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CSX RF&P Subdivision Photo Tour


CSX RF&P Subdivision
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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Brief Historical Background: CSX RF&P Subdivision

Potomac Yard
Photo courtesy B&O History Collection

Potomac Yard
Mile: ~107.5 Date: Nov 1965
Ease: View: N?
Area: T6: 371
Map: NV 24 H 1, DC 21 H 1 Topographic Maps

When in 1901 the Seaboard Air Line Railroad looked to build its own line into Washington, the five major players in the area, B&O, PRR, RF&P, Southern, and C&O, banded together to jointly control the RF&P. That Richmond-Washington Company, as it was known, then made the RF&P accessible to the Seaboard and Atlantic Coast Line. The company established Potomac Yard to interchange traffic, a capacity in which the yard served into the 1990s.

In addition to B&O 6971 (in sunburst paint) and C&O 5843, equipment from all the partner railroads could be found here at times. After its closure, the yard was redeveloped, and trains returned during 2022 in the form of a Washington Metro station.

Links: yard map 1940, 1940, yard marker


B&O 4051
Photo courtesy B&O History Collection

B&O 4051
Mile: ~107.5 Date: Jan 1972
Ease: View: N?
Area: T6:
Map: NV 24 H 1, DC 21 H 1 Topographic Maps

Perhaps to emphasize its north-south connection role, RF&P pointed the front end of its odd-numbered engines south, and the even-numbered engines north.

B&O 4051 appears to be facing south, so it matches that RF&P standard.


B&O 4813
Photo credit JD Engles
B&O History Collection

B&O 4813
Mile: ~108 Date: Apr 1971
Ease: View: S
Area: T6:
Map: NV 17 H 12, DC 15 H 12 Topographic Maps

B&O 4813 leaves the yard and heads north to cross the Potomac River. US Federal Government expansion during the 1960s prompted growth in Crystal City, as evidenced by the distant buildings that were fairly new at photo time.

Links 1961


Triple Bridges
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Triple Bridges
Mile: 110.4 Date: 1950s
Ease: View: SE
Area: T6:
Map: DC 15 J 4 Topographic Maps

During 1809 a private company opened the first bridge across the Potomac River in this vicinity. Repeated ice and flood damage to the bridge led to the bridge company's bankruptcy, followed by a series of bridges by other companies and governments.

The US military was the first to lay railroad tracks across a bridge here as part of Civil War efforts. To distinguish this bridge from a shorter one upstream, it became known as Long Bridge. After more flood damage, a bridge sturdy enough to endure was built by the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad (part of the Pennsylvania Railroad) and opened in 1904. That is the leftmost of the three bridges seen here. Upgrades made during 1943 have survived into the 21st century. This railroad bridge subsequently adopted the name of the original Long Bridge.

National Airport is at upper left, and the Jefferson Memorial, about 15 years old at photo time, at lower left. The nearest bridge had also carried an interurban line, as seen at the circa 1910 link below.

Links: ~1910, 1955


Twin Bridges Marriott

Twin Bridges Marriott
Mile: 110.2 Date: Jul 1963
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: NV 17 J 6, DC 15 J 6 Topographic Maps

Despite three bridges in its vicinity, this, the first hotel opened by Washington-area corporation Marriott, was named the Twin Bridges Marriott. Even though there have been many bridges here, the public usually thought of them in two groups: railroad bridges and highway bridges, and that is probably the origin of the Twin moniker.

In this view, the railroad bridge is immediately behind the hotel. Marriott did not put one of its Hot Shoppes inside, but rather a restaurant named the Sirloin & Saddle.

Link: first Marriott hotel


Shared RoW

Long Bridge
Mile: 110.6 Date: 2000
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T6: 370
Map: DC 15 J 6 Topographic Maps

Long Bridge's swing section has not opened since 1969 because later adjacent bridges, like that for Metro, do not open.

Plans are in place to construct another two-track railroad bridge in the space between Long Bridge and Metro's bridge. Long Bridge would be retained, making a total of four freight tracks available across the Potomac.

Links: 1957, 2015, Long Bridge Project


Map B&P 1885
Image courtesy Library of Congress

Map B&P 1885
Mile: Date: 1885
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: DC 15 Topographic Maps

This tour traces the railroad from Long Bridge at bottom left around to the east (right). Though in 1791 Pierre L'Enfant could not envision steam engines and automobiles, those vehicles have followed the streets he laid out, for better or worse. Even B&P dutifully ran along Maryland and Virginia Avenues, as CSX still does.

During the early 1900s, B&P merged with the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad to become the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington Railroad. Years later the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) name was applied to the merged lines. These were merely corporate structure changes since all involved had been within the PRR hive for decades.


14th Street Approach
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

14th Street Approach
Mile: 110.9 Date: Jan 1961
Ease: A View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

L'Enfant's street layout limited where connections could reasonably be made across the Potomac River. It also meant connection upgrades must be shoehorned into place, work that often involves relocations and temporary routes like this one in 1961.

As the number of automobiles grew after WWII, the Potomac River crossings needed many revisions, including this one for the 14th Street Highway Bridge that required the railroad to be shifted, at least temporarily.


14th Street Bridge
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

14th Street Bridge
Mile: 111.0 Date: Nov 1960
Ease: B View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

Changes to the road meant Rose Garden Drive would no longer need to pass under the railroad, so the bridge at photo bottom was eliminated. That's the Washington Monument at left.

Link: 2016


Snowy
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Snowy
Mile: 111.0 Date: Dec 1960
Ease: B View: N
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

The snowy winter of 1960-61 delayed the placing of ties along the temporary alignment.


Catenary Reroute
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Catenary Reroute
Mile: 111.0 Date: Jan 1961
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

Snow melt was followed by rerouting of the catenary.

Link: 1962


14th Street Yard
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

14th Street Yard
Mile: 111.2 Date: Aug 1946
Ease: View: NE
Area: T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

This large PRR yard was found at the northern end of the Potomac bridge. Rail service ended here circa 1980 after which the land was used for automobile parking. It was not until the 2010s that new buildings fully filled the former yard.

A spur from this yard served the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the underground portion of thr spur to board trains during the 1930s and 1940s.


Map PRR 1945
Image courtesy Library of Congress

Map PRR 1945
Mile: Date: 1945
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: DC 15 Topographic Maps

Smaller sidings and yards were found all along PRR's main line through the southern part of Washington.


Maine Avenue 1950
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Maine Avenue 1950
Mile: 111.3 Date: ~1950
Ease: A View: NW
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

Associated with the Long Bridge upgrades of the 1940s, grade crossings in DC were eliminated, such as the one here at Maine Avenue. The bridge is 102 feet long.


Maine Avenue 2021
Photo courtesy Google

Maine Avenue 2021
Mile: 111.3 Date: Sep 2021
Ease: A View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 15 K 4 Topographic Maps

It looks much the same during the 2020s. Many of the original catenary support poles remain extant, such as the one at upper right.


12th Street Expressway
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

12th Street Expressway
Mile: 111.5 Date: Oct 1961
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 A 3 Topographic Maps

As auto traffic increased, The Mall between the Washngton Monument and center support the Capitol became an intolerable obstacle. During the 1960s, short expressways were built within cuts at 12th Street and 9th Street SW. These cuts had to be inserted under the existing railroad.

For out-of-towners: NE, NW, SE, and SW in DC addresses refer to quadrants of the District relative to the Capitol. SW means southwest of the Capitol.


B&O 4802
Photo courtesy B&O History Collection

B&O 4802
Mile: 111.7 Date: Nov 1972
Ease: View: NE
Area: T6:
Map: DC 16 A 3 Topographic Maps

Westbound B&O 4802 is about to cross the bridge over the 9th Street Expressway. The photographer's use of a zoom lens makes the Capitol loom larger than it would appear to the naked eye from this location.


9th Street Bridge
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

9th Street Bridge
Mile: 111.8 Date: Aug 1965
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 A 3 Topographic Maps

A few years earlier, this small passageway was all that had existed at 9th Street SW. Construction of the expressway began within a month of this photo.


9th Street Expressway
Photo courtesy Google

9th Street Expressway
Mile: 111.8 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 A 3 Topographic Maps

This is much the same view some 54 years later. This expressway is little more than a half-mile-long entry ramp to I-395.

Note the same catenary support pole at upper right in both this photo and the prior. It's also visible in the next two photos.

Link: looking north 2008


Looking East

Looking East
Mile: 111.8 Date: Dec 1965
Ease: C View: E
Area: B T6: 369
Map: DC 16 A 3 Topographic Maps

The second-nearest catenary support pole is the one from the prior photo, this time as seen from track level after expressway construction had began. The Capitol can be glimpsed in the distance.

In addition to curving to the right, ahead originally the B&P also continued straight to 6th Street where it had turned left (north) toward B&P's primary station in Washington.

Link: 1971


AMTK 171

AMTK 171
Mile: 111.8 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 B 3 Topographic Maps

Amtrak uses this stretch to connect to its Northeast Corridor.

Office buildings, hotels, and condos have gradually hemmed in the line, making unobstructed train photography increasingly difficult. Knowing someone who works in an office that overlooks the line might help.


C&O 4071
Photo credit Don Smith
B&O History Collection

C&O 4071
Mile: 111.9 Date: Sep 1979
Ease: B View: W
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 B 3 Topographic Maps

C&O 4071 curves around the transition from Maryland to Virginia Avenues. This is finally a different catenary support pole. The wires were removed after this photo, but most of the poles remain in place.


L'Enfant Station

L'Enfant Station
Mile: 111.9 Date: Jun 1999
Ease: B View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 B 3 Topographic Maps

No doubt every Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter who uses this station knows that L'Enfant Plaza (left) was built within what had been the triangle of land between the wye connections to B&P Station.

Links: 1977, 1992, 1992


B&P Station
Image courtesy Library of Congress

B&P Station
Mile: 111.9, spur 0.4 Date: ~1880
Ease: A View: SE?
Area: B T6: 361
Map: DC 16 B 2 Topographic Maps

B&P Station in Washington opened on July 2, 1872. In what seems like rare shortsightedness on the part of PRR, the station was built at 6th and B Streets NW (now Constitution Avenue), on the other (i.e. north) side of The Mall, almost a half mile from the main line. Consequently, trains had to traverse that public green, prompting PRR historian Albert Churella to call the station the "worst culprit" in disgracing The Mall.

Connecting trackage ran north-south across The Mall from a wye bounded by Maryland Avenue, Virginia Avenue, and 6th Street SW. This drew the ire of the public, which led to calls to either move or remove the station, a process that required decades. Finally in 1907 Union Station took over the role as Washington's primary passenger station, and the B&P "disgrace" was demolished shortly after. The site is now home to the National Gallery of Art.


4th Street SW
Photo courtesy Google

4th Street SW
Mile: 112.1 Date: Sep 2021
Ease: A View: S
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 B 4 Topographic Maps

A VRE train pauses over 4th Street. Though the Pennsylvania Railroad has not operated trains since the 1960s, its name can (barely) still be seen across this side of the bridge. PRR begat Penn Central, which morphed into Conrail, whose assets were split between Norfolk Southern and CSX during the 1990s. CSX now owns this line.

Link: 2006


Virginia Tower
Photo courtesy Google

Virginia Tower
Mile: 112.3 Date: Oct 2018
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6: 367
Map: DC 16 C 4 Topographic Maps

In this view from 2nd Street SW, disused Virginia Tower, one of the last survivors of its kind in DC, stands near the connection to Union Station.

Links: 1986, tower info


Split
Photo courtesy Google

Split
Mile: 112.4 Date: May 2021
Ease: A View: W
Area: B T6: 366
Map: DC 16 C 4 Topographic Maps

As seen from I-395, near 2nd Street SW a two-track connection splits off to Union Station (right). This tour will continue to follow the main line (left).

Change for: PRR tour around Union Station at this site

Link: 1970


From I-695
Photo courtesy Google

From I-695
Mile: 112.7 Date: May 2021
Ease: A View: E
Area: B T6:
Map: DC 16 D 4 Topographic Maps

As is true in many cities, elevated roads like I-695 are constructed adjacent and over transportation corridors established by railroads.

Link: 2007


Virginia Avenue Tunnel
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Virginia Avenue Tunnel
Mile: 113.0 Date: 1965
Ease: ? View: NW
Area: B- T6:
Map: DC 16 E 4 Topographic Maps

I-695, also known as the Southeast Freeway, approaches completion in 1965. It casts a shadow on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel's western portal below. The tunnel originated with the B&P during 1872.

PRR's Jersey Yard is off photo left.


Emergence
Photo courtesy Google

Emergence
Mile: 113.9 Date: Jul 2019
Ease: A View: W
Area: B- T6:
Map: DC 16 G 5 Topographic Maps

After running about 4000 feet, the tunnel emerges east of 11th Street SE. CSX refurbished the tunnel during the 2010s to increase clearance for double-stack consists.

Link: contractor photos 2018


Anacostia River
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Anacostia River
Mile: 114.4 Date: 1966
Ease: View: N (up)
Area: T6:
Map: DC 16 Topographic Maps

After passing the Sousa Bridge and Congressional Cemetery, the line approaches the Anacostia River Bridge. The area between the cemetery and the through tracks had held a rail yard prior to this photo.

Link: 1996


Signals
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Signals
Mile: 114.6 Date: Nov 1969
Ease: B View: E
Area: B- T6:
Map: DC 16 J 5 Topographic Maps

An array of signals protects the draw bridge, or protects trains from taking an unintended swim, whichever perspective you prefer.


Smashboard
Photos courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Smashboard
Mile: 114.6 Date: Nov 1969?
Ease: A- View: NE
Area: B- T6:
Map: DC 16 J 4 Topographic Maps

According to Pennsylvania Railroad rules, "Smashboards shall be generally located smashboard closeup on or immediately adjacent to high signals governing movements over movable bridges, railroad crossings at grade, or on approach to draw span, as local conditions may require."

When a bridge is about to open, a smashboard rotates to a position over the tracks, thus blocking the way. Most smashboards are electrically linked to the bridge opening mechanism so that the bridge cannot be opened after a train has physically impacted the smashboard. If the bridge had already been opened, a mangled smashboard would confirm a train had not stopped while the bridge was open.

Link: smashboards


Anacostia River Bridge
Photo courtesy District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Library

Anacostia River Bridge
Mile: 114.7 Date: Nov 1969
Ease: B View: NE
Area: B- T6:
Map: DC 16 J 4 Topographic Maps

The B&P built the first Anacostia River Bridge here in 1872. The structure was refurbished 100 years later.

For CSX, the RF&P Subdivision ends at the bridge. CSX's Landover Subdivision meets the eastern end, as seen on the next tour page.

Links: 1985, 2011


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