Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road

Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road

The Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line from Baltimore, Maryland southwest to Washington, DC. It is now part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor; freight is handled by Norfolk Southern.


Walter Bowie was a major advocate of expanding the railroad system into southern Maryland, and wrote articles lobbying for this under the pen name "Patuxent Planter". After significant lobbying together with Thomas Fielder Bowie, William Duckett Bowie, and Oden Bowie,cite book
last =Wilson
first =William Bender
title =History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company: With Plan of Organization
publisher =Henry T. Coates & Company
date = 1895
location =
pages =333-334
] Chapter 194 of the 1853 Session Laws of Maryland, passed on May 6, 1853, and chartered the Baltimore and Potomac Rail Road Company. This company had the authority to construct a railroad from the city of Baltimore via Upper Marlboro and Port Tobacco to a point on the Potomac River between Liverpool Point and the St. Marys River, and any branches of at most 20 miles (32 km) in length.

The company was organized on December 19, 1858, and began surveying the route May 3, 1859. Construction started in 1861 but progressed slowly until 1867, when the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and its ally the Northern Central Railway bought the company. [cite web
title=PRR Chronology
publisher=The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society
] The PRR at the time had access to Baltimore via its own lines (the Northern Central Railway from the north and the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad from the northeast), but used the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and its Washington Branch to continue southwest to Washington. The PRR and B&O had trouble getting along, but Maryland refused to grant a charter to end the B&O's monopoly on Baltimore-Washington travel. However, the Baltimore and Potomac charter allowed exactly that, via the clause that allowed branches; all the PRR had to do was take the line within 20 miles of Washington. The PRR obtained a charter for the section in Washington on February 5, 1867.

Thus the new Baltimore-Washington line opened on July 2, 1872, and the required "main line" to Pope's Creek on the Potomac River, immediately relegated to branch status, opened on January 1, 1873. The final section, the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel under Winchester Street and Wilson Street in Baltimore, opened on June 29, 1873, connecting the line to the PRR's Northern Central Railway and the new Union Station. That year or the next, the Union Railroad also opened, extending the line east through another tunnel to the PRR's other Baltimore line, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. [cite web
title=Corporate Genealogy Union Railroad
author=Robert T. Netzlof
date = 2002-06-12

The original Washington station was on the National Mall, at the present location of the National Gallery of Art, at the southwest corner of Sixth Street NW and Constitution Avenue. Tracks ran south from there along Sixth Street to a wye in Sixth Street, Maryland Avenue and Virginia Avenue. Ironically, the tracks along Maryland Avenue ran over the Long Bridge (now the 14th Street Bridge) to Virginia, and the tracks along Virginia Avenue went east into Maryland. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was assassinated by Charles Guiteau while awaiting a train at the Washington station.

Continuing south in Virginia was the Alexandria and Washington Railroad, opened in 1857. The Baltimore and Potomac acquired this line after reaching it, operating it until 1901, when the Washington Southern Railway (the successor of the Alexandria and Washington) was taken over by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, an independent bridge line owned equally by the PRR and five other railroads. Soon after, in 1904, the line from the Long Bridge to Rosslyn, built by the Washington Southern, was split off into the Rosslyn Connecting Railroad, owned by the PRR.

The Washington Terminal Company and its Union Station opened in 1907, resulting in the closure of the old station on the Mall, and the diversion of all passenger trains to a new alignment, splitting from the old one at Landover and running west to merge with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Washington Branch on the approach to the new station.

On November 1, 1902, the Baltimore and Potomac was consolidated with the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad to form the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad, also controlled by PRR. Since then, the line has passed under control of Penn Central, Conrail and Amtrak. Since the breakup of Conrail, Norfolk Southern has provided freight service over the mainline. However, the Pope's Creek branch (originally part of the chartered mainline) is operated by CSX Transportation.


;CatonsvilleThe Catonsville Short Line Railroad opened in 1884 and was immediately leased by the Baltimore and Potomac. This provided a short branch from just south of Baltimore to Catonsville.

;Pope's CreekThe 48.7-mile (78.4 km) branch to Pope's Creek was part of the original chartered main line, but from opening it was operated as a branch of the main line from the junction at Bowie. The main line from Bowie to Washington, a distance of 17.1 miles (27.5 km), was provided for in the charter as a branch.



* [ Railroad History Database]
* [ Corporate Genealogy - Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington]
* [ Hobo's Guide to the Pennsy - Main Line Washington to New York: Section 1]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baltimore and Ohio Railroad — Infobox SG rail railroad name=Baltimore and Ohio Railroad logo filename=Baltimore and Ohio Herald.png logo size=100 system map size =260 map caption =1876 B O map old gauge= marks=BO locale=New York City, New York via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,… …   Wikipedia

  • Baltimore and Ohio Railroad — Réseau de la B O en 1891. La Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B O) est un ancien chemin de fer américain de classe I qui exista de 1827 à 1986. Sa première ligne reliait le port de Baltimore (Maryland, États Unis) à la rivière Ohio au près de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad — Le Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad (PB W) était un chemin de fer américain de classe I qui opéra au XX ème siècle dans les états de Pennsylvanie, Delaware, Maryland, et Washington DC. Sa ligne principale, longue de 211 km, reliait …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad — Le Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad (sigle de l AAR: RFP) était un chemin de fer américain de classe I qui reliait Richmond à Washington, DC. Il constitue maintenant une portion du réseau du CSX Transportation. Le RF P, dont le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Winchester and Potomac Railroad — The Winchester and Potomac Railroad was an historic railroad in the Southern United States, which ran from Winchester, Virginia to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad junction at Harpers Ferry on the Potomac River [Black, p. xxiii] . The W P Railraod …   Wikipedia

  • Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway — Infobox rail railroad name=Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway logo filename=WBAlogo.gif logo size=104 system map size=300 map caption=WB A System map old gauge= marks= locale=Maryland and Washington, D.C. start year=1908 end… …   Wikipedia

  • Potomac Yard — was one of the busiest railroad yards on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Today, it refers to the neighborhood encompassing the same, which straddles southeastern Arlington County and northern Alexandria, Virginia, bounded by U.S. Route …   Wikipedia

  • Baltimore — This article is about the city in Maryland. For the surrounding county, see Baltimore County, Maryland. For other uses, see Baltimore (disambiguation). City of Baltimore   Independent city   …   Wikipedia

  • Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad — Locale Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland Dates of operation 1836–1902 Successor Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad Track gauge 4 ft 8 …   Wikipedia

  • Union Tunnel (Baltimore) — The Union Tunnel is a railroad tunnel on Amtrak s Northeast Corridor in Baltimore, Maryland that connects Pennsylvania Station to the Pennsylvania Railroad s original mainline to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and points north.The Union Tunnel was… …   Wikipedia