Patuxent Branch Trail
[picture of steam locomotive] Steam locomotive.
A small saddle-tanker locomotive pushed and pulled freight cars around in the quarry, and hauled heavy loads of granite to the main line of the railroad. The saddle-tanker had a water tank that straddled the boiler, eliminating the need for a separate tender car. The small dome behind the smokestack carried sand, which was released by a pipeline onto the rails to improve traction when necessary. During the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, thousands of industrial locomotives were manufactured in the United States, many for use in the loggin and mining industries. (Detail of photo from the Granite Historical Society, Granite MD)
[map of B&O Railroad showing the Patuxent Branch line] The main line of the B&O Railroad
began construction in 1828 in Baltimore, reaching west to the Ohio River. The Washington Branch began in 1835. A 1.3 mile branch was built from Savage Junction to the Savage Textile Mills in 1888, then extended 3 miles farther to Guilford in 1902. It ceased operation in 1928.
[image of station list] A 1917 station list
shows several stops along the Patuxent Branch, giving their distances from the junction at Savage MD. Five of the stops had sidings with adequate capacity for numerous rail cars. Guilford also served as a water station. (B&O Official List, Form 6, No. 18)
[picture of freight car] "Guilford and Waltersville Granite Co."
is lettered on the side of a freight car in this photo taken in the 1920's at the Waltersville quarry. The joint stock company operated both quarries from around 1890 until 1925, when it declared bankruptcy. (Detail of photo from the Granite Historical Society, Granite MD)
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was a pioneer in railroad history. The first passenger line began operating between Baltimore and Ellicott City in 1830. As the main line reached west to the Ohio River, various branch lines were added. Some of the shorter spurs served the young industries of Maryland. One of these spurs was the Patuxent Branch that served the textile mills and quarries in Savage and Guilford until 1928. It continues in use as a recreational trail in the 21st century.
[topographical map of Patuxent Branch] A 1910 topgraphical map of Howard County
shows the route of the Patuxent Branch (here labeled: "B&O RR Freight Lines"). It followed the western bank of the Little Patuxent River, crossing the Middle Patuxent River just north of Savage, then continued north until crossing the Little Patuxent River at Guilford.
[picture of flatcars] Flatcars carry huge slabs of granite
from the quarry, to be further dressed by stonecutters. Large stones were often carved into monuments, others made into lintels and structural elements, or further cut into "dimension" or building blocks. (Detail of phot of the Waltersville quarr, from the Granite Historical Society, Granite MD)
[picture of Waltersville quarry train] Quarry train at work
in the Waltersville quarry in Granite, Maryland, c. 1920. The company that operated both the Guilford and Waltersville quarries installed freight-rail connections from both quarries to the B&O lines. Operations were probably very similar. (Photo courtesy of the Granite Historical Society, Granite MD)
Rails to Trails
Many abandoned railroad lines have been saved for the use of future generations by converting them into recreational trails. Howard County, in cooperation with the Columbia Association, the State of Maryland's Program Open Space, and the Federal Government's ISTEA and TEA-21 programs, has developed much of the Patuxent Branch railroad line into a trail for your enjoyment.