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There it is standing before you. What is it? You are looking at the Mount Clare Roundhouse. What is special about this roundhouse? Before it was the home of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, it was a place where locomotives and rolling stock were serviced. You enter this massive room. You are surrounded by the oldest collection of locomotives and rail cars in the entire world. The old stagecoaches are next to a replica of the very first train in North America. The stagecoaches that were pulled by horses that once ran along the nearby National Road is now next to the very first locomotive in the history of North America. What is this locomotive called? Well, it was a horse, but it pulled a passenger coach on rails. Then came the York locomotive. Well, you see the replica of the original as well as a replica of the Tom Thumb.
The great thing about being in this roundhouse looking at these locomotives is that each one of these locomotives, as well as the other rolling stock, have great stories to tell. The ‘Thatcher Perkins’ pulled Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train. The Cass Railroad shay locomotive pulled logging cars for the mountainside to a little milling town of Cass, West Virginia. The Central Railroad of New Jersey’s 592 is a humpback locomotive known as an ‘Atlantic Humpback’ because it ran mainly along the Atlantic seaboard, with its cab in the middle of the boiler as opposed to being behind the boiler. Even if you are not an expert on locomotives, you will appreciate the William Mason and the J. C. Davis for their fancy artwork.
The thing about the collection at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum is that the collection cannot fit in the roundhouse. Fortunately, The Passenger Car Shop remains, and you can find some great rolling stock there. What do you see? Well, you cannot miss the Number 490 of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway known as the ‘Hudson’ with the bright yellow paint. (Sadly, the luxury passenger cars behind it are not available for board, but it would have been great to ride back in the days of operation.) You have the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Number 5300 known as the President Washington. However, this locomotive is dwarfed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Number 1604, an ‘Alleghany’ locomotive which is one of only two of these types of locomotives that remain. (The other is at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.) If you need to come down to size, you have the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s Number 1000, a switcher locomotive use to move rail cars at a yard in New York City.
Just when you thought that you have seen it all, you have not. Of course, what is visiting the museum without riding along the first mile and a half of track laid in North America? No, it is not pulled by a horse but a vintage locomotive with vintage rail cars to include a parlor car where you can ride in luxury.
The Baltimore and Ohio Museum is the site of the Birthplace of American Railroading. Every step you take here and in the surrounding neighborhood of homes which housed the railroad workers is a step into history.
This article first appeared on johncowgillstoriesoftherailroad.com
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