Carrollton Viaduct

Coordinates: 39°16′31.5″N 76°39′17.6″W / 39.275417°N 76.654889°W / 39.275417; -76.654889
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Carrollton Viaduct
Carrollton Viaduct over the Gwynns Falls stream in southwest Baltimore, first bridge built 1828–1829 for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, founded 1827. Pictured in 1971
Coordinates39°16′31″N 76°39′18″W / 39.2754°N 76.6549°W / 39.2754; -76.6549
CrossesGwynns Falls
LocaleBaltimore, Maryland
OwnerCSX Transportation
DesignArch bridge
Total length312 feet (95 m)
Height65 feet (20 m)
Longest span80 feet (24 m)
Clearance below51 feet 9 inches (15.8 m)
Construction start1828 (1828)
Carrollton Viaduct
Located in Baltimore, Maryland
Located in Baltimore, Maryland
Carrollton Viaduct
LocationGwynn's Falls near Carroll Park, Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates39°16′31.5″N 76°39′17.6″W / 39.275417°N 76.654889°W / 39.275417; -76.654889
ArchitectJames Lloyd; Caspar Wever
NRHP reference No.71001032[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 11, 1971[1]
Designated NHLNovember 11, 1971[2]

The Carrollton Viaduct, located over the Gwynns Falls stream near Carroll Park in southwest Baltimore, Maryland, is the first stone masonry bridge for railroad use in the United States, built for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, founded 1827, and one of the world's oldest railroad bridges still in use for rail traffic. Construction began in 1828 and was completed in 1829. The bridge is named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737–1832), of Maryland, known for being the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, the only Roman Catholic in the Second Continental Congress (1775–1781), and wealthiest man in the Thirteen Colonies of the time of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

In 1982 the viaduct was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Laying of the cornerstone of the B&O.

The bridge is currently one of the world's oldest railroad bridges still in use for rail traffic, carrying loads far greater than originally envisioned.[3][4] It was named after Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737–1832), the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence and a director of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, who laid the cornerstone on July 4, 1828.[5] As he laid the first stone he said, "I consider this among the most important acts of my life, second only to my signing the Declaration of Independence." Builder Caspar Wever and designer James Lloyd completed the structure for the railroad in November 1829, at an officially listed cost of $58,106.73. The actual cost of the construction may have been as high as $100,000.[6]

The bridge, 312 feet (95 m) in length, rises from its foundations about 65 feet (20 m). It is 51 feet 9 inches (15.8 m) above Gwynns Falls. It consists of a full-centered arch with a clear span length of 80 feet (24 m) over the stream, and a space for two railroad tracks on its deck. To provide an underpass for a wagon road, an arched passageway, 16 feet (5 m) in width, was built through one of the masonry-walled approaches. Originally planned as one arch of 40 feet (12 m) chord, the dimensions were enlarged to quiet the concern of the proprietor of the mills located immediately above the bridge site, who feared that 40 feet would be insufficient if the stream was flooded. The heavy granite blocks which form the arches and exterior walls were procured from Ellicott's Mills and Port Deposit.[7] A temporary wooden framework supporting the central span held 1,500 tons (1,360 tonnes) of this stone during construction. A white cornerstone at one end of the bridge bears the inscription "James Lloyd of Maryland, Builder A.D. 1829."

Andrew Jackson, the first President of the United States to ride on a railroad train, crossed the bridge on a trip between Ellicott's Mills and Baltimore on June 6, 1833. The Carrollton Viaduct has provided continual service to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and its modern corporate successor, CSX Transportation.

The viaduct was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 11, 1971 and was automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places the same day.[2][8]

In 1982 the viaduct was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Carrollton Viaduct". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  3. ^ Johns Hopkins University, Department of Civil Engineering. "Carrollton Viaduct". Archived from the original on June 3, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2006.
  4. ^ "1825 Skerne Bridge, Darlington". Hidden Teesside (UK). April 29, 2012.
  5. ^ Moody, John (1919). The Railroad Builders. Chronicles of America Series. Vol. 38. Yale University Press. (The HAER report states that the cornerstone was laid in May 1828.)
  6. ^ Dilts, James D. (1993). The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Nation's First Railroad, 1828-1853. Stanford University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-8047-2629-9.
  7. ^ Rice, Laura (2002). Maryland History In Prints. Baltimore: The Maryland Center for History and Culture. p. 82. ISBN 9780938420712.
  8. ^ W. Brown Morton III (August 5, 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Carrollton Viaduct". National Park Service. Accompanying 2 photos, from 1971. (320 KiB)
  9. ^ Starr, John T. (September 7, 1982). "Carrollton Viaduct, An Engineering Gem". The Evening Sun. Baltimore. p. A-4.
Works cited

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