National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of History of Technology Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering Search this
33 Cubic feet (76 boxes, 46 map-folders)
The 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.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of correspondence, engineering drawings, notes, photographs, transparencies, negatives, glass plate negatives, printed materials, and newspaper clippings documenting the Baltimore and Ohio railroad from its inception in 1827 to its merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio in the 1960s.
The records are arranged into ten series.
Series 1, Historical Background, 1827-1987
Series 2, Bridge Histories, 1867-1966
Series 3, President's Office, 1826-1880
Series 4, Correspondence, 1826-1859
Series 5, Business Records, 1894-1914, and undated
Series 6, Agreement, 1870
Series 7, Drawings, 1858-1957, and undated
Subseries 7.1, Indices and Lists, 1924-1943, undated
Subseries 7.2, Bailey's Station, 1887; 1899; 1901
Subseries 7.3, Baltimore Belt Railroad, 1895, undated
Subseries 7.4, Bay View and Canton Bridges, 1884-1885
Subseries 9.4, Negatives by location, 1870; 1978-1983
Subseries 9.5, Negatives by subject, 1922-1930s, undated
Series 10, Stations and Buildings, 1884-1982
Biographical / Historical:
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 buy out. 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.
John Work Garrett president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 1858-1884, was born in Baltimore, Maryland July 31, 1820. He was the second son of Elizabeth Stouffer and Robert Garrett. He married Rachel Ann Harrison, the daughter of Thomas Harrison, a Baltimore merchant. They had one daughter, Mary and two sons Robert and Thomas Harrison Garrett.
After attending Lafayette College (Pennsylvania) for two years John W. Garrett left in 1836 to become associated with his father's commission business in Baltimore. The commission house which dealt in wholesale groceries, produce, forwarding and a commission business expanded to establish direct connections with Latin America, seek outlets in Europe and develop its own banking operations. In time its financial operations overshadowed the commission and shipping business.
When John W. Garrett began to invest heavily in Baltimore and Ohio Railroad stock, the road was in competition with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the stock was not popular. Its value rose steadily over the years. Mr. Garrett was elected a director of the railroad in 1855. His report as chairman of a subcommittee on the need for additional funds to complete the line to the Ohio River led to his election to the presidency of the road on November 17, 1858, a position he held for 26 years. New policies with emphasis on economy, personal supervision and gradual expansion were inaugurated and consistently maintained, in spite of a general financial crisis, Mr. Garrett's first year in office showed a net gain in earnings.
Sympathetic to his southern friends during the Civil War, Mr. Garrett nevertheless supported the Union. He recognized the inevitability of Confederate defeat by superior northern resources. Confederate leaders blamed him for their inability to seize Washington and he received warm appreciation for his services to the Union cause from President Lincoln. The railroad stretched along the theater of war and twice crossed Confederate territory. It was, therefore, a main objective for southern attack. Branches were frequently damaged by Confederate raids, but the main line to Washington became important for the transport of troops and supplies. The Baltimore and Ohio carried out the first military rail transport in history and the transfer of 20,000 men from the Potomac to Chattanooga in 1863 was a major triumph for its president.
With the advent of peace Mr. Garrett turned to rebuilding and strengthening the railroad. He replaced equipment and track damaged by the war, then extended the system by securing direct routes to Pittsburgh and Chicago and arranging an independent line into New York. Wharves were built at Locust Point for ocean liners and a system of elevators erected. The B&O. built its own sleeping and dining cars, established hotels in the mountains and created its own express company. By 1880, after battles over rates with other trunk lines, a costly rivalry with the Pennsylvania Railroad over the eastern route and charges of discrimination against local shippers Mr. Garrett was at the height of his success. He cooperated in establishing the B. and 0. Employees Relief Association for accident and life insurance, a hospital system, saving and building funds, and arrangements for improving sanitation in the work place. He was on friendly terms with Johns Hopkins, a trustee of John Hopkins Hospital, and with George Peabody, founder of the Peabody institute of which he was also a trustee. Garrett County, Maryland was named in his honor.
John W. Garrett died on September 26, 1884 within a year of his wife's death in a carriage accident. During his connection with the railroad the stock increased from $57 to $200; at the outbreak of the Civil War the railroad was operating 514 miles of rail, gross earnings were $4,000,097 and net per mile was $4246.1 By 1864 gross earnings were $10,138,876 and net per mile, $7113.2 By the end of his presidency mileage had increased to 1711 miles and net earnings were $4535 per mile.3
1 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
2 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
3 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
Materials at Other Organizations
Maryland Historical Society
Baltimore and Ohio Museum
This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the 1960s.
The collection is open for research use. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs and glass plate negatives with gloves.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.