Ilchester, Maryland, Part One; The B&O Station.

Finding information about the the B&O Station at Ilchester, MD became part of a research project that involved multiple people and continues with the sharing of the information with local historical societies. Sometimes I think we are doing research to save our history but not sharing it with the broader community to insure it meets the needs of a bigger audience. My son probably won’t care about the ladder construction detail on an M-15-k boxcar, but hopefully he can learn about the rich railroading history along the Old Main Line (OML] and this effort added to that body of knowledge

Sometime back in the late 90’s or early 2000’s I started looking for information about Ilchester Station after seeing one picture of the OML emerging from a tunnel, crossing the Patapsco River, then a small road and running next to a very unusual B&O Station.

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1941 View from Buzzard’s Rock of Ilchester Station, Source Unknown

At the time I was part of a small list-serve of B&O OML Modelers and we exchanged information about our favorite railroad topic. Working in universities most of my career I had access to the some of the first public list-serves about Genealogy and learned how to use them for other hobbies. That first Genealogy list-serve had about a 100 or so members and was state of the art back when PCs had green screens. Remember green screen monitors? It taught me the power of information exchange long before Yahoo Groups or now .IO Groups.

We exchanged information about rolling stock, sources, and anything we could. Exchanging photos online was out of the question, only the DOD had that kind of bandwidth. We saved photos on CD’s and sent them by snail mail. I remember Bill Hebb, Nick Fry, John Teichmoeller, Don Barnes, Bill Barringer and a few others being on the list. When I asked a question about Ilchester Station, Bill Barringer (author of the definitive book on the B&O’s Q-Class Mikados) sent me a CD of photos he had from before and after a B&O renovation project to upgrade the structure in the 40’s or 50’s. The dates were approximate, but those photos have turned out to be the best source of information about the station in existence. Bill has since passed. What a great thing to share with the larger community. Thank you John Teichmoeller for doing just that.

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Looking east toward Relay Junction past Ilchester Station, date unknown, B&ORRHS Collection
2018 March OML 242
Looking east toward Relay Junction past Ilchester, March 2018, Bruce D. Griffin Photo

So we had photos of the station and someone remembered a set of erection drawings for the station existed at the Smithsonian. A couple of years later one of the members of this tribe found the drawings and shared them with the group. They were not even close to the photos of the actual structure and things like roof pitch were so different we thought that they couldn’t be the result of a renovation, too expensive with little purpose. As time passed older photos were found and we realized the plans were never built. I guess we should send the photos to the Smithsonian and let them know the station turned out different than planned.

Ilchester Station Thumbnails, 1940’s, Bill Barringer Collection

Ilchester Station Thumbnails, 1954, Bill Barringer Collection

One of the people in this research group was Don Barnes and he was building a huge layout that included the entire OML, so he needed a model of the station structure. He contacted Mark Bandy of now MJB Model Trains, https://mjbmodeltrains.com, to see if he would be interested in producing laser cut models of some additional structures, including several along  the OML. Bill Barringer had taken the extra steps to photograph all sides of the structure in the early 50’s and with those, Mark was able to produce a kit for the structure in exacting detail. It wasn’t cheap but I was able to trade my research skills and resin kit building skills with Don and he traded me for one. Thank you Don.

The more we learned about the station and the OML realignment in the early 1900’s the more questions arose. Even old postcards became reference material. At some point between maybe 1920 and 1940 a freight house was added next to the station. No one has found a photo of more than an edge of the structure and an overhead shot from above the tunnel, across the Patapsco. Similar to the station it is not anything like a B&O Standard Design. It has board and batten siding, something not too often seen on B&O structures in the east. That and the coal trestle on the north side of the main tracks across for the station are a story for another time after additional research.

Ilchester Station 1 1959
The Agent ready to inspect a west-bound through Ilchester Station, 1959, B&ORRHS Collection.

if you are wondering why I was complaining about a lack of photos when there are so many in this post, I will add that this is about all that could be found from twenty years of digging. Building the station kit deserves a little more attention. This is the first step below. I will post another blog about it, as it is well engineered, and should produce a top-notch foreground structure.

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