Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

By | Feb 28, 2011

Originally published on February 28, 2008:

It was on February 28, 1827 that the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad Company was incorporated in Maryland, A week later on March 8th the incorporation was confirmed by Virginia. By the 24th of April, the company’s first Board of Directors had been elected with Philip E. Thomas as its first President.

Construction began on July 4, 1828 and nearly two years later on May 24, 1830, the first section, from Baltimore to the town of Ellicott’s Mills (now called Ellicott City) opened. The original terminus in Ellicott City is the oldest surviving station in America and now is a museum where there is a 40-foot model train layout showing the original thirteen miles of track.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of the Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence, laid the cornerstone of the Railway. The Carrollton Viaduct, the B&O’s first bridge and the world’s oldest railroad bridge still in use, was named for him.

The railroad was built to link the port of Baltimore in Maryland to the Ohio River at Wheeling and Parkersburg, Virginia, now West Virginia. The Baltimore harbor and the Ohio River were connected on the day before Christmas in 1852 when the line reached Wheeling.

On the same day as the groundbreaking for the B&O Railroad, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company broke ground for the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal. John Adams attended that groundbreaking. The 185 mile canal runs along the Potomac River from Alexandria, Virginia to Cumberland, Maryland.

Samuel Morse used the B&O Railroad right of way to send the first telegraph from the Capitol in Washington DC to Baltimore in 1844. The State of Maryland in 1833 chartered this spur of the railroad to Washington because of a demand for rail transportation between there and Baltimore.


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