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Steve's Book Picks
Recommended Reading about the B&O and Baltimore Area History

Please send your comments and corrections to Steve.

#1 Impossible Challenge II
Author: Herbert Harwood, Jr.
ISBN: 0-934118-22-1
Date: Dec 1994
Publisher: Barnard, Roberts & Co.

The Bible. If you can only afford one book, this is the one to buy. Covers the Old Main, Washington Branch and Metropolitan Branch from construction through 1994. The author's pleasant writing style is easy to read, and well-chosen photographs are reproduced in excellent form.

This is the book referenced throughout this Web site. The "IC2" entry for the photos represents the book's page on which you can find photos of the same location (but a different time period).

Harwood has written many railroad books, and I've yet to find a disappointing one. All his titles are recommended reading.

#2 Impossible Challenge
Author: Herbert Harwood, Jr.
ISBN: 0-934118-17-5
Date: 1979
Publisher: Barnard, Roberts & Co.

This is the original, an earlier edition of Impossible Challenge II. It has much the same information as in the later book, but with a few other photos and a better index. This book is long out of print and can be difficult to find.

#3 The Great Road
Author: James Dilts
ISBN: 0-8047-2629-9
Date: 1993
Publisher: Stanford University Press

An erudite study of the startup and early years of the B&O. The author gives a very detailed account of the politics, engineering and challenges of the B&O from 1828 to 1853. Thoroughly researched and with excellent photos I've never seen anywhere else.

#4 Howard County A Pictorial History
Author: Joetta Cramm
ISBN: 0-89865-539-0
Date: 1987
Publisher: The Donning Company

Not a railroading book, but a photographic history of the county surrounded on the north by the Old Main Line, and on the east by the Washington Branch. A few railroad photos. An enjoyable look into what this area was like in the 1800s.

#5 The Patapsco River Valley
Author: Henry K. Sharp
ISBN: 0-938420-74-7
Date: 2001
Publisher: Maryland Historical Society

Both the history and trackage of the B&O are intertwined with the Patapsco River Valley. The writing needs some work, but this book remains an interesting read. Several pages of railroad history are contained within.

#6 Baltimore Transitions
Author: Mark Miller
ISBN: 0-8018-6295-7
Date: 1998
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Another non-railroading book, but one which readers of this Web site will enjoy. Primarily this is a photo book, with an older Baltimore area photo presented on the left side page, with its present-day counterpart on the right.

A drawback: often the two photos are not matched up very well, sometimes they show different angles, sometimes the present-day photo cuts off the top of buildings shown in the old photo, etc. An index would be nice too. Despite this, still intriguing.

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