I got up very early on Saturday and headed up to Baltimore to the B&O Railroad Museum as a VIP guest would be attending, Thomas the Tank Engine! I could hardly contain my excitement as I marched as fast as my legs would go towards the entrance, barely glancing at the many old and wonderful trains outside in the parking lot. Once inside, I headed straight to the queue of people waiting to have their photo taken with Thomas and patiently stood in line with scores of kids. I chatted to one of the staff members, George, who gave me history titbits on some of the trains and encouraged me to look in a building beyond the photo area which is often missed by the public.
Here I am with Thomas, well worth the wait! I was very disappointed though to discover that none of the Steam Team were present, no George, Edward or Emily. Just Thomas and apparently the Fat Controller would also be putting in an appearance.
I headed towards the building George had mentioned humming the Thomas theme tune which, although it constantly played throughout the day, it surprisingly didn't become annoying. I walked into the cool building and nearly fell over backwards. The largest train I had ever seen was in front of me gleaming in chrome and a beautiful yellow. The 490 is the only survivor of 4 Hudson type locomotives owned by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. It was rebuilt in 1946 from a Paific type locomotive which was originally built in 1926, clearly showing the beautiful Art Deco style that was so popular then. I had seen a lot of photos of these trains and had no idea that I'd see one today.
I found this photo on the internet of the 490 outside the museum, what a gorgeous train.
Here's George and I. I kept crossing back and forth and stopping to chat with him about trains and cameras, so he became quite a friend by the time I left.
Thomas spent the day chugging in and out of the station giving people rides. Here he is coming back from one of his excursions.
As he entered the station, he announced his arrival with plenty of whistles and steam.
Inside the Roundhouse, where many trains are kept, there was a Lego model railway featuring Thomas and friends, and this fabulous Lego Thomas.
There were a lot of spectacular trains here, but as only a few can be mentioned, here are my favorites. By the 1900's many new trains were having problems with tight clearances on the tracks. This train, CE-15, would go through tunnels and other problem areas with all the blades sticking out like a porcupine. As it passed through, the blades would fold back if they touched an obstruction, and readings were shown on gauges at the base of each blade.
Built in 1901, the 592 Camelback had a larger firebox so the train could go faster. This produced speeds of up to 90 mph pulling passenger cars between New York and Philadelphia. Although faster speeds could be obtained, it was dangerous for the engineer and fireman so production stopped, yet some railroads used them into the 1950's.
Here is the Fat Controller with a young fan. I wasn't brave enough to stand in line again with small kids so I had to content myself with this photo.
In 2003, the roof of the Roundhouse collapsed under heavy snow damaging trains that were housed within. You can see the new roof above the train. The 600 above had its cab crushed along with other damage, but should be restored within three years with the help of donations. Built by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1875, it won first prize for its appearance at the U.S. Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
This is the Stourbridge Lion, built in England around 1829. John Jervis was interested in purchasing locomotives for the Pennsylvania railway and sent his engineer to England. The engine became the first commercial locomotive in the Western Hemisphere and instigated American steam railways.
I had a look in the gift shop and found these t-shirts, printed by Emblemax! Even after 7 years, I still get a kick when I see our shirts on sale or being worn by someone.
This made me laugh. A car converted to ride on the tracks and even given a number like the locomotives. The 101, built in 1942, was used by management for inspecting the railways.
After saying goodbye to George and taking another long look and more photos of the 490, I headed towards my car, looking at the engines parked on rails in the parking lot. I loved this 2705, one of 12 remaining Kanawhas built by C&O Railroad built in the 20's, I believe. This train looked like it had been built for a Mad Max movie.
It had been a great morning and I felt I had achieved a lot in a few hours, but it was only midday as I sat in my car and pondered, where to next...