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B&O Railroad Celebrates 185th Birthday

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Ron Matz 370x278 Ron Matz
Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’re marking a birthday of note in Baltimore this weekend. The B&O Railroad is 185 years old.

Ron Matz reports a big celebration is on tap this weekend at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Baltimore is the birthplace of American railroading, so the B&O’s 185th birthday is a time to celebrate.

“This is where it all began. The B&O Railroad was often called the railroad university of America,” said Dave Shackelford, chief curator of the B&O Railroad Museum. “The reason for that was because back in the day it was trial and error.  There were no set plans. It was a hard and dangerous job.  A lot of the guys who learned how to work on railroads and make engines began with the B&O and then went on to other railroads. So really educating the entire nation on how to build railroads kind of began right here in Baltimore.”

They broke ground for the B&O on the Fourth of July.

“The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was chartered by the state of Maryland in 1827.  That’s the date that technically it started.  It got its name from the point of origin, which was the city of Baltimore and its intended destination, which was the Ohio River,” said Shackelford. “When the B&O first began operations in 1830 there were only 23 miles stretched from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills, Md., which is now Ellicott City “

Snow collapsed the roundhouse roof nine years ago this month. It caused $30 million in damage.

“We were closed for 22 months.  We always call that our challenge and it was.  One of the best things about that challenge is that the B&O Railroad Museum has come out stronger. We have a better collection and we have a restoration facility to care for our equipment. Like the phoenix out of the ashes, we’ve made a huge turnaround and it has made us what we are today,” said Shackelford.

And this weekend you can take the train and stop at the Mount Clare Museum House.

“Patrons for a little extra money can get out and tour the house, which is a 1750s house, and then get back on the train and come back down and see the B&O Museum again,” said Shackelford.  “On Sunday we’re actually offering half price admission in honor of the B&O’s birthday. It’s going to be a great weekend to come down to the museum.”

For more information about this weekend’s birthday celebration at the B&O Railroad Museum, click here.

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