Frederick Branch (Baltimore and Ohio Railroad)

Original Frederick freight station on South Carroll Street, built 1832, from a 1906 photo. The building was demolished in 1911.

The Frederick Branch is a railroad line in Frederick County, Maryland. It was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in 1831, and is now owned by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).[1] The 3.4 mi (5.5 km) branch extends between Frederick Junction – a wye with the Old Main Line Subdivision of CSX Transportation on the west side of the Monocacy River – and its terminus at East Street in downtown Frederick, Maryland. The wye at Frederick Junction was the first example of its kind in the United States[citation needed] and is still in use today.

President Abraham Lincoln giving an address in Frederick on October 4, 1862, next to the station built in 1854, at East All Saints and Market Streets.



The branch opened in December 1831 with a ceremonial train, pulled by horses, carrying directors of the B&O and various politicians from Baltimore. In planning the route of the Old Main Line, the B&O decided against building the main line directly through Frederick, preferring instead to take advantage of a valley grade to the south of the city. The city's first train station, built in 1832 at South Carroll Street, was the B&O's second oldest permanent station, and was used mainly for freight.[2]:27-28 A new passenger depot was built in 1854 at East All Saints and Market Streets, and the old station continued as a freight station until c. 1910. A station at Frederick Junction was opened after the Civil War and operated through the World War II era.[citation needed]

The branch was initially used by the many mills in the city to rapidly ship flour to Baltimore for sale. Outbound freight traffic later diversified to include milk, bricks, limestone, and some manufactured goods from Frederick.

The branch connected with two other railroads in downtown Frederick: the Pennsylvania Railroad connected near East Street and South Street, and the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway connected near the small B&O rail yard and terminal along South Street.[3]:257-8

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, traffic on the Frederick Branch decreased. In 1933, the B&O began using gas-electric rail cars to operate its commuter trains between Frederick and Baltimore.[3]:265 Passenger service lasted until November 1949, and the branch gradually fell into disuse as local business customers switched to trucks to ship their products.[citation needed]

In 1987, the B&O assets, including the Frederick Branch, were acquired by CSX.[4] As of 2012, the only remaining freight customer on the branch was Willard Agri Services of Frederick, located on Wisner Street.[citation needed]

MARC commuter serviceEdit

The 1854 station, in a 1970 photo. The B&O closed the station in 1948.

In December 2001, passenger trains returned to Frederick with the launch of MARC Brunswick Line Frederick branch service.[5] The Maryland Transit Administration funded upgrades to the Frederick Branch and to 9.9 mi (15.9 km) of the Old Main Line between Frederick Junction and Point of Rocks, Maryland.[6] MDOT purchased the Frederick Branch from CSX and realigned the wye track at Frederick Junction.[7] Two new passenger stations were constructed: Frederick Station near the branch's original terminus at South Street, and Monocacy Station, which is behind a shopping center near Frederick Junction.[citation needed] A small yard with capacity for three train sets was also constructed along Reichs Ford Road.


  1. ^ CSX Transportation, Baltimore, MD (2005). "Frederick Branch (Maryland Dept. of Transportation Ownership)." Baltimore Division; Timetable No. 4.
  2. ^ Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1979). Impossible Challenge: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Barnard, Roberts. ISBN 0-934118-17-5.
  3. ^ a b Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1994). Impossible Challenge II: Baltimore to Washington and Harpers Ferry from 1828 to 1994. Baltimore: Barnard, Roberts. ISBN 0-934118-22-1.
  4. ^ CSX Transportation. "Our Evolution and History." Archived October 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Interactive timeline. Accessed 2013-06-28.
  5. ^ Barry, Sean (2001-12-17). "MARC trains ready to roll; Passenger rail service returns to Frederick after 50 years". Frederick Post.
  6. ^ Maryland Transit Administration. Baltimore, MD (2003). "Project: MARC Frederick Extension." Accessed 2010-03-01.
  7. ^ Maryland Department of Transportation, Hanover, MD (2009). "High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program; Application Form; BWI Improvements (construction)." p. 11.

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