East Side of Rock Creek Trestle is No More

Greg C. visited the Rock Creek site this past Tuesday morning and witnessed the missing wooden trestle. It’s gone! :'( This marks the end of an era, the bridge having stood since 1892 has finally gone down. A new pair of bridges will replace this one, carrying the Purple Line rapid transit and the Capital Crescent Trail across the valley at about half the height of the original trestle. RIP.

4/9/19 – the wooden trestle is no more. The steel 1972 rebuilt section of the west end still stands, for now. Photo courtesy Greg C.

A photo from the Friends of Forest Glen Facebook group shows the demolition in progress. If only I could have gotten up there to measure those timbers. :'(

4/8/19 – Photo by Ed Murtagh from the Bethesda Chevy Chase Back In The Day Facebook group.

8 thoughts on “East Side of Rock Creek Trestle is No More

  1. Damn that’s fast progress! What’s quite sad is I recall hearing that they really were considering preserving the trestle for purple line use as it wasn’t in too shabby condition but then apparently decided it wasn’t financially worth it, whatever that means. They really should’ve made the effort though given that the trestle was kind of historically important, being the longest and most complex one in the B&O’s system when it was built. I also have a couple of good pics I’ll send along I took from the winter of the last year when it was still intact though I am very mad at myself as I had a whole plethora of them that I ended up deleting as I ran out of storage and of course am now wishing like hell that I’d kept all of em!

  2. When we visited a few months back, one of the site foreman told us that the center span was being preserved as it still remains historic. The biggest problem is that the trestle was in really, really bad shape. Much of the wood structure was rotted, burnt (loss of mass), and cracking in key spots. Restoring the bridge would have been a MASSIVE undertaking, moreso than the restoration they performed in the 1990s to sure it up for pedestrian use. Furthermore, for the purple line to come through as intended, they would have had to have realigned the PL RoW quite a bit and built a massive fill just for the PL to travel on. Recall that, when built the trestle was the “longest and most impressive on the B&O”. In the early 1900s when they filled in the long approaches with slag and dirt, and then rebuilt it to the shorter length, it was less impressive. The PL would have to do similarly in order to span the valley there at Rock Creek, just as the B&O did 125 years prior. I hope this makes sense. 🙂

  3. Great photos! Thanks for sharing. Not sure what you mean by “do you know how much of track and infrastructure was left by then?” Let me know.

  4. Hey sorry for the confusion. I was just wondering how much of the track as well as stuff like signals was left on the branch around 95 when the pics were taken, as I know it took them some years to fully remove everything once they decided to start building the trail. I think around 89/90 is when they started work on the Arizona ave bridge but there are some pics from as late as ’94 that still show track in place.

  5. No worries. The branch had no signals, so that’s easy. 🙂 There were signals at the Junction but they were moved/removed after the big wreck in ’95. There is one signal left at the derail on the Branch at the Junction which is still in service. You can see photos of it from this past winter in my Gallery. As far as removing stuff. I am fairly certain they did all of the removal using trucks instead of rail cars. I have photos somewhere that show the rail removal operation in action at some point in the early 1990s. FWIW, I walked the Branch myself from Dalecarlia to C&O Canal back in ca 1991 and the rails were completely in place. The rails were in place atop the Rock Creek Trestle until they tore it down. Yep, they never removed the rails from the trestle. If I had to guess, I’d say by 1994 most if not all of the main line rails on the Branch were gone. I would wager the operation happened between 1992 and 1994. But, that’s just a guess.

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