AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #75a -- Washington, DC to Boston, Massachusetts
Part 2 - Baltimore to Wilmington
Washington to Baltimore
Wilmington to Trenton


40      BALTIMORE Penn Station, 1515 N. Charles Street.  Elevation approximately 60 ft. The tracks are below ground surface here, with the tops of the train sheds at ground level.  Every AMTRAK train which operates on this part of the Northeast Corridor makes a stop at Baltimore.

          Like the county, Baltimore was named after Cecil Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore and Proprietor of the Province of Maryland.  The city was founded in 1729 by an Act of the Provincial Assembly, and incorporated as a city in 1797.  It is not a part of Baltimore County, but an Independent City.  Baltimore is the second-largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic.  The city's Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States and a major manufacturing center.  After a decline in major manufacturing, industrialization, and rail transportation, Baltimore shifted to a service-oriented economy, with Johns Hopkins Hospital (founded 1889) and Johns Hopkins University (founded 1876), now the city's top two employers.

         Baltimore grew swiftly in the 18th Century as a granary for sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean.  The profit from sugar encouraged the cultivation of cane and the importation of food.  Baltimore established its public market system in 1763.  Lexington Market, founded in 1782, continues to be known as one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States today. Lexington Market was also known to be a place for slave trading, which occurred all over the downtown area and was advertised in the Baltimore Sun.  Baltimore had the first Post Office System in the United States (inaugurated in 1774), and the first water company chartered in the United States (Baltimore Water Company, 1792).  The Second Continental Congress met here, in the Henry Fite House, from December 1776 to February 1777, effectively making the city the capital of the United States during this period.

         The Battle of Baltimore took place in 1814, during the War of 1812, when Fort McHenry was bombarded by British forces.  The bombardment of Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner, which became the U.S. National Anthem.  The original title of the anthem was In Defence of Fort McHenry.  During the Civil War, Maryland was a slave state, and there was popular support for secessionism; however, the State remained in the Union.  Baltimore saw the first casualties of the war on April 19, 1861, when Union Soldiers enroute from the President Street Station to Camden Yards clashed with a secessionist mob in the Pratt Street Riot.

          Around 1830, America’s first railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio, was started at Baltimore’s Mount Clare Station.  The nation’s first passenger and freight service by railroad took place on the B & O. Also, the first telegraph communication, “What Hath God Wrought?” was received in Baltimore in 1844.  The nation’s oldest Catholic cathedral, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is located in Baltimore.

         In February, 1904, the Great Baltimore Fire took place downtown.  Then, in 1968, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., extensive race riots broke out in Baltimore, which has continued for many years, and culminated in 2015 after the death of Freddie Grey, a 25-year old black man, who was arrested by Baltimore police on grounds that he had an illegal switchblade.  Grey then fell into a coma and died while being transported to the jail by the police.

         Baltimore is the home of the B & O Railroad Museum, Babe Ruth’s Birthplace, Cylburn Arboretum, Evergreen House, H.L. Mencken House, Maryland Historical Society, Maryland Science Center, Fort McHenry National Monument, Pimlico Race Course, which hosts horse racing’s Preakness Stakes each May, and Sherwood Gardens, plus many more museums and historical churches.  It is also the home of Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary’s Seminary, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, University of Baltimore, and University of Maryland-Baltimore.

          Upon departure from Baltimore northbound, we are leaving the Baltimore-Potomac Tunnels.

40.5   On the left (northbound) is Green Mount Cemetery, established in 1838.  The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the internment site of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

42      On the left (northbound) is the Baltimore Recycling Facility.

44     Pass beneath Interstate 895.

45      Pass beneath Interstate 95, and leave the City of Baltimore, and re-enter BALTIMORE County (see MP 31.5 above). 

46.5   Cross Back River, a tidal estuary which flows into Chesapeake Bay. Pass beneath Interstate 695 bypass.

47      Pass through Chesaco Park, which is part of Rosedale, a residential community to Baltimore.  Across the Back River, on the right (northbound), is Essex, a residential community started in 1910 by the Taylor Land Company.  It is the home of Essex Community College (now Community College of Baltimore County-Essex), founded in 1957.  Cross beneath Interstate 695 again.

48.5   Pass beneath Interstate 695 once more.

49     Pass through Stemmer’s Run.  We are now traversing Coastal Plain sedimentary deposits again.  Rocks at the surface here consist of the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group.

49-50 On the right (northbound) is the town of Middlesex, another residential suburb of Baltimore.  On the left is the Aero Acres development, which was established in the 1930’s and 40’s as a housing development for employees of the Martin Aerospace Company in adjacent Middle River.

50-52 Pass through Middle River.  On the right (northbound) is Martin State Airport, and facilities of the Glenn L. Martin Company, formerly Martin Aerospace.  The Martin Company was founded by aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin.  The Martin Airport was a former plant airport for military aircraft built by Martin from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.  The airport is currently a joint civil-military public airport.  The Maryland Air National Guard's 175th Wing is a tenant at the airport, with locally based A-10C aircraft.

53-54 On the left (northbound) is the Chase Sand Pit, dug into deposits of the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group.

55      Pass through Chase, named after New England lawyer Charles Chase, a descendant of Declaration of Independence signer Samuel Chase.  The town was originally known as Chase’s Station, named after a rail station on the B & O Railroad.  After the Civil War, Chase became  the home of many freed slaves from the South.  In the mid-20th Century, the character of the town became more of a suburban community to Baltimore.  From 1949 through 1969, the U.S. Army disposed of numerous hazardous chemicals and chemical weapons in the area, making the area a major Superfund cleanup site.

          On May 12, 1959, Capital Airlines Flight #75 crashed in Chase enroute from La Guardia Airport to Atlanta Airport.  Then, on January 4, 1987, AMTRAK’s Train #94 crashed into a Conrail freight locomotive in Chase.  The Conrail engineer had been smoking marijuana, which caused him to miss numerous warning signals. Fourteen passengers were killed, making this AMTRAK’s deadliest crash ever at the time.  The crash became national news and led to new safety regulations and drug testing in the railroad industry.

56      Pass through Harewood

57     Cross Gunpowder River and enter HARFORD County, named after Henry Harford, the illegitimate son of Frederrick Calvert, the 6th Lord Baltimore.  Harford became Proprietor of the Maryland Province during the American Revolution.  The county was created on March 7, 1774, from a part of Baltimore County.  On March 22, 1775, Harford County hosted the signers of the Bush Declaration, a precursor document to the American Revolution.  On January 22, 1782 Bel Air became the county seat, and remains the county seat today.  In 1838, John Wilkes Booth was born in a log cabin near Bel Air in Harford County.

         On the left (northbound), the Bird River enters the Gunpowder.  Across the Bird River is part of Gunpowder Falls State Park. In this part of the park, the bedrock consists of coastal plain sedimentary deposits overlain by Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group sediments, however, further upstream from the railroad, exposures of Baltimore Gneiss and the similar Perry Hall Gneiss can be seen.

60-61 Pass through the unincorporated village of Edgewood, established in 1886 as Edgewood Station.  On the south side of the railroad (right if northbound) is the Edgewood Arsenal, which is a part of the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground (see MP 64 below).  The U.S. Army manufactured several types of toxic, poisonous gases, including mustard gas, phosgene, and chloropicrin, at the Edgewood Arsenal, beginning in World War I.  Some of these gases were shipped overseas for use in French and British artillery shells.  From 1955 to 1975, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps conducted classified medical studies at Edgewood Arsenal.  The purpose was to evaluate the impact of low-dose chemical warfare agents on military personnel and to test protective clothing and pharmaceuticals.  About 7000 soldiers took part in these experiments that involved exposures to more than 250 different chemicals.

         The Gunpowder Meetinghouse and Presbury Meetinghouse, located within the grounds of Edgewood Arsenal, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

63-64 Cross the Bush River, a tidal estuary along the upper portion of Chesapeake Bay.  In 1608, Captain John Smith may have come across this river, which he named Willoughby’s River.  The river was likely named after the pattern of barrens along the river, which alternate between saplings and bushes.

65-66 On the right (northbound) is the Aberdeen Proving Ground, which was established on October 20, 1917.  Including the Edgewood Arsenal (see MP 60 above), the Proving Ground also contains facilities for testing military vehicles, as well as other facilities for the testing of chemicals and chemical weapons.  Aberdeen is the oldest active proving ground in the Nation, and is a successor to the Sandy Hook Proving Ground, in New Jersey.

66.5-67 Pass through the unincorporated village of Perryman, named after local farmer Eugene Perryman.

70.5   ABERDEEN station, 18 E. Bel Air Avenue.  Elevation approximately 77.  This station also serves MARC commuter trains.  Aberdeen was originally called Halls Cross Roads, then Mechanicsville.  Its present name came from Aberdeen, Scotland, and was named by its numerous early Scottish settlers.  The Village of Aberdeen was established around 1800 by Edmund L. Rogers, whose cousin, the Earl of Aberdeen (Scotland) became Great Britain’s Prime Minister in 1852.  In 1892, the Town of Aberdeen was incorporated, and in 1992, 100 years later, Aberdeen incorporated as a City.

          In addition to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen is the home of the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum, located on the Proving Ground.  Aberdeen is also the home of the James B. Baker House, Chestnut Ridge, Griffith House, Poplar Hill, Sophia's Dairy, and Swansbury, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Aberdeen was the home of MLB’s hall-of-famer Cal Ripken, Jr., as well as the home of musician Frank Zappa for a short period.  Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Billy are the owners of minor league baseball team the Aberdeen Iron Birds, who play at Ripken Stadium.

72-73 The hilly terrain on the left (northbound) is underlain by the Cambrian-aged Aberdeen metagabbro, and amphibolite, which are dark-colored igneous and metamorphic rocks which are characteristic of the Piedmont Province.  Gabbro is a plutonic rock, which has been metamorphosed in this area.  Closer to the railroad are deposits of granitic gneiss and quartz diorite, which are also metamorphosed igneous rocks.

74-75 Pass through Havre de Grace, whose name means “harbor of grace.”  In 1658, the town was laid out for Godfrey Hammer, who originally called it Harmer’s Town.  The town was incorporated in 1795, and named after La Havre in France.  Earlier, in 1782, General Lafayette, after crossing the Susquehanna River, thought the area looked like the area around La Havre, France.  Havre de Grace became a city in 1878.

         During the War of 1812, Havre de Grace was attacked by the British, who burned the city.  Later, Havre de Grace was a primary town on the Eastern Route of the Underground Railroad in Maryland, as slaves could cross the Susquehanna to havens in the free state of Pennsylvania, traveling on to Philadelphia and New York.  Prior to 1840, escaped slaves from communities along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay came to Havre de Grace and often took the ferry across the Susquehanna River to safe sites in Lancaster and Chester counties in Pennsylvania.  After the Civil War, large numbers of black people settled in the town, and were given jobs in industry in northern states such as Pennsylvania.  Prior to the Civil War, Havre de Grace became one of seven towns which became centers for recruiting “U.S. Colored Troops” to help fight the war.

          Later, Havre de Grace became a mecca for duck hunters, who took guided hunting tours along the Susquehanna River.  Many local artisans during that period became skilled at making duck decoys.  In the early 20th Century, the town became more urbanized.

         Havre de Grace is the home of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, as well as the home of annual sailboat races during the summer, the Seafood Festival in August, the Concord Point Lighthouse, and the Havre de Grace Historic District.  In addition, visitors can take an excursion on the Lantern Queen paddle steamer or on the skipjack Martha Lewis.

75-76 Cross the Susquehanna River and enter CECIL County, the last county in Maryland through which we will be traveling.  The Susquehanna River is approximately 460 miles in length, and empties into Chesapeake Bay just south of Havre de Grace (right if northbound).  The river’s North (Main) Branch begins in upstate New York, and its West Branch begins in west-central Pennsylvania.   The river was named after the Susquehannock Indians.

          Cecil County was named after Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore and Proprietor of the Maryland Province.  The county was created by proclamation in 1674, and was originally much larger, and has always been an important trading and shipping center.  The county seat is Elkton.

76-77 Pass through Perryville, named after Mary Perry, the wife of John Bateman.  Perryville was first settled in 1622, when a patent to settle was granted to Edward Palmer. During the 17th Century, Lord Baltimore granted George Talbot 31,000 acres of land which included the Perryville area.  Before incorporation, the settlement was known as Lower Ferry, then Susquehanna, and finally Perryville.  During the Revolutionary War, Perryville served as a staging area for the Continental Army.

          During the 19th Century, Perryville was the midway station for the Wilmington to Baltimore rail line.  During the American Civil War, the railway line between Perryville and Baltimore was destroyed.  To transport troops and munitions to Annapolis, the Union Army again began the operation of the ferry across the Susquehanna.

          Perryville is the home of the Perry Point Veteran’s Medical Center.  It is also the northern terminus of MARC’s Penn line commuter rail service.

78.5  North of the railroad (left if northbound) is the Principio Furnace, an iron ore blast furnace built in 1837.  Water power to operate the furnace was provided by nearby Principio Creek, as it flowed over the Fall Line, which separates the Piedmont Province from the Coastal Plain (see MP 0.0 above).  The Principio Furnace produced iron until 1925.  Part of the stone furnace still remains on the site.  In 1972, Principio Furnace was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1921, the furnace became part of Wheeling Steel Company, then eventually Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Company.

         On the right is Furnace Bay, an arm of Chesapeake Bay.

81-82 Pass through Charlestown, incorporated in 1742.  The name likely commemorates Charles Calvert, the 5th Lord Baltimore, who inherited the title of Proprietor of the Maryland Province at age 15, upon the death of his father and grandfather.  Charles eventually became Lord of the Admiralty from 1742 to 1744.  He died in 1751 in England.

          We are again traversing Quaternary-aged sand and gravel deposits of the Coastal Plain Province.

82.5-83 Adjacent to the railroad on the right (northbound) is the North East River, an arm of Chesapeake Bay.

83.5   On the left (northbound), the low hills are composed of Cambrian-aged Port Deposit Gneiss, which is part of the Chopawamsic Terrane of the Piedmont Province (see MP 36 above).

84-85 Pass through North East, which was first settled in 1716, when an ironworks and a flour mill were built.  The town is named for its location at the head of the Northeast River, an arm of Chesapeake Bay, and its general location in the northeastern part of Maryland.

86      The coastal plain hills in this area are composed of Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group sand and gravel.

89.5   Cross Little Elk Creek.

90-91 Pass through Elkton, the last town in Maryland through which we will be traveling.  Elkton was originally named Head of Elk, due to its location at the head of the Elk River.  In 1787, the town was renamed Elkton by an Act of the legislature and incorporated.  The town was first settled in 1694 by Swedish mariners.  During the American Revolution, in 1777, the Anglo-German Army, under general William Howe, marched through here on the way to the Battle of Brandywine, and eventually toward Philadelphia to capture it.

         In the early 20th Century, Elkton was known as a “Gretna Green” town, since its marriage restrictions were not as strict as those in other areas; therefore, Elkton became a popular place to get married quickly.  In the 1920s and 1930s, Elkton was "the elopement capital of the East Coast," and thousands of marriages were conducted here each year.  In 1938, a 48-hour waiting ;period before marriage was established, and in time, Las Vegas, Nevada, became the U.S.’s most popular Gretna Green town.

         On December 8, 1963, Pan Am Flight 214 was struck by lightning and crashed near Elkton.  The crash was listed in the 2005 Guinness World Records as the "Worst Lightning Strike Death Toll.”

93      Pass beneath Interstate 95.

94     Enter NEW CASTLE County, DELAWARE.  New Castle is one of only three counties in the State of Delaware, and it is the most populous. The county was named after Newcastle, England.  The county seat is Wilmington.

         In 1640, the colony of New Sweden was founded near here, with Lt. Col. Johan Pritz as Governor, appointed by Queen Christina. The first permanent European settlement here was in 1638, however, from the expedition of Peter Minuit at Fort Christina, also consisting of Swedes. Land was transferred between the Swedes and the Dutch many times, and the area was finally granted to the Duke of York in 1664, by King Charles II of England.  In 1673, the final boundaries of the county were established.

96     On the right (northbound) is the former Newark Chrysler Assembly Plant, built in 1951, which was originally constructed to build tanks for the U.S. Army.  The plant later produced Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth cars.  For a short period during the 1960’s, Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley worked on an assembly line at the plant.  The facility closed in 2008, due to decline in sales of the larger models produced here.  The site was purchased by the University of Delaware to be used as its Science, Technology, and Advanced Research campus.

96.5   NEWARK station, 10 Mopar Drive.  Elevation approximately 97 ft.  The station is used for only a few of the AMTRAK Northeast Corridor trains, and is also the southernmost point of service for SEPTA commuter service from Philadelphia.  The University of Delaware main campus is a few blocks north of the station.

         Newark was founded in 1694 by Scottish and Welsh settlers, then it received a charter from King George II in 1758.  Delaware’s only Revolutionary War battle, the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, was fought near here.  Betsy Ross’ first star-spangled banner flag was allegedly flown for the first time at that battle.

          In 1765, the Newark Academy was founded, which produced 3 signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Read, Thomas McKean, and James Smith.  In 1833, the State granted a charter for a new school called Newark College, which merged with the Newark Academy in 1834, forming Delaware College.  In 1913, the combined schools became the University of Delaware, pursuant to a legislative act.

         Newark is the home of former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the home of rock-and-roller George Thorogood.  The city is also the home of the Iron Hill Museum of Natural History.

101.5 On the left (northbound), across White Clay Creek, is Delaware Park, also known as Delpark.  It contains the only thoroughbred horse racing track in the State of Delaware, and also has a casino and golf course.  It was opened on June 26, 1937.  It is the only mid-Atlantic horse racing park which hosts Arabian horse races.

102.5 Cross White Clay Creek.

104-106 Pass through Newport on the left (northbound).  The Christina River is on the right. The first land grant for the town of Newport was awarded to the Duke of York in 1641.  In 1731, longtime area resident and businessman John Justis purchased 100 acres here, and several years later the streets of a town called Newport-Ayre were laid out.  “Ayre” was eventually dropped from the name of the town.  Newport became a center of commerce in the early 19th Century, and farm products from as far away as southeastern Pennsylvania were brought to the docks on the Christina River here, and loaded onto ships bound for New York or Boston.

          In 1873, the town was incorporated, and it became a manufacturing center.  Henrik J. Krebs, founder of Krebs Pigments and Chemical Company, built a plant in town in 1908.  The facility was purchased by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1929, and later sold to it to Ciba-Geigy in 1984.

         Newport was the home of colonial inventor Oliver Evans, a pioneer in the fields of automation, materials handling and steam power.

         Geologically, we are still traversing coastal plain sediments, primarily the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Formation.

106-108 Interstate 95 is now parallel to the railroad on the right (northbound).

108.5 On the left (northbound), notice the large “Delaware Marine Mammals” Whaling Wall painting on the side of the building at 117 N. Market Street, painted by marine artist Robert Wyland, dedicated in 1993, located immediately west of the WILMINGTON station, 100 S. French Street.  Elevation approximately 20 ft.  Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware, and is the county seat of New Castle County.  Wilmington was built on the site of Fort Christina, named after the queen of Sweden, and was the first Swedish settlement in North America.  The Swedes, under Peter Minuit, arrived here in 1638.  Fort Christina served as the headquarters for the colony of New Sweden, which consisted of, for the most part, the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), but few colonists settled there. One of the settlers was Dr. Timothy Stidham, the first physician in Delaware.  British colonization began 1n 1634, after a series of wars between the Dutch and the English, which were greatly influenced by Quaker leader William Penn.  A charter was granted in 1739 by Britain’s King George II.  The newly chartered community was named Wilmington, after Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington.

          In 1777, after the nearby Battle of Brandywine, the town was occupied by the British until 1778.  Then, in 1800, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, a French Huguenot, emigrated to the United States, and originally intended to develop a Utopian colony here.  Since Du Pont was knowledgeable in the manufacture of gunpowder, by 1802, he had begun making the explosives in a mill on the Brandywine River north of Brandywine Village and just outside the town of Wilmington. The DuPont company became a major supplier to the U.S. military.

          During the Civil War, Delaware was a border state, and was supporting both the Union and the Confederate causes, and supplying both sides with ships, railroad cars, Du Pont gunpowder, and other supplies.  By 1868, after the end of the War, Wilmington was a leader in production of ironclad ships.  The city’s economy continued to grow through the remainder of the 19th Century and during the 20th Century.  In 1968, there were major race riots in the city following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The mayor of Wilmington at that time deployed the National Guard to Wilmington, where they stayed until the mayor’s term of office ended in January, 1969, thus making that occupation the longest occupation of an American city by state forces in the nation's history. In recent years, Wilmington has been ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the Nation for crime.

                                                                                               Wilmington hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival each summer, as well as the annual People’s Festival, a tribute to reggae star Bob Marley.  Each August, the 3-day Riverfront Blues Festival also takes place here.  Wilmington is also the home of the Brandywine River Museum, the Delaware Art Museum, the Hagley Museum, which contains the original Du Pont mills, estate, and gardens, and the Eleutherian Mills, Rodney Square, the Nemours Mansion and Gardens, Rockwood Museum, the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, and several other notable attractions.