Ben Sullivan's Model Railroad
The Georgetown Branch: History
An overall history of the Baltimore and Ohio's Georgetown Branch

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Probably the best history of the Georgetown Branch can be found in a recent article written by Duane Carrell, published in the B&O Railroad Historical Society's quarterly magazine. It is Volume 25 #1 and can be purchased from the society on their website, Just go to the "Company Store" and then click on "The Sentinel". As of 8/23/03 the issue is available and is only $6! What a steal! For anyone interested, it's a must-have.

As far as online histories, there is another good one written by the Capitol Crescent Trail on their History page, Instead of me rewriting what's already been written, I recommend that you purchase the Sentinel and read this online history.

For some perspective on how the GB fits into the scheme of things in the Washington DC Metro area railroads, see the Washington DC Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society's Wash., DC RR History page.

I've also collected several different sources of info on the GB. To download these documents, please "Right-click" on the link and select "Save Target As" or similiar. Thanks!


  • Take a tour of the GB via some old topographic maps. CLICK HERE.
  • Image
    A Signal & Landmark Layout diagram that I made based on some info gathered via email & at a recent B&ORRHS Sorting Session. Thanks to Michael Watnoski and C. Wingate I have a better understanding of the layout of Georgetown Jct. There were basically 4 different types of CPL (Color Position Light) Signals at the Jct. One had a secondary mast to indicate there was a track next to the one being signaled, and another had a bracket at the bottom with a dwarf CPL mounted at the base. A normal dwarf CPL and Mast type also were at the Jct, along with a Telephone Shack, the typical B&O hexagonal cement type. This diagram is based on the info I found and recieved, and it may be incorrect. If you know different, or you have some photos to share, please email me and let me know!
    DOWNLOAD: (right-click and "SAVE AS") PDF Format, 135 KB
    DOWNLOAD: (right-click and "SAVE AS") Med Res JPG format, 85 KB
    DOWNLOAD: (right-click and "SAVE AS") High Res JPG format, 332 KB


  • image
    B&O RR Track Chart Alignment And Profile #8 Branches ... 7 - Georgetown Br., (25 U-30), Baltimore Division. Created 1949, updated to 1958.
    Entire GB Section, w/ cover: DOWNLOAD PDF - 344K
    Entire GB Section: DOWNLOAD JPG - 232K
    Cover: DOWNLOAD JPG - 31K
  • B&O RR File No. X-101: Track Construction in Concrete Floor, 3/24/51

    * This may apply to Georgetown where the track was probably laid in concrete down Water/K Street. This was done some time This was done some time in the 1940s, previously it was mainly cobblestone.
  • B&O Car Service Circular, No. 4, 09/01/1964
    "(Cancels CSC No. 3 Issued July 1, 1969), LIST OF STATION NUMBERS AND NAMES ENTIRE SYSTEM BY DIVISIONS, Effective: Sept 1, 1964, Issued by Superintendent Car Service"
    Front Cover 46KB JPG

    GB Information 34KB JPG
  • Bridge Sketches Book NEW 2/14/2005
    A collection of all the B&O scale drawings of the bridges along the line. Some of the old photocopies are in rough shape (hard to read), but at least they exist! Book is reproduced page-by-page in its entirety, 33 pages. CLICK HERE
  • "Operating V.P. File: Georgetown D.C. - B31, Heating Freight Office" NEW 2/15/2005
    On or around 1945 the dedicated switcher in Georgetown was changed from a Steam unit to a Diesel. Associated with this change is the need for a source of coal to use in the freight office stove. This memo outlines the request and solution from upper management.
    4 pgs 473K PDF


  • GB Notes: Part 1 DOWNLOAD PDF - 339K
    A Collection of postings pertaining to the GB culled from the Yahoo! Baltimore & Ohio RR Group.
  • GB Notes: Part 2 DOWNLOAD PDF - 345K
    A Collection of postings pertaining to the GB culled from the Yahoo! Baltimore & Ohio RR Group and some other emails.
  • GB Notes: Part 3 DOWNLOAD PDF - 96K NEW 4/4/2005
    A Collection of postings pertaining to the GB culled from the Yahoo! Baltimore & Ohio RR Group and some other emails.


  • The Sentinel, Vol. 25, #1, First Quarter, 2003, Published by B&O RR Historical Society
    Contains article "A Wraith In The Backyard", By Duane Carrell. A history of the GB complete with pics & maps.
  • The Sentinel, Spring, 1996, Published by B&O RR Historical Society
    Contains a short article w/ 2 B&W photos on the GB and its future.
  • Impossible Challenge Herbert Harwood, Jr., 1979, Barnard, Roberts & Co., ISBN: 0-934118-17-5
    One of the best, if not the best, histories of the B&O RR. Has a chapter on the GB with several excellent photos. Out of print, available from dealers and on eBay.
  • Impossible Challenge II Herbert Harwood, Jr., Dec 1994, Barnard, Roberts & Co., ISBN: 0-934118-22-1
    Updated from IC. Contains slightly different material. I prefer the original IC. In print.
  • Baltimore & Ohio, Reflections of the Capitol Dome Salamon, Stephen J., Oroszi, David P., Published by Old-Line Graphics, 1993, ISBN 1-879314-08-8. Several photos of the GB.
  • The Washington Post, "A NEW RAILROAD PROPOSED: A Permit for Tracks Along Water Street, in West Washington. Washington, D.C.: Feb 6, 1889. pg. 8, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 483 (Abstract from The Commissioners have issued a permit for the construction of another railroad--the Georgetown Barge, Dock and Elevator Railway Company. This company is authorized to build and maintain docks on the Potomac River west of Rock Creek, and to receive and dispatch vessels, cargoes and railway cars,"
  • The Washington Post, "THEY WANT A RAILROAD: West Washingten Merchants Have a Big Scheme on Hand.The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Sep 16, 1889. pg. 7, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 1434 (Abstract from The proposed railroad from Frederick, Md, to West Washington is a live topic among the merchants of the latter place. They feel the need of some method of transportation to take the place of the canal. which is now practically abandoned, and over this road grain and heavy freight can be shipped to market."
  • The Washington Post, "THEY WANT A RAILROAD: The Business Men of Georgetown Express their Views. Washington, D.C.: Oct 21, 1889. pg. 7, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 978. (Abstract from The question of canal or railroad is agitating the merchants of Georgetown again. After the freshet last spring, when the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was wrecked throughout its entire length, the question of allowing it to remain idle-was broached, and a railroad was talked of in its place."
  • The Washington Post, "TRACKS BY THE RIVER: To Connect the Pennsylvania Railroad with West Washington. Washington, D.C.: Mar 14, 1890. pg. 8, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 710 (Abstract from A number of prominent Georgetown property-owners and other who are interested in the Georgetown Barge, Dock, Elevator and Railroad Company appeared before the sub-committee on railroads of the House District Committee yesterday to present arguments in favor of the proposed amendment to fits charter."
  • The Washington Post, "DISTRICT MATTERS IN CONGRESS: A Proposition to Create an Inspector of Charities for Washington. Washington, D.C.: Apr 3, 1890. pg. 7, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 123 (Abstract from The House District Committee has received two petitions one signed by the merchants of this city and the other by those of Georgetown, urging favorable consideration and passage of the bill amending the charter of the Georgetown Barge, Dock, Elevator, and Railroad Company so as to permit an extension of the road along the river front and connecting with the Pennsylvania Railroad."
  • The Washington Post, "The B. & O. Georgetown Entrance. Washington, D.C.: May 2, 1890. pg. 4, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 79 (Abstract from Messrs. J. G. Walter, J. W. Cissel, Robert Toney, A. B. Cropley, Thomas Cropley, and Messrs. Liffey, Boteler, and Hall, of West Washington appeared before the Commissioners yesterday in favor of a branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad entering Georgetown at a point near the Chain Bridge."
  • The Washington Post, "THEY WANT RAILROADS: Action of the Citizens of Georgetown Last Night. Washington, D.C.: Feb 3, 1891. pg. 6, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 1053. (Abstract from A half a hundred of Georgetown's leading citizens gathered in Mr. King's insurance office, at 1231 High street, last night to talk over the vexed railroad matter. In the main the meeting was harmonious, though there was some discussion a s to details."
  • The Washington Post, "GEORGETOWN IN A DEAL: A Railroad at Last to the Business Center of the Town. Dec 9, 1891. pg. 6, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 726 (Abstract from Georgetown is agitated over the prospect of becoming a railroad terminus. After many vanished rumors of railroad deals in the past ten years, the important manufacturing concerns and wholesale dealers of the western section of Washington are on the eve of secnring an adequate channel of transportation."
  • The Washington Post, "TO GEORGETOWN BY RAIL: Baltimore and Ohio to Complete the Washington and Western Maryland. Washington, D.C.: Dec 11, 1891. pg. 2, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 268. (Abstract from A map of the proposed route of the Washington and Western Maryland Railroad Company was submitted yesterday of the District Commissioners for approval, in compliance with the previous proval, in compliance with the provisions of the act passed March 2, 1889. This is the projected road which will serve to give Georgetown railroad facilities and assist in booming the town."
  • The Washington Post, "GEORGETOWN IS HAPPY: Business Men Predict a Boom When the New Railroad Comes. Washington, D.C.: Dec 12, 1891. pg. 8, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 1090 (Abstract from The entrance of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad into Georgetown, which was first announced in THE POST. is the only thing talked of in that end of the city. While the purchase of the Stock, Barge, and Elevator Company's property has not yet been formally announced, the stockholders of the concern speak of it as an a ccomplished fact."
  • The Washington Post, "THEY WANT ANOTHER ROUTE: The New [R]ailroad Entering Georgetown Not Satisf[i]ed with Their Charter. Washington, D.C.: Jan 30, 1892. pg. 5, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 291 (Abstract from A number of persons interested in the new West Washington and Maryland Railroad, which will connect with the Baltimore and Ohio, and give a rail outlet to Georgetown, were before the District Commissioners yesterday in advocacy of a bill to give the road power to acquire land by condemnation proceedings to be used for another route than the one for which the charter was granted."
  • The Washington Post, "RAILROADS TO GEORGETOWN: Report of the Citizens Committee to a Meeting Held Last Night. Washington, D.C.: Jun 9, 1892. pg. 5, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 382. (Abstract from Building Association Hall on Thirty-second street. was well filled last night with citizens, who assembled to receive the report of the railroad committee appointed at the meeting two weeks ago to take steps toward furthering the entrance of team railroads into Georgetown."
  • The Washington Post, "THE ROAD WILL BE BUILT: Alarm Over Removal of Ties for the Washington and Western Railroad. Washington, D.C., Aug 28, 1893. pg. 8, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 350 (Abstract from Georgetown residents who have become interested in the project of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway Company to construct the proposed Washington and Western Railroad, Saturday felt that their hopes were blasted."
  • The Washington Post, "ASK A PERMIT FOR TRACKS: B. &O. Officials Want to Secure an Entrance Into Georgetown. Washington, D.C.: Oct 3, 1895. pg. 10, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 834 (Abstract from A delegation from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, including General Agent William Alvey and Attorney Hamilton, appeared before the Commissioners yesterday, with President E. J. Stellwagen, of the Georgetown Barge, Dock. and. Elevator Railroad Company, to urge the granting of the application by the latter for a permit to lay a double track on Water street."
  • The Washington Post, "WATER STREET TRACK: Georgetown and Tennallytown Company Ask a Permit,
    Washington, D.C.: Oct 8, 1895. pg. 12, 1 pgs. (Abstract from O. T. Crosby and Charles A. Lieb, president and vice president respectively of the Georgetown and Tenallytown Railroad Company, applied to the Commissioners yesterday for a permit to place a tr[a]ck 125 feet long Water street, so they might extend the line to the driver."
  • The Washington Post, "Mysterious Railroad Engineers. Washington, D.C.: Oct 20, 1895. pg. 10, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 68. (Abstract from A number of railroad engineers are conducting mysterious work at the Virginia end of the Aqueduct Bridge. They are probably Baltimore and Ohio men carrying out the plans for the Southern connection, which is contemplated by that company through the Barge and Dock Company, of Georgetown."
  • The Washington Post, "Georgetown Branch of the B. & O. Washington, D.C.: Apr 16, 1896. pg. 10, 1 pgs"
  • The Washington Post, "COMPLAINTS FROM GEORGETOWN: Status of Proceeding Against Western Maryland Railroad Company. Washington, D.C., May 4, 1902. pg. 12, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 274 (Abstract from The Commissioners have received many letters from persons in Georgetown relative to the unused railroad tracks on K street, between Twenty-eighth and Thirty-sixth streets, and the unfinished trestle and grade and right of way from Aqueduct Bridge to the District line. One of these communications was received through Senator McMillan, chairman of the Senate District Committee, from Mr. R.H. Phillips."
  • The Washington Post, "B. & O. IN GEORGETOWN: West End Shippers Confident of Better Traffic Facilities Soon. Washington, D.C.: Jul 5, 1903. pg. E4, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 287 (Abstract from Consultations were held this week by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad officials and several of the leading shippers of Georgetown regarding the proposed entrance of the Baltimore and Ohio. The Georgetown people are confident now that the long-expected entrance is about to materialize."
  • The Washington Post, "Georgetown's First Railroad. Washington, D.C.: Jul 28, 1910. pg. 6, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 358 (Abstract from Half a century ago direct communication by rail would have meant much to Georgetown. Coming at this late day, the rumbling of the iron horse through Water street, once vibrant with business life, only hastens the mile of tottering piles or masonry to their fall. Even were the thoroughfare to show signs of reviving energies, the old structures, with their rust-eaten machinery, must needs give ..."
  • The Washington Post, "BRICK PLANT PLANNED AT LOUGHOUGH, MD.:Washington Clay Products Company Purchases Six- Acre Site. 150,000 CAPACITY DAILY. Washington, D.C.: Aug 10, 1924. pg. R1, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 332. (Abstract from The Washington Clay Products Company has purchased a six acre tract at Loughborough, Md., on which will be constructed one of the most modern and complete brick manufacturing plants in the country. The company will manufacture shale brick in two grades, common and face brick;"
  • The Washington Post, "Two Killed, One Hurt When Hit by Train. Washington, D.C.: Nov 16, 1927. pg. 1, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 158. Two [people] were killed and the wife of one was seriously injured when they were struck by a Baltimore & Ohio train at the Kensington (Md.) crossing yesterday. The men were Arthur Bell, 49 years old, of Kensington, an employe of the railroad, and Harry West, 50, of Kensington, a laborer. Bell's wife is at Georgetown Hospital."
  • The Washington Post (POSSIBLY RELATES TO GB), "INQUIRY LAUNCHED IN TRACK TRAGEDY: Three Perish and Four Hurt When Crew Car Is Hit by Locomotive. WRECK PUSHED 600 FEET, Washington, D.C.: Oct 24, 1929. pg. 3, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 675. (Abstract from An Inquest into the death of three men and the injury of four others at 3:20 o'clock yesterday morning when a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad locomotive backed into a motor-powered track car bearing section hands near the Rockville crossing will be held this morning at 10 o'clocK in Rockville, State's Attorney Robert B. Peter, Jr., announced last night."
  • The Washington Post, "Crest Sweeps Waterfront; 120 Families Are Homeless: Chain Bridge Battered by Potomac; Navy Yard Is Inundated. Traffic Jammed; Airport Submerged Dikes Protect Federal Triangle; Tidal Basin Overflows. By Edward T. Folliard. Washington, D.C.: Mar 20, 1936. pg. 1, 2 pgs, Text Word Count 2332The Flood of 1936, as it will be known to history, reached a thundering crest in Washington at 7 o'clock last night and then began to recede."
  • The Washington Post, "Freight Kills Man, 50, Near Chain Bridge: 12-Car Train Fails To Stop in Time on Georgetown Branch, Washington, D.C.: Nov 5, 1949. pg. B1, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 390. (Abstract from A man tentatively identified as Morris Brown Widenhouse was struck and killed yesterday by a freight train on the Georgetown branch of the B. & O. Railroad just below Chain Bridge."
  • The Washington Post, "Man, 34, Drowns Shooing Children From Boat HouseThe Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Aug 2, 1951. pg. 1, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 171. (Abstract from A 34-year-old railroad brakeman drowned in the Potomac River above Key Bridge yesterday afternoon as he chased four children from a boat house. He was identified as Joseph H. Rector of Delaplane, Va., an employe of the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad."
  • The Washington Post, "Council Eyes B & O Spur In County Washington, D.C.: Mar 2, 1955. pg. 15, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 128. (Abstract from The Montgomery County Council yesterday agreed to ask the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad officials about the possibility of turning the Georgetown freight spur into use as a commuters' route to downtown Washington."
  • The Washington Post, "Heavy Industry Hits Georgetown Rezoning, Washington, D.C.: Jun 28, 1956. pg. 21, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 269. (Abstract from Proposals to rezone heavy industry out of the Georgetown waterfront area drew sharp fire last night from half a dozen firms. They said the shift would result in tax losses to the District because they'd have no place else in the city to go."
  • The Washington Post, "B&O Georgetown Local Has Run for 100 Years: On Run 100 Years By Alan L. Dessoff Staff Reporter. Washington, D.C.: Oct 25, 1960. pg. 27, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 657 (Abstract from A matron in Kenwood called the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad one day to complain that the freight train which ran by her backyard barbecue pit sounded its horn in a most disturbing manner."
  • The Washington Post (POSSIBLY RELATES TO GB), "Ride a Rail-Bus From the Suburbs. Washington, D.C.: Jun 28, 1968. pg. B4, 1 pgs. Text Word Count 287. (Abstract from The bus picks you up in your North Bethesda neighborhood, drives to Bethesda, lowers a set of flanged wheels and rides railroad tracks to Georgetown." I know this would seem to be the Capitol Traction Co. business, but the Glen Echo branch, which went to G-town didn't really have too many spots where cars, let alone busses, could access the tracks. Hmmm!
  • The Washington Post, "Sleep Disturbed By Wailing Horn. Washington, D.C.: Apr 23, 1969. pg. A24, 1 pgs, Text Word Count 65.The wailing horn of a parked Baltimore and Ohio Railroad engine kept many residents of Georgetown and Arlington awake for 90 minutes last night. Police reported receiving numerous complaints."
  • The Washington Post, "The Little Train That Still Can, By Carla Hall. Washington, D.C.: Jun 19, 1976. pg. B1, 2 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 679 (Abstract from Now when we start the big engine, the sky falls in and the stars shake in their orbits, but that doesn't happen with the small engine here," chuckled Southern Railway official James Bistline as he watched the small steam locomotive and two-car train prepare to wind along the B&O Railroad track in Georgetown yesterday."
  • The Washington Post, "Chessie Seeks To Close Tracks In Georgetown: Chessie to Ask ICC to Close Rail Spur By Ann Mariano Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington, D.C.: Sep 16, 1985. pg. WB1, 2 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 1294 (Abstract from Daily convoys of coal trucks may soon be rumbling past the rows of fancy expense account restaurants and office buildings on downtown K Street if Chessie System Railroads Inc. succeeds in closing a rail spur that supplies coal for heating the White House and other government buildings."
  • The Washington Post, "End of the Line By Jack Eisen Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington, D.C.: Apr 1, 1986. pg. C2, 1 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 438. (Abstract from The other shoe is about to drop. First was last year's announcement that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, part of the Chessie System, planned to seek permission to abandon its Georgetown branch. Now the B&O says it will file the formal application a week from Thursday."
  • The Washington Post, "Abandoning a Rail Line By Jack Eisen Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington, D.C.: Jun 13, 1986. pg. B2, 1 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 455. (Abstract from When most American railroads were built, nobody ever thought of filing an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS."
  • The Washington Post, "Montgomery Asks ICC for Rail Land: Montgomery County Asks For Chessie Right of Way By Ann Mariano Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington, D.C.: Jul 19, 1986. pg. E1, 2 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 1097"
  • The Washington Post, "Chessie Land Yields Prehistoric Artifacts: Contested Chessie Land Yields a Wide Variety Of Prehistoric Artifacts By Ann Mariano Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington, D.C.: Dec 27, 1986. pg. F1, 2 pgs, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286 (Abstract from Archaeologists have discovered what they say is an unexpectedly rich lode of prehistoric artifacts on the Chessie System railroad right of way in the District of Columbia, a development that could delay the company's plan to sell the property."
  • The Washington Post, "Study Favorable to CSX Rail Plans: By Ann Mariano. Washington, D.C.: Jun 13, 1987. pg. e.03, ISSN/ISBN: 01908286, Text Word Count 895 (Abstract from The study also recommends that the commission require CSX to wait six months before selling the land or removing railroad tracks and other equipment, so that the government and private groups will have time to buy the property "for public purposes." CSX has told the ICC it "intends to salvage track and appurtenances" if abandonment is approved, the study noted. An environmental statement was ordered ..." * Note: In the late 1980's & 90's there came a barrage of articles and op/ed pieces in the Wash. Post about the Rail Trail VS. Trolley line on the old GB. Since there is so much and it doesn't really pertain to the actual history of the rail line, I'm leaving it out. If you want to read them, go to The Washington Post Archives and search for "georgetown branch" in the "1987 - Current" section.

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