Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

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The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (reporting mark BO) was the first common carrier and Class I railroad in the U.S. as well as one of the oldest. During its peak years, the railroad extended as far east as Staten Island and as far west as Illinois. [1]
The Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road Company, Americas first common carrier, was chartered on February 28th 1827 by a group of Baltimore businessmen to ensure traffic would not be lost to the proposed Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. [2]

History[edit | edit source]

Years of operation: 1828–1987; length 5,658 miles; Headquarters:Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) was not the first railroad in the U.S., but it was the first common carrier railroad, the first to offer scheduled freight and passenger service to the public. The most important U.S. seaports in the early 1800s were Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston, South Carolina. Baltimore had an advantage in being farther inland than the others, located almost at the head of navigation on Chesapeake Bay, the estuary of the Susquehanna River. Baltimore responded to the competition of the other cities by chartering the B&O Railroad on February 28, 1827. The B&O was to build a railroad from Baltimore to a suitable point on the Ohio River. Ground was broken for the railroad with great celebration of July 4, 1828. The first stone was laid by 90-year-old Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Maryland, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. A route was laid out to follow the Patapsco and Monocacy rivers to the Potomac, and work began. The line was opened for scheduled service to Ellicott's Mills (renamed Ellicott City) on May 24, 1830. On December 1, 1831, the road was opened to Frederick, 60 miles (97 km). The B&O opened a branch from Relay, Maryland (then called Washington Junction) to Washington in August 1835, crossing the Patapsco River on the Thomas Viaduct, one of the B&O's signature structures. Two years later a bridge was completed across the Potomac to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (then part of Virginia; the separation of the western portion of Virginia did not occur until 1863). At Harpers Ferry the B&O connected with the Winchester and Potomac Railroad, thus forming the first junction of two railroad companies in the U.S. The line continued west through Cumberland, Maryland to Grafton, West Virginia, where it turned northwest to reach the goal of its charter at Wheeling, West Virginia, 379 miles (610 km) from Baltimore, on January 1, 1853, almost 25 years after commencing construction. Another line was pushed west from Grafton to reach the Ohio River at Parkersburg, West Virginia in 1856.
The Baltimore & Ohio & Chicago, built west to Chicago between 1872 and 1874. [3]

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Historical Society]

Historical Society Archives]

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