Monday, February 12, 2018



By the end of 1917 the railroad system in the United States had experienced massive change. On December 28, the government took full control over the railroads, forming the United States Railroad Administration (USRA). President Daniel Willard of the B&O Railroad, an obvious choice of many to be the Director-General of this new organization, was not considered by President Woodrow Wilson. It was no secret that Willard was in opposition to federal control of the railroads. He made great strides with his fellow railroad presidents, organizing the Railroad War Board, in an effort to avoid federal takeover. The two men also shared differing political ideologies, which was likely a factor in Willard's non consideration. Instead, this position went to Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo.
Here is a USRA - B&O Telegram, ca. October 1918 - January 1919. While the B&O still operated their railroad, they were under the complete control of the USRA. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection]

Within days of the USRA formation, William G. McAdoo went to work, establishing a Railway Wage Commission. By February, the group of six began hearing the petitions of railroad workers. Despite the successes of the Adamson Act in 1916, employees were still seeking wage increases, specifically time-and-a-half pay. The lowest paid workers ultimately received a $20 monthly wage increase, while middle to higher level employees received respective increases of 30-40%. These would not go in effect until May 25, but were retroactive to January 1, 1918. Railroad workers won massive victories through pre-war legislation and the USRA.
Railway Wage Commission, created January 18, 1918 by Director-General of Railroads. Seated: J.H. Covington, Franklin K. Lane, Charles C. McChord, and William R. Wilcox. Standing: W.A. Ryan, F.W. Lehman [Harry & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress]
Despite being passed up for the top executive position in the new USRA, along with his dislike of a federalized railroad system, Willard was nothing but supportive of the effort for the rest of the war. [B&O Railroad Museum Collection] 
It was not until January 1918 that word got back to the B&O of their first employee loss of the war. In 1910, John E. White worked as a car cleaner and fireman for the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company (SIRT), a major partner that was also leased by the B&O. White left the company to serve in the Army's Coast Artillery Corps, taking part in the Mexico Expedition of 1916. Upon his return, he was rehired as a freight trainman. When WWI broke out he left the company once again. On December 23, 1917, White died of a gunshot wound "somewhere in France". He was fondly remembered by his B&O family and was the first of many employees lost during the war.
[B&O Railroad Museum Collection]
Additional news from former B&O employee Charles A. Trageser reached the B&O in February 1918. Trageser first began working for the company as a messenger boy out of Camden Station. Up until December 1917, Trageser was working for the Bureau of Rates of Pay. He enlisted in Company D, 6th Battalion, 20th Engineers, and worked as a stenographer. On February 5, 1918, Trageser was aboard the SS Tuscania off of the Irish coast, when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German Submarine UB-77. Around 210 people died during the sinking, but Trageser survived, going on to serve in France.
[ B&O Railroad Museum Collection ]
Late 1917 - early 1918 was the beginning of a massive transition for the B&O. The company handed over control to the USRA, saw additional men leave by the dozens each month for the military, only to be replaced by an increasing number of women in the workplace. The year 1918 would test the company more than at any time since the American Civil War.

By Harrison Van Waes
Curator, 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 [ December 1917 - February 1918 ]

"History." The National Tuscania Memorial. Accessed: January 30, 2018.

Stover, John F. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1987.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The fall of 1917 was a time of difficulty for American railroads. Large traffic jams caused by troops and supply trains bound for eastern ports became a major problem. To make matters worse large snow storms hit the United States in the fall and winter. Daniel Willard, President of the B&O Railroad, estimated that more was spent by the company on snow removal that year than in any of the previous six winters.

In addition to problems with the national railroad system, and within the B&O itself, September brought about some additional challenging events for Daniel Willard. He and his wife had to say goodbye to their son Daniel Willard Jr., who was serving as a Lieutenant with the 102nd Field Artillery, 51st Brigade, 26th Division, U.S. Army. Willard Jr. and the rest of the 26th Division arrived in France on September 21, the second American Division to arrive in France since the declaration of war. On September 24, Charles W. Wright, who served as the personal cook for President Willard on his office car, was tragically killed at the Union Station yard in Baltimore. Wright and Willard had known each other for many years and became close friends.

Charles W. Wright began working for the B&O in 1884 as the head butler for President John W. Garrett. He worked in a similar capacity for other management officials over the years until Willard became President in 1910. For the next seven years he served as the head cook aboard B&O No. 99, Willard's personal office car.

"To subscribe to the Liberty Loan is to perform a service of patriotism." - President Woodrow Wilson
During the month of October, the B&O was focused on urging employees to participate in the second Liberty Loan of the war. A surge of employees left the company to enlist or were drafted into the military. An accounting of employees who had gone off to war in the first seven months was taken on October 31.
This table shows employees who left for the military, April 1-October 31, 1917.
Back in June the first troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) landed in France. But it would not be until November that the first American units would engage the enemy in battle. During the battle of Cambrai, three Engineer regiments, supporting the British Third Army, would transport tanks and supplies in and around the town of Fins. The 11th Engineers (Standard Gauge), 12th Engineers (Light Railway), and 14th Engineers (Light Railway) made up the supporting American force. During a German counterattack the 11th Engineers sustained a dozen casualties, with the 14th sustaining around five casualties. While only playing a minor role in the fighting, American railroaders showed their worth in the largest tank battle in history up to that point.
American railroad units at the Battle of Cambrai transported more than 400 British tanks. Image is from the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

Also that fall, the Employee Magazine illustrated a surge in propaganda for the B&O's "Safety First" campaign, which focused on safe working habits and conditions for all employees. A capitol dome logo for the campaign was painted or embossed on everything from signs to locomotives. The appearances of locomotives were altered to reflect not just the campaign, but American symbolism as well.
B&O No. 5107 featuring newly painted patriotic symbols and "Safety First" locomotive emblem, ca. October 1917.
Pictured is one of the special "Safety First" locomotive emblems that were produced and installed during the World War I era. Object is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum.

In November, Daniel Willard would be appointed Chairman of the War Industries Board by Woodrow Wilson. The WIB would aid in coordinating the purchasing and allotment of supplies to the Army and Navy during the war. Willard sits on the far left.
By Harrison Van Waes
Curator, 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: September - November 1917.

Barlow, Aaron. Doughboys on the Western Front: Memories of American Soldiers in the Great War. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2016.

Brosnan, Matt. "How the Battle of Cambrai Changed Fighting Tactics On The Western Front." Imperial War Museums. Accessed: November 10, 2017.

Hungerford, Edward. Daniel Willard Rides the Line. New York: Putnam, 1938.

Stover, John F. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1987.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


The B&O Railroad Museum is thrilled to announce the acquisition of an extremely rare piece of B&O Centenary China. In 1927, the B&O Railroad put in the first order of its famous blue Centenary patterned china. This china was produced by a number of manufacturers as recently as the 1990s. Today it remains on of the most collectable B&O Railroad items around. 
Pictured above is an early example of B&O Centenary China. This plate was produced by Scammell's Lamberton, ca. 1927-1930.

In the late 1930s three major china manufacturers produced off color samples of the already popular Centenary pattern china. During this period, Scrammell's Lamberton, Buffalo Pottery, and Shenango brought their samples to the B&O Railroad and pitched the idea of having different colored china to supplement the blue pattern. The B&O ordered one of these new colors in August 1937 from Scammell's Lamberton; however, the order was cancelled as a cost cutting measure. Today, one pink and two black Scammell's Lamberton sample plates are known to exist.

Between 1937 and 1939, the B&O ordered a single run of blue Centenary China from the Buffalo Pottery Company. B&O management disliked the quality of this run and requested no further orders from Buffalo. Like Scammell's Lamberton, Buffalo also produced sample off color plates of the centenary pattern to pitch to the B&O. This idea was once again rejected. Today, one pink, one black, and one green Buffalo sample plates are known to exist.

Shenango China of New Castle, Pennsylvania became the sole producer of Centenary China by the late 1950s. As early as 1949, the B&O began to place orders for the blue Centenary pattern with Shenango. Additional off color sample plates emerged from this company. Today, two pink Shenango sample plates are known to exist.

Around the border of Centenary pattern plates are illustrations of significant locomotives from the B&O's history, beginning with the 1830 Horse Drawn Car and ending with the 1937 streamlined Diesel Electric B&O No. 51. The illustration of the No. 51 did not become a part of the pattern until around mid-1942. Both of the existing pink samples plates produced by Shenango have the original design, without the B&O No. 51 illustration. It is believed each was produced between 1938 and 1939.

Both of the known pink Shenango sample plates have spent time at the B&O Railroad Museum in recent years. One was loaned to the museum and displayed in the Dinner in the Diner Exhibition from 2011-2013. The other sample, from a different private collection, was loaned to the museum and exhibited from 2014 to April 2017. The B&O Railroad Museum acquired this second plate November 2017.

The 9-inch pink luncheon plate, produced by the Shenango China Company, will go on display in the Dinner in the Diner Exhibition in December 2017.

The pink B&O Centenary pattern sample plate, produced by Shenango China, ca. 1938. It will go on exhibit in December 2017.

The backside of the plate features the Shenango China logo. On the upper left of the plate near the rim is the number "22". This is a manufacturer's number of some kind and does not indicate a quantity of "22". Both of the known Shenango examples have the same number.

by Harrison Van Waes
Curator, B&O Railroad Museum

Thursday, October 19, 2017


On October 7, 2017 the B&O Railroad Museum was presented with two prestigious achievement awards at the Fall Conference of the Heritage Rail Alliance in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first award, the 2017 Significant Achievement Award, was accepted by Travis Harry, Director of Operations, on behalf of the B&O Railroad Museum's restoration staff for the outstanding restoration work of Civil War locomotive, B&O #25 the "William Mason".

B&O #25 "William Mason" 
The restoration of B&O #25 represents one of the highest achievements of the Museum's restoration program. The Museum's restoration staff, George Harwood, Justin Simmons, and skilled volunteers, worked diligently over a three year period to restore this beloved locomotive back to its 1856 livery.

The second award accepted by Mr. Harry on behalf of the B&O Railroad Museum was presented by Rail Events, franchise owner of the very popular holiday family event, THE POLAR EXPRESS train ride. This award was granted to the Museum for producing the largest growth in guest attendance and revenue in 2016 in its second consecutive year in hosting the event.
Staff of the B&O are very excited about receiving these awards but know that without the support of Museum members and supporters, these awards would not have been possible. THANK YOU!

Friday, August 4, 2017

The B&O Railroad Goes to War
Part II: June - August 1917

The nation's railroads were mobilized and working together to send men and supplies to Europe. In June 1917, the first Americans set foot on French soil. Troops and supplies were being sent en masse to the east coast of the United States. In the month of June alone, the B&O transported 91 troop trains, carrying soldiers headed for France. From July 1916 - July 1917 the B&O transported thousands of soldiers on 644 troop trains.
In this image soldiers stand next to a B&O Railroad Troop Train. On the second and third car, soldier's heads can be seen hanging out all while waving. Scenes like this were common all along the B&O during World War I. On June 29, 1917, in a speech by Daniel Willard to upper management: "While we have troop trains to move, they are to have the right of way over everything except a train carrying the President of the United States. We will stop everything - freight trains, passenger trains - everything will give way to the steady and comfortable movement of the troops."  Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. 1916-1918.

Also in June, the B&O continued in its efforts to encourage their employees to support the war effort. In the United States Liberty Loan of 1917, bonds were issued on June 15th. President Daniel Willard and B&O management heavily pushed the purchase of these bonds by employees:

"I feel confident that all employees of the Baltimore and Ohio Company will desire to do their part in this great emergency and will welcome the opportunity to subscribe for these bonds, thus showing their patriotism by lending part of their savings to the Government at the same time securing for themselves a good investment. Daniel Willard, President"
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. July 1917

 From June - August there were three different national registration days for the military draft - a result of the Selective Service Act of 1917. B&O draftees and volunteers were continuously going into the service. In May, women workers known as "The First Hundred" began to fill the spots left by men. Throughout the summer, women filled these roles in increasing numbers. Here are some of the trailblazers that entered the workforce for the B&O:
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. June 1917
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. June 1917
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. June 1917
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. June 1917
Possibly the most important event of the summer for the B&O Railroad was the Officers' Meeting of June 29-30th. This annual meeting of management was held at the Deer Park Hotel. Various sessions were held by different departments, working on internal improvements, with special attention paid to the war effort. One of the major focuses was addressing the traffic problems that were continuing to get worse throughout 1917. Part of the problem was the government placing "preference tags" on freight cars. Another area of concern that was discussed was ways to improve waste of resources, such as: water, coal, and even electricity. 

Dan Willard gave his President's Address, which lasted more than thirty minutes. In this speech, he covered the present challenges, the triumphs, and above all else, how to use the company to make the United States successful. The text was printed in the Employee Magazine and read by hundreds if not thousands of employees. Willard's address set the tone and focus of the company going forward for the rest of the war.
The annual officers meeting for the B&O Railroad took place on June 29-30, 1917. The passionate address delivered by President Willard set the tone for the company throughout World War I. Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. July 1917.
Image is from the collection of the B&O Railroad Museum, ca. August 1917

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: June - August 1917

Hungerford, Edward. The Story of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad: 1827-1927. New York: Putnam, 1928.
Leach, Jack Franklin. Conscription in the United States: Historical Background. Vermont: C.E. Tuttle, 1952.

Stover, John F. History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1987.

Friday, July 28, 2017

B&O Railroad Museum Mourns Loss of Two Transitional Leaders

This year saw the loss of two individuals who made real and material differences in the growth and maturity of the B&O Railroad Museum.

Richard Leatherwood (1939-2017)

Richard Leatherwood served as the museum's first Chairman of the Board after CSX created the B&O Railroad Museum, Inc. as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation and donated the collection and real estate to encompass what the museum is today. Richard hired the museum's first professional museum director in 1989 and oversaw the transition of the B&O from a dusty, dark, little visited corporate collection to a nationally significant railroad museum. He was Chairman when I was hired in 1997 and turned over the reins of the museum to his successor James T. Brady in 1999. I remember him as an astute leader with an affable nature who care deeply about the museum's success and prosperity. He never lost his love for the B&O.

Bill Withuhn (1941-2017)
Bill Withuhn immediately became a close and valued colleague upon my arrival at the B&O in 1997. Serving for almost 30 years as the Senior Curator of Transportation for the Smithsonian, he personally introduced me to the railroad museum world and the movers and shakers within. He had a deep and abiding love for the museum's collection and its historic campus often remarking that he considered the B&O one of the world's greatest heritage railroad treasures. In 1999 he used his influence to bring the B&O Railroad Museum into the embryonic Smithsonian Affiliations Program which has made an enormous difference on the status and profile of the B&O worldwide for the past 18 years. In 2003 when the roundhouse roof collapsed he organized teams of curators from America's most mature railroad museums to respond to Baltimore and help assess the damage to our world class collections. We stayed in touch during his retirement and his influence on the B&O Railroad Museum will never be forgotten. 

Their obituaries are printed below.

Courtney B. Wilson
Executive Director
August 1, 2017

Richard L. Leatherwood, 1939-2017, of Boca Grande and Walland, Tenn., died at his mountain home on June 25th.

He is survived by his wife Mary Ann; his daughter and son-in-law, Katherine and Eric Brakman; beloved granddaughters Stella and Nora Brakman, all of Richmond, Virginia; and a loving extended family.

Richard grew up in the Fairview community and graduated from Maryville High School, The University of Tennessee and Rutgers University, and he earned a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology.

In his management career, Richard worked for American Freight, Texas Gas Transmission and CSX Transportation. He served on the board of directors of several organizations, including Maryville College, CACI International, CSX Transportation, Maryland National Bank, The Baltimore Opera, The University of Tennessee College of Business Advisory Board, and Dominion Resources.

For several years he chaired the boards of the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore City Life Museum. Richard was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Memorial contributions may be made to the Richard L. Leatherwood Scholarship Fund at Maryville College in Tennessee. Funeral services were held on Wednesday, June 28. A private interment will be at Grandview Cemetery. 
Courtesy of Boca Beacon

William Lawrence (Bill Withuhn, 1941-2017
Bill, whose name for his occasional opinion pieces in the Ca-laveras Enterprise was "Old Sky Warrior", has taken his last flight, passing away on June 29, 2017, at his home in Burson, surrounded by his family. A memorial service for Bill took place on July 2, 2017, at the First Congregational Church in Murphys, and his ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bill led a full life in his 75 years, entering the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1963 and serving nine years on active duty. Too tall to be a pilot, he opted to become a navigator in MAC (the transport service) in the days before GPS. In 1969-1970, he served his tour in Vietnam as a navigator on C-119 "Shadow" gunships, which supported ground troops needing aerial support. For saving his crew when a flare became entangled in the plane's automatic flare launcher, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After leaving the Air Force and after graduate school at Cornell, deeply loving trains and particularly the history of the steam locomotive (as well as automotive history), Bill in 1983 became the Curator of Transportation at The National Museum of American History, one of the 11 Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Serving almost 30 years, he focused his energies on enlarging the scope of the museum's influence. He created alliances with regional rail museums and with groups working to restore notable steam locomotives. Realizing that expertise to maintain steam engines at tourist railways was declining rapidly, he assembled a committee that worked with the Federal Rail Administration to write and publish in the Federal Register regulations to maintain safely those aging engines. He added to the automobile collection not only one of Richard Petty's race cars but also a Low Rider from the Hispanic Community in New Mexico, an EV-1 electric and a Sun Racer. Re-doing the railroad and automotive exhibits, he titled the new exhibit, "America On the Move" and focused on how the train, automobile and motorcycle changed Americans' lives. After retiring in 2010, he became the lead consultant for the new Museum of African American History and Culture in its acquisition and restoration of a Jim Crow railroad car. 

Living in Calaveras County, Bill was thrilled to write opinion pieces for the Calaveras Enterprise. The frequency, length, and depth of those columns decreased after a stroke in 2013, but Bill never stopped dreaming of more columns to write. Good-bye and God-speed. Your loving family, Gail, Harold, Tom, Kat, and Harper.
Courtesy of The Calaveras Enterprise

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.