- Aerial view, c. 1977
- The Viaduct Hotel, 1910
- B&O's Columbian, 1949
- The Thomas Viaduct as seen in 2011
- Thomas Viaduct
- This illustration appears in a book printed in 1835, the year the viaduct opened.
|Heritage status||NRHP 66000388|
|Total length||612 feet (187 m)|
|Width||26 feet 4 inches (8 m)|
|Height||59 feet (18 m)|
|Longest span||58 feet (18 m)|
|No. of spans||8|
|Designer||Benjamin Henry Latrobe, II|
|Constructed by||John McCartney|
|Opened||July 4, 1835|
Thomas Viaduct, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
|Area||0.5 acres (0.20 ha)|
|NRHP reference No.||66000388|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
The Thomas Viaduct spans the Patapsco River and Patapsco Valley between Relay, Maryland and Elkridge, Maryland, USA. It was commissioned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O); built between July 4, 1833, and July 4, 1835; and named for Philip E. Thomas, the company's first president.It remains the world's oldest multiple arched stone railroad bridge.
At its completion, the Thomas Viaduct was the largest railroad bridge in the United Statesand the country's first multi-span masonry railroad bridge to be built on a curve. In 1964, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. In 2010, the bridge designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The viaduct is now owned and operated by CSX Transportation and still in use today, making it one of the oldest railroad bridges still in service.
This Roman-arch stone bridge is divided into eight spans. It was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, II, then B&O's assistant engineer and later its chief engineer. The main design problem to overcome was that of constructing such a large bridge on a curve. The design called for several variations in span and pier widths between the opposite sides of the structure. This problem was solved by having the lateral pier faces laid out on radial lines, making the piers essentially wedge-shaped and fitted to the 4-degree curve.
The viaduct was built by John McCartney of Ohio, who received the contract after completing the Patterson Viaduct. Caspar Wever, the railroad's chief of construction, supervised the work.
The span of the viaduct is 612 feet (187 m) long; the individual arches are roughly 58 feet (18 m) in span, with a height of 59 feet (18 m) from the water level to the base of the rail. The width at the top of the spandrel wall copings is 26 feet 4 inches (8 m). The bridge is constructed using a rough-dressed Maryland granite ashlar from Patapsco River quarries, known as Woodstock granite. A wooden-floored walkway built for pedestrian and railway employee use is 4 feet (1 m) wide and supported by cast iron brackets and edged with ornamental cast iron railings. The viaduct contains 24,476 cubic yards (18,713 m3) of masonry and cost $142,236.51, equal to $3,525,171 today.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States. Construction began on July 4, 1828, with the original route following the upper branch of the Patapsco River which led west to Ellicott's Mills (later renamed Ellicott City) from the lower Patapsco which is the "Basin" (now Inner Harbor) at downtown Baltimore and the Baltimore Harbor and Port of the lower river estuary leading southeast 15 miles to flow into the Chesapeake Bay. (See Baltimore Terminal Subdivision and Old Main Line Subdivision.) In 1835 the Washington Branch was constructed, including the Thomas Viaduct. This new line branched at Relay, the site of a former post road hotel and changing point for stage horses. The 1830s Relay House served as a hotel until it was replaced by the $50,078.41 (equal to $1,068,757 today) Viaduct Hotel in 1872. The Gothic combination railroad station and hotel operated until 1938 and was torn down in 1950.
When the Thomas Viaduct was completed, a 15-foot (5 m) obelisk with the names of the builder, directors of the railroad, the architect (engineer) and others associated with the viaduct was erected at the east end in Relay, by builder John McCartney. On one side the monument reads: The Thomas Viaduct, Commenced July 4, 1833 Finished, July 4, 1835. He also celebrated the completed work by having his men kneel on the deck of the viaduct while mock "baptizing" them with a pint of whiskey.
Until after the American Civil War, the B&O was the only railroad into Washington, D.C., thus the Thomas Viaduct was essential for supply trains to reach the capital of the Union during that conflict. To prevent sabotage, the bridge was heavily guarded by Union troops stationed along its length.
In 1929, extensive mortar work on the masonry was carried out, and again in 1937. To counteract deterioration of the masonry, the Thomas Viaduct underwent more cosmetic upgrades in 1938 performed by the B&O Maintenance of Way Department. The work consisted primarily to improve facilities for drainage, relocation of loose arch ring stones and the application of a grout mixture to the stone spandrels filling. Nevertheless, the bridge is still indicative of the way in which the B&O track and major structures were put down in the most permanent manner possible. At an unknown date, railing blocks were removed from the north side of the deck and a bracketed walkway added giving more lateral clearance. Little work had been done on the viaduct until the repairs of 1937–1938 which, according to a 1949 report by the Chief Engineer of the B&O, would keep future maintenance to a minimum.
From the 1880s to the 1950s, Thomas Viaduct carried B&O's famed Royal Blue Line passenger trains between New York and Washington. Until the late 1960s, the bridge also carried B&O passenger trains traveling to points west of Washington, such as the Capital Limited to Chicago and the National Limited to St. Louis.
With the advent of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, B&O ended its passenger train service, except for local Baltimore–Washington commuter trains. In 1986, CSX acquired the B&O and all of its trackage, including the Thomas Viaduct. Today, MARC's "Camden Line" train service runs daily trains over the Viaduct. See Capital Subdivision.
During design and construction, the Thomas Viaduct was nicknamed "Latrobe's Folly" after the designer Benjamin Latrobe II, because at the time many doubted that it could even support its own weight. Contrary to these predictions, the Thomas Viaduct survived the great flood of 1868 as well as Hurricane Agnes in 1972, two floods that wiped out the Patapsco Valley and destroyed nearly everything in their path; and to this day it continues to carry 300-ton (270 tonne) diesel locomotives passengers and heavy freight traffic.
The bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 28, 1964,and administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. In 2010, the bridge designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
In 2014 and 2015, the non-profit historic preservation organization Preservation Howard County placed the Viaduct on its list of the top 10 endangered historic places in Howard County.The Patapsco Heritage Greenway group announced plans to add handrails to the bridge in 2015.
|journal=(help) and Accompanying photos in 1962
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomas Viaduct .|
Elkridge is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Howard County, Maryland, United States. The population was 15,593 at the 2010 census. Founded early in the 18th century, Elkridge is located at the confluence of three counties, the other two being Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first common carrier railroad and the oldest railroad in the United States, with its first section opening in 1830. Merchants from the city of Baltimore, which had benefitted to some extent from the construction of the National Road early in the century, wanted to continue to compete for trade with trans-Appalachian settlers with the newly constructed Erie Canal, another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the James River Canal, which directed traffic toward Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia. At first the B&O was located entirely in the state of Maryland, its original line extending from the port of Baltimore west to Sandy Hook.
The Western Maryland Railway was an American Class I railroad (1852–1983) which operated in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It was primarily a coal hauling and freight railroad, with a small passenger train operation.
The Capital Subdivision is a railroad line owned and operated by CSX Transportation in the U.S. state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The line runs from near Baltimore, Maryland, southwest to Washington, D.C., along the former Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road (B&O) Washington Branch. The subdivision's Alexandria Extension provides a connection to Virginia and points south.
The Northern Central Railway (NCRY) was a Class I Railroad connecting Baltimore, Maryland with Sunbury, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. Completed in 1858, the line came under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1861, when the PRR acquired a controlling interest in the Northern Central's stock to compete with the rival Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). For eleven decades the Northern Central operated as a subsidiary of the PRR until much of its Maryland trackage was washed out by Hurricane Agnes in 1972; after which most of its operations ceased as the Penn Central declined to repair sections. It is now a fallen flag railway, having come under the control of the later Penn Central, Conrail, and then broken apart and disestablished. The southern part in Pennsylvania is now the York County Heritage Rail Trail which connects to a similar hike/bike trail in Northern Maryland down to Baltimore, named the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail. Only the trackage around Baltimore remains in rail service.
There are more than 1,500 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the U.S. State of Maryland. Each of the state's 23 counties and its one county-equivalent has at least 20 listings on the National Register.
The CSX Susquehanna River Bridge is a railroad bridge that carries CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision across the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland, via Garrett Island. It was built in 1907-10 by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) on the same alignment as an 1886 B&O bridge. Like its predecessor, it was the longest continuous bridge on the B&O system.
The Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge at Savage, Maryland is the sole surviving example of a revolutionary design in the history of American bridge engineering. The 160-foot (48.8 m) double-span truss bridge is one of the oldest standing iron railroad bridges in the United States. Currently, however, it is in use carrying the Savage Mill Trail across the Little Patuxent River. It was the first successful all-metal bridge design to be adopted and consistently used on a railroad. The type was named for its inventor, Wendel Bollman, a self-educated Baltimore civil engineer.
Wendel Bollman was an American self-taught civil engineer, best known for his iron railway bridges. Only one of his patented "Bollman truss" bridges survives, the Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge in Savage, Maryland. The Wells Creek Bollman Bridge near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania is also standing, although that bridge uses the Warren truss system.
The Carrollton Viaduct, located over the Gwynns Falls stream near Carroll Park in southwest Baltimore, Maryland, is the first stone masonry bridge built for railroad use in the United States for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, founded 1827, with construction beginning the following year and completed 1829. The bridge is named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), of Maryland, known for being the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, the only Roman Catholic in the Second Continental Congress (1775-1781), and wealthiest man in the Thirteen Colonies of the time of the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
The Patterson Viaduct was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) as part of its Old Main Line during May to December 1829. The viaduct spanned the Patapsco River at Ilchester, Maryland. It was heavily damaged by a flood in 1866 and subsequently replaced with other structures.
Benjamin Henry Latrobe II was an American civil engineer, best known for his railway bridges, and a railway executive.
The Old Main Line Subdivision is a railroad line owned and operated by CSX Transportation in the U.S. state of Maryland. The line runs from Relay west to Point of Rocks, and was once the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, one of the oldest rail lines in the United States. At its east end, it has junctions with the Capital Subdivision and the Baltimore Terminal Subdivision; its west end has a junction with the Metropolitan Subdivision.
Philip Evan Thomas was the first president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) from 1827 to 1836. He has been referred to as "The Father of American Railways". The Thomas Viaduct bridge in Relay, Maryland, was named after him.
The Union Arch Bridge, also called the "Cabin John Bridge", is a historic masonry structure in Cabin John, Maryland. It was designed as part of the Washington Aqueduct. The bridge construction began in 1857 and was completed in 1864. The roadway surface was added later. The bridge was designed by Alfred Landon Rives, and built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers under the direction of Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs.
The Ellicott City Station in Ellicott City, Maryland, is the oldest remaining passenger train station in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. It was built in 1830 as the terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line from Baltimore to the town then called Ellicott's Mills, and a facility to service steam locomotives at the end of the 13-mile (21 km) run. The station, a National Historic Landmark, is now used as a museum.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Crossings at the Potomac River are a set of railroad bridges that span the Potomac River between Maryland Heights, Maryland and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the United States.
The Baltimore Terminal Subdivision is a railroad line owned and operated by CSX Transportation in the U.S. state of Maryland. The line runs from Baltimore to Halethorpe along the original Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) line, one of the oldest rail lines in the United States and the first passenger railroad line. At its east (north) end, it connects with the Philadelphia Subdivision; its west (south) end has a junction with the Capital Subdivision and the Old Main Line Subdivision.
"Mount Winans" is a mixed-use residential, commercial and industrial neighborhood in the southwestern area of the City of Baltimore in Maryland. Its north, south and east boundaries are marked by the various lines of track of the CSX Railroad. In addition, Hollins Ferry Road running to the south towards suburban Baltimore County in the southwest and further connecting with adjacent Anne Arundel County to the southeast, draws its western boundary.
Elkridge Landing was a Patapsco River seaport in Maryland, and is now part of Elkridge, Maryland. The historic Elkridge Furnace Inn site resides within the Patapsco Valley State Park.