Ellicott City, known as Ellicott's Mills in the nineteenth century, was the terminus of the nation's first thirteen miles of commercial rail. The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad built the station in 1830-31 out of local granite. Now part of the B&O Railroad Museum system, it is considered "the oldest surviving railroad station in America." (B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station website.) The railroad first used the station for handling freight, but made changes in 1856-57 to accommodate passenger traffic.
|Streetside view of the Ellicott City Station, part of the B&O Railroad Museum. A Civil War Trails marker sits in the foreground. For more information, see the Historical Marker Database.|
|A close-up view of the horse-drawn passenger car Pioneer. The first trains on the B&O Railroad were drawn by horses. More powerful steam locomotives soon replaced them.|
|The station's telegraph room and ticket office, which was added during the 1856-57 conversion for passenger service. Men purchased their tickets through the window on the right; women and children bought theirs from a window on the opposite wall.|
|Detail of model railroad display in freight house showing Union artillery emplacement, Camp Relay, and the Thomas Viaduct.|
|The railroad Bridge across Main Street welcomes visitors to Ellicott City. The bridge connects with the remaining arch of the Oliver Viaduct to the left.|
|View of the Patapsco River on a beautiful fall day. The railroad station sits above the river to the right.|
The B&O Railroad Museum in Ellicott City made the Civil War Trust's "Essential To-Do List" for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. After my trip to the museum in October, I understood why. The station transports visitors back to a day when the B&O Railroad was essential to the Union war effort. A stroll through the old town past nineteenth century buildings further enhances the time travel effect. Whether you are a Civil War enthusiast, a railroad fan, or simply curious about history, I'd recommend a visit to Ellicott City and the B&O Railroad Museum.
For additional information about visiting the B&O Railroad Museum's Ellicott City Station, see here. The museum's main complex is located in Baltimore.
"The War Came By Train" is the B&O Railroad Museum's special commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The museum is sponsoring a variety of Civil War-related events and exhibits now through December 2015. The day I visited the Ellicott City Station, for instance, the museum was featuring an interpretative panel on the role of the Patapsco Guards during the Gettysburg Campaign. For more information on the 150th commemoration, including events in Ellicott City, see the museum's website.
EllicottCity.net provides extensive information on visiting the town, including attractions, restaurants, and shopping.
A list of historical markers in Ellicott City, including Civil War Trails stops, can be found here.
Aside from the links provided in the above text, the following sources were useful in compiling this post:
B&O Railroad Museum, "Image 2: The Oliver Viaduct"; Lisa Kawata, "Union soldiers' letters offer insight about Civil War camp in Ellicott City," Baltimore Sun, Feb. 1, 2011; Janet P. Kusterer & Victoria Goeller, Remembering Ellicott City: Stories from the Patapsco River Valley (2009); Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, "The Thomas Viaduct -- A Vital Link"; Maryland Historical Trust, "Inventory Form for State Historic Sites Survey: Oliver Viaduct"; Maryland Historical Trust, "National Register Listings: Howard County: Ellicott City Station, B&O Railway"; John F. Stover, History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (1987).