Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The B&O Railroad Goes to War
Part 1: April - May 1917

On April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany and entered the First World War. The prospect of going to war had been very real since the war first broke out in 1914. While the United States had remained "neutral" for nearly three years, the nation was mobilizing - sending material overseas, building ships, and building up the military. This mobilization was extremely beneficial to the B&O Railroad. The total revenue increased with each year that the war went on.

Total Gross Earnings of the B&O Railroad: 
1914 - 1918






No sooner had the Declaration of War been signed by President Woodrow Wilson that American Railroaders began to mobilize for the war effort. The performance of railroads was critical to the success of the United States. In the following weeks the "Railroad War Board" was formed as a collective agency in which the nation's railroads could effectively operate. B&O President Daniel Willard began sending hundreds of telegrams to fellow railroad presidents across the country. On April 11, nearly seventy executives met for the first time as a part of this "War Board" at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C .

"Resolved, That the railroads of the United States, acting through their chief executive officers here and now assembled and stirred by a high sense of their opportunity to be of the greatest service to their country in the present national crisis do hereby pledge themselves, with the government of the United States, with the governments of the several States, and one with another, that during the present war they will coordinate all their operations in a continental railway system, merging during such period all their merely individual and competitive activities end they hereby agree to create an organization which shall have general authority to formulate in detail and from time to time a policy of operation of all or any of the railroads, which policy, when and as announced by such temporary organization, shall be accepted and earnestly made effective by the several managements of the individual railroad companies here represented."
In the first months of the war, no American industry gave more support to the war effort than the Railroads of the United States. Within two weeks of the declaration of war, 635 railroads gave over control to the Railroad War Board, uniting 260,000 miles of rail.

In those early weeks of the war the B&O ran dozens of troop trains. Many of these shuttled new recruits to newly created army camps. Several of these army "cantonments", as they were called, were directly serviced by the B&O Railroad, including the newly created Camp Meade in May 1917, as well as Camp Taylor, and Camp Sherman. Among the thousands of new recruits pouring into these camps in the first weeks of the war were several hundred B&O employees. In some cases, entire offices enlisted or were drafted.
American "Doughboys" stand on either side of the tracks at the railroad station at Camp Meade, circa 1917. In the background appears to be a row of box cars on a separate track. The newly constructed station is little more than a small shed. During World War I, around 400,000 soldiers trained at Camp Meade. The training facility also processed more than 20,000 horses and mules. This cantonment was directly served by the B&O Railroad.
 In addition to the B&O employees who joined the military, workers who remained in their positions at home signed up to have parts of their salary go towards the buying of war bonds. Others maintained "Victory Gardens" at home and along the B&O right-of-way in many instances. This was directly promoted by President Daniel Willard. As became fairly common during the war, the more women took up the jobs that men left behind. In just under four weeks, one hundred women filled positions for the B&O Railroad. At first these were mostly clerical and cleaning positions. Within a few months, however, women were working drill presses, assisted in the blacksmith shop and much more.
These are some of the first B&O women to fill jobs left by men following the Declaration of War. This group worked at the B&O shops in Lorain, Ohio.

On April 2, four days prior to the declaration of war, the workers at the Mount Clare Shops gathered to raise the American Flag. Several speeches were given and a large band played a series of well-known patriotic tunes. This "rally" was the first of many at the Mount Clare Shops in spring-summer 1917.

In the May Employee Magazine issue, the editor called a run from Washington to Chicago "perhaps the most important train movement, in point of public interest, made in the last fifty years over the Baltimore and Ohio was that of the special train carrying the French Mission..." In late April, both the British and the French traveled to the United States with the goal of visiting various historical sites, politicians, and military commanders to raise support for the war effort. The French Mission, traveled up and down the east coast, before heading west, ultimately meeting with General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

In the first two months of America's entry into World War I, the B&O Railroad performed as a leading railroad under the leadership of President Daniel Willard.

By Harrison Van Waes
B&O Railroad Museum

The B&O Railroad Goes to War is a multi-part blog series commemorating the centennial of American involvement in World War I. Follow along with this series through November 2018.


B&O Railroad Museum Archives.

Baltimore & Ohio Employee Magazine: February - June 1917.

Hungerford, Edward. The Story of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1987.

U.S. Army. "Fort Meade History." Accessed May 27, 2017.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Steel Giants dvd

We had the idea for this documentary one morning over breakfast and with six screaming kids. Actually, the idea was to make movies about things people loved and how they enjoyed spending their time. We wondered if hobbies were a dying pastime.

We quickly discovered that they were not, particularly in the railroading world where enthusiasts come from just about every age, race, class, and ethnicity demographic. The railroad is a unifying force, in more ways than one.
This project began where the first 13 miles of railroad in America ended - right across the street from the oldest surviving railroad station in America. There, at a coffee shop, we met with Courtney Wilson, executive director of the B&O Railroad Museum, to pitch the idea. With so much history and power and influence, there were a number of directions we could take with this film. But we all agreed that there were stories worth telling and details worth showing. The details would come.

Courtney Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum
When people heard we were making a documentary about trains - rather, locomotives - they would often respond with a personal story to tell: the time one woman rode a train in the mid-1950's from New York to Minnesota with her twelve siblings and ate candy bars all along the way; or the gentlemen who recalled the EM-1 that ran through his Maryland backyard most afternoons in the late 1940's. There was the young woman who talked of sitting on her grandparents' porch in the summer, barefoot and hot, watching as the trains roared and rattled by. And still today, children stop and take captive notice at the sound of a train whistle when it blows. Mr. Wilson, who also narrates the documentary, liked to tell us, "Every kid has a train gene." This film gives everyone that chance to be a kid again.

And while it evokes stories, the first American railroad has its own stories to tell, too. In this documentary, we highlight six locomotives considered central to the evolution of railroading in America. We detail why the locomotives were built and how, what problems they solved and others they might have created, and how they impacted our country and the world on a human, civic, economic, and industrial scale. The railroad was, in many ways, America's first internet - connecting people and communities, commerce and collaborations, ideas and opportunities in ways that were unimaginable prior to its existence. That becomes very apparent through these stories and their visual depiction.

Filming began on a hot July morning in 2016 and continued for seven sessions (and through three seasons) until December 2016. We arrived at each session by 7:30 a.m. and wrapped up by 10:00 a.m., ending before the museum opened to the public. With such a short window of time we had to be extremely efficient in our focus and in our filming. Mr. Wilson made this difficult circumstance very easy, even revealing a hidden talent in film narration. He will forever be referred to as One-take Courtney.

Steel Giants dvd

Whether you love trains or know someone who does, we are certain this film will be time well spent. Terrific pacing, visually beautiful, exceptional narration, and music come together to tell the emotional, powerful, and technical story of one of America's greatest innovations.

We'd love to hear your stories so be sure to find us on Facebook at ( or send us an email

Here's to being a kid again,

The Lark Media Group - Maureen & Pete Mirabito and Karin & Dan Hack

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

B&O Railroad Honors Simply Amish

Royalties from licensed collection benefit B&O Railroad Museum

Amish case goods manufacturer Simply Amish has been recognized by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore for its licensing initiatives that have brought both attention and royalties to the famed railroad operation.
This dining set is part of the B&O Railroad collection by Simply Amish.

B&O Railroad Museum Executive Director presented Simply Amish owner and executive Kevin Kauffman with an award for its B&O collection of bedroom, dining room and occasional pieces whose forms incorporate themes and design elements mirror elements of the iconic railroad. These include railroad spikes and arches that mimic early railroad bridges. Proceeds from the licensing agreement, including royalties received from Simply Amish support early childhood education programs at the railroad museum. These include the railroad's STEAM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

"Our award-winning Early Childhood programs consistently provide exceptional children's exhibits and experiences so that the community around us can engage and learn more in a unique setting," said Courtney Wilson, railroad museum executive director in a letter to Kauffman. "Last year alone, our programs touched more than 40,000 early learners." Wilson went on to say that the museum has an extensive collection of nearly 500 prints and paintings and more than 250,000 photos and tens of thousands of architectural and engineering drawings, historical maps and media materials.

"By using these historically relevant pieces in connection with our STEAM educational efforts, we are building, engaging and stimulating creative learning for young minds", Wilson said adding that the "royalites received through our licensing program with Simply Amish have been invaluable."

As part of the recognition, Kauffman received a wooden pen, whose wood was reclaimed from a steam locomotive that was destroyed in a roof collapse at the museum.

"Many of our Amish craftsman travel longer distances by rail," Kauffman noted. "We're all rail fans who marvel at the Western expansion of America, which was greatly aided by 19th century railroads."

Article by Thomas Russell, Associate Editor of Furniture Today

Thursday, February 23, 2017


What is a Mutual Benefit Association?

A simple definition of a "Mutual Benefit Association" is "a social organization which provides insurance to its members on an assessment basis"(1). A more complete definition reads: 

"A mutual benefit association means 'a corporation, society, order or association which has no capital stock, which issues certificates of membership providing for payment of benefits in case of sickness, disability or death of its members and which accumulates funds by the collection of fees or dues from its members, at either stated or irregular intervals, with which to discharge its liabilities on its membership certificates and with which to pay the administrative expenses."(2)

Mutual Benefit Associations in the United States

In 1930 the National Conference on Mutual Benefit Associations conducted a survey of all companies (some 1500) in the United States which were thought to have employees' organizations for sickness insurance. As shown in the following table from the report on the findings of that survey, among the 312 responding companies, eight reported Associations having been established more than 50 years earlier (i.e., prior to 1880). The largest group of respondents reported establishment during the preceding 10 - 14 years, i.e., between 1916 and 1930. (3)
An October 1991 article in the Monthly Labor Review commented

"The first of these associations were formed by employees of the mining and railroad industries. The hazardous nature of the jobs in these industries often made it impossible for individual employees to obtain life insurance coverage at affordable rates. As the mutual benefit associations in these industries succeeded in providing affordable coverage to their members, employees in other industries began to see the merits of organized efforts." (4)

The reason that employees in these industries would have to themselves seek to purchase life insurance was that virtually no employers of that era provided mechanisms that might assist their employees secure insurance protection. The prevailing ethic was that an employee was responsible for evaluating the risks in any job and to then make a decision to accept or reject the work knowing the risks.

Mutual Benefit Associations in the Railroad Industry

Within the American railroad industry, development and growth of mutual benefit associations can be traced back to at least 1864, as reported in a principal railroad newspaper, The Railroad Gazette. The oldest appears to be the Railway Passenger and Freight Conductors' Mutual Aid and Benefit Association (1864) followed by the Railway Employees' Mutual Benefit Association of the Northwest, Railroad Employees' Mutual Benefit Association, Railway Employes' Mutual Benefit Association of the West and the Boston and Albany Mutual Benefit Association, all in 1870.(5)

These extracts from The Railroad Gazette describe the origins of one of that early group:


To understand the mutual benefit association history within the railroad industry, it is important to recognize the economic and social history in which it occurred. Several key factors:
  1. The earliest associations were established by groups of employees of a particular railroad or of several geographically related railroads because most employers did not offer assistance in response to illness, injury or death.
  2. The memberships of the earliest associations were relatively small. For example, the largest membership in 1880 of the five associations noted above was 1,250.(8)
  3. The 1870's, when many of the pioneer mutual associations were being formed, were an extended period of economic depression in the United States. Wage reductions, very high rates of unemployment and vast reductions in industrial activity were prevalent. The railroad industry, having grown rapidly and expansively following the Civil War, was strongly impacted. Although the country was celebrating its Centennial year in 1876 with the grand Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the depression wore on relentlessly. The situation in the country and for many railroads (including the Baltimore & Ohio) is described by Robert V. Bruce in his book, 1877: Year of Violence, with these words:  "People had hoped, for no good reason, that the Centennial Year would be a turning point of the depression. It was not. In July 1877 Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman took some comfort form the sound position of the Treasury. But 'in regard to wages, rents, transportation, prices, and all questions of political economy which enter into the commonweal of the people' he wrote a friend, 'you can judge as well as I'". (9)
  4. What followed was the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, beginning on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on July 16, 1877 and lasting through the first days of August (see photo of cover of Frank Leslies's Illustrated for August 11, 1877 scenes depicting strike activity). The outcome - railroad workers returned to their jobs at the reduced rates of pay that led to the start of the strike.
 Establishment of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Employees' Relief Association

Despite the prevailing view at the time that employers were not responsible for the dangers and the resulting illnesses, injuries and deaths faced by their employees, exceptions did occur. The minutes of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Board of Directors meetings, as early as 1834, recorded instances of employer recognition of such employee problems and recorded situations where payments were made to families of injured and killed employees. (10) These early informal practices under which the Board considered each individual claim later led to establishment of more formal structures. The Invalid Fund (1844) and the Committee on Accidents (1853) were charged with handling claims for compensation as the result of accidents and deaths experienced by employees. (11, 12)

Much later, and following the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the minutes of a Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Board meeting in 1880 reflect the next action:

"The President (John Garrett) also stated that he was desirous of instituting a system of Life Insurance, with special advantages for the employes of the Company. The Third Vice President (Robert Garrett), having been sometime past engaged in preparing for an organization, based to some extent upon the plans of those of the Railroad Companies of Great Britain, France and Germany, hoped to be able to present the form at an early meeting of the Board." (13)

One month later:

The President (John Garrett) stated to the Board that the plan for the establishment of a Relief Association for the benefit of the employees of the Baltimore and Ohio Company, to which he had heretofore referred, had been so far prepared by the Third Vice President (Robert Garrett) as to be ready for submission.

After full reflection on the subject, President (John Garrett) stated that he had determined to recommend to the Board that an appropriation of $6,000 per year (being the equivalent to six percent on $100,000) should be made by the Company as part of the basis and capital of the fund.

He suggested that the proposition and plan be referred to the Committee on Finance, with power, so that, as soon as the details would be properly perfected, the Association should be organized and placed in operation.

On motion of Mr. Nicholas, seconded by Mr. Chancellor, the recommendation and suggestion of the President were adopted, and the entire subject referred by unanimous vote to the Finance Committee with power. (14)

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Relief Department was inaugurated on May 1, 1880 with Dr. W. T. Barnard serving as Secretary (Director). The initial page of the original Constitution is show below. (15) Subsequently, the Maryland General Assembly granted a charter to the Association on May 3, 1882 (however, this charter was rescinded by the General Assembly effective April 1, 1889 in response to employee objections to the fact that they were required to participate in the relief program and pay assessments.) (16) In response, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad established the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Relief Department as successor to the Relief Association that same year. (17)
Growth and Change within the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Relief Program

The first annual report of the B&O Relief Association, in 1881, reported membership of 14,439. (18) By 1890, although required membership had been eliminated in 1889, membership had grown to almost 22,000. (19) This result may be explained in part through growth in Baltimore & Ohio Railroad employment and, in part, by general satisfaction with the program among most employees.

In addition to the growth in membership, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad program rapidly expanded the services offered to members. The original benefits offered included: (20)
  • Surgical attendance when injured by accidents while in service to the railroad. The first Annual Report to the Relief Association included the list of hospitals (shown below) available to Baltimore & Ohio Railroad employees requiring surgical care. (21)
  • Cash benefit while unable to work because of injury due to accidents while in service to the railroad
  • Cash benefit due to injury or sickness arising from causes other than accidents occurring while in service to the railroad
  • Cash benefit to a designated beneficiary or legal representative when death occurred in service to the railroad or within six months of an accident occurring while in service to the railroad
  • Cash benefit to a designated beneficiary or legal representative upon death (excluding suicide, capital punishment) not associated with an accident or service to the railroad
In addition to the accident, sickness and death benefit program, the Relief Department offered an Annuity Fund to provide a future retirement benefit at age 65. Employees were permitted to contribute as much as they desired. If a member died before age 65, payment of accumulated contributions plus one-half more were paid to a beneficiary or designated representative.

The 2nd Annual Report of the Relief Association, issued October 1, 1882, reported the addition of two features effective July 1, 1881, the Savings Fund and the Building Association, with this explanation:

"the objects for which these new features were established were briefly defined in the prospectus to be 'the encouragement of habits of prudence, economy and thrift, by placing within the reach of every employee of the Railroad Company, upon the simplest and most advantageous terms compatible with proper security all the benefits derivable from the safest and most liberal savings institutions of the country, and from the best conducted building societies. To this end each officer or employee of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, who has been a subscriber to the relief features of the Association for the immediately preceding three months, or his wife, may deposit in the Savings Fund, in the manner and under the regulations set forth in the by-laws, any sum not less than one dollar nor more than one hundred dollars in any one day. The money thus accumulated will be invested and managed for the benefit of depositors'. (22)

Issues of the Baltimore & Ohio employee magazine contained advertisements encouraging employees to make use of the Savings Fund feature for buying a home or other purposes. (23)
The Fourth Annual Report of the Relief Association, issued on October 1, 1884, reported the addition of a Superannuation or Pension Feature, effective October 1, 1884. Under this feature, an employee with at least ten years' service with the Railroad who was experiencing total disability preventing continued employment on reaching the age of sixty may be relieved from duty or having reached sixty-five may elect to retire. The cost of this benefit was totally underwritten by the Railroad.

The Annual Report of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for 1926 states:

"While heretofore your Company has shared in the expense of the administration of the Relief and Savings Features, under resolution of the Board of Directors, effective October 1, 1926, your Company assumes the entire operating expense of these features, so that the employees will, directly and indirectly, receive full benefits of all contributions and earnings without any deduction for expense of operation." (24)

Was the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Relief Department a First?

The action of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Board of Directors to create the Relief Association (later the Relief Department) is generally recognized as the first such action by an American railroad by reliable sources. Emory R. Johnson, Professor, University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College, in an 1890 paper presented to the American Academy of Political and Social Science, wrote:

"The first railroad company in the United States to established an organization for the administration of an employee's relief fund was the Baltimore & Ohio, whose organized relief work dates from May 1, 1880. The man to whose instrumentality the establishment of the association was chiefly due was Dr. W. T. Barnard, of Baltimore, a man actuated by a strong desire to bring about a better relationship between the railroad companies and their employes....The idea of a relief association antedated 1880. According to Mr. J. A. Anderson, Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Relief Department, the employes of that road had as early as 1876 expressed a desire that the company should provide some plan of this kind. Thereafter, the matter was taken up from time to time by that company, although without success until 1886. In England, indeed, the railroad companies had been organizing relief associations since 1850. In Canada, the Grand Trunk Railway organized an employee's Accident Insurance Association in 1873, and the plan adopted by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was worked out by Dr. Barnard after he made a thorough examination of benevolent railway organizations in Continental Europe, Great Britain and Canada." (25)

This view was corroborated by W. H. Baldwin, Jr., President of the Long Island Railroad Company, in an 1899 paper with the title "Railroad Relief and Beneficiary Associations", presented to the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, stated:

"The first formal recognition by the railroads of the need of providing means of relief for accident, death, and sickness for employees in all departments was made by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company in the formation of the Baltimore & Ohio Employes Relief Association in May 1880. A similar organization was formed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company on February 15, 1886; by the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad on March 15, 1889 and by various other companies at divers times, so that today about fifteen per cent of the employees of the railroad in the United States are provided for, through relief associations as departments of railroad organizations." (26)

However, it has been suggested that the action of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad emulated that of the Pullman Company, a manufacturer of railroad cars in Chicago. (27) Another historian, writing a history of the Pullman Company, states:

In May 1873, he (George Pullman) had his brother Albert charter the Pullman Mutual Benefit Association. Employees who joined paid an initiation fee of two dollars and were taxed a dollar upon the death of a member with the funds providing for the family of the deceased. Two months earlier, Pullman had announced plans for the construction of a company building which included unusual facilities for employees. A restaurant would furnish a 'cheap and convenient place for the working get their dinner and to cultivate a society...of harmony and good feeling.' In addition there were to be bathing facilities, a library, and family rooms. 

Actually the building was not constructed until ten years later. (28)

Differences between the Earlier Employee Associations and those Established by Railroads  

Despite the differences in membership size between the early employee organized mutual benefit associations and those later organized by companies, the ultimate goal of both was to provide financial support for the families of railroad employees injured or killed in service through forms of social insurance. The employee efforts were initiated because employers would not do so at that time. These associations, though employment based, were somewhat akin to the benevolent aid societies created in American communities during similar periods of time by virtually every immigrant group arriving in the United States.

The railroad sponsored and supported programs, on the other hand, were motivated by multiple goals:
  • Desire to resist and counter unionization of employees and reduce the danger of additional major railroad strikes
  • Desire to avoid the full cost of payments to families for in-service injuries and deaths
  • Belief that employees should themselves contribute to injury and death benefits
  • Beginning acceptance of the view that that employers had at least a minimal responsibility for the needs of the families of their employees because many of the jobs were dirty and dangerous
  • Perhaps a slight beginning of recognition that employees, as human beings, were entitled to help and support from their employer because they represented more than just cogs in the industrial machine
John Geist, Archives Volunteer, B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore MD, July 2016

1-Google, USLegal, Law and Legal Definition,, April 2015
2-State of Delaware, 18 Del. C 5502
3-Brundage, Dean K, September 4, 1931 "A Survey of the Work of Employee's Mutual Benefit Associations", United States Public Health Service
4-Bucci, Michael, October 1991, "Growth of Employer-Sponsored Group Life Insurance", Monthly Labor Review, 25
5-The Railroad Gazette, beginning in issues from 1871, B&O Railroad Museum archives
6-Ibid, March 11, 1871, 561
7-Ibid, March 18, 1871, 585
8-Ibid, beginning in issues from 1871
9-Bruce, Robert V., 1959, 1877: Year of Violence, Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill Company
10-B&O Railroad Board of Directors, Minutes, Volume C, July 17, 1834, 238, B&O Railroad Museum
11-Ibid, Volume E, June 5, 1884, 171
12-Ibid, Volume G, December 14, 1853, 298
13-Ibid, Volume J, February 11, 1880, 379
14-Ibid, Volume j, March 10, 1880, 393
15-B&O Railroad Relief Association, April 30, 1881, First Annual Report, 76
16-Baltimore Sun, March 29, 1888, 5
17-B&O Railroad Company, September 30, 1889, 63rd Annual Report, 8
18-B&O Railroad Relief Association, April 30, 1881, First Annual Report, 8
19-B&O Railroad Relief Department, October 1, 1890, Second Annual Report, 4
20-B&O Employees Relief Association, April 30, 1881, First Annual Report
21-Ibid, 75
22-B&O Relief Department, October 1, 1881, Second Annual Report, 16
23-Baltimore & Ohio Employes Magazine, March 1916, 4
24-Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 1926, Annual Report, 10
25-Johnson, Emory R., November 1895, Railway Departments for the Relief and Insurance of Employes, 59-70
26-Baldwin, Jr., W. H., December 1899, Railroad Relief and Beneficiary Associations, 216
27-Barry, Bill, 2014, The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore, CreateSpace Publishing, Baltimore, 174
28-Buder, Stanley, 1967, Pullman, Oxford University Press, 32

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Major Harry Gilmor

On February 11, 1864, Major Harry Gilmor of the Confederate Army conducted his first of two war-time strikes against the B&O Railroad. Major General J.E.B. Stuart ordered Gilmor's command to split the B&O line, with the objective of preventing Union forces from moving eastward to reinforce the Army of the Potomac. Gilmor chose 28 men under his command to carry out the mission. He chose a halfway point between Duffield's Depot and Kearneysville, two stops along the B&O line in West Virginia, to carry out his mission.
Gilmor during the Civil War
The small confederate force was unable to dismantle the securely fastened track, so they laid down fence rails and logs to derail the next train. The B&O Engineer who sighted the timbers on the track tried to come to a stop in time, but was unsuccessful. Fortunately the engine slowed down enough to the point where it gently hopped off the rails, remaining largely undamaged. Despite explicit orders not to rob anyone on the train, Gilmor's men removed the passengers of their pocket watches and wallets. Gilmor was unable to break into the large iron safe located in the baggage car. With the threat of capture behind enemy lines, Gilmor's force fled before the arrival of federal troops.
Harry Gilmor, circa 1875
In the post-war, Gilmor had a brief stint as a commander of cavalry in the Maryland National Guard. In 1874 Gilmor became a Baltimore City Police Commissioner. In July 1877 Gilmor would find himself leading mounted police at Camden Station in Baltimore during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Thirteen years after leading an attack on a B&O train, he defended B&O Railroad property around the city.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rifleman's powder horn measuring 14.5" overall depicting an early train

Recently the museum acquired by purchase a rare and unique object from the earliest days of American railroading. Presented here is a rifleman's gunpowder horn scrimshawed with an early depiction of a train. Scrimshawed powder horns used by the common man on the early American frontier are not that uncommon. Depictions of towns, ships, flowers and trees, figures, flags and other man made and natural elements are typical designs. While some horns were decorated by professional carvers, most were scrimshawed by amateur hands, like this one, using a simple knife or other sharp tool.

Close-up view of the scrimshawed train showing detail 

Detail of the carved locomotive and building
This horn displays a number of decorative elements including sailing ships, buildings,a fortress, and some floral designs but the preeminent feature is the locomotive, tender and 4 railroad cars. Running nearly the entire length of one side the train is bookended by a large archway and a small two story building with a flagpole. 

Early sailing ships carved on the opposite side of the horn
The unknown carver included a high level of detail including passengers in the cars, the engineer and fireman on the locomotives and the iron spokes in the wheels. The locomotive design is typically British and dates to the period 1830-40 which also dates the powder horn to that period.

When the English railway the Stockton and Darlington opened in 1825 and the B&O Railroad ran its first steam locomotive in 1830 a "railroad craze" began that would last nearly a decade. Following the early success of the B&O, when railroads were being built with great fervor we see locomotives and trains depicted on bottles, porcelain plates, in textiles, art works and in popular culture throughout. The earliest designs illustrated British type trains since those images were most readily available. Indeed railroad decorated works were being imported to the United States from England as well to feed the hungry souvenir market. 

A powder horn, however, was a very personal object. One used every day for hunting on the frontier and, of course, for protecting one's family in early America. Obviously the owner of this horn, most likely the carver too, got caught up in the railroad craze himself.

We are very pleased to have this in our world class collection and to be able to preserve this piece of early American railroading for future generations. We will, likely, never see another. Without your generous support this would not be possible.

Thank you,
Courtney B. Wilson
Executive Director

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New Exhibit in the Newly Restored 
No. 908 "John T. Collinson" Office Railcar
On Saturday, June 11 the B&O Railroad Museum unveiled the newly restored No. 908 "John T. Collinson" Office Railcar. To honor this occasion, John Collinson's daughter, Nancy Collinson McGinty and Hays T. Watkins, close friend of Collinson and former Chessie System and CSX Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the B&O Railroad Museum cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Left to Right: Hays T. Watkins, Nancy Collinson McGinty & Dave Shackelford   

McGinty Family
Watkins Family
This new exhibit, that honors two great railroaders, John Collinson and Olive Dennis, will now be open for "white glove tours". It features information, artifacts, and video relating to the history of the office car and the contributions of John Collinson to railroading. Components also focus on the contributions, Olive Dennis, the B&O's first female civil engineer, made to passenger car service.
John Collinson
Olive Dennis
John Theodore Collinson was a fourth-generation railroader who rose through the ranks to head several of the most significant railroads in America. During his career he would lead the B&O Railroad, C&O Railway, the Chessie System and Seaboard System. He would oversee the merger of the Chessie and Seaboard Systems into CSX and retire as vice chairman of CSX Corporation in 1987 after a 41-year career that began with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Olive Wetzel Dennis was a pioneering woman, the B&O's first female civil engineer, and one of the most significant women in railroading history. She was an exceptional engineer and contributed greatly to improving the comfort of passenger travel during her career with the B&O. She is also known for designing the B&O's famous Centenary pattern china in 1926.

The No. 908 is a true railroading gem that was built in 1917 as an all-wooden office car for the Chicago & Alton Railroad and numbered No. 503. As built, the car had four staterooms, a dining area next to the observation area, and kitchen at the far end of the car. In 1926, the No. 503 was rebuilt with the addition of a steel under-frame and riveted steel body. Five years later, the Chicago & Alton Railroad became a subsidiary of the Baltimore & Ohio and No. 503 was renumbered as No. 922 to most-likely fit with the then current numbering scheme for B&O office cars. The B&O acquired outright ownership of the car in 1945, and it received a make-over at the Mt. Clare shops. An air conditioning unit and new roller-bearing trucks were added, it was modified from four to three staterooms, and the car was renumbered as the No. 908. It was assigned to the Chief Engineer maintenance of way. It was sold in 1967 and had private owners and was eventually donated to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in 1990. 

In 1992, the No. 908 was named after John T. Collinson. Mr. Collinson had been assigned the car for his use in the 1960s. He was a strong supporter of the B&O Railroad Museum and served on its board of directors. The No. 908 is dedicated in his memory. 

The restoration of the "John T. Collinson" was made possible by the generosity of Nancy McGinty, Hays T. Watkins, and The Roz and Marvin H Weiner Family Foundation.