Thursday, April 13, 2017

B&O Harpers Ferry Bridges and Tunnel

(1931 CSX/B&O Bridge Hunter, 1894 CSX/B&O/W&P+Appalachian Trail Bridge Hunter, Bollman Truss Bridge Hunter1839 Wooden B&O Bridge HunterSatellite)

(Update: see the first part of derailments for more views of these bridges. FRR&P)

I'm going to do both existing and both lost bridges in one posting because they are so close together that a picture of one tends to have a picture of the other bridge and/or the piers of the two lost bridges.

The renovated B&O depot and interlocking tower is behind the photographer.
B&O PR Photo, Public Domain from Bridge Hunter
Bill Rogerson posted
Dennis DeBruler Harpers Ferry Bridges and Tunnels:!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...

Bryan Russel shared Richard Hafer's post of two photos and the comment: "Comparison views of Harper's Ferry, WV in 1865 and 1974."

Timothy Carroll posted
Randall Hampton shared
The current Harpers Ferry bridge for the Winchester branch, back in the day when it was the only RR bridge there. The line to Winchester comes in under that semaphore on the right. This was the first bridge to make use of the tunnel.

Redeker Rail Video & Photography posted

Tom Jimkiewicz posted
One of the most famous spots on the B&O and in American railroading, Harpers Ferry. Went to tour the nearby Antietam Battlefield and had to make a stop here. The history oozes from this place, railroad, civil war, civil rights, even ancient.
Jim McAfoose posted
Harpers Ferry WVA 11/17
Comments on Jim's post
Simon Robinson posted
Some Track Maintenance in Harpers Ferry as the Gravel Train slowly heads for the Tunnel.

Walter Langston shared
2 trestles with csx rock train crossing river from harpers ferry west virginia to Maryland

Jack Stoner posted
CSX train R217 rumbles west across a placid Potomac River at Harper's Ferry, WV on a pleasant April afternoon in 1987.

Francis Otterbein posted two photos with the comment: "B & O Railroad, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia."
1, The 1931 mainline B&O bridge is the one with the train. The 1894 bridge on the left (south) is Winchester & Potomac (note the 73 Google Photos). Both of these bridges and the lost bridge south (left) of the W&P are over the Potomac River. The two piers on the left of the photo are in the Shenandoah River, which joins the Potomac here. The Potomac is flowing right to left in this view.

Harpers Ferry Park Association posted four photos with the comment:
(Image Information: HF-1726, Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP/This aerial photo, taken on March 18, shows the rising waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers; HF-1724, Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP/Aerial photo taken the next day, on March 19, shows the extent of the damage caused by this record flood of 1936. The rivers rose to an all-time crest of 36.5 feet, leaving Harpers Ferry in ruins. The remaining railroad bridges were weighed down with loaded coal cars to hold them in place; HF-54, Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP/Lower Town businesses are inundated during the Flood of 1936; HF-1219, Historic Photo Collection, Harpers Ferry NHP/Aftermath of the record Flood of 1936 from Maryland Heights, showing the ruined highway bridges across both the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers)
Michael Pittell The bridge on the bottom is gone and the one on the right of the three on top is also gone.Thomas Wilson The top right bridge is on the old original piers of the B&O Railroad. The middle top one is the 1890s bridge and the upper left is the 1930s bridge.Richard Schaffer This was the beginning of the end of commerce & industry in Harpers Ferry. Everything from infrastructure to real estate to the HF economy began to collapse, especially since the "new" 340 would bypass the town. The town's industry would quickly become destination tourism, yet even to this day we have politicians and residents that adamantly oppose it-

Adam Maxey Still trains going across in this photo with two bridges lost. Thats crazy.
Nathan McDonald Actually, the B&O just pushed strings of loaded cars onto the trestles in hopes of keeping them from washing away. There's no engine attached to either of them.
Nathan McDonald I know right? That's a ton of weight, and a lot of times it didn't even work. Water's a powerful force, as Harpers Ferry can attest!
Eric M Ziegler They still do this today.
David Hartman I remember when csx did the same thing in '72 during hurricane Agnes.
Rick Morrison B&O placed loaded hoppers on the bridges to weight them down. And they have done this several times since the 1936 flood. Nothing since has rivaled the the severity of '36.


Steve Messer commented on Photo 1 in response to a question about the "strange second truss setup."
That used to be a railroad bridge with a wye.
Peter Smith That is the original railroad bridge.....replaced by the new tunnel and bridge.
Bill Semmett A switch on a bridge over running water? Wow.

Francis Otterbein posted
Winchester and Potomac Railroad Bridge and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Bridge at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

The Winchester and Potomac ran from Winchester, VA to Harpers Ferry in 1836. The bridge needed to connect with the B&O was completed in 1837. "This was also the first ever intersection of two railroads in the United States." The B&O acquired it in 1902. Since the B&O did the hard part of building across the Allegheny Front Escarpment, the W&P was a reasonable way to get the produce of the Shenandoah Valley to the eastern ports. But since the produce used the Maryland port of Baltimore or the Philadelphia port of Pennsylvania, the Virginia government did not allow the W&P to build south of Winchester. The rest of the valley had to wait for railroads to be built to Virginia port cities. [Wikipedia1] The W&P is now part of the Shenandoah Subdivision of CSX that runs between Harpers Ferry, where it joins the Cumberland Subdivision, and Strasburg, VA, where it joins NS's B-Line (a former Southern route). [Wikipedia2]

Satellite plus Paint
The Harpers Ferry Tunnel was dug in 1894 to reduce the curvature for the route of the 1894 truss bridge. The tunnel also allowed the 1894 route to be higher. I wonder if the earlier route had flooding problems.

The western end was widened in 1931 to allow the 1931 bridge to be built on an angle that reduced the curvature in Harpers Ferry.

B&O's first crossing was an 1839 covered wood truss. (Note, 1839 seems to conflict with the 1837 date in the above W&P source because this bridge did have a Y span to accommodate the W&P.) Two Bollman trusses were built here so I don't know if the one below was 1851 or 1870. It is the remnants of the piers for this bridge that we see south of the existing truss bridge in some of the above photos. Bollman worked for the B&O and patented this truss in 1852 to use iron instead of wood. It was obsolete by 1875 [HAER WV-36]
Public Domain from Wikipedia
The Bollman truss bridge that connected the north end of the Winchester and Potomac Railroad into the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad toward the end of the Civil War.
Francis Otterbein posted
A rare old photo of Harpers Ferry taken after the Civil War. Throughout this conflict, the B&O was in a precarious position as it ran right along the Union-Confederate lines. Confederate Stonewall Jackson occupied Harpers Ferry in 1861, yet for a month, did nothing about B&O trains passing through laden with coal and other materials for the Union war effort. Then Stonewall wised up, began disrupting B&O operations, burning and looting trains, commandeering engines for the Confederacy.
Michael Caloroso Not many iron bridges before the Civil War. Impressive.
[This posting is in a Public Group. Follow the link for more pictures of the older bridges.]

William A. Shaffer posted
Harpers Ferry Tunnel
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)

Randall Hampton posted
Not often do you see a junction inside a tunnel. The old B&O / Chessie main from Baltimore / Washington to Pittsburgh / Cleveland / Chicago continues straight on the double track. The single track line to Winchester branches off. A modification on the far left has been made for stacked containers.
Randall Hampton Same tunnel as my group's banner pic.

The banner pic referenced above by Randall Hampton
Randall Hampton I considered several banner pics to be the first one, but this is the one in my collection that seems to best represent the theme of the group. B&O came to Harper's Ferry early in its westward expansion, and it's still an important high traffic line, carrying container trains from the port of Baltimore to the Chicago area.
Steven Larrick Iconic scene, second only to the Thomas Viaduct..,

Carl Venzke posted
Engines 4008 and 4032 lead a coal train east at Harpers Ferry, WV on October 4, 1974.
Steve Larrick posted
Aerial view of B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA. Looking east across the Potomac River. Left to right: B&O plate girder bridge completed in 1931; 1894 bridge for the B&O Valley line to Winchester, Virginia; stone piers of the former B&O Bollman truss bridge (washed out by a flood in 1936); stone piers for a highway bridge (across the Shenandoah River). 1970
Anthony Migliaccio posted
June 20, 1981. B & O Shenandoah Branch bridge across the Potomac River. Bridge is still in use daily. Photo taken from Maryland Heights. Photo Credit A.F. Migliaccio From my collection
Francis Otterbein posted
Winchester and Potomac Railroad Bridge and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Bridge at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
Leon l Lancaster posted
view from the harper's ferry tunnel around 1990. probably would still be doin' time if caught. nice perspective
Francis Otterbein posted four photos with the comment: "Winchester and Potomac Railroad Truss Bridge and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Bridge crossing the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. The B & O is in the foreground and the old Winchester & Potomac is in the back (photos 2) The portal, built in 1931, (photos 3 & 4) is in Maryland. All my photos taken in the mid 1990’s."




Note the CPL signals.
William A. Shaffer posted
Tunnel at Harpers Ferry, WV (5.08.17)
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)

William A Shaffer posted

LC-DIG-highsm- 31334
Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Carol M. Highsmith's photographs are in the public domain.

Gerry Meyle Sr. posted
55 years ago today. B&O E8A 1454 with train no 9 arriving at Harpers Ferry, W.V. August 13, 1966. This locomotive would be converted to Amtrak Fuel Tender 400 in the 1970s. Bob Pennisi photo, from my collection.
George Keller: I think that this engine sets in Bellevue , Ohio today.

It is nice to see that some people understand that a trail (Appalachian) and railroad can share a right-of-way and created a trail+rail bridge. Some people have been trying to convert the tourist railroad between Tipton, IN and Indianapolis into a trail.

1 comment:

  1. I've always been fascinated by the overlapping history here, with the C&O Canal and the various railroad routes and structures. This is an excellently-collected and written summary that captures lots of information that might otherwise be lost. Thank you so much for compiling this!