Todd's Railfan Guide to
Savage MD

In General
Getting Here


In General

Location / Name:
    Savage MD

What's Here:
     former B&O RR Bollman Truss Bridge

     GPS Coordinates: 39.134586, -76.825080
     Foundry St, Savage MD
     ZIP: 20723

Access by train/transit:

The Scoop:

Here in Savage MD is probably the only surviving example of a Bollman Truss type bridge.  During the 1800's, they were all over the place, and not all of them were located "on the railroad" -- for example, not too far from where I grew up in Ruxton, at the south end of Lake Roland, was a lighter weight version of the bridge to cross over the waters of Jones Falls, after it spilled over the dam.  Picture below.

From the ASCE page: The design of the Bollman Truss Bridge-patented in 1852 and one of the first to use iron exclusively in all essential structural elements-was critical in the rapid expansion of American railroads in the 19th century.  Replacing wooden bridges, which  were cumbersome to build and vulnerable to decay, the Bollman Truss Bridge could be built relatively quickly and inexpensively, while providing the long-lasting qualities associated with metal.  This allowed new rail lines to be built over long distances in a short period of time.

Wendel Bollman, the design's creator, was a self-educated engineer who apprenticed as a carpenter.  He adapted the technique of "trussing" from the practice of strengthening  wooden beams using tension rods.  More than 100 Bollman Truss bridges were built between 1850 and 1875, the majority for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  The only example remaining-a double-span through truss extending 160 feet-was used on a spur across the Little Patuxent River at Savage, Maryland.  It was restored in 1968 and is now part of the Historic Savage Mill Marketplace.

Around 2000, or so, the county did an excellent job restoring the bridge - including new planking so you can walk across it.  It sits adjacent to the Savage Mill, an eclectic collection of shops.  More info on the bridge can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bollman_Truss_Railroad_Bridge.

The bridge was built for an unknown location on the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1852, and was moved to its present location, spanning the Little Patuxent River on the spur to the Savage Mill, in 1887.  This spur line dates to around 1840 and originally crossed the river on a stone arch bridge; however, due to alterations to the mill in the 1880s and topographical restrictions, a replacement bridge was needed.  The bridge remained in service until the mill closed in 1947.

Facts (From bridgehunter.com (slightly edited))
    Bollman through truss bridge over Little Patuxent River in Savage, near the intersection of Goman Road and Foundry Street
    Savage, Howard County, Maryland
    Open to pedestrians
    Built for the main line of the B&O Railroad in 1869. Moved to present location around 1887. Remained in service until 1947. Restored in 1968 (perhaps 1983).
    Wendel Bollman of Baltimore, Maryland
    Originally: the B&O Railroad
    Now: Howard County rail-trail
    Bollman through truss
    Total length: 160.0 ft.
    Deck width: 25.5 ft.
    Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 18, 1972
Also called
    Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge
Approximate latitude & longitude:
    +39.13481, -76.82503
    39°08'05" N, 76°49'30" W  (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
    18/342262/4333322 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
    Savage (Laurel quadrangle if you go back to the early 1900's)
Inventory numbers
    NRHP 72000582 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
    BH 36379 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the bridge:

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

Getting Here

Using I-95 between the Baltimore and DC Beltways, take exit 38, RT 32, and go east.  Go one exit and get off at the next exit (exit 12), which is US Route 1, and go south on it till you reach Gorman Road.  There is a Wendy's and Exxon gas station on the corner (as of 2016).  Take a right, and the bridge will be on your right in about a quarter of a mile.













Detail pictures were taken January 2016

Historical USGS Maps

Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.

The green circle shows you where another bridge is located, and has been restored by Howard County as part of a rail-trail.  More info and pix are here


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 01/01/2014
Last Modified 10-Feb-2016