to the north was once located Naval Academy Junction, the busiest spot on the WB&A. This was where the former A&ER crossed the WB&A's high-speed double-track Baltimore-Washington mainline, and was the transfer point for Annapolis passengers to/from Balt. & Wash.

    "Several of the buildings at the end of this spur (shown in your photo), were the WB&A's main shops, built in 1908. (Other buildings were added after the property was sold for industrial use.) I think that the company that operates this complex is now shut down, or about to be shut down, which will make the spur unnecessary unless some new tenant arrives."


Sir Walter Drive

Sir Walter Drive
Mile: 9.2 Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 13 E 8 Topographic Maps

Utility poles cutting through a forest? That's a good indication that a railroad once plied the route, as the A&ER had at this spot near MD 3 in Millersville.


MD 32

MD 32
Mile: 12.0 Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 14 B 11 Topographic Maps

The I-97 - MD 32 interchange obliterated part of the A&ER's ROW. It looks to me the ramp to I-97 N (in this view, on the left and behind) sits right atop the old ROW.

For the Road Geeks: I-97 is the highest number interstate! I-99 doesn't count since it is out of place. For about 2 miles here I-97 and MD 32 share a route, the only known stretch in Maryland where an interstate and a state road are so cozy.


Mound

Mound
Mile: 14.0 Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 19 F 2 Topographic Maps

Apologies for the poor picture. Obviously the weather didn't pay attention that April 1 was a day I could do some railfooling, err, railfanning. Fortunately, there does not appear to be a whole lot of the AE&R we're missing since very little is left to see. And that's no April Fools.

In the vicinity of Crownsville MD 178 parallels what is left of the AE&R's ROW. This mound had once hosted tracks, and a bridge had once spanned the break in the mound where a small stream flows below.


Epping Forest Road

Epping Forest Road
Mile: 16.3 Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 20 A 6 Topographic Maps

OK, I promise this is the last picture of damp utility poles; they were all I could find during this photo trip. What can I say that's interesting here? Umm, the poles are very tall, as made evident by the Stop sign at the corner.

If anyone knows of some surviving AE&R relics, bridges, mile markers, track remains, etc., please let me know where they can be found.

Less than a mile ahead the Annapolis Mall now sits atop the ROW, which then generally had paralleled the north side of West Street into downtown Annapolis. By comparing old maps, I'd guess Bowman Road and Poplar Avenue are built on the old AE&R alignment.

Reader Joan Owens wrote with some info:

    "I was born and raised just outside of Annapolis, and when I was a very young child, the trains still ran to Annapolis. The tracks went by Germantown Elementary School, parallel to Poplar Avenue, if I'm remembering correctly. Bowman Road doesn't ring a bell."

Here is a list of stations dating from the period after the A&ER had been acquired by the WB&A:

Camp Meade Junction
Portland
Disney
Admiral
Fairall
Odenton
Naval Academy Junction
Sappington
Gambrills
Holladay
Millersville
Arundel
Waterbury
Gott
Crownsville
Belvoir
Arth
Iglehart (Sherwood Forest)
Woytych
Hockley
Best Gate
Camp Parole
Homewood
Cedar Park
Bay Ridge Junction
Annapolis (West Street)
Annapolis (U.S. Naval Academy)


This tour ends here!

Back Creek Books
extends it a bit

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