Last revised: June 23, 2023
By: Adam Burns
The B&O 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 these locomotives and historic cars 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 B&O Railroad Museum began in 1953, created by its parent, the Baltimore & Ohio 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 30, 1987, the new railroad had little need for a museum and sold the property and buildings to the newly-established Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in 1990.
This non-profit organization was created in an effort to continue the traditions and preserve rail history, which the B&O had started nearly thirty years earlier.
The most recent obstacle the B&O Railroad Museum has had to overcome was an overwhelming snowstorm in 2003 (the President's Day Storm) which collapsed the roundhouse’s roof.
The facility, designed by noted architect E. Francis Baldwin (an individual often commissioned by the B&O to design the company's many depots) and completed in 1884, was (and remains) the centerpiece of the museum, housing its most treasured pieces.
It is 245 feet in diameter, 135 feet high, and contains 22 bays as well as a turntable. The devastation was so enormous some worried the museum could not overcome the disaster. However, undaunted, staff planned to rebuild the roof and restore as much historic equipment 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 nearly full recovery.
It has even grown a bit by adding a repair workshop that has been invaluable in restoring damaged pieces.
Following the roundhouse reopening the facility once more houses their most historic and well preserved pieces, 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.
Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 #25, The William Mason (Operational. Built in 1856 by the Mason Machine Works)
Baltimore & Ohio 0-4-0 #8, The John Hancock (Built by B&O shop forces in Mount Clare in 1836)
Baltimore & Ohio 0-4-0 #7, The Andrew Jackson (Originally built in 1832 as #2, the Atlantic, by B&O shop forces in Mount Clare. Scrapped in 1835. A replica was built in 1836 as #7, the Andrew Jackson. Rebuilt again in 1893 to resemble the Atlantic.)
Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-0 Davis Camel #305/#217 (Built by B&O shop forces in Mount Clare in 1869)
Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-0 #117, The Thatcher Perkins (Built by B&O shop forces in Mount Clare in 1863)
Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 #25, The William Mason (Built by Mason Machine Works in 1856)
Baltimore & Ohio 2-2-0, Tom Thumb (Operational. Replica for the 1927, Fair Of The Iron Horse)
Baltimore & Ohio Class E-8 2-8-0 #545, The A.J. Cromwell (Built by B&O shop forces in Mount Clare in 1888)
Baltimore & Ohio 0-8-0 #57, the Memnon (Built in 1848 by the Newcastle Manufacturing Company. The only of its type in existence.)
Baltimore & Ohio Class Q-3 2-8-2 "Mikado" #4500 (Built by Baldwin in 1918)
Baltimore & Ohio Class P-7 4-6-2 "Pacific" #5300, The President Washington (Built by Baldwin in 1927)
Camden & Amboy 0-4-0, Stourbridge Lion (Replica, on loan from Smithsonian)
Central Railroad Of New Jersey 4-4-2 "Atlantic Camelback" #592 (Built by the American Locomotive Company in 1901)
Chesapeake & Ohio Class K-4 2-8-4 "Kanawha" #2705 (Built by the American Locomotive Company in 1943)
Chesapeake & Ohio Class F-11 4-6-0 #377 (Originally built in 1902 for the Cincinnati, Richmond & Muncie Railroad)
Chesapeake & Ohio Class L-1 4-6-4 #490 (Originally built as a Class F-19 4-6-2 "Pacific" in 1926 by Alco. Rebuilt as a 4-6-4, streamlined "Hudson" in 1946 for the all-new Chessie streamliner, a train never launched. It is the only surviving example.)
Chesapeake & Ohio Class H-8 2-6-6-6 "Allegheny" #1604 (Built in 1941 by the Lima Locomotive Works)
Clinchfield Railroad 4-6-0 #1, Nicknamed "One Spot" (Originally built in 1882 by the Columbus, Chicago, & Indiana Central Railway, a later Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary.)
Greenbrier, Cheat & Elk Railroad 80-ton, three-truck Shay #1 (Built by Lima in 1905)
Potomac Electric Power 35-ton 0-4-0F (Fireless) Heisler #1 (Built by the Heisler Locomotive Works in 1938)
Reading Railroad Class T-1 4-8-4 #2101 (Built in 1923 by Baldwin as a 2-8-0, rebuilt by the Reading in 1945 as a 4-8-4)
St. Elizabeth Hospital 0-4-0T #4 (Operational. Built in 1950 by the H.K. Porter Company)
Baltimore & Ohio EA #51 (Cosmetically restored to its as-delivered appearance. The first streamlined diesel ever built, manufactured by Electro-Motive in 1937. The last of its kind still in existence.)
Following a 5-year project, this locomotive was unveiled to the public in January, 2021 to its as-delivered appearance from Electro-Motive.)
Baltimore & Ohio SW900 #633/#9408 (Operational. Built by Electro-Motive in 1955.)
Baltimore & Ohio SD35 #7402 (Operational. Built by Electro-Motive in 1964)
Baltimore & Ohio 70-ton switcher #50 (Built by General Electric in 1950)
Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Car #9913 (Built by the Budd Company in 1953)
Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Car #1961 (Built by the Budd Company in 1956)
Baltimore & Ohio GP7 #6405 (Operational. Built by Electro-Motive in 1953)
Baltimore & Ohio GP40 #3684 (Operational. Built by Electro-Motive in 1966)
Baltimore & Ohio GP38 #3802 (Operational. Built by Electro-Motive in 1967)
Canton Railroad VO-1000 #30 (Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1944)
Central Railroad Of New Jersey boxcab switcher #1000 (Built by the American Locomotive Company/Ingersoll-Rand in 1925)
MARC Train F7A (Cab-control car/non-powered) #7100 (Originally built as B&O F7A #293-A in 1951)
Octoraro Railway S2 #3 (Originally built by Alco for the B&O as #519 in 1948)
Pere Marquette SW1 #11 (Built by Electro-Motive in 1942)
Western Maryland RS3 #193 (Built by Alco in 1953)
Western Maryland F7A #236 (Built by Electro-Motive in 1952)
Western Maryland BL2 #81 (Built by Electro-Motive in 1948)
Western Maryland slug #138-T (Originally built by Alco as Western Maryland S1 #102. Converted to a slug, mated with BL2 #81, in 1962.)
Baltimore & Ohio 0-4-0 Class CE-1 switcher #10 (Built by General Electric in 1909.)
Chesapeake & Ohio battery-powered yard switcher #X-5000 nicknamed Dinky (Built by General Electric in 1918.)
Pennsylvania Railroad Class GG-1 #4876 (Built by General Electric in 1940)
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 diesel locomotive), facility rentals, and lots of gifts and memorabilia at their gift shop or online store.
There are also a wide range of special events held throughout the year such as hosting a Day Out With Thomas, Chuggington, and other activities.
Additionally, the B&O Museum owns the nearby, former B&O freight station in Ellicott City, the oldest surviving depot in the country.
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.
In closing, it is a shame that CSX Transportation, located next to and connects with the museum does not take a greater in interest in [its] rail heritage or allow excursions to be hosted on its property.
If so, the two properties could offer some incredible rail experiences. To learn more about the B&O Railroad Museum please visit their website.