Washington, DC to Chesapeake Beach

The Chesapeake Beach Railway

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This abandoned railway was originally conceived as the East Washington Line of the Southern Maryland Railway in 1871. However, that railroad fell into receivership soon after, having only graded a few miles of the western portion of the route in the area of Washington, DC.

The Washington and Chesapeake Beach Railway was chartered in 1891 to build a line between Washington and Chesapeake Beach, a proposed resort town in Maryland. This railroad company also fell into receivership in 1895 with nary a revenue train operated. The company was reorganized as the Chesapeake Beach Railroad, and completed the line by 1899. Despite completion of the line, the resort destination at Chesapeake Beach was not ready; it opened in 1901, at which time trains began running over the line.

Also in 1901, the original proprietor of the western portion of the property, the Southern Maryland Railway, came out of bankruptcy as the Washington, Potomac and Chesapeake Railway with intent to run over the original route graded by the SMRR, which was now in use by the CBRR. A legal battle ensued, with the WP&C contending the CBRR was operating over their route illegally; the courts ruled in favor of the WP&C, dealing a blow to the CBRR.

Eventually, the Great Depression and increasing automobile use took its toll on the CBRR, and it ultimately abandoned its line in 1935, except for a short segment on the western end (the original SMRR grading) which remained in use as the East Washington Railway up until 1978.

Today, a portion of the abandoned route serves as a rail-trail, while yet other portions now serve as the foundations for local roads.

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