Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad
|Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad|
1895 map of the P&BC, labeled as "PW&B," reflecting its control by the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad
|Locale||Pennsylvania and Maryland|
|Dates of operation||1854–1916|
|Successor||Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||110 miles (180 km)|
The Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad (P&BC) was a railroad that operated in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It ultimately operated about 110 miles (180 km) of track, consisting of a 63-mile (101 km) main line between West Philadelphia and Octoraro Junction, Maryland (near Port Deposit), and several branch lines.
Charter and planning
The P&BC was chartered in Pennsylvania in 1854, and quickly absorbed the two-year-old Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad and its Maryland charter. Starting from a connection with the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad (WC&P) at Wawa, Pennsylvania (formerly called Grubb's Bridge), the initial plan was to build southwest for 78 miles (126 km) to a junction with the Northern Central Railway, north of Baltimore. As built, however, the line would reach only from Wawa (where the WC&P line arrived from Philadelphia in 1856) to the northern bank of the Susquehanna River, in Cecil County, Maryland, near Port Deposit.
Construction and operation
Construction on the P&BC began in 1855 at Concordville, Pennsylvania. The first section of the line, between Wawa Junction and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, opened in 1859. Rails reached Oxford, Pennsylvania by the following year, and the first train arrived there on December 22, 1860.
The P&BC reached Rising Sun, Maryland, in 1865. By December 1868, it reached 46 miles (74 km) and its southernmost point at Rowlandsville (4 miles (6.4 km) north of Port Deposit, along Octoraro Creek), where it connected with the Columbia & Port Deposit Railroad (C&PD). Instead of building its own bridge over the Susquehanna to continue service toward Baltimore, the P&BC simply leased the C&PD line for a few miles to Perryville, where trains could proceed south over the new bridge built by the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad (PW&B).
In 1881, the P&BC absorbed the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad — both lines were controlled by the PW&B, which was itself controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) — extending its main line to West Philadelphia.
In 1916, the P&BC was formally purchased by the PW&B's successor company, the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington. Subsequently, the line from Wawa south to Rowlandsville was called the Octoraro Branch.
Successor lines: late 20th century to present
In 1967, the PRR abandoned the Octoraro Branch south of Colora, Maryland. Tourist operator Wawa & Concordville Railroad leased the line between Concordville and Wawa in 1967 and 1968. The PRR merged with the New York Central Railroad in 1968 to form the Penn Central, which was bankrupt by 1970. Hurricane Agnes caused several washouts in 1972 and rendered the line unusable north of Brandywine Creek.
Ownership first went to Conrail, then to SEPTA, who leased it to short-line freight railroad companies. The Octoraro Railroad operated between Chadds Ford Junction and Oxford from the 1980s to 1994. The Morristown & Erie Railway later provided service in 2003 and 2004. The East Penn Railroad bought the line from SEPTA in 2004, and currently operates between Nottingham and Chadds Ford Junction, where it connects with the Brandywine Valley Railroad. The derelict Chadds Ford-Wawa section destroyed by Hurricane Agnes remains intact and is owned by SEPTA.
- Ashmead, Henry G. (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts. p. 199.
- Poor, Henry V. (1860). History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America 1. New York: John H. Schultz & Co. p. 477.
- Garrett, Jerre. "The Baltimore Central Railroad Reaches Rising Sun." Accessed 2011-09-14.
- Poor, Henry V. (1868). Manual of the Railroads of the United States, for 1868-69. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor. p. 251.
- Poor's Intermediate Manual of Railroads. New York: Poor's Manual Co. 1917. p. 226.
- Dixon, Mike. "All’s Quiet on the Octoraro Branch Line." Window on Cecil County's Past. 2008-10-20.
- U.S. Surface Transportation Board. Washington, D.C. (2004-12-21)."East Penn Railway, Inc.—Modified Rail Certificate." 69 F.R. 76522