Updated January 2000
Baltimore to Washington on the b&O
This line continues the line out of Baltimore, and separating from the
Main Line at Relay and turning
into the Metropolitan Sub at the wyes in the
Union Station approaches. You can ride both ways on the MARC trains
over this trackage, which they list as the "Camden Line", but trains are
concentrated during the rush hours. Some of what I will describe is not
easily accessible without a car.
Roughly paralleling this is the Northeast Corridor, which loops quite
a ways to the east. I'm not going to describe it here in much detail because
I haven't explored it much. In general it isn't as interesting unless you
specifically want to watch passenger traffic.
The Thomas Viaduct
The Thomas Viaduct is probably the B&O's most famous structure, endlessly
popular in company photo sessions. Supposedly the best photo vantage spot
is the shoulder of the Harbor Tunnel Thruway; this is illegal (and they
do ticket for this), and besides, you have to go through the tunnel
to get there. Another equally iffy spot is the I-95 bridge over the Patapsco;
if you are in the rightmost lane or so, going North, the viaduct is plainly
seen as you pass. Stopping is definitely not advised.
I can suggest several vantage points. You can go to the north side from
two points; either enter the Avalon area of Patapsco State Park and hike
back (this costs money on weekends except in the winter), or head to the
St. Denis station and follow the
tracks south (trespassing all the way, of course). On the south side you
can park at the Elkridge station. The south side of the bridge over US
1 is interesting in that you can see several decades worth of B&O logos,
including some that are very old. To get to the viaduct, go around
the other side of the RR bridge and take the first road west. This goes
under the viaduct; look for the high water mark from the flood of 1933.
Immediately after the viaduct a road doubles back up the hill; this leads
to the viaduct. You can walk right up to the end of it.
Another spot near Laurel of some interest is Annapolis Junction. The "junction"
aspect has been defunct for years, and unfortunately Hinkel's Restaurant
closed some years ago, but across the road from the restaurant you might find
at least one ALCO S-1 switcher working away. You could get here by train,
but I wouldn't recommend it; from Laurel, go up Rt. 1, go east on MD 32,
and get off at Hinkels Way.
The junction here was with the old branch into Ft. Meade. For those
who like to trace out old railroad grades, you can follow this in your
car by continuing east on MD 32. Having crossed the mainline, you can plainly
see the old grade at the edge of the trees to your right, up to the point
where it turns to cross the road and you can see rails at the edge of the
The Dover Harbor is a private car owned by the Washinton DC chapter
of the NRHS. For many years it sat on the team tracks in Silver
Spring, but these have long since been removed, and it is currently
to found on a siding in an industrial park, a short ways north of Savage.
Here's how to get there: go North on US 1 from MD 32 or South on US
1 from MD 175. At Patuxent Range Road, turn left if coming going South,
or right if going North. Turn into the industrial park on your right and
cross the RR tracks; continue to circle the first building on your right
until you come back around to the tracks again. Here you should find a
sign, and the car and its support cars should be behind the building--
unless it is out on a trip!
For a picture of the car as it appeared in its Silver Spring days (not
that it has changed any), click here.
If you visit the Laurel station by car, there are two interesting bridges
nearby. First, go north on US 1 and turn left at Gorman Road, which will
shortly lead you to Savage. The old truss bridge there is a Bollman truss
bridge dating from just after the Civil War. Amazingly, it carried railroad
traffic into the mill up into the '40s, over the spur which one can see
traces of along Gorman. (It now ends at the LPG place on the opposite side
of US 1.) This is really worth the trip, and the areas around the
(now an antique market) are interesting too. One of the dealers specializes
in B&O memorabilia.
The other bridge is mostly just a curiosity; it's a plain old truss
which happens to have survived the rails that ran over it (an extension
of the Savage spur) by nearly 70 years. If you have Harwood's first book,
ignore his directions, because the expansion of MD 32 has changed everything.
From Savage, go back out to US 1, go north, and just above the MD 32 interchange,
turn left onto Guilford Road. This heads west until it comes to a T, the
left branch of which ducks under 32. Turn left and keep your eyes peeled
for a very short road on the left which connects the road you're on to
a parallel road which is obviously older. It should be the first road you
come upon, and if you get to the light at Murray Hill you've gone too far.
Turn off onto this older road (which is the original Guilford Road) and
park wherever you can. This bridge held the spur into a granite quarry
which sat about where-- well, one of the marks of this is how the surrounding
landscape is almost nothing like what it was even 15 years ago.
Laurel features a large station, which has been renovated nicely after
a fire. A short walk up Main Street will take you to Peach
Creek Shops, a very nice little model RR store.
Greenbelt Metro & MARC Station
At the Greenbelt Metro station thre is also a MARC station which is somewhat unusual. It is, in essence, a pair of
passing sidings, allowing the trains to pull out of traffic. I know of no other station in the area which is
so arranged. The signals can be seen from the Metro, but other than that the area is not too accessible.
The station in Hyattsville is in the center of a fairly messy junction;
the best spot to watch the action is just north of the Rt. 1 bridge, but
you must trespass to be there. There are innumerable signals; I do not
know if the tower has been torn down. The station is a nothing, and the
neighborhood is not great; however, there is a lot of junction traffic
here, and there are numerous meets. The line which branches off here is
the CSX route to Alexandria; the ex-B&O mainline turns north at Ivy
City (i.e., the Union Station approaches) and turns into the line to Balto.;
hence, everything going south passes through here. The line to Alexandria
is visible from the Metro Orange line as the single track which crosses
over the Metro and continues along its east side south of Cheverly.
On the Corridor
The Corridor doesn't offer any interesting buildings much. There are stations
at a few spots, but they are pretty ugly. However, at the New Carrollton
Metro/Amtrak station, you can watch Corridor action effectively. My favorite
spot here is at the west entrance. Watch the fastest push-pull trains in
the world. This station is on the Metro Orange Line.
You can also drive up to the BWI station or take a MARC train there.
This is a great place to watch Amtrak from. It is also a stunningly ugly
station. There are shuttle buses from here to and from the airport, from
when you can catch the