The B&O Railroad Museum is located at the historic site of the B&O Railroad's Mt. Clare Shops in Baltimore, MD. Mount Clare is considered to be the birthplace of American railroading. From this historic site (most of the shops are long gone) sprang so many innovations that it was considered "Railroad University" by many. The B&O was America's first chartered rail common carrier, dating from February 28, 1827.
The museum collection includes a wide variety of steam locomotives. It is arguably the most historic collection found in the United States. An HO scale layout operates inside an air-conditioned passenger car. An impressive display of vintage railroad station clocks is located inside the museum. A small movie theater shows movies. There are also extensive outdoor collections of engines, cars, cranes, and other railroad equipment. Vintage diesel-powered, 3-mile round trip train rides are also offered on the weekends. Be sure to check the official B&O Museum web site for details.
I have visited the museum in 1992 and 2009. Many of the photos shown below are from those two visits.
A number of large and impressive steam locomotives are on display in the main parking lot near the entrance of the museum. Since my first visit in 1992, some of them have been moved into the recently-acquired "North Car Shop" adjacent to the roundhouse. However, there are still some quite famous steam locomotives available for viewing in the parking area before you enter the museum.
For a medium-sized articulated locomotive, C&O 1309 has a very impressive look to it. The air pumps on the smokebox give it a massive looking face. This is sometimes called "the C&O look". 1309 is a C&O class H-6 2-6-6-2. It was the last steam locomotive built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (1949). Many articulated locomotives are erroneously called "Mallets". 1309 is a true Mallet. It is both articulated and has high and low-pressure cylinders.
Since these photos were taken, C&O 1309 has been moved to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for restoration to operating condition.
This is one of 12 surviving C&O Kanawhas (Kanawha is the C&O name for the 2-8-4 wheel arrangement). This class of 2-8-4s is almost identical to the Berkshires on the NYC&StL, Pere Marquette, W&LE, VGN, and RF&P. 2705 was rescued from a Russell, KY scrapyard before being placed at the museum.
This Reading T-1 (2101) was rescued from a junk yard in Baltimore and restored to operating condition back in 1976. Once owned by Ross Rowland, it was used for about two years as the Chessie Steam Special, honoring the 150th anniversary of the B&O which was part of the Chessie System at the time. It was painted in Chessie System colors, and pulled 18-20 cars. It was also used as one of the three locomotives used to pull the "American Freedom Train" throughout the country in 1976. On March 7, 1979, while being stored one winter in a Chessie System roundhouse in Silver Grove, KY, 2101 was severely damaged in a fire. Also damaged in that fire was a NYC Mohawk tender. The tender is now located at the NYC Railroad Museum in Elkhart, IN). 2101 was cosmetically restored and placed here at the B&O Museum on Labor Day, 1979, in exchange for C&O 614.
In 1992 Ross Rowland's "Chessie Safety Express" locomotive was displayed at the B&O Museum. The name the C&O chose to use for the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement was "Greenbrier" instead of the more commonly used name "Northern". After retirement, 614 was stored at a rail yard in Russell, KY awaiting scrapping. However, it was saved and relocated to the B&O Museum where it was put on display for a few years. After Ross Rowland's Reading 2101, which he was using on his "Chessie Steam Special" excursion trains, was damaged in a fire, 614 was traded to Ross Rowland and 2101 was put in its place at the museum. 614 was used for a number of excursions in the 1980s through the 1990s. Today, 614 is stored at the Reading & Northern Railroad in Port Clinton, PA.
Unlike most roundhouses, where there is a turntable and an arc-shaped building (the roundhouse) built near the turntable pit, this roundhouse completely surrounds the turntable. In fact, the turntable is completely enclosed within the building. This is a very unique roundhouse. This roundhouse has often been referred to the closest thing in the country to "an industrial cathedral." Trains magazine listed it as one of the top ten shrines of American railroading.
The roundhouse was designed by Baltimore architect Ephraim Francis Baldwin, and built in 1884. Some of Baldwin's other remaining architecture include the B&O warehouse at Camden Yards, the B&O stations at Laurel, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Sykesville (now a restaurant bearing his name), his masterpiece at Point of Rocks, and also the station at Oakland, in Garrett County, MD. Around the museum the roundhouse is sometimes called "Baldwin's Cathedral." Baldwin was a devout Roman Catholic, and his great dream had been to build a cathedral for the City of Baltimore. Unfortunately, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in 1821 and the Cathedral of Mary our Queen would not be built until the 1950's. It is said that Baldwin realized this, and since this was to be the largest building he would ever be called upon to design, he put all of his effort into it. In a way it is ironic that the B&O Museum has become a holy shrine of railroading.
During the winter of 2002-2003, a heavy snowfall caused the roof of the roundhouse to collapse. It took until November, 2004 to repair the roundhouse. During this time the museum was closed to the public.
Of all of the roundhouses I have seen, this is the only one where the floor "is clean enough to eat off of". You can see the turntable in the foreground. Surrounding the turntable is a collection of historic equipment.
Pictured in 1992 Group Photo 1 by Wes Barris
The "North Car Shop" was sold to the museum in 19??. Once it became available, sevaral locomotives were relocated from the front parking lot into this building. Keeping steam locomotives inside this building protects them from the elements but also makes them very difficult to photograph.
490 is the sole surviver of only four streamlined Hudson type (4-6-4) locomotives owned by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Because of their colors, they were sometimes called "Yellowbellies". It was rebuilt by the C&O in 1946 from a Pacific type (4-6-2) locomotive. The original Pacific was built by the Richmond division of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1926. 490 was donated to the Baltimore & Ohio Museum in Baltimore, MD in 1971 from the C&O Historical Collection. It is also the only surviving streamlined (shrouded) Hudson. Some may call this ugly. I call it classic and am thrilled that it has been saved in its streamlined livery from the scrapper's torch.
This is one of only two remaining Alleghenies (2-6-6-6). The Alleghenies have the distinction of being the heaviest steam locomotives ever built in the United States (778,000lbs). They also have the highest horsepower rating (7,500 @40MPH) of any steam locomotive (even higher than that of the Big Boys). If I had, you would see that the tender has a six-wheel lead truck and an eight-wheel trailing truck.
Upon retirement, 1604 was sent to the scrap lines behind the diesel shops at Russell, KY. It was donated to the Roanoke Transportation Museum circa 1969. At Roanoke, 1604 was displayed next to N&W 1218. On November 4th, 1985, it was partially damaged in a flood (N&W 1218 was gone by this time). During that flood, it almost turned over when the ground was washed out from under it! (photo) Fortunately, it leaning up against an overhead bridge pier which prevented it from falling any further. The NS did a cosmetic overhaul on 1604 at the Roanoke Shops before for it was sent (around 1987) to Baltimore to be displayed as the centerpiece of the Mt. Clare Junction shopping center which was adjacent to the B&O Museum. The shopping center was literally built around 1604. In 1989, the failing shopping center decided that 1604 was too big and decided to donate her to the B&O Museum. 1604 was moved from the mall onto B&O Museum property in early 1990 by SW-1 Pere Marquette 11. During the early 1990s, there was a rumor going around that the CSXT was considering starting their own steam excursion program. They reportedly sent some mechanics to check the condition of 1604 to see if it was feasible to restore it to operating condition! Today, the cab has been cosmetically restored and lighting has been placed in the firebox so that it can be viewed. It has also been moved indoors with a handicap accessible ramp added.
This is one of only two "large" B&O locomotives that survive. 5300 is named "President Washington" (the B&O painted all 20 Pacifics of this class olive green and named them after the first twenty one presidents of the United States -- one locomotive carried the name "President Adams" which represented both John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams).
4500 is a class Q3 Mikado. It was the first locomotive designed by the USRA.
377 is a class F-11 4-6-0.
51 is one of only a few surviving E-units left in the country. Now in the North Car Shop, this locomotive used to be displayed in the main parking lot.
The museum also has a number of non-steam locomotives on display. Here are a few of them:
4876 is best known for crashing in Washington Union Station in 1953. 4876 is stored off the property until she can get a proper cosmetic restoration.
In 1995, 4890 was sent to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI in exchange for a Fairbanks Morse H12-44.