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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.


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Brief Historical Background: Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroad

Marker

Marker
Mile: 0.0 Date: Aug 2019
Ease: A View: N
Area: A- IC2:
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 D 9 Topographic Maps

Even though for decades it was the only railroad to serve Annapolis, the A&ER was never very profitable. In 1886 it was reorganized as the Annapolis, Washington and Baltimore, and in 1903 or 1908 (sources vary) was acquired by the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A). The WB&A had been slightly more successful, in part because it had more direct (faster) routes from Annapolis to Baltimore and Washington. Then in 1917 it convinced the US Army to build Camp Admiral on land around the former A&ER's Harman Station. The station was renamed Admiral to match, but Camp Admiral became Camp Meade, and later, Fort Meade. The B&O and Pennsylvania RR, not wanting to be left out of the troop movement to and from the new, large camp secured rights and upgraded the old A&ER track. The B&O built east from Annapolis Junction, and the Pennsy west from Odenton.

Hurt by the depression and a labor strike, the WB&A was forced to disband in 1935, and sold its Fort Meade Branch (the tracks between Annapolis Junction and Odenton) to the B&O. The B&O continued to operate the route to serve Fort Meade, and also to provide a connection with the Pennsy. After WWII, rail traffic levels slowly declined, and the B&O ceased service along the line sometime in the 1970s. In the 1980s, limited access MD 32 was built adjacent. Even today there are artifacts to be found.


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. The elevator dates to around 1960.

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.

Fellow site vistior Robert Weir wrote:

    "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."

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


From Deck

From Deck
Mile: 0.0 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: A View: E
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: Ho 20 G 10, AA 5 E 9 Topographic Maps

empties Sixteen years later the scene appears the same, except now there are parking decks that provide an elevated vantage point, as well as multiple large apartment complexes and office buildings off photo left, a product of the military's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

Short segments of the former A&ER wye alignment remains in service, as shown by the distant hoppers on one leg of the wye, plus the other leg that curves empty at the right side of the main photo. The actual steel rails likely date to well after the A&ER era.


WIMX 2779

WIMX 2779
Mile: 0.1 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

smokin' Those hoppers are pushed around by this 1974-built, ex-Lehigh Valley, ex-Conrail U23B switcher model known affectionately as a U-Boat. Vulcan Materials inherited it from Tarmac/Wimpey Materials, to become the former's only U23B. As of 2019 it remains in service, though its smoke output would make a steam engine proud.

Links: LV 203, CR 2779, WIMX 2779, VULX 2779


Conveyor

Conveyor
Mile: 0.1 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: B View: N
Area: B- IC2:
Map: AA 5 E 9, Ho 20 H 9 Topographic Maps

At the minerals plant, hopper cars are pushed onto the south leg of the former A&ER wye 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.

Link to other pictures: ~2005


Looking Back

Looking Back
Mile: 0.3 Date: Jan 2002
Ease: B 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 utility poles), we can see some old 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. You'll see them in many of the photos below.

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


Looking Forward

Looking Forward
Mile: 0.3 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: B View: SE
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 F 9, Ho 20 H 10 Topographic Maps

Looking forward means toward Fort Meade, Odenton, and Annapolis. There are rusty rails beyond the cones, where the power company trims the tress. There had been a parallel siding on the left.


Map 1878
Image courtesy Johns Hopkins University

Map 1878
Mile: Date: 1878
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: IC2:
Map: Topographic Maps

This snippet from a GE Hopkins map dating to 1878 covers the stretch from Annapolis Junction (upper left) to Odenton (lower right) toured by this page.

At the location named Patuxent Switch, now MD 32 and 198 meet along the edge of Fort Meade. A name of the form ___ Switch generally meant the railroad had, has, or planned a track branch from the location, or a significant siding. I have found no other evidence of an A&ER track branch ever existed in that vicinity; however the road numbered 457 curves much like a rail spur would have.

The name of the stream marked Dorsey Branch on the map has changed to Dorsey Run, but the A&ER's bridge abutments there are still the same, as seen in the next photo.


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 A&ER 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
Photos courtesy Robert Weir

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 A&ER 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. Thanks for sharing, 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.

    underneath "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."


Dorsey Run

Dorsey Run
Mile: 0.6 Date: Sep 2017
Ease: B- View: N
Area: A IC2:
Map: AA 5 F 10 Topographic Maps

For better views of the other (south) side of Dorsey Run bridge, visit during winter. To my knowledge, the only intact A&ER "bridge" is instead a small box culvert across Saltworks Creek near Annapolis.


1952 Aerial
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins University

1952 Aerial
Mile: Date: 1952
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: IC2:
Map: AA 5 F 10 Topographic Maps

The Dorsey Run bridge is near the middle of this low-resolution aerial photo from 1952, too small to pick out. At upper left is the wye at Annapolis Junction, at bottom right the railroad bridge over the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, then under construction. The bridge endured about only 30 years before MD 32 took its place.


From B-W Parkway
Photos courtesy Library of Congress

From B-W Parkway
Mile: 1.0 Date: ~1955
Ease: A View: NE
Area: IC2:
Map: AA 5 G 11 Topographic Maps

This 1950s photo of the rail bridge happens to capture a few B&O hoppers on the line. One reason photos of this bridge were difficult to find is this one's location had been misidentified by the Library of Congress database as being in Prince George's County; that has since been fixed.

According to the LoC photo information, the adjacent bridge beyond that of the railroad carried Annapolis Junction Road. Now drivers recognize this location as the B-W Parkway's interchange with MD 32.

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

    distant view "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."

Links: LoC source photo, LoC bridge in distance


Construction

Construction
Mile: 1.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 5 H 12 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 underpass for Canine Road. Meanhile, our trusty utility poles hover overhead.


NSA

NSA
Mile: 1.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: C View: NW
Area: B IC2: 248
Map: AA 5 H 12 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.


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 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. A 1904 map places Portland Station here on the right.


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. The old ROW had been where MD 198, MD 32, and Mapes Road all now meet, the site of the A&ER's Patuxent Switch Station.


Ft. Meade Yards

Ft. Meade Yards
Mile: 3.7 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: B View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 12 C 3 Topographic Maps

On the left multilane MD 32, built in the 1980s, squeezes between the site of Fort Meade's disused rail yard (even farther left) and these power lines. On the right, Fort Meade's non-iron horse stables endured until about 2009.

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?"

Link: Fort Meade service


MD 32

MD 32
Mile: 3.9 Date: Nov 2002
Ease: A View: E
Area: B IC2:
Map: AA 12 C 3 Topographic Maps

East of MD 198, little of the A&ER is visible from MD 32. What on the 1878-dated map above is labelled Harman Station had been located near the transmission tower at left.


Admiral Station
Photo courtesy Google
Updated early-Jan 2020

Admiral Station
Mile: 4.1 Date: Apr 2016
Ease: A View: N (up)
Area: B EH: 60
Map: AA 12 D 3 Topographic Maps

Harman Station, marked by the red rectangle, was likely renamed to Admiral Station in 1917 upon the opening of Camp Admiral, predecessor of Fort Meade. My understanding is as of 2019 the building is signed the "Dan Daniel Distribution Center - Fort Meade Relay".

I'd like to show a ground level photo of the building here, if anyone has one that can be posted. To the west (left) arcs in the pavement reveal the former locations of spur tracks to Midway Station and Loop 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."

Links: NEW early-Jan 2020: SoundOff! article Tim mentioned, station photo


Old Odenton Road

Old Odenton Road
Mile: 5.4 Date: Apr 2003
Ease: A View: W
Area: B+ EH: 44
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

We're getting close to Odenton now, but this view looks back toward Fort Meade. The cut through the forest plus track-like shadows from the utility pole wires hint a railroad had plied this route, for some 150 years in fact.


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

About 1870 the Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) railroad built track that crossed the A&ER at diamonds where the photographer is standing, 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 A&ER and north-south B&P mainlines met at track diamonds, 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.


Track Diamonds

Track Diamonds
Mile: 5.8 Date: ~1900 (Oct 2017)
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

The aforementioned track diamonds can be glimpsed at photo center just beyond the end of the passenger platform. The A&ER runs left to right in this view, with Annapolis Junction about 6 miles to the left, and Annapolis about 14 miles to the right. The tall trackside structure at right is a B&P interlocking tower. This circa 1900 photo hangs inside MARC's Odenton Station that opened during 1943.

Change for: Pennsylvania RR tour at this site


Odenton Station

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

About a century later, this was roughly the same view from the same spot as the prior photo. Odenton's adopted Pennsy heritage is displayed in bright red at the Odenton MARC commuter rail station. These tracks are now part of Amtrak's electrified Northeast Corridor.

Railroad historian Herb Harwood shared this interesting info:

    "When the PRR electrified its line in 1935, the ex-A&ER crossing at Odenton became an engineering problem, since a turntable by GM Leilich 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 [photo at left] placed at the bottom of an overhead bridge over the Pennsy track. Turntable photo credit George M. Leilich.

    "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: B- View: N
Area: B+ IC2:
Map: AA 12 H 3 Topographic Maps

A northbound Amtrak Acela blows through Odenton 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 the interlocking tower seen in the circa 1900 photo above.

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 a rarely used spur that had extended to what had been a yard of the WB&A.

Link: 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).


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