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.
Yep. This video was shot just over a year ago. Why am I posting it? Because it’s been eating me up and I decided enough was enough. Sometimes seemingly simple goals become unrealistic whether because they were set too high or other things got in the way. In this case, it’s a bit of everything. The transmission repair project took over last Spring and dominated my spare time through the Fall. HPDE season prep and subsequent packing up/cleanup took the rest of the Fall away. I was burned out and it took a while to get back into the swing of things.
So, enjoy this video. There’s actually a good bit of track work and layout progress that is NOT depicted in this video, so I need to do a new one! I will work on cleaning up the layout room and getting a new video done. In the meantime, enjoy this. Post any questions/comments below.
One final note, this video was done without any real production. I just wanted to “get it done.” Forgive the lack of quality and I hope to do better in the future. I would also like to do some features on the side projects I’m working on like building the Bethesda station and the Rock Creek trestle. Lots going on!
This postcard view of Georgetown, likely from 1942, shows some of the extensive flooding along the waterfront
At the same time, while searching for more info on flooding, I stumbled across some stock video footage that shows 1936 Georgetown for a brief moment. Photos of the branch are rare; video doubly so. The Georgetown section begins at about the 56-second mark.
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/
The Montgomery County Council posted a neat photo to Twitter which shows the construction going on in downtown Bethesda. Of interest is the lower half of the image which shows the old Georgetown Branch right of way. On the right is the Air Rights building, which straddles the tracks. Next to it is Wisconsin Ave, where you can see the bridge crossing the tracks. (it is the concrete section.) The cribbing you see is approximately where the right of way exited the Wisconsin Ave underpass and continued on to the South. The line curved down toward the bottom of the photo. Just above the right of way you can see where old sidings branched off from the main track near where the concrete parking lot is. Pretty spiffy!
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.
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.
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.
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.