Work recently took me to Baltimore, so of course that meant that I had to squeeze in some time to visit the B&O Railroad Museum. One of the country's better-known and more professional railroad museums, the museum is housed in the Mount Clare depot and roundhouse of the Baltimore & Ohio. Virtually the entire existing complex dates to the 19th century, with the roundhouse dating to 1884. It's a stunning setting for one of the country's most significant collections of historic rail equipment.
There is an exhibits area just inside the entrance with a number of interesting displays. Among them is this, which shows off the remaining portions of the 1829-vintage Stourbridge Lion, the first steam engine to operate in the United States. It was not notably successful and was dumped after a short period, but the boiler and one of its two cylinders were salvaged. Eh, a little paint and Bondo and she'll be as good as new!
There was a nice series of display cases showing off models of various types of locomotives and cars, generally arranged chronologically. In the middle was a large cutaway model of an E-unit.
An example of some of the displays in the exhibit area. "The War Came By Trains" seems to be the museum's current exhibit theme. There were also exhibits on railroad clocks and timekeeping as well as on the initial construction of the B&O, which began right here at Mount Clare.
Of course the real showpiece of the museum is the roundhouse, which is spectacular. A lot of money and effort has gone into making it look this way; in 2003 half of the roundhouse roof collapsed following a heavy snowfall and the entire structure had to be reconstructed. The results are stunning. The turntable pin in the center is covered over, which makes for a nice "atrium" effect in the center of the space. Most of the tracks feature equipment on permanent or semi-permanent display.
Of course as a traction fan, my eye was immediately drawn to what I must admit is one of the least historically significant pieces on display in the roundhouse, this four-wheel B&O switcher. Built by GE in 1909, it switched cars around Fells Point, where there was a ban on steam engines. It ran on 600v tapped off of the streetcar system. I'm still looking for info on its controllers, pump and motors, but I didn't feel like getting tossed out of the museum as a troublemaker so I elected not to jump into the cab to investigate.
And nearby was this diorama showing the nation's first mainline railroad electrification, which was the B&O electrification of its Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. One of those neat dual-unit steeplecabs survived as late as 1927, when it was featured in the B&O's "Fair of the Iron Horse," but was then scrapped. Rats!
Now we're getting to the good stuff. B&O 147 (named Thatcher Perkins in 1927 for the aforementioned Fair) is an early Ten-Wheeler built in 1863. It was badly damaged in the 2003 roof collapse but has been completely restored.
This is not a very good photo but B&O 600 (named J.C. Davis in 1927) is a Mogul built by the railroad right at Mount Clare in 1875. Apparently it won first prize at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It too was badly damaged in 2003 but has been completely restored.
The Pioneer we're used to is a 4-2-0 but this Pioneer, from the Cumberland Valley Railroad, is a 2-2-2. It was built in 1851 and was retired as an historic relic in 1901. It saw use at various events such as the 1927 Fair, the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition, and the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair. It is on loan from the Smithsonian.
There are five "camelback" locomotives in existence in this country and two are at the B&ORRM. The more elderly is this B&O "Davis Camel" (a development of the earlier B&O "Winans Camel" design, I believe, both named after their designers) dating to 1869. This is another engine that was badly damaged in 2003 but has been repaired. Amazingly, of the five extant "camels" two of them are of this general B&O design. The other is at the museum in St. Louis in well-preserved but unrestored condition.
This is a very early metal boxcar, but it's iron rather than steel. It was built here at Mount Clare in 1863. A tour guide told me that early iron boxcars like this were notorious for sweating badly and tended to rust out along the floor because of it.
One of the more elderly passenger cars preserved in the U.S. is this 1868 coach originally built by Wason for the Central Railroad New Jersey. The B&O bought it in 1927 to represent a B&O car at the "Fair of the Iron Horse" and it has remained in B&O garb ever since. It's a beautiful and rare car; a similar car was sadly destroyed in the 2003 roof collapse.
Here's a celebrity: B&O 57, the Memnon, is an extremely early freight engine and the only surviving locomotive built by Newcastle. It was built in 1844, placing it among the oldest original steam engines in the country, and was among the earliest 0-8-0s. It was badly damaged in 2003 but has been fully restored.
And then the B&O has an unrivaled collection of 1830s "grasshopper" locomotives. This one, the John Hancock from the B&O, was built in 1836! It's interesting to compare it to the Memnon, built only eight years later but obviously light years ahead in terms of design. This engine was used as a switcher at Mount Clare until it was retired in 1892 and designated for preservation.
There are more photos coming soon - stay tuned!