Timeline of Events related to the Georgetown Branch of the B&O
Landmark dates, times and reference points for events and occurrences on the Georgetown Branch
UPDATE 2022: I decided to post a link to my working Timeline file on Google Docs. This is always up-to-date as far as what I’ve been working on or collected. Enjoy!
- ca 1800: Henry Foxall arrives in DC and builds Columbia Foundry on shore of Potomac River by the Three Sisters islands.
- 1814: Columbia Foundry nearly destroyed by British forces during War of 1812.
- Mar, 1825: C&O Canal charter established by act of President Monroe.
- 1828: B&O RR construction begins at Mount Clare, Baltimore, MD.
- Jul 4, 1828: C&O Canal construction begins at groundbreaking ceremony near lock 6, Little Falls.
- 1830: C&O Canal begins use from Little Falls to Seneca.
- 1833: Construction of the first Aqueduct Bridge across the Potomac in Georgetown begins.
- 1835: William King & Son Coal is established.
- 1843: Construction of the first Aqueduct Bridge across the Potomac in Georgetown is completed.
- ca 1849: Columbia Foundry property auctioned off.
- 1850: C&O Canal is completed to Cumberland, MD.
- 1866: Construction of the B&O’s Metropolitan Branch begins, to connect Washington, DC with the Old Main Line at Point of Rocks, MD.
- 1873: B&O’s Metropolitan Branch opens for use.
- 1873: Hopfenmaier rendering plant in Georgetown at 3300 K St, NW opens.
- Spring, 1875: Construction on C&O Canal inclined plane near Georgetown begins.
- Jul 6, 1876: C&O Canal inclined plane near Georgetown approved by Canal Co. board.
- Nov 26, 1877: Potomac River flood, 14.05′ crest.
- Ca 1877 after C&O Canal is damaged by flooding, B&O RR acquires a majority interest to prevent the Western Maryland Ry. from building on it.
- Feb 12, 1881: Potomac River flood, 13.63′ crest.
- ca 1885: Construction of Ray’s Warehouse in Georgetown is completed. (1)
- 1886: Georgetown, U.S. Gov’t purchases Aqueduct bridge and removes old leaky wooden aqueduct structure, begins constructing new iron Howe truss structure designed by Peter Hains.
- 1886: B&O begins double-tracking various sections of the Metropolitan Branch.
- Apr 11, 1888: Georgetown: New Howe truss bridge opens on site of old wooden Aqueduct bridge across Potomac.
- Sep 26, 1888: Georgetown Barge, Dock and Elevated Ry. Co. (GBDERyCo) is incorporated. (14)
- Jun 1, 1889: Potomac River Flood: destroys much of the C&O Canal, including the inclined plane. Also weakens piers of Aqueduct bridge and flooding on the waterfront. (13, etc.)
- 1889: C&O Canal enters receivership, bought by the B&O RR after major flooding damages Canal.
- 1889: Enos C. Keys and Sons is founded by Enos Keys, son of Charles Keys in Lyttonsville. Sells coal, fuel & building materials until 1978. Built a coal yard along Brookeville Rd.
- ca Feb 6, 1889: DC Commissioners issue permit for construction of Georgetown Barge, Dock and Elevated Ry. Co.
- Mar 2, 1899: Act passed by US Congress District Commissioners granting a charter to the Washington & Western Maryland RR Co.(W&WMD RR) provided that work to commence within one year of charter and completed within three years. (11, 15)
- 1890: Chevy Chase Land Co. formed by Francis G. Newlands. Acquires land near Rock Creek for amusement park and residential development.
- 1890: W&W RR Co. route examined by Capt. Rossell (most likely on the District Commissioners committee. Note: at the time, it wasn’t known that the B&O was behind the W&W RR Co, but it was presumed.) (11)
- 1891: B&O pays Saumel Lytton for small parcel of land in which the Metropolitan Southern (Georgetown Branch) will pass.
- Dec 10, 1891: W&W RR Co. submits a map of route. (11)
- 1892: Construction of the Metropolitan Southern is completed from B&O Metropolitan Branch to area near Connecticut Avenue crossing. (predecessor to GB)
- 1892: At some point in recent time a bill had been made by Congress allowing the Norfolk & Western access to DC via a bridge at “Three Sisters” near Georgetown. (12)
- 1892: Trestle along Potomac waterfront to the west was completed from the Aqueduct Bridge and then work abruptly stopped. (17)
- 1892: Rock Creek Trestle constructed. 1,400’ long, 67’ high. Advertised as one of the largest of its type on B&O system. (28)
- Apr 5, 1892: Bill filed by Independent Ice Co. restraining work on the trestle built along waterfront (to the west), pending a court hearing, due to impeding on IICo land. (15)
- Sep 18, 1892: First streetcars traverse line from 7th St. in DC to Chevy Chase Lake.
- 1893: Double tracking of the Metropolitan Branch from Washington, DC to Gaithersburg, MD is completed.
- Spring, 1893: PRR begins construction of Rosslyn Branch from Long Bridge to Rosslyn, VA. (17)
- 1894: Chevy Chase Lake Amusement Park opens to public.
- 1894: Tracks have been laid from B&O Metropolitan Branch to Chevy Chase, MD. (coal to the power house)(this work was completed two years earlier in 1892) (17)
- 1894: Grading for RoW has been completed from Chevy Chase to within 100’ of Rockville Turnpike (Wisconsin Ave.) (17)
- 1894: Notes that the B&O’s southerly line crossing of the Potomac River would be near “High Island” which is just west of Dalecarlia. (*Perhaps the source for the curved siding indicated on some old valuation maps.) (17)
- 1894: Outlines B&O’s planned southerly route: Potomac crossing to Fairfax, FFX court house, FFX station, where it crosses Richmond & Danville, then to some point in Prince William Co., eg Quantico. (17)
- 1895: Rock Creek Ry merges with Washington and Georgetown RR Co. to form Capital Traction Co.
- 1901: PRR acquired B&O following emergence from bankruptcy. Many capital improvements were made. (23)
- March 2, 1902: Potomac River floods, 10.5′ crest.
- 1903: Two-year project to replace one of the piers of Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown begins.
- 1904: Notes that grading has been completed to a point near Bethesda. (work has not progressed any further than 1892 point of stopping) (19)
- 1904: Rock Creek Trestle – much of the span replaced by fill, reducing the length to ~281’. A single steel wrought iron span across the section of trestle over creek. (28)
- Sep 29, 1907: Washington National Cathedral – Foundation stone laid, construction begins.
- Continuation of construction of the Georgetown Branch begins, extending from Chevy Chase Lake to Georgetown. Track from Met to Chevy Chase is already complete. RoW from Chevy Chase to Bethesda is completed. Crews begin laying rail, building structures and grading further. Original plan is for a Southern connection in VA, but that never materializes.
- 1908: Bridge #21, waterway crossing, built.
- 1908: Bridge #23, Canal overflow crossing, built
- 1909: Notes that the GB from Linden to Georgetown is in the course of construction. (18)
- 1909:Bridge #4, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #5A, Wisconsin Ave over GB in Bethesda is built.
- 1909:Bridge #6, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge “new” #7, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #8, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #9, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #11, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #12, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #13, road crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #14, Bridge across Great Falls Conduit (aqueduct) crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #15, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #17, waterway crossing, built.
- 1909:Bridge #18, Crossing Canal Rd. & C&O Canal, built.
- 1909:Bridge #19, Canal outlet crossing, built.
- 1909: Bridge #20, Driveway under C&O Canal crossing, built.
- 1909: Bridge #22, Sewer crossing, built.
- 1909: Bridge #24, Drain crossing, built.
- Talbot Ave bridge is constructed, replacing older wooden structure. (Norm Nelson, GB Notes)
- 1910: Construction of Capital Traction Co. power plant in Georgetown begins. (1)
- 1910: Bridge #5, waterway crossing, built.
- 1910: Bridge #16, Dalecarlia & Capital Traction tracks crossing, built.
- ca Jul 28, 1910: The first train on the completed Georgetown Branch enters Georgetown. (4)
- 1911: Construction of Capital Traction Co. power plant in Georgetown ends. (1)
- 1911: Capital Traction Power plant beings service (1)
- 1912: Bethlehem Chapel opens for service at National Cathedral.
- 1913: Wilkins-Rogers Milling founded, purchase a mill near the Georgetown Waterfront.
- Feb 12, 1914: Lincoln Memorial – dedication ceremony, construction begins one month later.
- 1914 Pilgrim Baptist Church on Brookeville Rd. is expanded.
- Mar 1917: Key Bridge – construction begins.
- Feb, 13 1918: Ice floes and flooding in Georgetown damages much of the waterfront, cresting at 16′ above normal on 2/14..
- 1918: Talbot Ave bridge is built, replacing earlier bridge, connecting Lyttonsville and Linden.
- 1920s: Hydroelectric power plant built below Dalecarlia Water Treatment facility with tail race extending to Potomac River.
- Rosslyn Steel builds concrete silos for cement mixing. (Served by rail siding)
- May 30, 1922: Lincoln Memorial – dedication ceremony.
- Jan 17, 1923: Georgetown, Francis Scott Key Bridge is completed and opened to traffic.
- May 14, 1924: Flood, Potomac River, crest 12.8′.
- 1924: C&O Canal operated by B&O RR Co. is closed after major flooding, only some parts repaired. (23, etc.)
- ca Aug 10, 1924: Washington Clay Products brick plant planned at Loughborough, MD. (BetCo block?) (4)
- 1927: Bridge #18, across C&O Canal, strengthened, new treated deck installed on 103’4″ span.
- 1927: Dalecarlia Water Treatment plant, with rapid sand filter, comes online.
- 1927: Chevy Chase Lake Swimming Pool opens. (8)
- 1927: 1927 B&O buys Rockefeller’s share of Western Maryland, giving it 43% control (24)
- 1928: Bridge #, across Rock Creek, near Chevy Chase is constructed.
- 1928: Bridge #5-0A, Wisconsin Ave (Rt. 355) over GB in Bethesda is widened.
- 1928: Rock Creek trestle rebuilt. Wrought iron deck girder span replaced with steel deck girder span over creek. (28)
- 1929: Maloney Concrete founded by Charles Maloney. (7)
- 1932: Georgetown Incinerator goes into service. Location across from Capital Traction power plant.
- 1933: Capital Traction power plant in Georgetown is shut down. (probably after flood)(2)
- Aug 24, 1933: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 11.1′.
- Aug 25, 1933: Bridge #10 across Mass. Av. in Bethesda, MD is put in service.
- 1933: Georgetown, Iron bridge (Aqueduct bridge) is dismantled by Civil Works Admin. Piers left in place. Stone abutment (arches) kept in place as a landmark.
- Sep 15, 1935: Trolley service to Chevy Chase Lake ends. (replaced by buses) Last car to leave CC Lake 9/15/35, 2:05am. (8)
- 1936: Last full season open at Chevy Chase Lake park. (8)
- Mar 19-20, 1936: Flood of 1936 sweeps the Georgetown waterfront, crested 7:00pm 3/19/36 at 17.30′. (4)
- Apr 28, 1937: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 14.3′.
- Oct 30, 1937: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 7.8.
- 1938: National Park Service obtains entirety of C&O Canal from B&O, becomes national historic park. (23, etc.)
- 1941: Bethesda freight house built.
- 1943: Capital Traction power plant in Georgetown is decommissioned. (1)
- Nov 9, 1945: Letter from B&O Freight House employee requesting permission to buy coal locally, indicating diesel engines are being used for switching. (and no longer steam)(3)
- Jun 1, 1947: Whitehurst Freeway construction begins. (2)
- Jun 6, 1948: MSME railfan special steam excursion train travels from Eckington to Georgetown. Train consist: B&O Q-1c 4320, 2 passenger cars & 4 cabooses.
- Oct 8, 1949: Whitehurst Freeway opens to public. (2)
- Oct 25, 1949 – B&O Freight train strikes and kills man on K St. tracks under Whitehurst Fwy. (16)
- Nov 4, 1949: Morris Brown Widenhouse is struck and killed by 12-car freight train just below Chain Bridge as GB train was coming down grade (caboose first). Frank Lake (2727 Lorcom Ln, Arlington, VA) was conductor. (16)
- 1950s: Georgetown Switcher abolished.
- Aug 1, 1951: B&O Georgetown Branch brakeman J.H. Rector drowns while shooing children from boathouse near Key Bridge.
- 1952: Bridge #16A, Pipe bridge for Dalecarlia Filtration Plant, built. (*NOTE: Structure retired & removed approx 1954)
- Oct 15, 1954: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 8.9′.
- Oct 24, 1954: NRHS excursion on the Georgetown Branch. Train consist: B&O GP7 743, 3 passenger cars.
- Mar 1, 1955: Montgomery County Council agrees to ask B&O RR for feasibility of using Georgetown Branch as a commuter line.
- Aug 20, 1955: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 8.8′.
- 1955: Key Bridge – Streetcar tracks removed, road deck widened, other improvements.
- ca 1957-63: Einsinger Lumber yard on East side of tracks in Bethesda is town down, replaced with parking lot. (aerial photos)
- Jun 17, 1957: Barent De Nike killed Jun 17, 1957. Suicide.
- Nov 23, 1958: Major oil fire in Bethesda as a leak from fuel tank ignites mile long blaze down stream. Lasts overnight.
- early May, 1959: Construction begins on rebuilding Bridge #5 1/2, GB over Bradley Blvd in Bethesda, MD, replacing older single-span deck girder bridge. (21)
- 1959: Little Falls water pumping station upgrades are completed, including diversion dam and tunnel to receiving reservoir at Dalecarlia.
- 1960: Construction is completed on Bridge #5 1/2, GB over Bradley Blvd in Bethesda, MD.
- Jan 3, 1960: Last trolley runs on Cabin John line of the Capital Transit. (Service would end system-wide in 1962)
- 1960: Bridge #16 at Dalecarlia, partially filled in during construction of Reservoir facilities.
- 1960-1964: Dalecarlia reservoir: construction of new filter & chemical buildings.
- May 3, 1961: Dempsey’s Boathouse, adjacent to the Aqueduct Bridge abutment on the West side, burns to the ground in a massive fire.
- 1962: ICC authorizes C&O take control of B&O. (24)
- 1962: Bridge #9: near Dalecarlia, paved over slab-channel (base below bridge).
- 1962: Piers of Aqueduct Bridge are demolished by Army Corps of Engineers, except for one near VA side. Rubble re-purposed in Anacostia Park to build a sea wall.
- 1963: C&O takes financial control of B&O. (23)
- 1963: Bridge #9: Paved over stream channel.
- ca 1963 – King Coal in Georgetown; silos are gone (demolished).
- 1964: B&O and C&O jointly file with ICC for permission to control WM. (27)
- Early 1964: C&O owns 90% of B&O stock. (24)
- 1966: Lyttonsville Place road overpass bridge (Bridge #1A) constructed. 48’ long.
- 1967-1970: Dalecarlia reservoir – new water intake structure built.
- 1968: Capital Traction power plant in Georgetown is demolished. (1)
- 1968: ICC approves B&O and C&O joint acquisition of WM. (27)
- 1969: Bridge across GB at Rockville/Brookeville Tpk/Linden, MD is constructed. (3)
- 1969: Conn. Ave.; Car Barn (occupied by Ralph Brown Buick Auto Body) replaced by Saul Building in Chevy Chase.
- ca 1970s: Chevy Chase Lake Swimming Pool closes. At some point it is filled in/removed and a parking lot existed on site. Eventually land reclaimed by nature.
- Apr 1971: Pres. Nixon issues message to Congress, which included statement calling for “an overall preservation and development plan for the Georgetown waterfront.”
- 1971: DC purchases Hopfenmaier rendering plant for $707k and tears it down. (4)
- 1971: Georgetown Incinerator is shut down.
- Jan 1972: Federal Gov’t funds a $250k study intended to spur zoning changes along the Georgetown waterfront and redevelopment.
- Jun 24, 1972: Hurricane Agnes, Potomac River & Rock Creek flooding. Georgetown Branch is damaged, including destruction of bridge across Rock Creek and flooding in Georgetown. Potomac river crests at 15.45′.
- Feb 26, 1973: Chessie System holding company is founded, includes B&O, C&O & WM. (although RR’s continue to operate independently) (25)
- 1974: Wilkins-Rogers Milling moves operation from Georgetown to Ellicott City, MD. (4)
- Jun 18, 1976: Historic Best Friend of Charleston loco and two-car train is run on the Georgetown Branch by the Southern RR, originating near the Aqueduct bridge arch.
- 1976: Montgomery County Council adopts “Bethesda Sector Plan” calling for rezoning of much of downtown Bethesda, from industrial to retail/general commercial use.
- 1976: WM is merged into B&O. (23)
- 1977: Bethesda Sector Plan rezoning occurs.
- Nov 20, 1978: Bridge #5 filled in, left in place.
- Nov 21, 1978: Bridge #15 mostly filled in, open 3-4′ at top of arch. 7′ dia R.C. pipe placed through arch.
- 1978: E.C. Keys location at Brookeville Rd. goes out of business. (10)
- 1979: Emergency Estuary Pumping Station on Potomac River near Chain Bridge is completed.
- 1980s: B&O Bethesda Freight Station is torn down to make way for road realignment. (exact date unknown)
- 1980: Rock Creek Railway (1893-1935) terminus station is moved from current location on Conn. Ave to new loction on 2710 Price Distillery Rd, Hyattstown, MD.
- Nov 1, 1980: CSX Corporation is formed. (Chessie System, SCL merge). (23, 25)
- 1981: The Smithsonian Institution operates the 1831-era John Bull locomotive on the GB from Georgetown, over the C&O Canal and back.
- Nov 1981: Smoot Sand & Gravel plant is demolished. Construction begins on Washington Harbour project, built atop the plant location and the “old yard.”
- 1982: Pilgrim Baptist Church moves from Brookeville Rd and Garfield Ave. to its new location at Penn Ave & Lanier Dr in Lyttonsville. (10)
- 1983: WM is completely absorbed into B&O. (23)
- Sep 15, 1985: Chessie seeks abandonment of the Georgetown Branch from ICC.
- 1985: The last train runs on the Georgetown Branch, a Chessie loco clearing the line of all rolling stock.
- Nov 7, 1985: Flood, Potomac river. Crest 11.76′.
- 1985: Emergency Estuary Pumping Station on Potomac River near Chain Bridge is abandoned.
- Apr 9, 1986: B&O files for abandonment of the Georgetown Branch.
- Jun 1986: Construction completed on Washington Harbour project (site of “old yard”).
- Apr 30, 1987: B&O merged into CSX Transportation. B&O as a corporate entity ceases to exist. (26, 24)
- Aug, 1987: C&O merged into CSXT. (24)
- Feb 25, 1988: ICC Issues tentative agreement to the B&O for abandonment of the Georgetown Branch.
- Dec 12, 1988: ICC approves purchase & transfer of Georgetown Branch to Montgomery County for use as hiker-biker trail.
- Dec 16, 1988: B&O conveys entire deed of the Georgetown Branch to Montgomery County for $10mm.
- 1989: Maloney Concrete sold to Genstar Products Co. (6)
- Dec, 1990: Whitehurst Freeway rehabilitation project begins. (2)
- 1991: Whitehurst Freeway rehabilitation project nearing 40% completion (2)
- 1996: Destruction of “ramp to nowhere” (Potomac River Freeway ramps) in Georgetown. (DC Historic Soc.)
1960: Revised Canadian National (CN) logo is adopted.
- Historic Structures: http://www.historic-structures.com
- Wikipedia: http://www.wikipedia.com
- B&O RR Historical Society
- Washington Post
- B&ORRHS Yahoo Group. (*see “GB Notes”)
- TO GEORGETOWN BY RAIL.: Baltimore and Ohio to Complete the Washington and Western Maryland. The Washington Post (1877-1922); Dec 11, 1891; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 2
- RAILROADS TO GEORGETOWN.: Report of the Citizens Committee to a Meeting Held Last Night. The Washington Post (1877-1922); Jun 9, 1892; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 5
- THEY WANT A RAILROAD: The Business Men of Georgetown Express their …
The Washington Post (1877-1922); Oct 21, 1889; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 7
- THEY WANT A RAILROAD: The Business Men of Georgetown Express their …
- Committee of the District of Columbia, Annual Report of the GBDERyCo, 18980128 (downloaded image via eBay)
- COMPLAINTS FROM GEORGETOWN.: Status of Proceeding Against Western Maryland Railroad Company. The Washington Post (1877-1922); May 4, 1902; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 12
- Freight Kills Man, 50, Near Chain Bridge: 12-Car Train Fails To Stop in Time on Georgetown Branch The Washington Post (1923-1954); Nov 5, 1949; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. B1
- TO SPAN THE POTOMAC: Virginia and the District to Be Linked by a New … The Washington Post (1877-1922); Mar 19, 1894; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 8
- Viaduct Across Rockville Pike. Special to The Washington Post. The Washington Post (1877-1922); Feb 12, 1909; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 15
- B&0. AND GEORGETOWN ____ i: Recent Important Realty Purchases … The Washington Post (1877-1922); Apr 17, 1904; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. R1
- Construction Delay Brings Protest in Bethesda
- The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959); Jul 21, 1959; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. A6
- Train Kills Man on Rails In Bethesda The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959); Jun 18, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. B2
HABS HAER Capital Traction Power House http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/dc0047/
Wikipedia Whitehurst Freeway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_29_in_the_District_of_Columbia
End of steam in Georgetown http://sluggyjunx.com/rr/gb/history/sources/official_docs/1945_11_09-georgetown_fuel_req.pdf