The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum today is one of the most recognized, respected and highly regarded railroad museums, not only in this country but also the world. It sees hundreds of thousands of visitors on an annual basis and easily has the largest, single collection of historic B&O railroad equipment anywhere in the country. What you can find at the museum is not only B&O pieces from its namesake railroad but also many important historical pieces from other railroads around the country, many of which are located in the B&O’s famous Mount Clare shops (which throughout the years would create and build a number of innovative cars and locomotives for the railroad). The museum also features two scales of large model railroads in G and HO as well as annual layouts brought in by model railroading groups during the holidays.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum began in 1953, created by its parent, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to house the railroad's growing collection of historic equipment (a number of which would come from the 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse) and archival material over the railroad’s 126 years of existence up to that time. When the B&O’s name was dissolved by the recently created CSX Transportation on April 30th, 1987, the new railroad had little need for a museum and sold the property and buildings to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in 1990, a newly formed non-profit organization to continue on the traditions the B&O had started nearly thirty years earlier.
Perhaps the most recent obstacle the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum has had to overcome was an overwhelming snowstorm in 2003 (the President's Day Storm) which collapsed the roundhouse’s roof. The devastation was so enormous it was worried that the museum could not overcome the disaster. However, undaunted, the museum staff planned to rebuild the roof and restore as much historic equipment that was destroyed as possible. After nearly two years of work, it reopened in November of 2004. Albeit the cost of admission had to be raised (mostly to pay for the restoration of damaged equipment), the museum has made a near full recovery and has even grown a bit by adding a repair workshop.
While I am sure that this sounds rather sad for someone with such an interest in the history of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad but I have yet to visit the museum. Unfortunately, they do not keep an active list of preserved equipment on site. However, I can tell you that many of their most historic and well preserved pieces are presented in the historic B&O roundhouse, such as a replica of Tom Thumb, one of the first boxcab diesel locomotives (owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey), and the last surviving B&O 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotive (P7 Class #5300).
These, of course, are just a small sampling of the equipment found on-site, which also includes historic freight and passenger cars. The museum also has a large amount of preserved equipment housed outdoors, which it is constantly attempting to raise money for both their restoration as well as protection from the elements. Additionally, the museum features other important artifacts such as railroad tools, passenger train china, and the B&O’s ceremonial "First Stone" (laid on July 4, 1828). Again, this is just a few of things you can see there.
Today the museum is going as strong as ever and besides the historic equipment you can see which is located throughout the property; there are train rides for the kids (it currently includes a small, operating steam locomotive and an early B&O EMD GP series diesel locomotive), facility rentals, and lots of gifts and memorabilia at their gift shop or online store. Also available are memberships for you to not only help the museum with it many restoration projects but also to receive special perks and discounts. For more information regarding visiting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum please click here to visit their website which provides prices, open hours, and everything available to see and do.
For more information about the B&O consider Baltimore & Ohio Railroad written by Kirk Reynolds and David Oroszi. While there are several more excellent books, with superb illustrations, out there covering different aspects of the B&O in more detail this publication includes a fine general history of the railroad with wonderful historical photos (many in color). Also, for more information and reading about excursion trains and railroad museums you might want to consider picking up Tourist Trains Guidebook from the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains magazine. The book lists and reviews over 400 excursions and museums found throughout the country and is an excellent resource if you're looking for one to visit. In any event, if you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.