Monthly Archives: April 2024

Two Special Photos – Dalecarlia and Rock Creek Trestle, 1949

Earlier this week my model railroad club visited the historic B&O station in downtown Silver Spring, MD to assist in reassembling the model railroad there in the baggage room. The layout had recently been moved due to some HVAC work above. While there, the host gave me a tour of the building. As I entered the station master’s office, and was glancing around, a poster board with photos caught my eye. On it were a collection of images from the long time Silver Spring station agent, Robert Davis, taken in the late 1940s mostly depicting the railroad in the area; wrecks, maintenance work, etc. But there were two photos that jumped off the poster for me. First is this image of the Rock Creek Trestle:

“November 18, 1948. Looking West. B&O Trestle over Rock Creek, Georgetown Subdivision.” Photo by Robert Davis.

The reason this image is so special to me, is it is perhaps the best image I’ve seen that shows the trestle as it stood from the mid 1940’s until the Hurricane Agnes flood of 1972 when the west side of the trestle collapsed, forever changing the bridge. The trestle was demolished in 2019 to make way for the Purple Line. We are looking north in the photo, trains to Georgetown would be heading to the left.

“February 17, 1949. Looking East. The Dalecarlia Tunnel, now part of the Capital Crescent Trail.” Photo by Robert Davis.

This image shows the south portal of the Dalecarlia Tunnel. For context, just eight months earlier the B&O ran an excursion for the MSME, taking Q-1c 4320 out for a grand trip to Georgetown and back.

“B&O Engine emerging from Dalecarlia tunnel on Georgetown Branch, May 1948 [sic]” Photo by Paul Westhaeffer. B&ORRHS Collection.

It was a delight to stumble upon these two photos. I am always looking for images to fill in the gaps of understanding and context as I do my research and these are two that I’d never before seen. I am hoping that there are more!

Layout Progress – Lower Deck

Over the last two weekends I managed to squeeze two big work sessions in and made some great progress. First up was nailing down the rough track plan based on lots of trial and error over the last year.

Working on the lower deck track plan, sketching and mocking things up. The tracks to the left will be Dalecarlia water treatment plant. The track curves downhill into the “long siding” west of Georgetown. If/when the bridges over the C&O Canal are built, they will go in the left corner where the track swings to the left near the wall.
And some of Georgetown mocked up. This is the “new yard”. The photographer is standing at the foot of Wisconsin Ave looking West. I’ve managed to fit every track in the yard on the layout.

So, this weekend Kelly was able to swing by and we had a marathon construction session. After checking all of the templates and doing a lot of measuring, we took them up to the garage for some cutting.

Kelly cutting out some of the curved sub roadbed.
Kelly installing the splice plate at the apex of the “long siding” sub roadbed. Having a drill and impact driver make this process go a lot faster.
I persuaded Kelly to pause for a moment so I could snap a photo. This man is a force of nature!

After cutting the sub roadbed and splicing it together, we measured and cut risers. We then spent a considerable amount of time figuring out the grades, as Dalecarlia is a few inches higher than Georgetown on the layout. After a LOT of fiddling and experimenting, we got it figured out and permanently installed the risers. Last was cutting and installing Homasote over all of the Georgetown waterfront area (the plywood-covered sections.) It turns out I was shot one 28″ square piece, but thankfully Kelly has some extra at his house that he is going to give to me. Sweet! Here are a couple wrap up photos of what the layout currently looks like:

Dalecarlia on the left, down-grade to Georgetown at the end of the room, Georgetown is the Homasote section.
Standing at the other end of the room. Georgetown stretches out to the left.

Next steps are to do a bit of finishing on the Homasote and fasten it to the plywood base. I will also finish designing and building the bridge from the helix into the layout room, which will be a basic sheet of plywood and Masonite. I then need to empty out the room so I can get under the layout to cut holes and run bus cables. I need to do some work on the walls and figure out the backdrop corners as well as a few other things. A huge thanks to Kelly for pushing me today to get all of this done! The most progress I’ve made in a very long time.


1951 Georgetown Aerial Images

While going through some old notes today I found a link to the USGS EarthExplorer website with the note “will want to create a login.” This puzzled me, so I went ahead and explored the site a bit. After creating a login (a somewhat involved process) I was able to access some pretty wonderful imagery. There are aerials going back to 1949 and some of them are full of tremendous detail that I enjoyed exploring. First up is a crop of the downtown Georgetown area:

Georgetown, DC. July 5, 1951. USGS image.

Let’s drill down a bit.

Georgetown, DC. July 5, 1951. USGS image.

Starting on the east end of town, we see a relatively busy yard full of boxcars, covered hoppers and a gondola. The photo was taken in early July so it’s not surprising that there aren’t too many coal cars in the yard. The switching loco is visible at the top right next to the Whitehurst. Note the sharp shadows being cast. A fantastic view of the Smoot Sand & Gravel operation along with the cement vendors next door. It’s pretty incredible how many trucks they had! The idle power plant stands silent.

Georgetown, DC. July 5, 1951. USGS image.

On the north side of Whitehurst we get a closer look at some industries. To the right is the West Heating Plant and its large coal yard. Next is the diminutive King & Sons Coal, still in service, but not long for the world. Next door is the massive sprawling W. T. Galliher Lumber complex with its large storage yard. They were a major customer of the Branch up to near its end. Further left is the massive Rosslyn Steel shed, with a freight car on the siding leading into the plant. Note that about four years prior the massive cement silo structure which sat along that curved track had been removed. Next is the DC Incinerator and then Wisconsin Ave.

Georgetown, DC. July 5, 1951. USGS image.

Now we get a nice look at the “new yard” which is really packed! From my eyes, it looks like there’s ten carloads of gravel (or other aggregate) sitting in the yard along with many boxcars and at least one gondola. On the left side of the yard are the two old MoW cars which housed equipment. The Maloney Concrete batch plant was across the street. Several other industries are visible as we move further to the west.

Georgetown, DC. July 5, 1951. USGS image.

Finally, here’s the west end of the industrial area of town. Some great views of Lone Star cement, Key Bridge and all the layout of industries in this area. For sure all of these images will be indispensable when planning the Georgetown area of my model RR because this is pretty much exactly how I’d like to represent it! Very exciting to find this image set.

1936 Capitol Limited Passing Georgetown Jct

A recent eBay purchase. The caption on the back reads “B+O No. 6 “Capitol Limited” + P-1d 5038 4-6-2 Geo’town Jct, MD. 8:41AM 4-6-36 (all Pullman consist)” (Collection of Jay Williams & Big Four Graphics)

Capitol Limited thundering past Georgetown Junction.

The view is looking North, and the train is headed for Union Station, DC. It has just passed under Talbot Ave (seen in the background) and the westbound siding for the Georgetown Branch with a boxcar sitting on it. Visible just in front of the pilot is the turnout (and lantern signal) for the Georgetown Branch. Note that at this point the long siding that extended from Silver Spring all the way to the siding with the boxcar on it where it rejoined the Westbound main. A phone call box is visible to the right.