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Maryland and Virginia Stations 5/02/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose in Aberdeen, Maryland and following our Internet duties, I drove us to IHOP where we both enjoyed an excellent breakfast, after which we made our way to the MARC/Amtrak station.

As we entered the parking lot, this mural caught our eye. It was painted by Jack Pabis in 2020.

Pennsylvania Railroad Aberdeen station built in 1940 and is served by Amtrak Northeast Regional intercity service and MARC Penn Line commuter service. I then drove us over to the other station here.

Baltimore and Ohio Aberdeen station built in 1885, one of many in the eastern United States designed by the renowned 19th century architect Frank Furness. Mr. Furness constructed 24 of the 36 stations on the B&O's new Philadelphia line which opened in 1886. This line was going to allow the B&O to connect Washington, D.C. to New York City. Their goal was to compete with their rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was a stop along that Royal Blue Line - the B&O Railroad's luxury passenger line which operated from 1890 to 1958 and was created to compete with the rival Pennsylvania Railroad's D.C.-to-New York passenger service.

The train station was central to the economy and culture of the city of Aberdeen from its opening in 1886 to the ending of passenger service in 1958. With the opening of this line, freight and passenger service become available to Aberdeen south to Baltimore and north to Philadephia and New York. The station was a key factor in the canning industry, since it was used by canners for shipping their products nationwide. In 1917, the federal government purchased large amounts of Aberdeen's best farmland for the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, greatly diminishing the canning industry of Aberdeen. The trains that stopped at the B&O station were then used for transporting troops, military supplies, and workers through two World Wars.

After passenger service between Baltimore and Philadelphia was terminated, the station was then used for freight, track gangs, signal maintainers and equipment storage into the early 1990's, before the railroad boarded it up and left it to the elements.

The Friends of the Aberdeen B&O Train Station, Inc. was created in June 2020 to preserve, restore, and reuse the historic Aberdeen B&O Train Station. The Historical Society of Harford County completed phase I which relocated and temporary stabilized the Station. Phase I was funded by the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland, The Historical Society of Harford County, foundations and private donors. Phase II, costing $230,000, was completed in 2021 and included permanent structural stabilization of 75 percent of the station.

I then drove us to the Gaithersburg station and the Gaithersburg Community Museum.

Cheasepeake and Ohio caboose 90512 built by the railroad in 1929.

Baltimore and Ohio RDC-2 6551, ex. MARC 3 1981, exx. Maryland Department of Transportation 9822 1980, exxx. Baltimore and Ohio 9932 1979, exxxx. Baltimore and Ohio 1951 1956, nee Balitmore and Ohio 6551 built by the Budd Company in 1953. It arrived at the museum in 2012.

Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad 0-8-0 14 built by American Locomotive Company in 1918 and converted to a 2-8-0 just before it was sold to the Kelley's Creek & Northwestern Railroad as 1. Starting life as an 0-8-0 meant it was fitted with two sand domes and the conversion has left the front hand rails out of alignment with the steps. The Kelley's Creek & Northwestern was an eight mile coal hauling shortline owned by the Valley Camp Coal Company operating from 1903 until 1993. Engine 1 was sold to the Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad in 1954 where it was renumbered 14. In 1967, it was bought by Paul Hersch in Dundon, West Virginia, and then moved to Quakerstown, Pennsylvania in 1975. In 1980, it was donated to Historic Red Clay Valley Incorporated, which operates the Wilmington & Western in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1984, it was sold to Melvyn Small and then, at a later date to the City of Gaithersburg and is now on display next to the downtown Union depot.

Baltimore and Ohio Gaithersburg station built in 1884 for the Metropolitan Branch of the railroad. It was was designed by Ephraim Francis Baldwin and consists of two historic buildings. The passenger station is a one-story common-bond brick structure with a gable roof. It is served by the MARC Brunswick Line service; it was also served by Amtrak from 1971 to 1986.

Baltimore and Ohio Gaithersburg freight house built in 1884. From here, after filling the car with petrol, we made our way Rockville but we were disappointed, although we found out later that the Baltimore and Ohio station still exists.

Amtrak/Maryland Area Rail Commuter Rockville station. From here I drove us to Manassas, Virginia.

Southern Railway Manassas station built in 1914 and currently serves as a station along the Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line, as well as a stop on Amtrak's Cardinal, Crescent and Northeast Regional train routes. The first Manassas station was a small log building where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad and the Manassas Gap Railroad intersected. In 1904, the building was replaced with a brick passenger station. This station caught fire on June 25, 1914 and was destroyed.

The city bought the depot from Norfolk Southern Railway in the 1990's and renovated it under the direction of The Manassas Museum System. Workers restored the original 1914 paint colors, repointed brick, laid new plaster, overhauled mechanical systems and installed reproductions of original doors and light fixtures. A tile roof similar to the original was also installed. The $575,000 project was completed in 1997. Today the depot has a waiting room and also houses a tourist information center and the James & Marion Payne Memorial Railroad Exhibition Gallery.

Across the street was a railroad display.

Southern Railway caboose X699 built by the railroad in 1970.

Southern Railway flat car 152037 built by Southern Iron & Equipment Company in 1977.

Southern Railway 50 foot box car 540054 built by Pullman-Standard in 1974.

Route of the Old 97 historical board.

A Town Is Born - Mannassas display board.

Virginia Rail Express route map. Next I drove us to Remington.

Southern Railway Remington station built in 1866. The next stop was in Culpeper.

Culpeper station plaque.

Southern Railway caboose X543 built by Gantt Manufacturing Company in 1971.

Cheasepeake and Ohio Culpeper station built in 1904 and replaced an 1874 station house which itself replaced two stations originally built by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. It is currently served by Amtrak's Cardinal and Crescent routes, along with two daily Northeast Regional trains to and from Lynchburg. When then-owner Norfolk Southern Railway tried to demolish a portion of the depot in 1985, a citizens' committee formed to save the building. In 1995, the town successfully prepared a $700,000 renovation grant under the Virginia Department of Transportation Enhancement Program. Three years later, Norfolk Southern sold the depot to the town and in 2000, the renovated building opened to the public. Additional work to the freight section was completed in 2003.

We made our way to Rapidan.

Southern Railway Rapidan freight station built in 1853.

Freight house sign.

Southern Railway Rapidan station built in 1887. In January 1848 three petitions were submitted to the Virginia General Assembly from businessmen in Culpeper County for incorporation of an "Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company". In March 1848 the Virginia General Assembly chartered the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company. Its charter specified that it was to run from Gordonsville through Culpeper Court House to Alexandria.

The town in which the station lies began in the small milling community known as Waugh's Ford. With the coming of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1854, the settlement was renamed Rapid Ann Station, reflecting the customary name of the river (a fast-moving stream named for Princess Ann).

In January 1854, the railroad reached the Rapidan River and a station was established including a post office which opened at "Rapid Ann Station". In April 1863, W.H.F. Lee's Confederate Cavalry burnt the Rapidan River Bridge. In September 1864, the federal cavalry burnt facilities at Mitchell and Rapidan stations. In 1876, the Charlottesville & Rapidan Railroad was incorporated to construct a direct line between Orange and Charlottesville. The line was eventually merged into the Southern Railway and today serves as Norfolk Southern's mainline between the two cities.

Next I drove us to Orange.

Orange Train Station historical board.

Southern Railroad Orange Station built in 1910 in a Colonial Revival style. Passenger train service was discontinued in the early 1970's and the station was renovated in 1997 and is now the home of the Orange County Department of Tourism and Visitors Bureau.

Virginia Central Orange station built in 1909. The Virginia Central operated between 1850 and 1868 from Richmond westward for 206 miles to Covington. Chartered in 1836 as the Louisa Railroad by the Virginia General Assembly, the railroad began near the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad's line and expanded westward to Orange County, reaching Gordonsville by 1840. In 1849, the Blue Ridge Railroad was chartered to construct a line over the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Louisa Railroad which reached the base of the Blue Ridge in 1852. After a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Louisa Railroad was allowed to expand eastward from a point near Doswell to Richmond.

We then proceeded to Montpelier Station.

The sign in front of this station.

Southern Railroad Montpelier station built in 1910.

Montpelier Train Depot display board.

Southern Railroad station board.

Montpelier Flag Stop display board. Next I drove us to Cobham.

Chesapeake and Ohio Cobham station built in 1848.

View of Cobham tower. I drove us near to the tower.

Cheasepeake and Ohio Cobham Tower. I then drove us to Keswick.

Chesapeake and Ohio Keswick Station which served as Keswick’s station until 1947 when a curve reduction moved the tracks away from this site. It now houses Little Keswick School.

A world statue was across the street. Next I drove into Charlottesville to their station.

Southetn Railway Charlottesville station built in 1885 to jointly serve the Charlottesville and Rapidan Railroad, the Virginia Midland Railway and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Major renovations in 1915 included the construction of a baggage handling facility.

When Amtrak took over most intercity passenger rail service in 1971, the Southern Railway opted to continue running the Southern Crescent itself, at Union Station. The James Whitcomb Riley (later the Cardinal) used Main Street Station to the east, as well as stopping at Union Station until early in 1977. The last train between Charlottesville and Richmond ran on June 14, 1976, when the Amtrak changed the route of the James Whitcomb Riley. Afflicted with rising costs, the Southern Railway relented and turned the Southern Crescent over to Amtrak on February 1, 1979. Amtrak renamed it as the Crescent and made Union Station the Charlottesville stop for the Cardinal as well.

The former Charlottesville Railway Express building now used by Norfolk Southern. That was our final station of the day and we drove to Cracker Barrel for an excellent dinner before going to the Engish Inn and Suites for the night.