Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ellicott City Railway Museum, Maryland

The Baltimore and Ohio Railway Museum: Ellicott City Station is located in the oldest extant railway station in America. The station was built in 1830 and was the first terminus for the fledgling railway line, 13 miles from downtown Baltimore. The first trains (which carried freight and passengers) were pulled by horses! Locomotives came later. The station was in use until the mid-20th century. It closed in the early 1970s and was converted to a museum as part of the bicentennial buzz of the late 1970s. It has remained in operation since then with occasional special exhibits and special events.

View from Main Street (darn those trees!)

Other angle

The first floor has a recreation of a freight agent's living quarters. The railroad line was used mostly for hauling freight to and from Baltimore harbor. The company housed an agent here so he could deal with the day-to-day business of running the railroad. The great flood of 1868 saw most of the station submerged in overflow from the Patapsco River. After restoring the station, the company moved the agent to a nearby house (on higher ground).

Agent's living quarters

More homey part of the living quarters

Some of the freight mixed in

I was proud to see my son reading all the signs at the museum, soaking in the knowledge made available. He read some of it aloud so I was able to hear more while keeping an eye on the other children.

Reading about the impact of the American Civil War

Upstairs, on the track level, the museum has recreations of the business office and waiting areas for the handful of passengers that used the trains. They had different rooms for men and women to wait in, since the ladies of the 1800s didn't want to deal with smoke or chewing tobacco from the male passengers.

1860s recreations of the freight agent's office, later the Ladies Waiting Room

Desk close up

Ticket and Telegraph Office

Ticket window

Inside the window

The museum has some authentic maps of the route, arrival board, and vintage graffiti.

Map of the train route (click to enlarge)

Classic train board

People just can't resist leaving their mark

There was more on the Civil War in this area, but it was hard to get a good picture that included President Washington at the top.

Best of three photos of the "War Came by Train" display

Outside is a 1927 I-5 caboose. We went inside and explored what it was like for train workers who lived at their workplace.

Vintage caboose

Sleeping area inside

Cupola viewing area

A happy train worker

The dining area

I guess they had to cook their own food

One sink to serve them all


The 1885 Freight House is now home to a massive model train set that recreates the 13 miles of track from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills around the 1860s. Union soldiers are encamped along the tracks to keep them safe. A docent in this building told us that the railways often kept supplies along the tracks in case of accidents or (during the war) sabotage. The workers could get the tracks back in service in less than a day!

Baltimore end of the model train track

Leaving Baltimore

A Union camp

Another camp with a train going by

Ellicott Mills in the 1860s

You are here! (i.e. the Ellicott Mills train station)

On our way out we saw a station bell and the children could not resist ringing it. A sign nearby said visitors are only allowed to ring it once, so we did only two ring.

Headed back to the station building

One ring

Two rings

The museum has a lot to offer and we were glad we went!

The real tracks that go over Main Street Ellicott City

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