Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Records, 1826-1880 (bulk 1860s-1940s)
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Latrobe, Benj. H (Benjamin Henry) 1807-1878
Garrett, John W (John Work) 1820-1884
History of Technology, Division of, NMAH, SI
Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Division of [former name], NMAH, SI
33 cu. ft.: 71 boxes
1826-1880 bulk 1860s-1940s
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) was the nation's first extensive steam powered railroad. It was founded by Baltimore merchants in 1827 as a means of promoting trade and making Baltimore competitive with other east coast ports. The original intent of the founders was to provide direct and fast access to the Ohio River, and the markets that the river reached. The railroad, however, went beyond the Ohio River and its lines went as far west as St. Louis and Chicago. The B&O was also known for its use of an electric locomotive in the mid 1890s. It also had a completely air conditioned train, and it was a forerunner in the use of diesel-electric locomotives. Company activities paralleled those of other American railroads and over the course of its life included expansion, near bankruptcy, innovations, regulations, and finally buyout. In February 1963, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) completed its purchase of the B&O. Today B&O is part of the CSX Transportation (CSX) network.
The main collection consists of correspondence, invoices, drawings, photographs, and negatives and other printed literature documenting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from its inception in 1827 to its merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in the 1960s. It includes records dealing with the engineering, construction, and maintenance operations of the railroad: correspondence and other material on routes, land surveys, and construction, circa 1826-1861; specifications, cost statements, bids, drawings, tracings, and blueprints concerning construction, repair, and upkeep of bridges, trestles, shops, depots, and other structures, ca. 1858-1943; maps and profiles, 1850, 1853, 1890, 1899-1900, 1911; and negatives and prints of construction, buildings, structures, and track, 1913-1914, 1921-1930. Also, correspondence of John W. Garrett (1820-1884), president of B&O, 1858-1884, concerning Ohio River bridges, requests for employment, and bridges, trestles, and tunnels, 1858-1880; and correspondence of Benjamin H. Latrobe as president of the Pittsburgh and Connelsville Railroad, 1861-1865.
1961 gift: Six railroad car drawings.
1979 gift: An album of cyanotype photographs depicting all bridges, stations, and other structures along the B&O's Philadelphia Division, 1891.
Second 1979 gift: Letters, 1829, 1871, 1872, and 1874, mostly relating to bridges.
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Records, 1826-1987 (bulk 1860s-1940s), Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution