C&O Canal Trestles, Summer of ’86

C&O Canal Trestles, Summer of '86
Photo from Christopher Russell

Christopher Russell sent me this neat photo of the C&O Canal trestles shot in the summer of 1986. Of particular interest is the fresh ballast and what appears to be girder welded rail. As far as I know, the last train down the Branch happened in the summer of 1985. I had also heard rumor that Chessie/B&O decided to lay girder rail just before the abandonment took place. Maybe a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? I know the Tom Thumb John Bull operated on this stretch in 1981 and thought maybe it was something similar. Anyone have any ideas? Was there a film or TV show shot on this stretch? The track would have been serviceable through the late 1980s so it could have been anything. Would love to hear your thoughts!

NOTE: Thanks Christopher for the corrections. I think I wrote this in a hurry and neglected to proofread it. Mea culpa!

4 thoughts on “C&O Canal Trestles, Summer of ’86

  1. Girder rail? Do you mean welded rail?
    The welded rail was laid around 1979. Track conditions had got bad. I understand B&O responded to promises of increased traffic from the government which did not end up happening.

    It was not the Tom Thumb in 1981, it was the John Bull. That was the cause of the fresh ballast, which brought the track from exempted status to FRA class 1, the minimum necessary for passenger train operation. It was about 50 cars of ballast in 5 or so trains. I remember when they dumped that ballast. I rode that train. I recall they did not think to close the hoppers on the ballast cars and some rocks rained down upon the cars below the bridge. I imagine not all windshields survived.

    I don’t recall a film crew.

    I do recall that the River Road crossing was replaced after trains stopped running and the last car past TW Perry was a ACL or SCL gondola used to remove debris from that project. Presumably Chessie had government funds for that work.

  2. I live in downtown Silver Spring and the story is that in the late 1980s or early 90s this guy came down the street with a flat bed truck loaded with railroad ties to be sold to residents as curbing for their yards. A bunch of the people bought them. The rumor is that they were from the GB. A couple are still in but most have decayed.

  3. THANK YOU, Christopher. I think I was asleep when I wrote this post!

    As for the John Bull film crew – here’s a link to the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FxcdY2Cj5nQ. I wish I could find more of this!

    I really enjoy hearing your recollections of the railroad – thank you so much for sharing!! I think I have a photo of the gondola at Conn. Ave loaded with old ties.

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