AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #75a -- Washington, DC to Boston, Massachusetts
Part 1 - Washington to Baltimore


0.0     WASHINGTON, D.C. Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Avenue N.E.  Elevation approximately 50. Union Station opened in 1908, and is one of the busiest and best-known places in Washington, visited by 32 million people each year. The terminal serves MARC (Maryland) and VRE (Virginia) commuter trains as well as AMTRAK.  It also serves the Metro Transit System of busses and subway trains.  Washington Union Station is the southernmost terminal for most of AMTRAK’s NE Corridor Regional trains, including the high-speed Acela Express trains.  A few of the Regional Trains extends south from Washington to Richmond, Williamsburg, and Newport News, Virginia.  Union Station was designed by Daniel H. Burnham.

         Washington, of course, is the Nation’s capital, and was laid out by George Washington, the Nation’s first President, and designed by French soldier and engineer Pierre L’Enfant.  The cornerstone of the Capitol Building was laid in 1793.  The Capitol Building is a short walk from Union Station.

          During the War of 1812, much of the capital city was burned by British soldiers, but rebuilding began shortly after the war ended.  The White House was charred by the British, then repainted in the color it is, and was thus known as the “White” House.

         Thanks to the construction of the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad, the population of the Washington, DC area reached 75,000 BY 1860.  Also by that time, severe hostilities between the industrial North and the agricultural South began developing, which eventually led to the Civil War.  Many of the prominent Civil War battles were fought near Washington, D.C.

         One could spend several weeks touring Washington, D.C.  Immediately in front of Union Station, one can take the “Tourmobile” on a guided tour of the City, and the Washington Mall is a short walk away from the station.  Along the Mall, one can see the various museums of the Smithsonian Institute, the Washington Monument, White House, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Viet Nam Memorial, National Gallery of Art, several; Federal Government Buildings, and many other attractions.

         In addition to being the seat of the federal Government, Washington is a financial and transportation center, and also features a great architectural diversity of buildings, including Greek Revival, Victorian, and Baroque, plus there are a great number of modern engineered buildings.  A Washington, D.C. ordinance limits the height of all buildings to 13 stories.

         Geologically, we will be traveling close to the border of the Piedmont Province and the Coastal Plain Province between Washington and New York.  The Coastal Plain is a large physiographic province which extends from Florida all the way north along the Atlantic Ocean, to approximately New York City.  It is a great wedge of unconsolidated or loosely-consolidated sedimentary rocks, which dip seaward, and also thicken in that direction.  Topographically, the Coastal Plain is very flat.  The oldest exposed formations in the Coastal Plain are the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group, 65 to 145 million years old.  The Piedmont Province is composed of much older rocks, of early Paleozoic age (Cambrian and Ordovician Age – 450 to 550 million years old).  The Piedmont rocks consist of hard igneous and metamorphic rocks, many of which were part of the ocean floor or volcanic rocks, which have been strongly metamorphosed and folded..

          The Piedmont and Coastal Plain Provinces are separated by the Fall Line, a narrow contact zone in which the hard metamorphosed and deformed Piedmont rocks, lie on top of the flat Coastal Plain sediments. In many places, this contact is expressed by low hills or ridges, characterized by low waterfalls in streams.  In the Washington, DC, area, Rock Creek, Cabin John Creek, and parts of the Potomac River, flow over the fall line.  Washington, D.C. was established at the head of navigation on the Potomac River, at the Fall Line.  Beyond New York, we will be traveling across the New England Province (see MP 241 below).

1        On the right (northbound) is Gaulladet University, founded in 1864 as a school for deaf students.  Gallaudet is a Federally-chartered private university for the education of the deaf; however, some hearing students are admitted.  The university was named after Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a notable figure in the advancement of deaf education, who was hard of hearing.  It is a bilingual school, with English as the main teaching language.

2       On the right (northbound) is the 400-acre National Arboretum, located on the top of a hill composed of the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group.

4        Cross Anastasia River and enter PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY, MARYLAND.  The county is named after Prince George of Denmark, and the county seat is Upper Marlboro.  The county was created in April, 1696, from parts of Charles and Calvert Counties.  The boundaries changed several more times during the 1700’s.  During the War of 1812, the British marched through the county by way of Bladensburg to burn the White House.

         Since much of the southern part of the county was tobacco farms that were worked by enslaved Africans, there was a high population of African Americans in the region.  The population of African Americans declined during the first half of the 20th century, but was renewed to over 50% in the early 1990s when the county again became majority African American.

4.5    Pass beneath Interstate 295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway

5        Pass through the unincorporated community of Tuxedo, possibly named after a resort in New York.  Tuxedo is an Algonquian Indian name.

6       On the left (northbound) is the town of Cheverly, named after nearby Cheverly Gardens, which was named after an English estate. The word “Cheverly” means “twig field.”  The land was subsequently purchased in 1918 by Robert Marshall, president of the Washington Suburban Realty Company.  The Cheverly subdivision platted by Marshall was developed around the 1839 Magruder family homestead known as Mount Hope.  The town was founded in 1918, and incorporated in 1931.  Many of the early homes were mail order homes from Sears, Roebuck, & Co. 

7        Pass beneath Landover Road and pass through the unincorporated community of Landover, named after the town of Llandovery, Wales.  Landover is the headquarters of Giant Food of Maryland, LLC, known as Giant-Landover.  Each May, the Harlem Renaissance Festival takes place in Landover.

8.5     Pass beneath U.S. 50.

9.5     NEW CARROLLTON station, 4300 Garden City Drive.  Elevation approximately 104. The city was built on an estate owned by horse racing tycoon Edward Mahoney.  After Mahoney's death in 1957, the land was acquired by developer Albert W. Turner, who sought to create a planned suburb.  The city was named after Charles Carroll, an early settler and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The city was chartered in 1953.

         Pass beneath Interstate 95, the Capital Beltway.

10-11 Pass through Lanham, another unincorporated community, named after Aaron Lanham, one of 17 members of the first Montgomery County Grand Jury.  It is the home of the Doctors’ Community Hospital, as well as the Thomas J. Callaway House, constructed in 1910.  Thomas J. Calloway was a prominent lawyer, educator, civil servant, and African American activist until his death in 1930.  He was vice president and general manager of the Lincoln Land Improvement Company and served as first principal of the Lincoln School.

12.5-13 Pass through Glenn Dale, an unincorporated settlement likely named after the Glenn family; however, due to the hilliness of this region, the name could be in reference to many hills (glens) in the area. It is the home of the Glenn Dale Hospital, as well as the USDA Plant Introduction Station.

         The hilly topography here is underlain by the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group, consisting of unconsolidated or loosely-consolidated gravel, sand, and silt.

15-16 Pass through Bowie, named after Oden Bowie, the 37th Governor of Maryland.  In 1853 Colonel William Duckett Bowie, Oden Bowie’s father, obtained a charter from the Maryland legislature to construct a rail line into Southern Maryland. In 1869 the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Company began the construction of a railroad from Baltimore to Southern Maryland, terminating in Pope's Creek.  The town was originally named Huntington City, but was changed to Bowie ibn 1880.  The President of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad at that time was Oden Bowie.

          Bowie was the home of television’s Kathie Lee Gifford.

16.5   On the right (northbound) is Bowie State University, a historically black university, which is part of the University of Maryland system.  It was founded in 1865 by the Baltimore Association for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People as a teaching school.  The school has  22 undergraduate subject programs, 19 master’s programs, two doctoral programs, and 14 certificate programs in disciplines as diverse as computer science, education, human resource development, organizational communication, and nursing.  One of Bowie State’s notable alumni was Christa McAuliffe, who was killed in the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

18      Cross the Patuxent River and enter ANNE ARUNDEL County.  The Patuxent River flows into Chesapeake Bay.  Anne Arundel County was named after Lady Ann Arundell, the wife of Cecil Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore and first Lord Proprietor of the Province of Maryland.  The county was originally part of St. Mary’s County, but the year after Lady Ann’s death, the county separated from St. Mary’s and formed its own jurisdiction and became the 3rd county in the Province of Maryland.  It was known as “Providence” by its early settlers. On March 25, 1655, during the English Civil War, the Battle of the Severn, the first naval colonial battle ever fought in America was fought in Anne Arundel County on the Severn River between Puritan forces supporting the Commonwealth of England and forces loyal to Lord Proprietor Calvert.  The Commonwealth forces, under William Fuller, were victorious.  The Anne Arundel County seat is Annapolis, which is also the capital of the State.

          Anne Arundel County was an early home of television personality Pat Sajak, An was also the home of philanthropist Johns Hopkins, founder of the University of his namesake.

19.5   Pass through Patuxent, named after an Algonquian Indian word meaning “at the falls or rapids.”

21     On the left (northbound) is Fort Meade, which is situated on the U.S. Army’s Fort George G. Meade, named after the Civil War General who was the head of the Army of the Potomac, who defeated the Confederate Troops of Robert E. Lee at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. The fort was organized in 1917, during World War I.  Currently, the installation is the home of the National Security Agency, Central Security Service, United States Cyber Command and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

         Geologically, the site is underlain by sand and gravel of the Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group.

22      Pass through Odenton, named after former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie.  The village was founded in 1867, and developed around the new Baltimore & Potomac Railroad, of which Gov. Bowie was President.  The depot in town was built at the junction of the B & P and the Annapolis & Elk Ridge Railroads, and the town was nicknamed “The Town a Railroad Built.”.  The depot today is used by MARC commuter trains.  After 1900, the electrified Washington, Baltimore, & Annapolis Railroad was built parallel to the B & P.  Odenton is the home of the Dennis F. Sullivan Maintenance Facility, operated by AMTRAK, which maintains track, bridges and other structures on the AMTRAK/MARC line between Baltimore and Washington.  All of this, as well as the suburban expansion of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have transformed Odenton from a farmland region to a business, residential and industrial center in Anne Arundel County.

26      Pass through Severn, a suburban community, named after the Severn River, which is named after the Welsh river of the same name.

27      Pass through Harmans, an unincorporated community named after the Harman family, who lived nearby.  The village was originally known as Harman Station.

29     Pass through the community of Stony Run.

29.5   BWI AIRPORT RAIL STATION, 7 AMTRAK Way.  Approximate elevation 63 ft. This station is adjacent to Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall International Airport, which is reachable by regularly-scheduled free shuttle bus from the station.  The station was opened in 1980, and was the first AMTRAK station in the United States to serve an airport. The station serves both AMTRAK and MARC trains.

30      Pass beneath Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

31.5  Cross Patapsco River and enter BALTIMORE County.  The Patapsco is a 39-mile long tributary of Chesapeake Bay, and it flows into the bay in the City of Baltimore.  The name is an Algonquian Indian word derived from pota-psk-ut, meaning “backwater or “tide covered with froth.”

          Baltimore County was named after Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, the proprietor of the Province of Maryland.  The county was officially established in 1659, as one of the 23 counties in Maryland.  The original county seat was “Old Baltimore,” established in 1674.  The Town of Baltimore became county seat in 1767.  On July 4, 1851, the City of Baltimore separated from the County, and, in 1854, after the Second State Constitution was adopted, the county seat became Towsontown, now known as Towson.  Towson has been the county seat since 1854.

         Along the river on the right (northbound) is Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland’s first state park.  The park's recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and picnicking.  The Park is divided into 6 distinct “areas,” each having its own activities and sites.  The Park also contains 2 swinging bridges, plus the Cascade Falls.  In 1999, the final scenes of The Blair Witch Project were filmed in the Griggs House, a 200-year-old building located within the Park.

32-33 Pass through the unincorporated community of Halethorpe, which was named by the mother of State Senator Carville D., Benson (1912-1914).  The name means “healthy village.”  Halethorpe is the home of the Clipper City Brewing Company, as well as an Alcoa aluminum plant.  The village was the site of the 1927 Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's 1927 centenary celebration, the “Fair of the Iron Horse.”

33-34 Pass through the unincorporated community of Arbutus, first known as Crowdentown.  The village was named for the abundance of trailing arbutus in the area, a flowering shrub also known as the mayflower.

         Pass beneath Interstate 695, the Baltimore Beltway.

34.5   Enter the City of Baltimore.

34.5-35.5 Pass through the Violetville neighborhood of Baltimore, known for its "well-kept 1950s and 60s era rowhouses and older farmhouses that date back to the turn of the previous century."  In 2005, Violetville was known as the “best neighborhood in Baltimore.”  The community is enthusiastic about its Little League teams, as well as about outdoor Christmas lights.  In the spring, a parade and street fair celebrate the beginning of the Little League and softball seasons.

36      Pass through Carroll.  On the right (northbound), behind the cemetery along Gwynn’s Falls Creek, is Gwynn’s Falls Park.  As we pass through the Baltimore area, we are traversing the edge of the Piedmont Province, and crossing what is known as the Chopawamsic Terrane, which is composed of ancient volcanic island arc rocks of Precambrian age.  This terrane was intruded by the Baltimore mafic complex, also of Precambrian age, which intruded beneath the Chopawamsic Terrane.  In some areas, such as Gwynn’s Fall, the tops of the 1.1 billion year oldGrenville Gneiss are exposed.  In this area, the Grenville Gneiss is known as the Baltimore Gneiss.  Between the railroad and the creek, the Chopawamsic Terrane is overlain by the much younger Cretaceous-aged Potomac Group.

36.5   Cross Gwynn’s Falls Creek.  We are now in the downtown Baltimore area.  Most of downtown is underlain by the hard Baltimore Gneiss, which is overlain by Potomac Group sediments.

38      Enter one of three tunnels we will be passing through as we travel through Baltimore.  The tunnels have been bored into the Baltimore Gneiss, and are known collectively as the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnels.

38.5   Daylight again for a few seconds, before your train disappears into the second of the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnels.

39.5   The final patch of daylight before entering the third of the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnels.

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.
Baltimore to Wilmington