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B&O Metropolitan Branch Photo Tour


B&O Metropolitan Branch
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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Overview

Overview
Mile: Date: 1989
Ease: View: N (down)
Area: IC2:
Map: Topographic Maps

The D, C, and B yards, among others, can be found on this roadway map. Note that north, the general direction of this tour, is oriented in the down direction. Despite its upside-downedness for tour purposes, the map can be handy for understanding the complex layout here.

For future reference, the key features are the "Metropolitan Sub-Division" running south-north through the middle, adjacent WMATA's "Metro Shop Tracks" that are far more numerous than depicted. Also note the "No. 1 Main" and "No. 2 Main" curving from/to the east (left); they connect with the ex-B&O Washington Branch, now CSX Cap Sub. All of these are shown in the photos below.

Roadway Maps like this, and lots more cool B&O history materials, are available from The B&O Railroad Historical Society.

The next photo looks down the map from its top from near the word Avenue toward the E Yard.


Below New York Avenue
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Below New York Avenue
Mile: 1.3 Date: May 1969
Ease: B View: N
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

This was the scene a few years before Metro (WMATA) joined the fray. The photographer is standing on what had been the Met's main track through Eckington Yards. Now Metro occupies this stretch after it displaced the Met's main route to the east (right).

B&O's E Yard can be glimpsed on the left. In the distance, the T Street automobile bridge spans the tracks. It was removed to make room for Metro.

Link: DDOT source photo


Map 1907
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Map 1907
Mile: 1.4 Date: 1907
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

E Yard was home to the main freight station. On this map, it's the building, or set of 3 buildings, at bottom left in the shape of the letter J.

This map suggests that in 1907 New York Avenue passed under the railroad, but I have found no confirming evidence. Eckington Place runs along the left edge of map portion shown.


From Eckington Place
Photo courtesy Library of Congress

From Eckington Place
Mile: 1.5 Date: Jun 1923
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

zoom north zoom east B&O did not forget its Freemason roots, running special trains for the 1923 Masonic Convention in Washington. Eckington's usual freight-only facility has made extra room for passenger trains, including temporary tracks. Waste buckets at the end of each car suggest at least some of these cars also provided berths for sleepy conventioneers.

The railroad even hauled out a few of its museum pieces, a few years before it would also do so for The Fair of the Iron Horse. The big sign hides those pieces, but you can see them in the second 1923 photo linked below.

Links: source photo, 1923, 1923

Change for: Fair of the Iron Horse tour at this site


From New York Avenue
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

From New York Avenue
Mile: 1.5 Date: May 1967
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

A similar view 40-some years later and one block east shows a New York Avenue overpass widening effort in full swing. E Yard is off photo left, with a corner of its freight station making it into the photo. The tracks with catenary support poles belong to the Pennsylvania Railroad which, at photo time, was less than a year from being merged into Penn Central.

Links: DDOT source photo, ~1950


WMATA Brentwood Yard
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

WMATA Brentwood Yard
Mile: 1.5 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

After another 40 years this was the appearance. WMATA's Brentwood Yard, which includes the building at left, largely occupies what has been the Pennsylvania Railroad's main freight yard in Washington.

I am uncertain precisely where Washington Terminal trackage ends and CSX's Metropolitan Subdivision officially begins, but it's in this vicinity.


New York Avenue 1960
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

New York Avenue 1960
Mile: 1.5 Date: 1960
Ease: B View: W
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

Busy New York Avenue has worn out multiple generations of bridges over the tracks here. Pictured might be the second bridge at this location. The Washington Monument is the tallest pointy object at left, and on the right B&O's freight station can be glimpsed through PRR's wires.

Link: DDOT source photo


Freight Station
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Freight Station
Mile: 1.5 Date: May 1967
Ease: B View: W
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

An abundance of visual clutter is likely one reason relatively few good photos of the freight station exist.

Link: DDOT source photo


Under New York Avenue
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Under New York Avenue
Mile: 1.5 Date: Jun 1967
Ease: B View: W
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

This view pulls back to show much of E Yard on the distant side of the many foreground tracks to/from Union Station.

Links: DDOT source photo, ~1950


Final Years
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Final Years
Mile: 1.5 Date: 1968
Ease: B View: NE
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

Looking from where Florida and New York Avenues meet finds the freight station nearing retirement. The buildings endured into the 1980s, and E Yard until about 1990.

Links: DDOT source photo, a few color photos


Repair
Photos courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Repair
Mile: 1.5 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: N
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 12 Topographic Maps

Metro's aging fleet - as of 2020, some cars were in service since the system opened in 1976 - gets the spa treatment here. Eckington's E Yard had been off photo left. The now track-free wide area at extreme left had been home to D and C Yards. Met CPLs

The ramp at distant left carries Metro's Red Line over the Met tracks which in this view scoot from the bottom right, curve around the right (east) side of the main repair building, then swing back left under the aforementioned ramp.

In the zoom at right, CPLs grace both sides of the single-track connection between the Met and Union Station.


CPL

CPL
Mile: 1.6 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: N
Area: B IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 11 Topographic Maps

employee platform Here's a closer view of that same CPL signal. As of 2019, CSX's CPL replacement program had not yet reached here.

Ahead, Metro offers an employee benefit few other organizations can match: a private station, well, a private platform, per the sign shown at right.


Grade Crossing

Grade Crossing
Mile: 1.7 Date: Dec 2018
Ease: B View: N
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 11 Topographic Maps

Employees who drive to work access Metro's repair facility via this grade crossing, one guarded by typical gates, and atypical traffic signal. The near track provides a connection between the Met and Amtrak's repair facilities at Ivy City, which is behind the photographer. The next track over connects to the coach yard where passenger cars are stored while waiting for the next rush hour. The elevated line track carries Metro over the Met.

The single Met track runs between the catenary poles and the fence. The Met's connection with the CSX Cap Sub (ex B&O Washington Branch) curves to follow atop the embankment on the right. CSX shares the Met with Amtrak's passenger service between Washington and the midwest.

Before its removal during 1974, the T Street bridge had spanned overhead right about here.

Link: 1974


Curve From Cap Sub

Curve From Cap Sub
Mile: 1.8 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: S
Area: B IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 11 Topographic Maps

This reverse view from Metro's "hill" over the freight lines captures autoracks on the aforementioned curve.


Dance
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Dance
Mile: 1.9 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: C+ View: N
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 11 Topographic Maps

After Metro invited itself into the middle of the yard, freight switching to/from Eckington took place here. The track on the left is the last vestige of Eckington Yard. Those on the right handle Met traffic.

At the north end of the yard, Metro Rail (right) tangos with the Metropolitan Branch, first rising above, then dipping underground only to emerge about a mile ahead between what had been B&O's tracks. The overpass in the distance is for Franklin Street.

Link: 1976


Rhode Island Ave
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Rhode Island Ave.
Mile: 2.1 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B- View: N
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 10 Topographic Maps

B&O's bridge across Rhode Island Avenue looks mundane compared to the sweeping, column-supported Metro and passenger walkways. From here north, things are quieter for B&O, though Metro keeps it company by paralleling for the next 6 miles.

In the past, QN Tower had resided at the photographer's location.

Links: 1977, 1992


Looking Back
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Looking Back
Mile: 2.3 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: B View: S
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 9 Topographic Maps

Last call to see the US Capitol comes from the Metropolitan Branch Trail that parallels the tracks. The bridge carries Metro's Red Line over the ex-B&O, now CSX, tracks while the CPL signal advises Rule 286: "Proceed at medium speed, preparing to stop at next signal and be governed by the indication displayed by that signal."

Prior to its closure in 1992, you would have found QN Tower on the left.

Links: 1992, 1992, Trail


8th Street
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

8th Street
Mile: 2.4 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: NE
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 9 Topographic Maps

The shape of these warehouses along 8th Street just north of Franklin Street, and their proximity to the Met tracks (right), suggest they once had sidings. Please chime if you know what these buildings had housed. The number of customers served directly from the Metropolitan Branch has dwindled to but a few.


Center
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Center
Mile: 2.9 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: C IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 8 Topographic Maps

The view back from the Monroe Street bridge shows Metro's electric trains, which can dip and rise more easily than heavy freights, scoot underneath the latter to emerge in the middle. Presumably operating in the middle of the CSX tracks, rather than along side, offers an advantage. If instead the alignments had been side-by-side, then not only Metro but also CSX could switch trains between their tracks, but CSX would have trouble reaching customers on the Metro side.

This is where the Metropolitan Branch tracks finally curve west from their north and even northeast heading out of DC.


Brookland
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Brookland
Mile: 3.0 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 8 Topographic Maps

Shortly after its tracks squeeze between those of CSX, Metro's Brookland-CUA station further sandwiches itself between Monroe Street and Michigan Avenue. This is one of only a few Metro stations built on a curve. Station canopies never extend the full length of the platform, presumably to accomodate those who prefer to stand in the sun.

CUA and University refer to The Catholic University of America. Found on the CUA campus is the Thomas W. Pangborn building; to my knowledge Thomas is not related to B&O promoter Joseph Pangborn.

Prior to Metro, B&O's University Station had been located ahead in the shadow of the Michigan Avenue bridge.


University Station
Photo courtesy B&O History Collection
NEW! early-Jan 2022

University Station
Mile: 3.1 Date: Aug 1962
Ease: A View: SW
Area: C+ IC2: 221
Map: DC 10 F 7 Topographic Maps

Dating to 1890, University Station may have been the line's smallest station of masonry construction. Even its chimney was made of stone. Its west side featured a covered entrance for carriages. Both this station and the first two CUA buildings were designed by E. Francis Baldwin.

Metro trains now roll through the site. That's the Michigan Avenue overpass on the left.

Link: University Station ~1950


Four Trains
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Four Trains
Mile: 3.1 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: N
Area: C+ IC2:
Map: DC 10 F 7 Topographic Maps

At 4 pm the afternoon commuter rush is underway. Overpasses like Michigan Avenue provide an easy view of the action as Metro leads CSX by 4 trains to 0.


CSX 885
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

CSX 885
Mile: 3.5 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: S
Area: B- IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 6 Topographic Maps

At first glance from the Taylor Street overpass it seems CSX has avoided being shut out, but actually this photo was snapped during a bright morning a week later. Note the disused siding in the shadows at bottom left.


Taylor St
Photo courtesy Dave Hiteshew

Taylor St
Mile: 3.6 Date: Sep 2008
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B- IC2:
Map: DC 10 E 6 Topographic Maps

Patterned concrete is the hallmark of a recently updated bridge.


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