The history of Mount Royal Station is intertwined with another important
project the B&O was constructing at the same time, its electrified
Baltimore Belt Railroad. The completion of this new line not only
alleviated a bottleneck the company had to endure for years by using car
ferries but also enabled the B&O to comply with a city ordinance of
no steam locomotives operating within city limits (by the late 19th
century many large cities had banned the use of steam locomotives due
not only to the poor quality but also because of the safety issue in the
event of a boiler explosion or wreck). The new electrified route,
capped off by the massive 1.5-mile tunnel underneath the city, opened on
May 1, 1895 the first such route in the country.
While this project was ongoing the railroad also had plans to open a new station to serve the electrified line. The B&O already had another station in use at the time, Camden Station near its massive Camden Yards classification facility (now home of the Baltimore Orioles ballpark). The point of the new station, located to the north of downtown along its Baltimore-New York main line was to serve this route as the railroad attempted to compete in the market with the likes of the Pennsylvania Railroad. To do so the B&O operated its famed Royal Blue passenger train launching the train just after its electrified Baltimore Belt Railroad opened, on June 27, 1895.
However, the train, and its passengers, would have a splendid station to
arrive and depart from for another year. Famed architect E. Francis
Baldwin, of whom the B&O commissioned many times to design and build
a number of stations for them, both large and small, was tapped to
oversee the construction of
Mount Royal Station. Completed in 1896, Mount Royal was a beautiful
structure that featured a clock tower, marble interior, and long train
shed that has trains enter under it as soon as they exit the Howard
Street Tunnel. It was the first terminal to ever host electrified
trains when it opened that year. The structure's clock tower stood 150
feet from the ground and the entire building used a mix of local granite
as well as Indiana limestone. Baldwin designed the terminal using
Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, capping off the station with a
striking red-tile roof.
With a splendid entrance into Baltimore now available to passengers, the
B&O did its best to stay competitive in the New York-Baltimore/D.C.
market with the Pennsy. Unfortunately, because the railroad did not have direct access into downtown Manhattan
its ability to effectively compete with the PRR yielded a B&O a
handicap it could never, truly overcome. Despite this the company did
its best to provide exemplary service aboard the Royal Blue,
which it did achieve, so much so that the railroad had a large
contingent of passengers that rode the train simply for this reason
(despite the fact that they had to take a ferry from Jersey City
Terminal into Manhattan).
As the general public began to leave the train for the highway after World War II, and already unable to truly compete in the market with the Pennsylvania, the B&O gave up on its Royal Bluestreamliner on April 26, 1958, a day that came with much sadness for many loyal riders. Mount Royal Station, however, continued to remain use for a few more years but closed permanently by the B&O on June 30, 1961. In 1964 the station was sold to the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). In 1974 the structure was given the rare distinction as a National Historic Landmark and between 2005 and 2007 received a multi-million dollar restoration that returned it to its original appearance when it opened in 1896. To see Mount Royal in its current state please click here.
Today, while the building's famous shed hasn't seen passengers beneath
it for decades CSX Transportation freight trains regularly pass through
it on a daily basis making for a unique setup that you are unlikely to
see perhaps anywhere else in the country. For more information and history about
the Baltimore & Ohio itself please click here. This page provides an in-depth look at the venerable B&O from its many different passenger trains to various types of steam locomotives the road used over the years. Additionally, you can read about notable locations along the system such as Sand Patch, M&K Junction, Thomas Viaduct, and others.
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Stations And Depots
Mount Royal Station