Category Archives: History

Items of historical interest and relevance.

October 24, 1954: Georgetown Branch Excursion Snap Shots

In the fall of 1954 the National Railway Historic Society put together an excursion train which included a trip down the Georgetown Branch. I recently purchased two prints off of eBay which show the train being mustered in Eckington Yard down in Washington, DC as well as the train at the end of the Branch under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown. Enjoy!

NRHS Georgetown Branch excursion train musters in Eckington Yard. Photographer unknown. Collection of Ben Sullivan.
NRHS Georgetown Branch excursion train idles in Georgetown. Photographer unknown. Collection of Ben Sullivan.

Bethesda Freight Station drawing, v.2

I re-worked my drawing of the Bethesda Freight Station, I’m calling this v.2. I was looking at the first attempt, in laser-cut form, on the layout, and noticed that the loading dock was extremely high. I pulled an HO scale delivery truck up to the dock and it came up about 1/4 of the way up the back door of the truck. Unacceptable.

I went back to my archive photos and the drawings. I reassessed how I got my original measurements and made new references off of the photos, trusting more in some known dimensions I had, namely the garage doors and windows. I also used some logic to determine door size as well as the height of the loading dock. I assumed the loading dock height to be about 42″. I assume the door is about 7′ high. After re-drawing the plans, here is what I’ve come up with:

Here is my second attempt at drawing the Bethesda station after major revisions to the vertical scale.
Here is my second attempt at drawing the Bethesda station after major revisions to the vertical scale.

I’m MUCH more pleased with this result. I know it’s not perfect, but I think it will be about 95% close to correct. I’m going to print this one out, mock it up and see how it looks on the layout. More to come, soon!

Interesting History of Lyttonsville

The small historic village of Lyttonsville laid right at the spot where the Georgetown Branch broke away from the Metropolitan Branch of the B&O. The line was built around 1892 to serve the new power plant at Connecticut Ave in Chevy Chase. The Lyttonsville property was purchased some time around 1850 and has a rich history.

Lytton was in his sixties when the Metropolitan Southern Railroad division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company began planning to construct a freight rail line from the railroad’s Metropolitan Branch, which in the 1880s had linked northwest Washington to West Virginia. The railroad had to acquire right of way along the length of the new line and its 1827 charter gave it two ways to acquire it: direct negotiation with property owners along the route or through condemnation proceedings against recalcitrant owners with whom they couldn’t come to terms.

Read more:

An early history of Lyttonsville, Maryland

Bethesda Freight Station Mock-Up

I told you fun stuff was happening! So I had a chance to test out my drawings and laser cut the station out of mat board as a proof of concept. Wow! I am so pleased. The drawings proved to work perfectly well. Have a look:

Next steps: I need to finish the drawings. I am now applying textures (brick, concrete) to the file so that when I do my actual laser cutting/engraving all of the bricks are represented as well as the concrete foundation. I even sourced images of brick which match the pattern of 5 and 1 for the soldier courses. I also sourced some .020″ laserboard which I will use to create the custom windows and garage doors. I didn’t realize that the top three courses on the garage doors were filled in with glass panels!

And for reference, here is the station in 1984:

5/16/1984 Bethesda Freight House. Photo by Matthew Vurek.
5/16/1984 Bethesda Freight House. Photo by Matthew Vurek.

More to come soon. Stay tuned!

Bethesda Freight House – Fun Things Are Happening

A drawing I created from blueprints and photos to recreate the Bethesda Freight House in HO Scale.
A drawing I created from blueprints and photos to recreate the Bethesda Freight House in HO Scale.

Progress is being made on my HO Scale model of the B&O’s Bethesda, MD freight house. This unusual structure consisted of a rectangular building build of concrete & brick with a loading dock and two garage doors. The oddest thing about the structure is the fact that it was never connected to (nor aligned with) any railroad tracks! I believe it was never intended to handle much more than administrative capacities and smaller LCL freight items, perhaps. More details on the build soon!

Model Railroad Planning – Fitting the Bridges Over the C&O Canal

I’ve been on a hot streak lately working on the layout and have made tremendous progress thanks to help from friends. I hope to make a blog post soon detailing the progress and maybe a vlog. For now, I’m spending time thinking about designing and building the three bridges that carried the B&O over Canal Rd. and the C&O Canal down in DC.

B&O H12-44 9725 leads the Georgetown Local westbound across the C&O Canal toward Georgetown. Wm. Duvall photo (ca. Nov 1966)
B&O H12-44 9725 leads the Georgetown Local westbound across the C&O Canal toward Georgetown. Wm. Duvall photo (ca. Nov 1966)

This is the spot where the line had nearly descended all the way to the canal level and broke away from the Palisades and crossed over toward the Potomac River on a beautiful trio of historic bridges and sweeping curve. I have the blueprints for these bridges and plan on modeling them, but I need them to fit my space. Right now it’s a very tight fit. I did a mock-up below:

Mocking up the three bridges that carried the B&O across Canal Rd. and the C&O Canal. The *just* fit!
Mocking up the three bridges that carried the B&O across Canal Rd. and the C&O Canal. The *just* fit!

I’m considering options for including the bridges. Everything from only modeling one of the three, two of the three, or all three. Curving them more. Using tighter radius curves at the approaches. Or moving it to another location. One final option is to ditch it altogether. What do you think? Feedback below!

Copy of B&ORRHS Sentinel magazine with GB article is up for sale on eBay

If you are interested in learning more about the Georgetown Branch, the best singular published source would be the out-of-print 2003 Vol 25, Num 1 issue of The Sentinel from the B&ORRHS. One is for sale on eBay right now so go scoop it up! https://www.ebay.com/itm/401484075440

The Sentinel B&O Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society Magazine
Volume 25 Number 1 2003
The Sentinel, Volume 25 Number 1, 2003
The Sentinel, Volume 25 Number 1, 2003

Footage of Purple Line Construction on the Georgetown Branch

YouTuber Nathan Carrick has posted a brief video showing some of the latest construction progress on the Georgetown Branch at the Connecticut Ave. crossing as well as at Wisconsin Ave in Bethesda. I have wanted to visit the construction site for weeks and am thankful he posted some footage. I was most curious about the old team tracks hidden in the woods at Conn. Ave (in the video, they are behind the excavator) and it appears they are still there, as the area is marked with red tape to preserve the forest. (thankfully) Don’t know how long that will last, but it’s nice to see for now.

Seeing the Branch torn up is painful as they are erasing many vestiges of the original right-of-way that will never be replaced. At the same time, it’s somewhat thrilling to me to think about riding a train on the old RoW once again.