Frederick Branch (Baltimore and Ohio Railroad)

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Original Frederick freight station on South Carroll Street, built 1832, from a 1906 photo. The building was demolished in 1911.

The Frederick Branch is a railroad line in Frederick County, Maryland. It was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in 1831, and today is owned by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).[1] The 3.4 miles (5.5 km) branch runs from Frederick Junction on the west side of the Monocacy River, where it connects with the Old Main Line Subdivision of CSX Transportation, to its terminus at South Street in downtown Frederick, Maryland. The wye at Frederick Junction is a track arrangement that allows trains to turn around. It was the first of its kind in the United States, and is still in use today.

President Abraham Lincoln giving an address in Frederick on October 4, 1862, next to the station built in 1854, at East All Saints and Market Streets.


The branch officially was opened in December 1831 with a ceremonial train (pulled by horses) carrying directors of the B&O and various politicians arriving from Baltimore. In planning the route of the Old Main Line, the B&O decided against building the main line directly through Frederick, preferring instead to take advantage of a valley grade to the south of the city. The city's first train station, built in 1832 at South Carroll Street, was the second oldest permanent station in the B&O system, and was used mainly for freight.[2]:27-28 A new passenger depot was built in 1854 at East All Saints and Market Streets, and the old station continued as a freight station until c. 1910. A station at Frederick Junction was opened after the Civil War and operated through the World War II era.

The branch first provided a rapid means for the many mills in the city to ship flour to Baltimore for sale. Over the years outbound freight traffic diversified to include milk, bricks, limestone and some manufactured goods from Frederick. The branch connected with two other railroads within Frederick. The Pennsylvania Railroad connected near East Street and South Street in downtown Frederick and the Hagerstown and Frederick Railway connected near the small B&O rail yard and terminal along South Street in downtown Frederick.[3]:257-8

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, traffic on the Frederick Branch decreased. In 1933, the B&O began using gas-electric rail cars to operate its commuter trains between Frederick and Baltimore.[3]:265 Passenger service lasted until November 1949 and the branch gradually fell into disuse as local business customers switched to trucks to ship their products.

In 1987 the B&O assets, including the Frederick Branch, were acquired by CSX.[4] As of 2012 the only remaining freight customer on the branch was Willard Agri Services of Frederick, located on Wisner Street.

MARC commuter service[edit]

The 1854 station, in a 1970 photo. The B&O closed the station in 1948.

In December 2001 passenger traffic returned to Frederick in the form of MARC commuter trains.[5] The Maryland Transit Administration funded upgrades to the Frederick Branch and to a 9.9 miles (15.9 km) portion of the Old Main Line that ran from Frederick Junction to Point of Rocks, Maryland.[6] MDOT purchased the Frederick Branch from CSX and realigned the wye track at Frederick Junction.[7] A small yard was also constructed along Reichs Ford Road with capacity for three entire train sets. Two new stations were constructed to handle passengers, one in downtown Frederick near the original branch terminus at South Street and another located behind a shopping center near Frederick Junction called Monocacy Station.


  1. ^ CSX Transportation, Baltimore, MD (2005). "Frederick Branch (Maryland Dept. of Transportation Ownership)." Baltimore Division; Timetable No. 4.
  2. ^ Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1979). Impossible Challenge: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Maryland. Baltimore, MD: Barnard, Roberts. ISBN 0-934118-17-5. 
  3. ^ a b Harwood, Jr., Herbert H. (1994). Impossible Challenge II: Baltimore to Washington and Harpers Ferry from 1828 to 1994. Baltimore: Barnard, Roberts. ISBN 0-934118-22-1. 
  4. ^ CSX Transportation. "Our Evolution and History." Archived October 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Interactive timeline. Accessed 2013-06-28.
  5. ^ Barry, Sean (2001-12-17). "MARC trains ready to roll; Passenger rail service returns to Frederick after 50 years". Frederick Post. 
  6. ^ Maryland Transit Administration. Baltimore, MD (2003). "Project: MARC Frederick Extension." Accessed 2010-03-01.
  7. ^ Maryland Department of Transportation, Hanover, MD (2009). "High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program; Application Form; BWI Improvements (construction)." p. 11.

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