Daily Archives: February 9, 2021

1912 Historic Footnote: A Wreck in Bethesda

A gentleman named Jack T. in the DC Metro Area – Vintage Photos (MD, DC, VA) Facebook Group (it is a private group.) posted a fascinating snippet from his grandfathers engineers logbook:

From Jack: My grandad worked on the B&O RR for most of his career as fireman & engineer. Here is a note he scribbled in 1912 re a train wreck he was involved in in Bethesda. It could be a dangerous occupation.

The note reads (to the best of my ability): “Eng 2052 Turned over at Bethesda MD Sat Night Oct 12th 1912 at 11:10 PM acct Low place in Track, Engr J.S. Clifton + Fireman O.T. Templeton, Condr. Elmer Wholmes.” There is a lot to take in here. First up, the B&O line into Bethesda had only recently been completed, some time between 1908 and 1910 when it fully opened. At this point, Bethesda was very rural and there wasn’t much industry. The fact that the engine turned over (assuming on its side) is really striking. I wonder if it was due to a washout. The fact that it happened at 11:10 PM is also surprising to me, as I did not know they ran so late at night! But the MOST interesting thing to me is the engine number. I am constantly trying to decipher what power was running on the line in the early years, and here I have an actual locomotive number.

So here are the details, which I pulled from the B&O Steam All-Time Roster by W. Edson. Engine no 2052 was a 4-6-0 class B-19a built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in August of 1901. It was dropped from the B&O roster in 1933.  Here is a photo of sister loco, 2046 in Glenwood, PA, for reference:

Photo from North East Rails (http://www.northeast.railfan.net)