Category Archives: Georgetown Branch related links

Oct 6, 1958: Film Footage of Georgetown Junction

I was alerted to this film over on Archive.org by an alert viewer who pointed out to me that at the very beginning of this home movie from October 6, 1958 there is a twenty-second view of Georgetown Junction from the rear window of a passenger train! Now, videos of the Georgetown Branch are exceedingly rare, so this is particularly special! The train is moving relatively slowly as it rounds the curve past the team track yards at the Junction. You see cars parked on the sidings, and as it proceeds further you see B&O hoppers, some box cars and a ubiquitous covered hopper. Then a view down the Georgetown Branch appears and the Talbot Ave bridge appears overhead. Nice! The shot closes shortly thereafter.

It’s only twenty seconds long, but for me, it’s all gold. Anyone who conducts research for building model railroads will tell you how important the details are. The colors of ballast, the amount of scrub brush and grass that has grown up along the right of way, the height of trees, the discoloration on the ties, the placement of switches and track alignment, buildings and signs… all of those things inspire and help to fill in the scene. Since photos & videos are uncommon, it really is special to see an actual film of the area. There is a legend of the NRHS having a film of the 1958 fan trip down the GB but I have not been able to locate it yet. The folks over there didn’t have a record of it. I will keep hoping!

Click here to view the movie. Enjoy! (*The GB footage begins at about 00:39 and ends at about 01:00)

Berko Collection: Vacation to Baltimore, Md. and Washington, D.C., October 6-12,1958, Reel 1

August 14, 1904: Tragedy and an View of Georgetown’s Industry

Scene_of_Accident_Launch_Recreation
Medium view of the rescue work conducted in the aftermath of the sinking of the naphtha launch boat “Recreation” in which ten individuals drowned.

Another image I found on DCDIG. From a story in the Washington Post, there was a large, popular regatta in Georgetown out on the Potomac and a pleasure boat sank, with ten drowning victims. The helpless crowd that gathered was large and there were photographers covering the race who also managed to photograph the scene of the tragedy.

The images are fascinating for me, as they portray what the waterfront was like just prior to the introduction of the B&O railroad to the scene. Six years after this photo was taken, B&O trains would be plying the street trackage along this waterfront. In fact, there are buildings in this photo that are still extant today! See this image from Google Maps showing one of the oldest buildings in DC still standing. Unfortunately it’s just the facade, but still impressive! The location of the photographer is approximately 32nd and Water street, but out in the Potomac. (obviously)

Another interesting article: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1904-08-15/ed-1/seq-1/

https://dcpubliclibrary.tumblr.com/post/164176912521/dcpl-special-collections-librarian-jerry-mccoy

1936 Flooding in Georgetown – Aqueduct Bridge & Boathouse

I just stumbled on this image over at DCDIG which shows the flooding in Georgetown on Mar 19, 1936. The Georgetown Branch ran from the right side to the bottom, through the arch of the old Aqueduct bridge and toward the photographer. If you look carefully you can see the old cast iron DUAL telltales in the foreground! They span the right of way and warned brakemen of the approaching arch. Remember, brakemen rode the roofs of cars back in the older days. The Potomac Boat Club boathouse survives to this day, as does the arch of the Aqueduct bridge.

1936 Flooding in Georgetown
Mar 19, 1936: Flood of the Potomac River on Water Street covering much of the Potomac Boat Club boathouse. Five individuals stand atop the Aqueduct Bridge looking down at the floodwaters.

 

Interesting Articles and Timelines on Colorado Yule Marble

Two Booms, Two World Wars, and Colorado Yule Marble is Bust, 1900 to 1945

I have long known about the role the Georgetown Branch played in the construction of the Lincoln Memorial, but it is really refreshing to fill in more details and specifics. This chronicle of the Colorado Yule Marble Co. contains a really neat timeline and history which adds some specifics to when the marble for the Lincoln Memorial would have come down the GB, across Rock Creek and down the Potomac to the Memorial construction site on the temporarily constructed extension to the GB. It seems the first shipment left Yule, CO 5/25/1914, and the final shipment was on 6/16/1916.

A few months later the quarry would shut down, only to reopen six years later. In 1931 the famous Yule marble was once again selected for a notable monument in the DC area, the Tomb of the Unknown. Carved from a single, massive piece of stone, this proved to be a real challenge. I would wager that this stone did not travel on the Georgetown Branch, but rather on the Pennsylvania RR which had a branch that ran into Rosslyn, VA, passing the area where the Tomb is located at Arlington National Cemetery.

Another interesting note I found on the Marble, CO Chamber of Commerce site reads:

The block was loaded onto a rail car and shipped to Vermont for cutting

Another interesting tidbit:

In 1913, a slab of Yule marble was sent to Washington, D.C. to be part of the Washington Monument.

There is some chance this traveled to the Monument site via the GB, but based on proximity of the PRR and its trackage on Virginia Ave & Maryland Ave, I would wager the delivery was handled from that location. There were yards located right near the Mall on that PRR line back then.

I am fascinated by the small moments and details that make the GB special. Its proximity to downtown DC certainly gave it host to many interesting deliveries over the years; National Christmas Trees, stone for national monuments and maybe even a President of the United States. More details on that another time.

Article on the History of Washington DC’s Aqueducts

https://ggwash.org/view/68579/the-fascinating-story-of-dcs-aqueducts-and-reservoirs

An interesting story covering the history of aqueducts in and around Washington, DC. Anyone know where that tunnel image is from? (http://collections.si.edu/search/detail/edanmdm:nmah_1840608)As many of you know, the Georgetown Branch of the B&O served the Dalecarlia Reservoir which was fed by the Washington Aqueduct.

 

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

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.