I was unable to find anything Georgetown Branch related at this time, but I will be checking back and will update this post when I do. Could you find anything interesting on there? I hope so! The collection really is fantastic.
UPDATE: It’s Jan 14th, 2020 and I revisited the National Archives collection to see if there are any new images. I found two:
Valuation Section 24.1, Sheet 1 Published June 30, 1918. This covers Georgetown Jct. to Connecticut Ave. There is a ton of new info on this map! No sidings at the junction, sidings at Rock Creek Bridge (at each end) and a lot of detail at Chevy Chase! Wow!
Valuation Section 24.1 Published May, 1938. Also covers the area around Georgetown Jct. Not sure about this map. It shows a much wider perspective and has some markings near Silver Spring, probably regarding land ownership.
Here’s hoping they publish more in the future. Let me know if you see any!
The bell is tolling for the Rock Creek trestle. The Purple Line has announced that beginning on March 26, demolition will begin as they remove the path across the top and then begin demolishing the trestle itself. Already the wood planking atop the trestle is being removed.
I am hoping to visit the site to witness some of the demolition. It’s heartbreaking to read about. RIP.
A bit of housekeeping: I’ve added a large set of photos from an exploration trip I did with Kelly R. on the GB back in 2015 to my Gallery. These photos were previously up on my Flickr page only but now you can view them in my Gallery. Enjoy!
This newsreel footage has some really neat, yet very brief shots of Georgetown taken from the Memorial Bridge. You have to look hard, but you get a few really cool views of the dusty, smoky, dirty section of town off in the distance. Awesome find!
This photo had to have been taken around 1964, as I believe the Air Rights building (visible under construction in the distance) was completed in 1966. S2 9023 was built between 1943-48. I’m not sure of its original three digit number. The B&O Freight Station is visible to the left of the cab and the engine is sitting on the main, just past Bethesda Ave. I stumbled on this photo while looking at the B&O Diesel Roster on North East Rails. Photo by Bud Laws.
While searching for documents, I stumbled on this article from Concrete magazine, published in October 1921 and scanned by Google. The Rosslyn Steel & Cement Co. property has always been of interest to me, as it was served by the B&O in Georgetown. There was a siding that came off the B&O’s Water St. tracks and curved into the RS&C property, past the large concrete cement elevator and into their massive steel fabrication facility. A quite large and long shed housed the steel operation where they produced re-bar and other steel assemblies for use in their construction projects.
The special thing about this article is that it shows very detailed plans for the RS&C plant and a couple wonderful photographs! They also detail the operations of the cement elevator and the mechanical function of the loaders and unloaders. Really neat stuff! These images and the article text finally give a detailed look at how this plant appeared and was laid out on the site. I’m planning on modeling at least part of it, if I can figure out how to fit it into my layout.
This neat video showing various railfan excursions from the 1950s to 1970s in the DC area shows a wide variety of subjects, including a brief, rare color film shot of the trolley approaching its crossing of the B&O’s Georgetown Branch, which crossed the trolley tracks on a deck girder bridge. The trolley last ran to Glen Echo on Jan 3, 1960 and the area beneath the bridge would be filled in later that year. (I walked the line back in 1991 and witnessed this deck girder bridge sitting only a few feet off the ground. It was a strange sight.)
Video begins at the 5:54 mark and is only a few seconds long, but it’s neat to see. In the background you can see the GB bridge crossing over the tracks. There was a second deck girder bridge to the left which extended the crossing.
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!
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)
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.