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last updated 03/29/2004

Ben Sullivan's Baltimore & Ohio RR: Georgetown Branch
Layout at a glance:

Subject: B&O RR, Georgetown Branch
Era: 1948-1949
Room: 22' x 10''
Layout Height: n/a
Style: Point to point operation only (no provision for continuous running)
Control: Digitrax DCC
Track: n/a
Operation: n/a

The Branch

My interest in the Georgetown Branch (GB) began back in the early 1990's when a high school friend and I hiked from the Dalecarlia Tunnel down to the bridges over the C&O Canal and back along the right-of-way. At that time the tracks were still there but a train hadn't passed by since 1985 and it was only a matter of a few years before the tracks would be pulled up and replaced with tarmac to be a bike path.

The GB history is quite interesting. Back in the late 19th century the merchants of Georgetown in Washington DC saw that the world commercial markets were opening wide. They had the C&O Canal, but realized that due to natural disasters and speed issues the Canal wasn't the most effective means of growing an industrial area. After lobbying the B&O, a branch line was finally completed into Georgetown in 1910. Perhaps too late in the game, Georgetown as an industrial area never really expanded past the waterfront area.

Traffic on the GB was laid back. Never have I heard of more than 2 trains a day going down the branch, perhaps more occasionally during the WWII years. Commodities shipped via the GB included coal, stone, cement, coffee, flour, grains, oil, lumber and various other items. The terrain is a mish-mash of typical railroad structures. You have a mainline junction, coal trestles, grade crossings, team tracks, a long high wood trestle, a tunnel, street running, large steel/iron bridges and even track laid along side the C&O Canal. All in all the GB was a neat line.

I chose to model the GB because it's easily accessible and most of it can be modeled relatively well in a small space, which is what I have. My layout room is less than ideal, being the room that houses the HVAC, water heater, electrical cabinet, and gas meter. The layout will be built in 2 levels with a helix (beneath some stairs) connecting them. I hope to be able to have 2-3 operators on the line at once. The room is small, so more just wouldn't work. Right now the room is still being finished and I have yet to begin the benchwork. Please visit my own personal site for more info on the project, up-to-date status reports, prototype info (maps, photos, diagrams, etc.) and more.

- Ben Sullivan

* please click on the images below to view larger versions

Georgetown, Washington DC
B&O S2 #9023 on the waterfront, 10/19/1958. A really nice shot showing the elevated Whitehurst Freeway in the background. Also, an old stakebody truck parked on Water St. (K St.). Photo by: unknown. (Jim Mischke Collection).

Whipple Truss over the C&O Canal
This bridge dates from the turn of the century and is a rare type. Here is how it looked in 2003.

Basement demolition begins
Here is my layout room, as it looked on new year's day in 2003.
Basement remodeling continuing
And here's a shot of the same room, basically the same view, a year later. The walls have been stripped down, cleaned, and sealed. The wiring is in and the drop ceiling is being installed. Check my site for more pics!