A bit of a misnomer, in 2002 I went out and shot b-roll video footage of the Branch between Georgetown Jct. and Rock Creek. My then-fiancee, now wife, Kristin, accompanied me on the adventure. At the time, I was taking a video editing class at the Corcoran in Georgetown, back when it was still around. I had intended to do an entire tour of the Branch, highlighting what was left of it. Well, life happened; I was engaged, we bought a house not a month earlier, and the wedding was planned for June. The GB Tour video was never made. The tapes were dumped in a box and only recently uncovered as I go through old belongings.
I captured all the footage from the old MiniDV tapes (originally shot on a Canon XL-1) and assembled them into a long, uncut timeline. This is not meant to be a compelling documentary of any kind; it’s merely a way for me to share some rare footage of the remnants of my favorite branch line. Some of what you see is long gone. Some is recently gone. For example, the Rock Creek trestle is still standing, in its pre-2000s facelift form! We even climbed atop the trestle to capture footage of the tracks. (if only I’d had the foresight to bring a measuring tape!) With all the Purple Line construction, you’ll notice much of the original right of way, which is now nearly obliterated. Enjoy this time capsule from 2002!
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!
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!
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.
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:
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:
I am currently in the process of building a model of this trestle. More updates soon.
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.) https://www.facebook.com/marylandpurpleline/
This video of a folk song being performed at a recent celebration of the Talbot Ave bridge (slated for demolition tomorrow) has a neat shot of a CSX loco sitting on the Georgetown Branch lead, which I would wager is a rare sight.
Looks like we have a date for the demolition of the historic Talbot Avenue bridge. If you would like to experience this historic structure, time is of the essence. It will survive for only a few more weeks. Thankfully the main beams of the bridge (perhaps the only part of it original to the 1918 structure) are slated to be preserved and placed along the Capital Crescent Trail.