Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home of American Railroading

Today we visited the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in, where else, Baltimore.

The B&O's charter called for building a railroad from Baltimore to the Ohio River so goods could be transported to and from the Baltimore Seaport. Today we rode over the first mile of track that was laid in the 1830's. The museum is housed in the original B&O round house and the passenger car repair shop, both dating back to the 1850's.
The collection here runs from the Peter Cooper's simple small Tom Thumb to the B&O's largest, 'The Allegany'. Here a few.

The Tom Thumb was one of the B&O's first steam engine. It pulled modified stage coaches and wagons. It used a vertical piston design which turned a crank shaft to power the drive wheels.

The 'Camelback' was named for its camel hump like design. Better visibility was the reasoning, but poor communications between the engineer and the crew led the Federal Government to stop production for safety reasons.

A number of designs for pistons and drivers were tried over the years. Some to increase speed, or efficiency, or for a special purpose. Most fell by the wayside.

One of these special purpose locomotives was the 'Shay'. As you can see it has verticle cylinders instead of horizontal like most locomotives. The three cylinders turn a crank shaft which runs to all of the drive wheels and transfers power by way of gears. This little beauty may have been our first 'All Wheel Drive'. The Shay was no speed demon, but it had plenty of power to pull heavy loads. It was short and light which made it perfect for the logging industry who laid temporary tracks to remove logs, and when they were done, took up the tracks, the Shay and the rolling stock, and went on to the next logging operation.

Some of you may have heard of the "Big Boy" locomotive of the Union Pacific Railroad. A 4-16-4 style locomotive that had 16 drive wheels, was 136 feet long and was able to haul huge amounts of cargo. But the "Big Boy" operated over fairly level and straight terrain.

The B&O needed a locomotive that could haul long coal trains out of the Allegany Mountains of Pennsylvania. If you have seen mountain railroads, especially in Pennsylvania, you realize that they take advantage of as much of the natural terrain as possible. This sometimes creates tight curves and steep grades. The 'Allegany' was designed for this. At 125 feet in length, the Allegany Locomotives (4-12-4) needed to have a 'little bend-ability' built into them. In between the first set of 6 drive wheels and the second set of 6 drive wheels a flexible connection was installed in the main steam line. A first in locomotive engineering. With 4 sets of cylinders to operate, the controls were a little more complex that the average locomotive of its day.

And this was just the engineers controls. The fireman had continually adjust the auto coal feeder, the water to the boiler, and the steam pressure.

Now that you've had a taste of this amazing museum, if you find yourself in Baltimore, or even close by, plan a stop. You won't regret it.

The End
The End



Elaine said...

I can see Grenville is in heaven--both a streetcar museum and a railroad museum! Fun!

Sandra said...

like all the photos, the camel back is new to me, my first time seeing one.

Ludwig Keck said...

Neat! Very much enjoyed this historical story and your photos. I have always wondered how and by whom the track spacing was picked. Any info on that?

DeniseinVA said...

What a great looking place, must have been a lot of fun to walk around there. Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed learning that one of my flowers was a horse dead nettle. I've never heard of that one before. Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I love the Camelback :-)
I have to say that American trains almost always were much more beautiful than the European! I don't know what it is but they sort of shout out POWER :-)

Have a great day!

Anvilcloud said...

The B&O of Monopoly fame.

A Quiet Corner said...

We were just talking about the RR that may run from DC to Boston!...:)JP

Montanagirl said...

Now I have a Grandson that would be in 7th heaven to go to a railroad museum! Nice Post!!

Rebecca said...

There is a Transportation Museum here in Roanoke and Clifton Forge has a small train museum about 1 hour away. You should plan to visit them if you come this way.

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