Masterpiece of the Early B&O Railroad

Masterpiece of the Early B&O Railroad (HM5L7)

Location: Arbutus, MD 21227 Baltimore County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 13.34', W 76° 42.708'

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Before you stands the thomas Viaduct, named after Philip E. Thomas, the first president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This unique bridge has become an enduring symbol of the B&O Railroad and the Patapsco Valley, surviving several floods and outlasting many modern structures.

In 1833, B&O engineers sough to build a first-class railroad line with gentle curves and low grades from Baltimore to Washington D.C. Spanning the cavernous Patapsco Valley was a formidable challenge. Benjamin latrobe, Jr. not only met this obstacle, but designed an engineering marvel.

Completed in July 1835, the Thomas Viaduct was among the largest stone-arched bridges in the world. The 704 foot curved bridge is 66 feet hight and connects Relay to Elkridge on eight eliptical arches. Though critics thought it incapable of bearing itw own weight, the viaduct not only carried the first steam locomotives, but also continues to support modern-day trains.

The Real Heroes

Hundreds of immigrant workers built the Thomas Viaduct under the hard-driven direction of John McCartney. Working for low wages and living in improvise shantytowns, the laborers used hand tools, wheelbarrows, primitive pulleys, along with sweat and muscles to hoist 63,000 tons of granit into place. Several workers were killed building the Thomas Viaduct.

Civil War Chokepoint

Prior to 1872, the B&O's Washington Branch was the federal capital's only direct rail and telegraph link with the North. During the Civil War, protecting this connection proved critical to the Union war effort. To discourage Confederate raiders and saboteurs, Union troops began a four-year occupation of Relay and Elkridge in 1861 to protect the railroad. Union General Benjamin F. Butler used the camp at Relay as a staging area for his occupation of Baltimore's Federal Hill, securing the city for the Union.
HM NumberHM5L7
Series This marker is part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) series
Placed ByMaryland Departing of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 5:46pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 352232 N 4342845
Decimal Degrees39.22233333, -76.71180000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 13.34', W 76° 42.708'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 13' 20.40" N, 76° 42' 42.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410, 443, 240
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 122-198 River Rd, Arbutus MD 21227, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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