I was peeved.
During my Christmas break in Maryland, a winter storm blew in on the day I’d picked to spend some time at the state archives in Annapolis. My plan had been to look at criminal cases involving runaway servants, as well as look up wills and inventories for my 17th and 18th century Harford County ancestors (including the Cole family, see my series Digging Up My Ancestors about their cemetery move, beginning here). But it was really a mess out there, and seeing as Dr. V and I were going to borrow my Mom’s Jeep to get there, we decided on lounging around the house for another day. Besides, I might have grown up driving in freezing rain, but I sold my car about seven years ago. My skills probably weren’t as good as they used to be.
I spent the snowy day block-printing and daydreaming about train service to Annapolis, the one thing that would make a trip to the Maryland State archives from New York City without a car not as painful. Amazingly – there’s been no train service between Baltimore and Annapolis since 1950. Only buses will take you between Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis now. Eww. Buses. (See BeyondDC’s feature Why streetcars are better than buses).
Of the railroads that serviced Annapolis from the 19th century until the 1950, the electrified Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis was the most innovative (read about the WB&A at Greater Greater Washington). As this article outlines, the seemingly redundant WB&A service had distinct advantages over the more established and faster B&O and PRR service: lower fares, more frequent half-hourly service, and better downtown termini in both Washington and Baltimore than that of the B&O or PRR. It also offered hourly service to Annapolis. Early successes of the WB&A included brokering a deal for Bowie Race Track to be built next to its line and providing service to Camp Meade during World War I. Today, parts of the WB&A’s right of way are used by the Baltimore light rail, and the rail-to-trail system in the area.
Anyone who has ever traveled on Route 50 between Annapolis and Washington during rush hour has mused if there isn’t another way.