Few corporations have had the profound impact on an industry to the level of the Baltimore & Ohio. The very inception of the B&O on February 27, 1827 nationally triggered the first intelligent consideration and later application of rail technology in interstate commerce. Prior to that date, the few primitive rail operations had very limited scope within one state and one industry.
The primary mission of the B&O was to move freight economically and efficiently; passenger service was a distant second. As this pioneer line struggled to build west from Baltimore to the Ohio River, tortuous mountain grades challenged early B&O engineers and consequently, developing suitable motive power to move tonnage became paramount.
One early example of the succession of locomotives B&O designed for rugged service and built was Number #600 an 1875 product of the B&O Mt. Clare Shops in Baltimore. The locomotive of a 2-6-0 wheel arrangement was so successful the B&O sent it to Philadelphia for display in 1876 and after 20 years of road service, it became a cherished artifact of the railroad. The B&O restored #600 in 1925 and in 1926 the vintage locomotive operated under its own power from Baltimore back to Philadelphia for the Sesquicentennial in 1926. In 1927 the B&O named #600 the J. C. Davis to honor the Master of Machinery (in 1875) but later-day naysayers removed the name during a recent back-dating and cosmetic restoration.
Most railroads including the B&O embraced the 2-8-0 consolidation-type beginning in the 1880s. Mt. Clare Shop Master of Machinery A. J. Cromwell designed and built #545 in 1888 that was typical of then-current heavy freight power. It too was saved and carried its designers name.
The need to power longer and heavier trains increased dramatically after 1900 and that ignited the pioneering spirit in the B&O once more. In 1904 B&O Motive Power Superintendent John E. Muhfield worked in concert with American Locomotive Company designers and the first Mallet locomotive in the US was built at the Schenectady Works later that year. B&O #2400 was built as a pusher locomotive. The B&O continued to perfect the Mallet design and soon added Mallets for over the road service. B&O #2400 was renumbered #7000 but both the locomotive and original road number were restored in 1927 for the Fair of the Iron Horse celebration. Sadly that landmark locomotive was scrapped after that event. The B&O class EM-1, 2-8-8-4 locomotives of 1944 were the largest articulated steam locomotives on the railroad and closed that fascinating part of its revered record of steam locomotive designs.
The fortunes of the B&O changed in the late 1950s and that prompted affiliations with the Chesapeake & Ohio in 1963 and the Western Maryland in 1968-1972 to form the Chessie System. Further restructuring aligned the Chessie System and Seaboard Coastline to form CSX in 1980 and later assorted Conrail properties were added to the greater CSX System. In addition to the core Chessie System Railroads, CSX heritage includes the Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Air Line Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Louisville & Nashville, NC&StL “The Dixie Line”, New York Central System and Richmond, Potomac & Fredericksburg. Like the pioneering B&O, CSX continues to play a material role with advancing the design and practical applications of modern high-adhesion locomotives that now dominate railroad transportation.
Fortunately the model railroader has many superb motive power options from all of the eras mentioned here, by way of manufacturers that continually up the bar for performance, realistic sound and incredible detailing. Current models in all scales make moving a consist of any size child’s play for the contemporary modeler. Our inventory carries one of the most complete selections available of popular steam, electric and diesel-electric prototypes and we invite you to explore those impressive options. As you build your motive fleet you are also building Rewards Points that fully support your future modeling needs. Our entire staff works hard, consistently and intelligently to make certain we climb the grade to satisfy your needs and wants.
(M B Klein, FAW)