RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
Northern Baltimore City
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The map below shows the north side of Baltimore City, including the bottom (south) end of Baltimore County.
Other than the old Ma and Pa Depot to take in on Lake Ave, this section is pretty much devoid of railroad "stuff".
Along the abandoned Green Spring right-of-way, you can find some rail left behind when they removed the rest of it in the early 70's. A few signal bases can be found closer to the light rail "mainline". If you have a boat or canoe, you can also get shots of the really small "bridges" the NC constructed to go over streams. About a mile from the light rail tracks is a girder bridge, which yours truly (with a little help from my best friend) back in 1969 painted with a pink and white PC, along with Penn Central spelled out - there were just the perfect number of sections on the bridge. Little did we know then, the stir it created in the railfan community creating all sorts of rumors the Penn Central might revive the branch, and speculation since on the origin of the paint job. It's no longer there, but we did the same thing to the bridge over Lake Roland, but it got repainted when the MTA took over in 1990.
The biggest draw to walking up the r-o-w is being able to take pix of the light rail trains crossing the short bridge over Lake Roland. The easiest way to get there is to park in the Robert E. Lee park, walk across the dam, then go off to your right, looking for the path to the unofficial "hikey-bikey" trail on the other side of the light rail tracks.
The biggest draw to this part of town is the scenic light rail right-of-way. From the Falls Road station north to Lutherville, you have approximately a four mile ride, maybe the longest stretch in the U.S. without a stop. During the fall, this ride thru the Lake Roland is especially beautiful, rivaling even the East Broad Top fall spectacular for fall foliage scenery (I know Steve... you might disagree with me... oh well). All of the stops except for Cold Spring Lane are good for photos. Up in Ruxton where Bellona Ave separates from the r-o-w is a good spot, as is the north side of the bridge over the lake. Just be careful if you decide to cross the bridge, or walk down from Bellona (which I don't advocate for safety reasons)... THE TRAINS ARE VERY QUIET!
SAFTY NOTE: If anyone knows about the dangers of being around the trains, I do... I had a track access class when I worked at Light Rail. During my four years of working in railcar maintenance, I also had my share of trains to help to clean people off of them after an accident (for some reason, they liked to wait until the midnight shift I was stuck on to do that). To boot, one of the guys I currently work with has a niece that lost part of her foot when it got run over by an LRV this past winter... cause she crossed the tracks behind a train after getting off, right into the path of a train coming into the station from the opposite direction. Each LRV weighs 54 tons empty... they are nothing to play around with!
ex Ma & Pa Lake Ave Station
This station is privately owned.
Good photo to come. 50 years after the M&Pa stopped running, there is almost nothing discernable from the air to tell where the railroad used to run.
TV Hill and the
Three of the four TV stations have their studios up on TV hill (well, 45 is close).
This 1300 foot tall tower has channels 2, 11, and 13 on it. The channel 2 studio is just south of Towson on York Road. The tower is nick-named the candelabra.
Light Rail North
The North Avenue shops was the original shops for the Baltimore light Rail system. More pix and info can be found in the Baltimore Light Rail section.
Looking north from where the Flexi-Flo yard is (it's off to my left)
Looking up the yard leads
Passing a SB train at the Relief Point in front of the shops
NS Flexi-Flo Yard
This yard is what remains of the once much larger Pennsy yard that existed here, but most of it disappeared with the coming of the Light Rail yard and facilities in the late 80's. Because they supposedly unload some fairly dangerous chemicals, there has been talk of moving the yard, but nothing has been done with it yet. As of 2013, the yard appears to be no longer used.
ex Ma & Pa
Roundhouse and Freight Shed
Some of the precious few Maryland & Pennsylvania remnants left standing. The freight shed shot shows how close to the light rail it is. There has been talk of the city moving it's salt operations out of the roundhouse so the BSM can take it over, but so far, nothing has happened.
Life Like Models
It used to be that when you bought a Life-Like model, it said Baltimore MD on the box. This is where it was.
MTA Kirk Avenue Bus
This is one of the 4 bus yards in Baltimore. Employees park in the parking lot at the lower right hand corner of the picture with the green circle in it, and it is a secured lot since this is a terrible area. The radio shop is the small green/yellow dot. I worked here for a month before deciding to go back to light rail.
The BSM had it's start back in the early 60's, but did not become a reality at it's present location until 1968. When I first moved into the area in 1967, the collection of cars was still located at lake Roland. At the end of the summer of 1968, the cars were moved from Lake Roland to the museum, now that there was track to put them on, and a carbarn built to store them in. The city built the carbarn for the museum, and gave them a 99 year lease.
March 2006, delivery of 2728
The loop at the north end of the ride
The visitors center and carbarn
9 The CSX Tunnels Adjacent to 26th Street
CSX replaced the B&O CPL signal here with a double stacked Unilens signal.
The tunnel portal under Charles St, and the end of the freight below.
The tunnel portal under St Paul St., and a WB (SB) freight coming thru, just before we lost all of the light.
April 30th, 2014
As a result of the huge rainfall we received on this date, the wall holding 26th St at bay, between Charles St and St Paul St, gave way. A number of cars went down with the wall and dirt, severing the CSX mainline in half. The first four pictures are from the CBS Evening news with Scott Pelly. Compared to other areas (the Midwest for example), we still have to consider ourselves extremely lucky and fortunate.
The picture below is not around the 26th St area, but instead, is behind my house where a small creek runs that feeds Lake Roland, and then the Jones Falls (the JFX, I-83, or Jones Falls Expressway is named after the "creek"). The creek is usually about a foot deep... quiet, scenic, and reserved.... With the five inches or so of rain we had, it turned into a monster, about 5ft or so above normal. The well built Baltimore & Susquehanna bridge abutments have withstood the test of time (since 1832) enduring many rains such as this one. Normally, the creek is only about 10-12 feet across. On this day, it was maybe 100 feet wide before hitting the narrows at the bridge.
Greenspring Branch RR Sights
I gave the Greenspring Branch its own page: https://railroadsignals.us/baltimore/greenspring/index.htm
Light Rail - Station by Station
To get to the Mt Washington and Falls Road stations from the JFX (I83), take the Northern Parkway Exit and go east to Falls Road. At Falls Road, take a left.
For Mt Washington, take a left at Kelly Ave (Green line). Take a right at any of the next couple of turns after going over the bridge. Wind your way through to the station.
For the Falls Road station, go past Kelly Avenue and stay on Falls Road. Just before going across the track at Lakeside, there is a quick and short right turn with an immediate left onto the service road which will take you into the station.
If you are coming out of the city on Falls Road, from the Woodberry station or the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, you will be coming from the left (red arrow).
If you are coming "down" from the county on Falls Road, ie: Brooklandville and/or the Greenspring station, you'll be coming from the right (blue arrow).
The Mt Washington station is lucky in the sense that if you come here to take pictures, do so around lunch or dinner time and take in one of the many restarants available here. If travelling with you wife or girlfriend, it's also a good spot for trendy shopping places while you're busy taking pictures. From the station, there is a walkway going under the JFX to get to places like the Whole Foods market.
Cold Spring Lane
To get to the Woodberry station off of the JFX, take the Cold Spring Lane exit east to Falls Road (green line). Take a right at Falls Rd and go to Union Ave where you will take another right. You will cross the tracks and the parking lot will be on your left.
There is no way to get to the Cold Spring station by car, only by train, walking, or bus.
If you are coming down Falls Road from the Falls Rd or Mt Washington station, you will be coming from the right (yellow arrow).
If you are coming out of the city on Falls Road (like, from the Baltimore Streetcar Museum), you will be coming from the left (red arrow).
1 CSX WB
This dual dwarf signal replaces a dwarf CPL signal that was just inside the eastern portal of the tunnel under Charles Street. This is one of the first Unilens installations in the Baltimore area, along with one at the Mount Royal station. The signal was put in place around DEC2011, and placed into service around FEB2012. The old CPL signal was approach lit, the Unilens is not.
(Other Misc Stuff)
London Fog used to make their raincoats in Baltimore, and many will remember the "L" on this tower during those days.
Lake Roland, which was not around when the B&S first came up through here, used to include the area outlined by yellow. We moved to where the circle is in 1967, and we had a lake in front of the house when we moved in. Over the years, what is outlined in yellow has filled up with silt. The lake was formed in 1860, and was used until the mid 1900's as a reservoir until the three further out were built: Loch Raven, Prettyboy, and Liberty Reservoirs.
Last Modified: 05/01/2014