Silver Spring to Washington, D.C.

The Georgetown Branch

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Rail bridge over Canal Road near the corner of Arizona Ave, within Washington, DC limits. This was taken through the windshield during a downpour--therefore the blurry traffic lights and blue windshield tint). Photo by Mike Palmer.

The branch left the CSX (ex-Baltimore & Ohio) main at Georgetown Junction, near Silver Spring, MD. Some maps show a short segment of branch in operation near the main line; it might have lasted a few years there as there are warehouses and light industry near the old main line connection.

An auto club map shows the line extending all the way to the Maryland-D.C. border; this might have been for service to "Filter Plant Siding" indicated on the SPV atlas. In the atlas, the line is shown going from Georgetown Junction in Maryland to Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Dalecarlia Reservoir, into D.C. to "Filter Plant Siding", and into Georgetown.

The furthest end of the line paralleled the Chesapeake & Ohio canal into Georgetown. The years of construction and abandonment are not known, but the line was in service as recently as 1981, as it was used when the Smithsonian ran the "150th year anniversary" of the John Bull locomotive, the oldest operating steam locomotive still in existence.

The northern section of the line is now a paved trail called the "Georgetown Branch Trail". Further south, in the Bethesda area, the paved trail is known as the "Capital Crescent Trail". The line passes through deep cuts and has not been built on, but it is in a heavily built up area so there is a lot of car traffic.

The rails are still in place at the location of the Connecticut Ave (MD Route 185) crossing, as this street is probably too congested to close off for rail removal.

I distinctly remember switching equipment positioning rolling stock on this line near the River Road crossing (also near the Roy Rogers) in the late 1980s.

G
Bethesda, MD
4/1/2011

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Went to high school in Washington 1968-71, and the Georgetown Branch had daily service at the time. CSX put welded rail down on the line in 1980, and I believe it was abandoned in the late 1980s. A stub may have remained in service for a few years, as you note.

At least until 1981, the line went all the way to Georgetown. There was a small yard off K Street on what is now the site of the Sequoia restaurant and the Scandinavian Cultural Center, adjacent to the mouth of Rock Creek.

Randy Resor
Merchantville, NJ
9/3/2012

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I lived in Bethesda, MD until 1969. The abandoned siding shown in the River Rd. crossing photo serviced the warehouse that was a part of the Marriott Corp., main office. The B&O RR made a drop there each weekday until Mariott moved their office. The section of Georgetown Branch between the East-West Hghwy overpass and Columbia CC passed behind the houses accross the street from my home.

Dick Humphrey
Wilmington, DE
8/21/2014

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My friends and I used to cross the railroad trestle on Brookeville Road, near radio station WWDC, to visit a friend who lived off Jones Bridge Road. Clearly, we were young, fearless and stupid. Never dodged a train, but heard one in the distance once.

Linda
Silver Spring, MD
8/23/2016

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