Category Archives: Prototype

Things to do with the Georgetown Branch prototype.

Rock Creek Trestle Demolition Date Set

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.

Photo from @PurpleLineMD

I am hoping to visit the site to witness some of the demolition. It’s heartbreaking to read about. RIP.

Documenting the Talbot Ave Bridge

As most of you will know, the bridge which crosses the B&O’s Metropolitan Branch and Georgetown Branch lead at Georgetown Junction is slated to be torn down. The sides of the bridge, which once belonged to a turntable, are to be saved and placed along a new stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail, which is nice. The bridge was constructed at some point around 1918 and has seen several refurbishments over the years. Much of the support structure rusted away over the years and as such the bridge has been condemned for the last year or two. Thankfully, it was recently re-opened to pedestrian traffic.

Photos from our visit are here in my Gallery.

Here I am on a chilly Sunday posing in front of the Talbot Ave. bridge. It snowed a bit while we were there. Note the giant logs laying on the ground; evidence of the brush and tree clearing the Purple Line folks are doing. Photo by Greg C.

Greg C. and I spent a morning at the bridge documenting it both with a measuring tape and with a camera. All in all, it was a very successful trip and I feel confident that I have enough data to accurately model the bridge in HO scale for my layout. Unfortunately, the model will have to be modified a bit to fit in my space, but I plan on being as accurate as I can. I think once complete, it will be a really neat model. Here are a few a sneak peeks at the drawing I am developing of the bridge structure:

Layout Update: 3/12/2019 – More Turnouts

The three turnouts in place for the track coming into Bethesda. Not the extra curved turnout on the right.

After building my first curved turnout a couple weeks ago I decided to build the next two to complete the track coming into Bethesda. I spent several hours over the weekend putting these together. When all three were done, I set them in place and realized I didn’t like how they worked. The first one was too tight of a radius. Hmmm… the only solution was to build one MORE turnout! This one a #10 LH with a 60″ OR and 46″ IR. It took me a few more hours to complete as I don’t have a FastTracks PointForm jig for a #10 turnout, only #8. So I used that and filed them down further to get the clearance I needed. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome… yeah.

Closeup of the curved turnouts.

Putting together the turnouts has been a tremendously rewarding experience and I take a lot of pride in how they turned out. I still have a bit of work to do with them, specifically I need to cut gaps, test continuity, fit them in place on the layout, paint, weather, install ties and wiring. Oh, and switch machines. *phew!* I’ll also need to modify the benchwork for the first siding which branches off at the start of the curve. This will be for the Griffith Consumers Co. coal & oil facility, which you can see here in this 1949 aerial view on NETR Historic Aerials. I will add a bit of a wing of plywood and Homasote subroadbed and then drop down for the coal unloading trestle. Ideally this facility will receive 2-3 40′ cars of fuel oil and coal. Here are some random LoC photos of the facility there. Unfortunately I don’t have a great shot of the trestle.


Horydczak, T., photographer. Griffith Consumers Co. Yard at Bethesda for Griffith Consumers Co. Bethesda Maryland, None. ca. 1920-ca. 1950. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995000330/PP/.

Horydczak, T., photographer. Griffith Consumers Co. Coal truck of Griffith Consumers Co. Bethesda Maryland, None. ca. 1920-ca. 1950. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995000332/PP/.

Horydczak, T., photographer. Griffith Consumers Co. Oil tanks of Griffith Consumers Co. Bethesda Maryland, None. ca. 1920-ca. 1950. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995000331/PP/.

Horydczak, T., photographer. (1947) Griffith Consumers Co. Coal pile in Bethesda, Maryland for Griffith Consumers Co. Bethesda Maryland, 1947. Sept. 18. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995000364/PP/.

Horydczak, T., photographer. (1947) Griffith Consumers Co. Wood pile in Bethesda, Maryland for Griffith Consumers Co. Bethesda Maryland, 1947. Sept. 18. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995000365/PP/.

B&O S2 9023 in Bethesda ca 1964

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.

Maloney Concrete: Truck Colors

The Bethesda area of my layout will feature the Maloney Concrete plant fairly prominently. I would like to have a few trucks parked nearby and the correct color scheme is important. Unfortunately I don’t have any color images showing what vehicles they owned in the 1940s and 50s looked like but I do have a few from the late 1970s. These images were shared with me by Don Wetmore and thankfully have some of the Maloney fleet pictured in the background. There is some variance here, specifically in the wheels and front bumper and guard which shows most painted red and some painted white. Cab is painted a dark green. Frame, bumpers and some trim/wheels are red. Mixing apparatus, platforms and fuel tanks are white, overall. This is just a starting point and a generalization until I can get some better photos. Last week I picked up an Athearn Mack B concrete truck that I plan on respraying when I can find the time. 🙂

The Shadow Knows…

While poking around on the DDOT archives, I came across some wonderful aerial images showing the west end of Georgetown yard. This area is particularly interesting, as there were some features there that are long gone and would add lots of flavor to the model railroad. In particular, there were many small shanties and docks along the waterfront for leisure. There is a tunnel under M St/C&O Canal here that gave access to this area from the Foundry Branch valley. I believe this tunnel probably dates back to the canal’s construction, but that’s a research topic for another time. Anyway, a little itty bitty tiny detail that I noticed while looking closely at the photo is the presence of a B&O crossbuck, visible on both sides of the crossing here. Now, had the sun been at a higher position, I may have never noticed it, but they are clearly visible when this photo was taken. Very cool!

Can you spot the crossbuck?

Mail Trains in Georgetown? A Mystery.

While perusing eBay for possible Georgetown Branch related imagery, I came across this photo, which is sourced from the Library of Congress:

Something New in Postal Facilities. [Between 1919 and 1932] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/96501487/>.
Something New in Postal Facilities. [Between 1919 and 1932] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/96501487/>.
The caption reads:

Postal service employee meeting train in Georgetown, D.C. to collect shipment of mail arriving from Rockville, Maryland.

My understanding is that passenger service never existed on the GB apart from a few legendary troop trains and excursions. This makes sense, as there were really no platforms or stations along the route to properly serve passengers. Mail, well, that could be another story. A mail train to Georgetown could make sense, as it’s really just a type of freight. If anyone has any chops for identifying that passenger (mail?) car in the background of this image, or that sign (possibly advertising the new mail service) I would be most appreciative. I’m fascinated!