I especially like the two B&O and one SCL box cars visible in the new yard. By now the overhead crane had been dismantled and removed. In a few years, the yard would be paved over to become a parking lot.
The National Archives has a magnificent set of photos from the construction of the Whitehurst Freeway. Naturally, there are some wonderful trains caught in the shots and I’d like to document them here.
First up is this shot from March, 1949. There are actually a couple prints from this day, showing these and some other freight cars. I imagine the Georgetown switcher was hard at work preparing the train for the Georgetown Turn or perhaps receiving some new cars into the yard. Regardless, it’s a pretty special photo. Before we go on, a huge shout out to the Steam Era Freight Cars group for car data and other info, as well as the various manufacturer pages linked below. Let’s dive in.
Chesapeake & Ohio 152×8
This is a Pullman-Standard Co. built 40′ PS-1 boxcar, lot 5886, C&O series 15000-15999 (1,000 cars), built in Feb 1948. It has 6′, 7-panel Superior doors (evenly spaced, placard mounted to stiffener), Ajax hand brake, Apex Tri-Lok running boards, A3 trucks, 12-panel sides.
Kadee produced a similar model of this car in HO scale, #5023.
Great Northern 49730
In 1940-41 GN received 3,000 cars of this type, built by Pullman Standard, American Car & Foundry and others. This car was built by Pullman-Standard Co. in 1941 in a lot of 500 cars. This 40’6″ car features a 6′ Youngstown door, steel frame, steel ends, wood sheathing. Note that this car has a rare front-facing goat logo, with the slogan: “SEE AMERICA FIRST, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK.” GN specified boxcar red sides with a black roof, ends and underframe.
Resin Car Works produced a similar model of this car in HO scale, Kit 11.01.
Delaware Lackawanna & Western 51963
This car is an AAR 1937 design boxcar from DL&W series 51750-51999, built Dec 1944 by Magor Car Co. lot W708, a total of 250 cars. The car features 10′ IH, 6′ seven-panel Superior doors, 10-panel riveted sides, 4/5 Dreadnaught ends with round corners and no push-pole sockets. Murphy raised-panel roof, Ajax handbrake, wood running boards, T-Z brake step, 7/7 ladders, double-truss, spring plankless trucks with cast iron wheels. These cars were built between Dec 1944 and Feb 1945.
Between Nov 1929 and Feb 1930 DL&W took delivery of 1,000 of these unusual cars were derived from the USRA standard design. These all-steel boxcars were from series 47000-47699, 700 cars, built by American Car & Foundry, Lot 998, delivered Nov 1929 – Jan 1930. (The other 300 cars, 47700-47999, were produced by Magor Car Co. Lot P-7072, delivered Jan-Feb 1930.) Cars had an insight height of 8’7″, Hutchins Dry Lading roofs and Youngstown doors. After 1940 when cars were outshopped and AB brakes added, many were outfitted with Murphy panel roofs, steel running boards and Superior panel five-panel doors. Cars were delivered in DL&W freight car brown, with standard white freight lettering. Repaints began in 1942 and included the addition of the “Phoebe Snow” slogan design. In 1955 many of these cars were repainted a second time and received the large” “Billboard” road name stenciled and moved to the left side. (Special thanks to Brian Carlson from the Steam Era Freight Car group and Protocraft for some of this info!)
One of the great things from all of the Purple Line destruction/construction is the preservation of the historic Talbot Ave bridge that once spanned the Metropolitan Branch at Georgetown Junction. As you may recall, back in 2019 the bridge was removed in preparation for the installation of the additional two tracks and a new overpass. The County planned to save the bridge for a future installation in a park, and we finally have some renderings of what it may look like.
At the Lyttonsville Park community meeting, a slide presentation outlined the current designs and status. Link to the slide presentation: https://montgomeryparks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Lyttonsville-community-3-2023-0330-web-r.pdf
In the presentation are several really neat photos of the current state of the bridge. The girders, one of the only parts of the original 1916 construction, are preserved, sitting atop the pedestrian bridge sections that once topped the Rock Creek trestle. Not sure of the current location; probably in a Purple Line storage yard.
A hundred years of weather, deferred maintenance and punishment has not been kind to the old steel, and it shows. I’m so grateful it will be refurbished and preserved; a small piece of railroad history that will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come. I’ll take it. Plus, I can actually go and get more measurements if I need them! 🙂
Well, this was a special project that I can finally share with everyone. A few months back I was contacted by a Georgetown University graduate student who was putting together a brief documentary on the Georgetown Branch; specifically its history and transformation into a rail trail. We initially shared stories and historic reference material and eventually I was interviewed on-camera at home. I think the project turned out brilliantly and my hats off to Evan, the director, producer, writer – well, everything! He did an awesome job capturing the entire story of the Branch. I hope you enjoy!
I found this print on eBay recently and am quite pleased to add it to the Georgetown Branch collection. The caption on the back of the 8×10 print reads: “1/59 Washington, DC – Line #20 – B&O RR trestle – crossing over Cabin John line.” The photo was taken from the west side of the trestle, facing to the east.
At the time, the Dalecarlia Reservoir was undergoing a massive expansion project. Aerial photos from 1949 and 1957 show the scale of the expansion.
The last trolley on the Cabin John Line was on Jan 3, 1960, and the entire system was fully closed in 1962. Congress revoked its charter in 1956, so likely seeing the writing on the wall, the Dalecarlia reservoir began expansion in the mid 1950s. The right of way was repurposed and is where some major buildings and two of the settling ponds exist today.
I have long-wondered what type of tug boat operated at the Smoot Sand & Gravel plant in Georgetown. While searching in some old newspaper snippets I saved over the years, I came across the following image from the Washington Evening Star, April 6, 1960, of a census-taker working at the wharf by Smoot. In the background is a nice view of the tug that was working at that time.
Here’s a cropped image, a bit zoomed in:
Back in January, at the Amherst Model RR show in Springfield, MA I picked up one of these lovely 53′ Harbor Steam Tug models by Seaport Model Works:
Al Moran kindly shared these two wonderful photos over on the CSX “Cap, Met, and OML” subs, Railfans Facebook Group of a local servicing Mason-Dixing Recycling, which occupied the old E.C. Keys property for some time. Once the Branch was abandoned, a small amount of track remained near the Junction, servicing the plant.
Thank you, Al, for allowing me to share these here on the blog! He writes: B731-08 (possibly D780-08 not sure when the change occurred) with CSX 4234/CSX caboose 904130 at Georgetown Jct after working the last remaining customer on the Georgetown Branch (a recycling place) on 09/08/93. 29 years ago today.
In my seemingly never ending quest to discover and decipher industries that were served by the B&O on the Georgetown Branch I have often had to put pins in things until more information comes to light or I have the time to delve deeper into said customers. A few months back a chance photo on Facebook did just such a thing; opened the door to some brand new views of industries that I know very little about.
We’re going to take a look at two industries; The Briggs Filtration Co. (aka Briggs Clarifier Co.) and Hot Shoppes (which eventually became Marriott Corp.) which were located next door to one another in Bethesda, MD at River Road, yet were served by completely separate sidings. Let’s start with an overhead view from Historic Aerials, ca 1949:
Briggs Clarifier / Briggs Filtration Co.
Briggs produced valves, hot water heating boilers and oil filters. A simple Google search will turn up various patents (1) and law suit filings, along with some trade catalogs and maybe even an advertisement. A bit of a digression to Georgetown: while I don’t have a detailed history worked up, what I can gather is that their office was located in Georgetown at 3262 K St, right across the street from Wilkins-Rogers Milling Co. The 1916 Sanborn map reads “Flour & Feed Ware Ho” located at 3262 K St.:
The 1927 Sanborn Map:
I checked a Sanborn map that has a 1932 date and it does not show Briggs Clarifier listed, but rather Mutual Building Supply Co.:
Ok, back to Bethesda. At some point they either moved or expanded (or perhaps were co-located) to a location in Bethesda at River Rd. off of Landy Ln. This fairly large facility, on the East side of Landy Ln. included several warehouse / manufacturing structures. Here is the Sanborn Map ca 1957:
As you can see from the map, the B&O siding ran down Landy Ln, passing alongside the factory complex. Later advertising shows the name changed to The Briggs Filtration Co. and also had a Bethesda, MD address:
Hot Shoppes / Marriott Corp.
I’m not going to go into detail on the history of Hot Shoppes & Marriott because it’s been done before in lots of detail and with great imagery! The Streets of Washington blog did a great post on it some years back. Check that out to get a feel for the background of this local DC institution. I posted this photo last April of the Hot Shoppes HQ located at 5161 River Rd, with the Briggs Filtration Co just off to the right.
Judging from the photo, it’s obvious that Hot Shoppes would receive all sorts of perishables related to the bustling restaurant industry. Machinery, furniture and other supplies related to the expansion of the business would also probably pass through the warehouse. There was also a coal house & boiler room at the north end of the building.
In this fantastic photo from Mr. Bill Duvall there’s a lot to see. The view is facing away from the Marriott warehouse, standing on Landy Ln. The yellow & white sign next to the loco reads “Marriott Corporation, 5161 River Road.” The fast food restaurant behind the loco is none other than a JR Hot Shoppes restaurant. The slogan reads “Happiness is Eating Here.”
As a side note, I attended Fourth Presbyterian Church throughout my teen years. We would go to Roy Rogers (which succeeded JR Hot Shoppes) every Sunday after church with friends. It is now a McDonald’s. Note the WDCA20 studio and tower in the background. I may or may not have some friends who climbed to the top of that tower one hot summer about twenty years ago.
BONUS: If we look to the other direction from the photo of the two gentlemen above, we see additional industries just out of view that were also served by rail. There was an auto body/repair shop and more. The siding went between the larger structure and the two smaller sheds, spanning the entire length of the buildings.
Back in 2003, when I went on my first Georgetown Branch exploration, we stumbled across rails embedded in the ground here where the auto repair shop was once located. We also walked around the area near Hot Shoppes / Briggs Clarifier. You can view the photos in the Gallery, here. I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit more insight into the Briggs Filtration Co. & Hot Shoppes warehouses in Bethesda.
The Hot Shoppes facility is still standing. It now houses the Washington Episcopal School. They have modified much of the facility but the overall structure can still be observed today.
The Briggs Filtration facility is now gone, having been razed and turned into a soccer field for the adjacent school. However, for the time being you can still view the old structure on Google Street View! (Until they update it.)
And as one final gasp for the old Georgetown Branch, tracks are still visible embedded in Landy Ln. Go visit them when you can.
If you have any additional information, maps, photos or stories about these industries, I’d love to hear about them!