Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum is closing Thursday, November 15 at 3pm due to inclement weather.
Address: 3711 Maryland Avenue, Ellicott City, MD 21043
Hours: 10am-2pm, Wed-Thur; 10am-7pm, Fri-Sa; Noon-5:00pm, Sun.
Admission is always free.
For parking and access information for Ellicott City's Main Street, click here.
On Friday, October 6, the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum reopened under our management, and is now FREE to all visitors! We want to make your visitor experience as enjoyable as possible, and in time, will be planning events and programs. The Railroad Station Museum is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-7pm, and Sundays from noon to 5pm.
Check back soon for updated programs and events!
July 19, 2017 Press Release
Be sure to also follow the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum Page on Facebook for even more information on upcoming exhibits, events and general museum information!
The B&O Ellicott City Station Museum will be closed on Monday May 28th in observance and honor of Memorial Day. Thank you to all those who have served and sacrificed for our country!
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This building is the oldest railroad station in America, built in 1831. The station was built as a freight station – this is evident from the large wooden doors on the lower (street) level. These were loading dock doors where wagons and carts would back up to and unload freight that was then stored until it could be shipped out on the trains. These doors were also where locals would load their wagons with goods that were shipped to them by way of the railroad.
If you wanted to ride as a passenger on the train you would not have come here. You would have gone to what was then the Patapsco Hotel which is the stone building across the street. You would go to the second floor platform and buy your tickets there. In 1857, the station was remodeled to handle passengers with the addition of waiting rooms and a ticket office on the second floor. A stairway was also added on the north end of the building to allow passengers access to the upper level at trackside.
In 1863 a turntable was added to help turn engines around for the return trip to Baltimore.
You have to imagine that the wall that you see in front of you was not there; this area would have been a full circle. A rail lined the bottom of the pit where the wheels on either end of the span rested. The locomotive would have been balanced in the center of the span and then two men would use their hands to turn the engine in about one to one and a half minutes. The engines at that time weighed about 20 tons. The key to the turntable was that the locomotive had to be balanced directly in the center. If not, there would be too much weight at one of the ends and it would not turn.
The freight house was built in 1885 to store more freight after the station had been turned into a passenger station. The building was designed by E. Francis Baldwin who also designed the Roundhouse in Baltimore at Mt. Clare, the Point of Rocks Station in Western Maryland and the Baldwin Station in Sykesville. Like the main station building, the doors of the freight house are on street side so wagons could back up to them and load and unload cargo. The goods were then loaded on the trains through the doors we came in through. The model train display in front of you shows the First 13 Miles of Commercial Railroad in America. The railroad ran from Baltimore on the left to then Ellicott’s Mills on the right hand side.
Our caboose is a Class I – 5d built in the B&O Shops in Washington, Indiana in 1927. Cabooses started to arrive on the scene in the late 1870’s to early 1880’s for two reasons. First there was the new braking system using compressed air brakes. Before the air brakes, the brakeman had to jump from the top of one car to the next car to manually apply the brakes. This was very dangerous! With the new air brakes, the engineer or the crew in the caboose could apply the brakes with the pull of a handle. The second reason for the appearance of the caboose was that trains were making longer trips and the crew needed a place to work, eat and sleep. There were usually four men on the caboose. First was the conductor who was in charge of the train. He made sure they were on schedule and picked up and delivered the freight that they were supposed to. The second man was the trainman. His job was to sit up in the cupola and watch the cars and the wheels on the train for any problems. He was specifically watching for “hot boxes” which are these square boxes on the trucks. Grease would be applied to the bearings so they would spin freely. When they put the grease in, they also added a piece of cotton or wool. When the grease would wear out due to friction, the cotton would catch on fire and cause a puff of smoke to appear. This is what the trainman was looking for. He would then have the brakeman stop the train so they could re-grease the bearings so they would continue to spin free. The flagman was the last of the four men. If the train had to stop for any reason on the main tracks, he would leave the caboose with a flag and or a lantern, if at night, and run ¾ of a mile down the track to warn any other approaching train that there was a stopped train ahead and they too needed to stop. In the caboose you will notice a sink, a stove to cook and keep warm with, table, bunks and a real luxury, an icebox.
The car house was part of the main building when it was constructed in 1831. It is basically a garage for cars and locomotives. There were originally two sets of doors with rails leading into this room. They would bring cars in for repairs; there were pits in the floor so that workmen could get underneath the cars to work on them. In 1837, they replaced the two double doors with the one large set of doors that you see today. This was because the locomotives were becoming larger. Chimneys were installed once they started to bring in the locomotives so that the steam and smoke could escape the building. The chimney closest to the doors was used when there vertical boiler engines and the second one was for the horizontal engines. If you look closely at the stones at the top near the ceiling you can see the black from the soot and smoke. By 1857 the locomotives were too large to fit inside anymore so they walled up the doors and used the space for storing baggage and freight. A restoration in 1998 restored the doors you see today.
Men's Waiting Room
When the station was first built this room was part of the warehouse that stored the freight. There was a large hole that allowed goods to be brought up from the ground floor where they had been stored. The items were then taken through these double doors and placed on the train. When the station was remodeled for passenger service in 1857 this room became the waiting room for the men who had tickets to ride the train. A staircase was added on the north end of the station (the end nearest Main Street) for passengers to use to come up to the platform and then through the doors. The ticket window is over here with the bars. There were two separate waiting rooms – one for men and one for women. It was the women who asked to have a separate room - in the mid to late 1800’s the men were likely to be smoking, gambling, cussing and, of course, chewing tobacco. They would often spit the tobacco juice on the floor. The ladies travelling would be wearing long hooped skirt dresses and they were not interested in getting them dirty. The ladies in town wrote to the B & O office and asked if they could have a separate waiting area where it would be cleaner and quieter. The women could wait with their husbands or male travelling companions if they wanted and men travelling with their families could wait in the ladies waiting room.
This space was added when the station was renovated for passenger service. The ticket agent worked here and sold tickets. The window was originally a bay window which allowed him to see down the tracks so he would know when a train was approaching. When he saw the train he would pull the rope which would ring the bell in the cupola to let everyone in town know that it was coming in. He would also ring the bell when the train was about to depart. You see the mail slots on the wall. From the 1860’s to the early 1900’s mail was shipped by rail and very often the train station also functioned as the post office and you would come here to pick up and send your mail. This space also housed the telegraph office where you would send and receive telegrams. Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph in 1844 and he actually tested the system along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s Washington Branch. The telegraph was the very first way that messages could instantly be sent hundreds of miles. Basically it works like this – the sender and receiver were connected between stations by wires hung on poles much like telephone poles today. When you push down the sender key it sends an electric spark down the line to the next station and that makes the receiver click. The operators used a series of dots and dashes known as Morse Code. Each series of dots and dashes represent different letters which you could use to make words and sentences.
When the station was first built this was the office for the superintendent of construction for the B & O Railroad. His name was Casper Weaver and that is his portrait that you see there on the wall. He was in charge of the building of the railroad between here and Harpers Ferry, Virginia as well as the Washington Branch from Relay to Washington DC. Mr. Weaver used this office until 1837 when this became the station master’s office. In 1857 when the building was remodeled this became the ladies waiting room. Passengers would come through the door on the right and then purchase their tickets at the window next to the stairs and then wait for the train to arrive or depart. The door that you see here is the first indoor bathroom in Ellicott City. People used what were called outhouses as bathrooms at this time so what they did was attach an outhouse to the side of the building for the ladies to use and a pipe was attached which then carried everything down to the Tiber/Hudson river that runs along the end of the station. This became a typical way to dispose of waste; it was far from sanitary so you would not want to drink, swim or fish in the river and maybe not even go near it at all!
Freight Agent's Office and Living Quarters
This is the freight agent’s office and living quarters. He was the man in charge of making sure that all of the goods coming and going through the station made it onto the correct train or to the proper person or business in town. He also collected the money for shipping freight. He was in the station a large amount of time so eventually the railroad allowed him to live here if he wanted. He could have his family with him if he wanted so there could be up to 4 people living in this one room. This was dining room, kitchen, living room and bedroom. The parents would have slept in the bed and the children would have used a mattress that was stored under the bed and pulled out at night. The white bowl you see under the bed is called a chamber pot and that is what was used as a bathroom overnight if needed. Outhouses were used during the day. Often it would be the job of the youngest child to empty the chamber pot in the morning if anyone had used it overnight! The bowl and pitcher in the back were used for washing face and hands. The fireplace provided warmth in the winter and was used every day for cooking meals. There was no electricity, no fast food restaurants like McDonalds! They would buy their food and other supplies from shops right here in town.
As of September this year, The Ellicott City Baltimore & Ohio Station Museum will be under the management of the Heritage Program of Howard County’s Department of Recreation and Parks.
We are very excited about this change; with the new management, the Museum will be open free of charge to the public! This will make all of the historic sites in the Ellicott City Historic District FREE.
We are also willing to accept any interested groups whenever available.
*“The B&O Ellicott City Station Museum is now offering guided group tours! There is a charge of $5.00 per person. in the group taking the guided tour. The guided tour takes about an hour to complete. Please email email@example.com or call 410-313-2924 to schedule your guided group tour today!**
Please check back later for event and program information as it becomes available!
Historic Ellicott City Paint & Sip- First Thursday of each month- April 5, May 3, June 7, July 5, August 2 from 6:30-9:30 PM, $40, Ages 21+, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
Have you ever wanted to create your own masterpiece? Stop by the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum for a night of painting historic scenes of Old Ellicott City while enjoying the creative atmosphere within the nation's oldest surviving railroad station. Join artist Wiley Purkey, who will guide you in making your own interpretation of a selected painting from his collection. Every month the subject and medium will be different. Learn about the history of these sites while you paint and take home your masterpiece. No painting experience necessary! All levels are welcome.
Colorful Characters of Ellicott City- Thursdays April 12 & July 12 7-9 PM, $15, Ages 21+, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum, 3711 Maryland Ave. Ellicott City, MD 21043
It's kind of like Ripley's Believe it or Not! This presentation on the interesting people in Ellicott City's past will take you by surprise as you learn about a Miami tribal chief, a Secretary of State, a President, the Wheelbarrow Lunatic, the "King of the Wild Frontier," and more! Whether you can believe it or not, they all have a connection to Ellicott City. Find out how in this two-hour event presented by Maryland History Tours.
Rails and Ales Night at the Museum- Fridays- April 13, May 11, June 8, August 10 from 7:30-10:30 PM, $15, Ages 21+, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
Looking for something to do on a Friday night? Come to the B&O Ellicott City Station Museum for a night of old-fashioned fun and games! Play various types of historic and railroading themed games while enjoying locally brewed beers from Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, available for purchase with valid photo ID. Bring your friends and loved ones for a fun filled night in old Ellicott City!
Ghostly Guides: B&O Ellicott City Station- Fridays April 20, May 25, June 8, July 10 (Tuesday), August 10 8-11 PM, $25, Ages 16+, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
Come check out the oldest surviving train station in the United States to uncover possible paranormal activity. Take a guided tour of the building, and gather around in the old station Car House and listen to the stories and legends surrounding this historic railroad station. Afterwards, soak up the atmosphere as you use the same equipment as professional ghost hunters to gather evidence of paranormal activity and draw your own ghostly conclusions!
Steampunk Masquerade- Saturdays August 18 from 7:30-10:30 PM, $30, Ages 21+, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum
Spend an evening stepping into a realm where the dream of a world ruled by steam reigns supreme! What better place to celebrate this subgenre than America's oldest surviving railroad station! Come enjoy a night full of festivities such as a fan-favorite cosplay/costume contest, dancing and much more! Soft drinks and light refreshments served; beer and wine available for purchase with valid photo ID.
Early Innovators of the Patapsco River Valley - Thursday August 9 from 7:00- 9:00 PM, $15, Pre-registration required 410-313-7275 or www.howardcountymd.gov/rap Location: B&O Ellicott City Station Museum, 3711 Maryland Ave, Ellicott City, MD 21043
Rich men, poor men. Young men, old men. The Patapsco River Valley was a hotbed of early movers and shakers! Learn their names and their accomplishments. Maryland History Tours will share information on the wealthiest man in America, a Free African American who corresponded with the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, the oldest person ever nominated to run for President of the United States and more!
Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum
3711 Maryland Avenue – Ellicott City, MD 21043
Site Manager - Jake Feirson, 410-313-2922 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Manager / Program Manager - Aaron Lippincott, 410-313-2924 or email@example.com
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