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WB&A Photo Tour

Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railway
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: WB&A

Map 1937

Map 1937
Mile: Date: 1937
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: EH:
Map: Topographic Maps

In many places, electric interurban railways were the first to string power-carrying wires outside the big cities. With electricity so close, it was inevitable that towns along the line would request, and purchase, power from the railways.

As this electricity distribution map from 1937 shows, the service grid is perhaps the primary legacy of the interurbans. Even today power lines follow many of the long-disused railways, then branch off along spurs or state roads.

The blue green line highlights the route of the WB&A's main line that this tour follows from bottom left to upper right.


Bridge

Bridge
Mile: Date: Sep 2017
Ease: B View: W
Area: C EH:
Map: DC 17 C 1 Topographic Maps

The closest tracks in this photo belong to DC Metro and those beyond to CSX. Even farther, the partially hidden bridge may have been used by the WB&A who employed trackage rights along DC streetcar lines to reach from the Washington city line into downtown at H Street and Benning Road. When service began in 1909 the round trip fare between Washington and Baltimore cost $1.25, rising to $2.37 in 1926.


MLK Boulevard

MLK Boulevard
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 13 K 4 Topographic Maps

The WB&A's route northeast from the DC line near Seat Pleasant, Maryland has been repurposed into the wide Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The WB&A has not operated here since 1935 so I did not search for surviving artifacts along MLK Boulevard since I doubt any are to be found. If you know better, pass the word.


Lottsford Vista Road

Lottsford Vista Road
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 14 A 4 Topographic Maps

At Lottsford Vista Road MLK Boulevard veers off the old right of way, revealing a stand of shorter trees near photo center. That's the first sign of the WB&A.


Folly Branch

Folly Branch
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A- EH:
Map: PG 14 B 3 Topographic Maps

At the north corner of Lottsford Vista Road and MD 450 the WB&A Trail begins its trek over 5 miles northeast to the Patuxent River. This rails-to-trails effort dates to the 1990s.

The first clear evidence of the route's prior purpose comes at Folly Branch where old WB&A concrete bridge abutments are wider than those for the trail's bridge.

Link: basic trail info and map


Trails and Autos

Trails and Autos
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A- EH:
Map: PG 14 B 2 Topographic Maps

Several houses are scattered along the WB&A route with no access other than the old right of way. Some of these houses may date to the period when electricity was available only near the railway.

So in various places automobiles share the trail with hikers, bikers, and cats.

Already we're encountering overhead high voltage power lines. Many substations adjoin the WB&A route.


Glenn Dale Boulevard

Glenn Dale Boulevard
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 9 E 13 Topographic Maps

tube The trail swerves to go under Glenn Dale Boulevard. The swerve also appears in aerial photos from 1993, but surely the WB&A's track had been straight.

After World War II the disused WB&A alignment was under consideration for repurposing into an automobile road connecting Baltimore and Washington. When the B-W Parkway arrived during the 1950s, it ended up about 4 miles west of here.


Hillmeade Road

Hillmeade Road
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 9 F 12 Topographic Maps

facade

Sometimes the WB&A took the low road (grade crossing), and other times the high road (bridge).

The stones covering the abutments of the trail bridge over Hillmeade Road are merely facade, which suggests the original abutments are hiding underneath, meaning the WB&A had bridged Hillmeade Road.


Walkers

Walkers
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 9 J 11 Topographic Maps

Autumn colors on a mild day bring out more trail users. Near Highbridge Road the WB&A needed two bridges, one over the road and another (distance) over the Pennsylvania Railroad's Pope's Creek Branch.


Under

Under
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B View: SW
Area: A EH: 32
Map: PG 9 J 10 Topographic Maps

High bridge The WB&A's bridge here over the railroad was called High Bridge, hence the name of the adjacent road.

The inset photo taken at this location appears on one of the trailside signs. None of the WB&A's steel bridges survive today. The bridge extant at the time of the main photo was built for the trail.


Popes Creek

Popes Creek
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B+ View: N
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 9 J 10 Topographic Maps

From that bridge deep zoom takes us north toward Bowie where a Pennsylvania RR signal remains on duty even though the Pope's Creek line has been transferred to CSX.


Biker

Biker
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: SW
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 A 8 Topographic Maps

Though the high-voltage lines go another way, lower voltage lines give this biker something to follow.

At photo time this section was actively under consideration for a trails-to-rails project of a high-speed superconducting maglev train connecting Baltimore and Washington. In the future the line would perhaps extend to both Richmond, Virginia and Boston, Massachusetts. As with all such projects understandably there are also NIMBYs. hyperloop site Dec 2017

Competing for a route in the area is Elon Musk's Hyperloop. During October 2017 Musk announced Hyperloop construction would begin in Hanover / Jessup, Maryland at the northeast corner of MD 295 and 175. By the end of 2017 the site (right) showed no change, except the hasily-erected fencing surrounding a ceremonial plot was beginning to come apart. At photo-left beyond the trees is a tour bus on MD 295 (B-W Parkway) under which the Hyperloop is proposed to run.

Links: Baltimore Washington SCMaglev site, StopThisTrain.org, Hyperloop in Maryland


Bridges

Bridges
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 A 8 Topographic Maps

masonry Unlike its steel bridges, a few of the WB&A's boxy masonry bridges are still to be found, such as this one on the southwest side of MD 197.

It no longer carries anything but itself and some plants -- even the trail bridges over it -- but it does illustrate the railway's preferred construction style.

Link: Concrete Railroad Bridge (PDF)


Maryland 197

Maryland 197
Mile: Date: Apr 2004
Ease: A View: SE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 A 8 Topographic Maps

The longest of the trail's bridges is that over MD 197. It was built around 2001.


Grade Crossing

Grade Crossing
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 A 8 Topographic Maps

The WB&A and MD 197 had met at grade, though not for very long since Route 197 arrived here around 1930 and the WB&A operated for only five more years after that. The gap in guardrail marks the old right of way.


Race Track Road

Race Track Road
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B+ View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 C 7 Topographic Maps

Race Track Road gets the oval tube treatment. Ink stamping on the metalwork indicates it was made in 1999. The stretch from here to the Patuxent River had been owned by the Washington Surburban Sanitary Commission until purchased for the trail.


Diamond Site

Diamond Site
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 C 7 Topographic Maps

Where the wires cross a Pennsylvania RR spur to Bowie Race Track crossed the WB&A. The two railroads shared the route east (right) so both could transport bettors to the horses. The Pennsy continued to use it into the 1970s, decades after the WB&A shuttered.

Link: Pennsy sends special train to rescue those snowbound at Bowie Race Track 1958


Trestle

Trestle
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B View: SE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 C 7 Topographic Maps

Along the race track spur, this trestle over Horsepen Branch survives with rusty rails still on top. A separate tour page of the spur is in the works.


Patuxent River

Patuxent River
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B View: E
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 D 6 Topographic Maps

We have arrived at the Patuxent River, one of the WB&A's more significant water crossings. Concrete piers that are probably original construction poke from sandy soil. Erosion control efforts are themselves being eroded away. The iron portions of the bridge were sold for scrap during the 1930s.


Unconnected

Unconnected
Mile: Date: Nov 2017
Ease: B View: NE
Area: A EH:
Map: PG 10 D 6 Topographic Maps

For more than 10 years the WB&A trail has abruptly ended at the Patuxent River, stymied by a property dispute on the Anne Arundel County side. Another segment of the trail exists in Anne Arundel County and someday may be reached via a detour around the disputed portion seen in the distance.

Links: who owns the right of way?, WB&A passenger car


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