Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jean Safrit
On Thursday, February 5th, the B&O Railroad Museum hosted a retirement luncheon in honor of Ms. Jean Safrit for her 21 years of dedicated service as executive secretary and office manager of the museum. Over 40 staff and volunteers turned out for Jean's special day.
Courtney Wilson inducts Ms. Safrit in Society of the Iron Horse                  

Courtney Wilson, Executive Director, first presented Jean with two gift cards from the staff along with a commemorative signed and framed photo of the B&O Roundhouse. However Jean had mentioned on several occasions that she desired to possess the very snowy image of the Roundhouse that was taken around 4:00 p.m. on February 16, 2003 just a few hours before the Roundhouse roof collapse. Jean got her wish and was presented with this second framed photo in remembrance of that eerie afternoon and how its outcome affected all of our lives and the Museum's future. Next Mr. Wilson inducted Jean into the museum's prestigious lifetime membership program, the Society of the Iron Horse, an honor never before presented to an employee.
Steve Madewell awards Jean with a token of the staff's appreciation

The ceremony concluded when Steve Madewell, Director of Education, presented Jean with his creation "The Wine Line" that represented all of the phone calls that Jean has handled on behalf of the Museum over the past 21 years.
Thank You Jean!
 Jean, you will be missed so much by all of us, however we are all relieved knowing that you will be back to answer the phone during this year's Day Out With Thomas. Thank goodness!
Happy Retirement Jean! You deserve it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

February 2015 Volunteer of the Month
Engineer Chris France

The B&O Railroad Museum is pleased to recognize Chris France as January 2015 Volunteer of the Month. Chris has been a volunteer for over 16 years and is an integral part of the museum's rail operations department. Since the departure of another one of the museum's engineers, Chris has stepped up and help cover many days on the train schedule. This is tough after working all week at his regular job. He has even covered trips during the middle of his work day which is a huge undertaking for him. His selflessness and love of the museum is easily seen.
Chris, thank you for sharing your time, talents, kindness, and love of trains. We are so fortunate to have you on our team! We could not do it without you!

Introduction by Dave Shackelford 
Today we expect a certain level of comfort when we travel. Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, we take for granted having access to Wi-Fi, the Internet, comfortable seating, perhaps a movie (or travel DVD player), but essential to most is heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Museum volunteer John Geist came across several tid-bits of information relating to the all-important quest to be first, and the public relations and advertising rhetoric of comfort used by railroads to promote their service. During a time when the majority of Americans traveled by train, any edge was an important selling point for choosing your route.
Who did it First?: Introducing Air Conditioning to Railroad Passenger Cars
by John Geist, Museum Archival Volunteer

The B&O's air conditioning test shed originally located behind the Museum's 1884 Passenger Car Roundhouse
Over the years, questions have arisen about which railroad first introduced air conditioning to passenger service. Let's look at what is known based on what the railroads said.

1. May 24, 1931: The B&O introduced air conditioned passenger cars on its Columbian, an all coach train that operated between Union Station in Washington and the Jersey City Terminal at the fast time of 4 hours and 28 minutes. (Source: Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, June 1931, page 8)

 2. April 20, 1932: The B&O introduced air conditioning on the all Pullman National Limited train operating between New York, Washington and St. Louis. (Source: Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, May 1932, inside cover)

3. May 22, 1932: The B&O introduced air conditioning on the Capitol Limited a sleeping car train that operated between New York, Washington and Chicago. (Source: Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, May 1932, inside cover)

4. April 1932: President of the C&O Railway, J. J. Bennett, stated in the C&O employee magazine that "The air cooled and air conditioned cars of The George Washington are truly unique - there is nothing just like them on any other railroad." (Source: Chesapeake & Ohio Employee Magazine, April 1932, page 2)

5. April 24, 1932: The C&O introduced air conditioning on The George Washington a train with both coach and Pullman service that operated between Washington, DC and Cincinnati OH. "It was the second fully air-conditioned long-distance train in the country, following the B&O's National Limited by only one week." (Source: C&O Dining Car 965, Gadsby's Tavern, brochure issued by the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society in fall 2009 at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Washington's Union Station)

Conclusion: While the C&O's president probably intended his claims about The George Washington's uniqueness on the basis of not only air conditioning and other features, it appears quite clear that the B&O was a recognized leader in air conditioning and first to offer it on both sleeping and coach trains.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

B&O Railroad Museum 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

The B&O Railroad Museum (Museum) in Baltimore, Maryland invites applications for its 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. The SURF will commence on or about June 15, 2015 and culminate with the submission of a paper no later than December 15, 2015. The Hays T. Watkins Research Library and Archive at the Museum will be made available for your use but Fellows will be expected to use other local, regional and national repositories as well.

One fellowship will be awarded in the six categories listed below. The stipend for each Fellowship is $2,000. One quarter of the stipend will be paid upon selection; the second quarter payment will be made on or around September 1, 2015 with the remainder of the stipend awarded upon submission of the research paper. The research paper should reflect the result of successful original primary and secondary source research conducted by the Fellow and be no less than 5,000 words. The Fellow will grant non-exclusive unlimited use of the research and research paper to the B&O Railroad Museum, Inc. including permission to publish the paper on the Museum's blog.

Designed to promote scholarship among college and university students in the United States the following categories of research are available.

The Charles and Mary Kay Nabit Fellowship in Early American Railroad History
Spans the period of 1750-1840 in American History.

The Brooke, McDonald and Company Fellowship in American Railroad Business Studies
Spans the period of 1825 to present in American History.

The Edward and Lynn St. John Fellowship in Railroad Engineering Studies
Spans the period of 1825 to present in American History.

The Samuel L. Waldschmidt Fellowship in American Railroad Labor Studies
Spans the period of 1840 to present in American History.
The B&O Railroad Museum Fellowship in African-American Railroad Studies
Spans the period of 1825 to present in American History.
The Eleanor Abell Owen Fellowship in Women's Railroad Studies
Spans the period of 1860 to present in American History.

Who may apply?
Any sophomore, junior or senior in an accredited undergraduate college or university in the United States.

How to apply?
Please submit your curriculum vitae, two letters of recommendation (from individuals familiar with your research and writing) and the Fellowship category for which your are applying. In addition submit a two to four page proposal describing your research project including your planned topic with a list of proposed repositories, other than the Hays T. Watkins Research Library and Archive at the B&O Railroad Museum where research will be conducted. Your proposal shall be created using Times New Roman 12 point font and 1" margins. 

Mail applications to:
B&O Railroad Museum
SURF Review Board
901 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21223
Email applications will be accepted if, and only if, the submission is presented as a PDF (*.pdf)
Email applications should be sent to:
Applications must be postmarked by April 10, 2015. Awards will be announced on May 15, 2015.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Courtney Wilson & Myrtle Johnson
Steve Madewell & Myrtle Johnson

On Thursday, November 20 the B&O Railroad Museum staff provided Myrtle Johnson with a surprise retirement brunch in appreciation for her 24 years of dedicated service to the museum. Courtney Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum, first provided Myrtle and the staff with a pop culture list of “What Was Happening in the World in 1990”, when Myrtle began her employment.  Myrtle was then presented a framed photo of the Roundhouse signed by all the B&O Staff, who also gave her a gift certificate in appreciation of her service and friendship. Mr. Wilson next presented on behalf of the staff and board of directors a cup and saucer of the B&O’s Centenary Blue China nestled inside an engraved wooden box. However it was the “golden broom” that director of education, Steve Madewell, made exclusively for Myrtle that symbolized how Myrtle’s hands have kept every surface of the museum shiny and clean for all of these years. Her dedication and love for this site reaches to infinity. Her daily presence will be missed by all who know and love her.  Happy Retirement Myrtle! We’ll miss you!

Friday, October 24, 2014

November 2014 Volunteer of the Month

The B&O Railroad Museum is pleased to recognize Garry Pace as the November 2014 Volunteer of the Month. Garry has been a volunteer for over 4 years and in this short time has made a big impact on the museum especially in the area of rail operations. Garry has just completed and is beginning training on new rules and procedures regarding rail operations. He is also in the process of obtaining his engineers' certification. You can find him with Railroad Engineer Dwayne McCoy switching cars, repairing track and locomotives or flagging the crossings. He and his wife also represented the museum at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroads Steel Wheels this past September. Thank you Garry for all of your time, talents, kindness, and love for history. We are so fortunate to have you on our team! We could not do it without you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mr. Masaki Ooshida, Director of The Railway Museum signs the affiliation agreement with Mr. Satoshi Seino, CEO of JR East looking on.
Mr. Kanji Yamanouchi, Minister of Economic Affairs, Embassy of Japan; Mayor of Baltimore, the Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; Mr. Courtney B. Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum; Mr. Masaki Ooshida, Director of The Railway Museum; Mr. Satoshi Seino, CEO of JR East and Mr. Francis X. Smyth, Chairman B&O Railroad Museum Board of Directors.

On Friday September 5, 2014 the B&O Railroad Museum signed a formal affiliations agreement with The Railway Museum in Saitama City, Japan just North of Tokyo. A press conference was held in the B&O’s historic Roundhouse and was attended by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations Harold Closter, B&O Board members, Executive Director Courtney Wilson and 12 delegates from Japan including the Minister for Economic Affairs and the Counselor of Transportation from the Embassy of Japan. Our Japanese guests also included the Director of The Railway Museum, the CEO of the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and other representatives from the Museum and JR East. A celebratory luncheon was held following the ceremony where Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough presented a Governor’s Citation to Mr. Satoshi Seino, Chairman of JR East and Chairman of the East Japan Railway Culture Foundation commemorating the new relationship.

The sisterhood agreement will enable the two museums to exchange collections, expertise, technology, personnel, education programs and best practices. In addition both museums will launch a marketing campaign to draw visitors East to West and West to East.

A plaque commemorating the affiliation was unveiled at the ceremony. B&O Board Chair Francis Smyth and Executive Director Courtney Wilson will visit The Railway Museum in Saitama City in the Fall of 2015 to officially unveil a similar plaque in the Japanese museum.

The event was covered widely by the media in both the United States and Japan.

Time Fischer’s work Trains Unlimited in the 21st Century recognized both the B&O and The Railway Museum in the Top Ten Railroad Museums in the world.

Please visit The Railway Museum’s website for further information: