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Exploring the Historic Point of Rocks Railroad Station: Journey Back to 1873

Journey back to 1873 and explore the historic Point of Rocks Railroad Station, still used as a daily commuter station for the MARC train. Learn more about its design and its role in connecting Washington to the West.
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Point of Rocks railroad station
Point of Rocks railroad station

This is one of the most, if not the most, beautiful railroad stations in America.

You can easily be captivated and transported back to 1873 when you stand on the platform of the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station. What’s even more fascinating is that it’s still used as a daily commuter station for the MARC train into Union Station (free t-shirt to the first GoDCer that shows me they commute from this station).

The station was completed in 1873, designed by Ephraim Francis Baldwin, a prominent architect, who contributed many buildings to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

On May 1st, 1873, the Baltimore Sun printed an article about the upcoming opening of the station and new line from Washington.

Preparatory to putting in operation during the latter part of the present month the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, extending from the national capital forty-two miles to the Point of Rocks, on the Main Stem of the road, an excursion party set out from Washington yesterday afternoon over the new line of road, with a view of inspecting its track, bridges and other work, and thence pass up to Cumberland, and to some extent into the coal region.

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By this branch road Washington city is put in direct communication with the entire West by a short line, without changes or break of connection, ever the whole system of roads owned or controlled or in affiliation with the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and thus has all the advantages without cost to itself of over $36,000,000 of capital, which Baltimore and Maryland, through the citizens, the State and municipal governments, have invested in the great works which have mainly contributed to the present prosperous condition of Baltimore. From the fact that the excursion was intended for Washington bu few persons from Baltimore were invited to participate in the same, and those who did go from this city were principally officers of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and members of the press.

At 3 P. M. Captain Dukehart shouted “all aboard,” and in a twinkling the Washingtonians who had met the train at the depot at Washington entered the train, and in a moment afterwards the cars passed upon the rails of the Metropolitan Branch. Among the Washington notables were Gen. W. T. Sherman, of the armies of the United States; Col. Audenreid, chief of staff; Gen. Heintzleman, Gen. Porter, of the United States engineer corps … and representatives of the Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston press, in all sixty-five persons, which, which those from Baltimore, swelled the party to upwards of one hundred.

The train reached Point of Rocks at six o’clock, and a halt of about half an hour was made there, in order that the excursion might enjoy a lunch. After the lunch had been properly attended to the train moved on to Weaverton, where another halt was made, in order that Gen. Sherman and others for Washington might return in the St. Louis train. After bidding the General and his friends good-bye, the excursionists again entered their cars and started for Cumberland, which place they reached about twelve o’clock last night. To-day the pleasure-seekers will visit all the places of interest in and about Cumberland, and return home tomorrow night.

Three hours to Point of Rocks and six hours to Cumberland? Today, if you take the MARC train from Union Station at 3:30 p.m., you’re at Point of Rocks by 4:48 p.m. … and that’ll cost you $7.00.

old railroad sign at Point of Rocks
instagram photo of the old railroad sign at Point of Rocks
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