Category Archives: History

Items of historical interest and relevance.

Chevy Chase Lake & Kensington Electric Ry. & B&O Diamond

For some time, the Chevy Chase Lake & Kensington Electric Ry. crossed the B&O at grade at Chevy Chase, MD. The line was built ca 1894 and operated until September 15, 1935. At some point, the tracks were removed and the right of way converted to a road. (its legacy lives on; see Kensington Parkway.) I’ve found several images over the years, but a recent post on Facebook got me thinking back. Here are some interesting shots I’ve found over the years.

Getty Images photo. Ca 1/1/1922. I believe this photo was taken just north of the Rock Creek Ry./Capital Traction Co. Chevy Chase Lake station; the Northern terminus of the RCRy and Southern terminus of the Chevy Chase Lake & Kensington Electric Ry. (CCL&KERy.) The B&O Georgetown Branch would be in the background, to the left. The large 9-stall car barn of the RCRy is to the right. Note the gravel denoting the “end of the line.”
Ca 1938: Facing South, Conn. Ave to the left. Rock Creek Ry. station to the right. Photographer is standing on CCL&KERy tracks which cross the B&O Georgetown Branch a few feet away. Photo from Chevy Chase Historic Society.
Ca 1915. Capital Traction Co map showing the track arrangement at Chevy Chase Lake. You can see the Georgetown Branch crossing from left to right at the top of the map. The CCL&KERy tracks approach from the north, cross the B&O and terminate next to the station, which is where the “A” is in “CHASE”. I have oft wondered what the purpose was of the siding which ran to the East side of the Capital Traction car barn/power plant and proceeded under the B&O. There was a bridge there, right next to T.W.Perry. I imagine it was for expansion, but it has always seemed odd to me. Photo from Chevy Chase Historic Society.

Early Aerial Photos of DC

These aerial photo mosaics shot over DC in the early 20th century are incredible.

Aerial photographic mosaic map of Washington, D.C., Sept 13, 1922,0.313,0.095,0.079,0

Aerial photographic mosaic, Washington, D.C., 1918,0.534,0.27,0.225,0

It is striking to me just how built-up the city has become over the last one hundred years. Looking at the mosaic from 1922, I’m not certain there is a bridge across Canal Rd. at the future site of Arizona Ave. It appears there is only the bridge across the Canal. Perhaps there was a smaller bridge there? My sources are not clear. More research is in order!

Georgetown Barges and Tug Boat Considerations

Went to the big Railroad Hobby Show in Springfield, MA this past weekend and wow, it was a doozy. The show was massive and loaded with great stuff. I picked up a few cool things for the Georgetown Branch, including a Sylvan Scale Models HO Barge with Coal resin kit. I also checked out the Sea Port Model Works tables and took a good hard look at some of their models. Just lovely. I have my eye on one of the harbor tugs for my own layout.

But, the whole thing got me thinking about what the barges looked like in Georgetown in the heyday of production down at the waterfront, by Smoot Sand & Gravel. Here are some cropped aerial images to get the juices flowing and get some ideas going. Enjoy!

Note what appears to be a tug, nestled among the barges.

Unfortunately I don’t have dates for these images. They are part of a book that was loaned to me by H. Smith and now resides at the B&O RR Historical Society Archives in Eldersburg, MD. The images seem to date from the late 1940s to the early/mid 1960s. You can view these and more images from this collection, in full size, in my Gallery.

A Side Project: MD Tower

I’m playing catch-up on a few things and this is one of them. Better late than never, and all that. A friend is building a spectacular HO scale layout focusing on operations around Clarksburg, WV as the centerpiece. He asked if I could assist with building a laser cut model from some similar plans published in Model Railroader some years ago. I scanned in the drawings and went about trying to scale everything to fit. A bit of tweaking and I had a version 1.0 ready to go. This was laser cut and engraved into mat board, which is a great prototyping tool for making laser kits. Actually, I think it would be a great material overall for making inexpensive laser cut kits, but I digress. Here is a photo of the completed structure:

MD Tower in HO scale, version 1.0

The roof is made with strips of masking tape over the mat board, to give the look of shingles. This was a quick-and-dirty job. Just to get it done. Obviously, all of the windows, doors and other pieces are missing. This is to get the fitting correct.

I gave this version 1.0 structure to Matt and his buddy Brian couldn’t wait to paint & weather this stand-in model and get it situated on the layout with a few small modifications. I think it looks pretty awesome for a few minutes of work! 🙂

More is to come on this project. I am in the process of trying to develop the aluminum window frames, doors and other final pieces. Should be a neat model when it’s complete! Stay tuned…

New Photo Of Rock Creek Trestle

As you all know, the Rock Creek trestle was torn down last Winter/Spring. I was able to take some photos before the final blow was struck and thankfully captured some crucial images of the structure. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take measurements, as the deck had closed before I had a chance to get up there, although a crane operator mentioned that the girder bridge section was slated to be preserved, as it was deemed historic. (dates back to early 1900s)

Montgomery County Parks Dep’t. posted this on Twitter today:

Site of the B&O Rock Creek trestle.

The view is from the hiker-biker path and is facing to the North. To the left, you can see the old abutment built by the B&O in 1972, which held the rebuilt section of the trestle. (steel) In the foreground, if you look very closely, you will see the old wooden pilings, cut down and about to be entombed in concrete. Here is a photo I took about one year ago today:

Jan 16, 2019: B&O Rock Creek Trestle
Jan 16, 2019: B&O Rock Creek Trestle

I am currently in the process of building a model of this trestle. More updates soon.

Rock Creek Trestle Construction

The Purple Line folks have shared a couple images on Facebook. The shots were taken atop the old B&O abutments to the trestle across Rock Creek. The new right of way is about 15′ lower than the original RoW. They “shaved” the top down. (the new bridges will be much lower than the original one.)

Construction #PurpleLineMD bridge abutments and retaining walls is ongoing near Rock Creek.

Construction #PurpleLineMD bridge abutments and retaining walls is ongoing near Rock Creek.

Progress on the Rock Creek Trestle Design

I’ve been working on putting together scale drawings of the Rock Creek trestle on the Georgetown Branch for several months now in my free time. I’m getting very close to have a final working set of plans that I can use to build my HO scale model of the bridge and wanted to share a quick screen shot to see what it looks like.

Bent #10, which supports the east end of the deck girder bridge.

This is very much a work in progress and the drawing reflects that. There have been many challenges with this project. Some of the big ones include the lack of images of the trestle from the time frame that I model; 1945-55. Another includes the various versions this trestle had throughout its life. It was originally built in the late 18th century, rebuilt some time in the 1920s, and again at some point in the 1950s. In the 60s it burned, in the 70s half of it collapsed. It was rebuilt, burned again in the 1980s rebuilt in the 2000s, reopened for pedestrians and finally in 2019 it was demolished. I took as many photos of it as I could (found in the Gallery on the main site) but due to the many modern additions, it’s nearly impossible to determine what was original and what was new.

I am doing my best. There is a lot of staring at photos for a very long time, trying to determine where bracing was placed, what height it was located at and what angle is correct. I’ve got about 3 photos that date back to the 40s and 50s. None are particularly good. I have a rough plan of the structure made by the B&O but it is missing many, many measurements. It’s a good starting place, and will give me a “good enough” on many measurements, but I wish I had taken more when the structure was still open to pedestrian traffic. Oh well. More to come, soon.

Talbot Ave Bridge Is No More

Talbot Ave bridge removal.
July 13, 2019: The current state of affairs at Georgetown Jct.

I was down at the Scout Shop in Bethesda getting couple last-minute items with my Son for his trip to camp tomorrow when I figured I would drop by the Junction and see the carnage. Wow. I was heartbroken to see it in person. The beheaded bridge piers and demolished abutment made for a grim sight. The Talbot Ave bridge stood sentinel for over 100 years and had become a cultural and social icon to locals. It was really tough to see the altered landscape. All around us it’s happening. I noticed as I drove through historic Kensington that the industrial area near the station is being gutted and cleared out, no doubt for some new shitty condo or office complex. It’s sad to see it all go, but that’s MoCo for you. Visit it all while you can, for tomorrow it may not be there.

Here is a link to my photos from the trip today.

July 5th Talbot Ave Bridge Demolition Photos

Bridge demolition is nearly done.
The crane is positioned and ready to lift the bridge out of its home for the last 101 years.

Good friend Greg C. stopped by the Talbot Ave site yesterday to see what was going on. Well, the bridge was being hooked up to the crane for removal and wow, the site looks different. It’s a bit heart wrenching to see this landmark being removed, but nice to know it’s not being sliced up and destroyed altogether. Unfortunately the actual removal was not captured (it likely happened later in the day) but this will give you a very good idea of what the scene looked like.

You can view the photos here in my Gallery.